One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


This holy anointing ointment as the Spirit is a great topic. Do not think that I am exaggerating; over the past fifty years, the Lord has led us to progress in our knowledge of the truth. I would like to give you an example to show the importance of the Spirit. Up until 1938 or 1939, whenever Brother Watchman Nee spoke on Romans 6 he emphasized “reckoning” according to the light that we had up to that time. We “reckon” ourselves dead, and we “reckon” ourselves alive. He translated into Chinese a hymn written by A. B. Simpson, the founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. That hymn says, “Let us reckon, reckon, reckon…Let us reckon ourselves to be dead to sin…Let us reckon ourselves as alive in Him” (Hymns, #692).

In the summer of 1935, Brother Nee came to Chefoo, my hometown, and spoke a message in which he gave an illustration. He said that three persons were walking along the top of a wall. The first one was Fact, the second was Faith, and the third was Experience. Whenever Faith did not look to either side or to the back but kept going on, constantly looking at Fact, then Experience would not have a problem but would follow after him. But whenever Faith wavered and turned back to look at Experience, they all fell off the wall. Therefore, he said that we must have reckoning faith. The Lord Jesus already died on the cross and already crucified our flesh. These are facts, good news of great joy. Today you should have faith welling up in you because of God’s word. This faith does not look from side to side or to the rear but always gazes at the fact. When you keep looking by faith, the experience will follow, and that experience is the experience of death.

Brother Nee’s speaking was powerful, and we were very moved when we heard it. However, when we tried to put it into practice, we simply could not reckon ourselves dead. Before we tried to reckon ourselves dead, our flesh seemed to be sleeping; once we tried to reckon ourselves dead, it woke up and became more living. Between 1935 and 1938 Brother Nee frequently spoke on this topic, and from 1935 we tried to learn how to reckon ourselves dead, but year after year we were unable to do it. This continued until 1939 when Brother Nee returned from Europe and unexpectedly released a message in a meeting in Shanghai. That message was so different from what he had spoken before that it shocked me, yet it was a great help to me.

He said that the fact of our co-death with Christ that we see in Romans 6 can be experienced only in the Spirit found in Romans 8. You can never have the experience of the fact of being crucified with Christ in Romans 6 unless you are in the Spirit in Romans 8. In other words, it does not depend on your believing or reckoning; it depends only on your being in the Spirit. Without Romans 8 you can never have the experience of Romans 6. Romans 6 can only be a fact to you; it can never become your experience unless you live in the Spirit in Romans 8. At that time I wondered whether Brother Nee’s present speaking was different from his previous speaking. It seemed to be different, but it was not truly different; it was a word of experience.

We need to reckon; Paul also reckoned. Nevertheless, we should not merely reckon in our mind without living in the Spirit. For example, your wife may provoke you, and you may be about to lose your temper. You will then feel that you must reckon yourself dead; you must reckon that the “I” who loses his temper has been crucified on the cross, and you must reckon him dead. But I must tell you that before you finish your reckoning, the devil may come to taunt you by saying, “You cannot make it to reckon yourself dead.” Then you give up reckoning and your temper comes out. We have all experienced this.

Hence, it is not a matter of reckoning but a matter of living in the spirit and walking according to the spirit, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4). The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace (v. 6). When Brother Nee released this message, I received much help, and I had a turn in my knowledge of the Spirit. From that day on I knew that strictly speaking any word of preaching which does not have the Spirit is useless. This is because the word preached is like a prescription, but a prescription must be filled by the pharmacist before it can be useful. If you do not get the medicine, a prescription from the most famous doctor will be useless. The word is like the prescription, and the Spirit is like the medicine. It is not the prescription but the medicine that works. The high preaching cannot save you, but the Spirit can save you. Therefore, we all need this Spirit.

However, at that time I had not yet seen the different aspects of the Spirit, that this Spirit today is not only the Spirit of God but also the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of the One who suffered death in crucifixion. This Spirit is also the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the One who rose from the dead. This Spirit is also the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that is, the all-inclusive Spirit. The Spirit’s moving within us is the anointing mentioned in 1 John 2, which is typified by the holy anointing ointment in Exodus 30.

By the Lord’s grace, I can boast to you that the words I am speaking to you have not come at all from study in my mind. I can testify that every point was learned through my personal, painful experience. The conclusion is that we must have the Spirit. If you are not in the Spirit, every word of preaching will be empty and ineffective, but if you are in the Spirit, the reality will be there. You will see that it is a matter of one Body and one Spirit.

(One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)