The Flesh and the Spirit, by Witness Lee


Our flesh is impure. It is a mixture, a compound. A compound is composed of several elements. Our flesh has been compounded with Satan, sin, and death. Have you ever realized that today our flesh is such a mysterious, terrible compound? Our human spirit is also a compound, but it is a compound in a good sense. In our spirit is Jesus Christ. Second Timothy 4:22 says, "The Lord be with your spirit." Not only so, in our spirit is the grace of God. Galatians 6:18 says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

We may say that the Lord is in our spirit, but in our daily life we do not apply Him. When I was young, not many homes in mainland China had electricity installed in them. One day electricity was installed in our home, but from my youth I had been using the oil lamp day after day. For quite a number of days after the installation of electricity, I would still go to light the oil lamp out of habit. Then when I remembered that we had electricity, I stopped what I was doing and turned on the light. I knew there was electricity installed in my home and that there were electrical lights hanging from the ceiling, but I forgot to turn on the electricity because I was not used to it.

A number of us have heard messages about Jesus Christ being with our spirit. We may be excited about this, but when we are in our daily life, we forget. We are like someone who picks up the matches and tries to light the oil lamp when he has electricity in his home. We are not accustomed to going to Christ in our spirit. We are used to approaching Him as the One who is high in the third heaven. We are not used to going directly to Him and applying Him to our need.

We have the doctrine of the Lord being with our spirit, but we do not practice the reality. We all have to ask ourselves, "Do we really apply Christ in our daily life?" Most of the time we do not apply Him, because we are not used to it. We are used to applying ourselves. We are not used to applying this "foreign One." We have a "Foreigner" within us who came from afar, from the third heaven. One day when we said, "O Lord Jesus," He came into us as a "Stranger." He will never come out of us, yet we are not used to applying Him.

We may have heard messages about the human spirit, but we do not practice what we have heard, because we are not used to it. After we installed electricity in our home, it took us a long time to get used to it. We had to get used to going to the switch to turn on the light instead of going to light the oil lamp. I desire to see many saints in the church life all get used to "going to the switch" to "turn on Christ."

But to practice this requires a full understanding, a full realization, that God’s desire is not for us to be moral or immoral, good or bad. He wants us to live by Him and with Him. He wants us to be persons who are full of life. This kind of fellowship may offend people who have been constituted with ethical and moral concepts. But we need to realize that the Scriptures reveal that mere ethics and morality are not what God desires.

In John 15:5b the Lord said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." But we may love others, help others, and do many good things apart from Him. Christ did say that without Him we can do nothing, but actually we do many things without Him. Christ could say to us, "Apart from Me you can do so many things, but nothing you do apart from Me will be recognized by My Father. Whatever you do apart from Me will be burned. My Father will never accept it. Only one category of things that you do will be accepted by My Father. That is the category of things which you do with Me and in Me. What you do with Me and in Me will be recorded in the heavens and will go to My Father’s account."

When we contact others with and in Christ, we will minister Christ into them. Apart from Jesus Christ, it is impossible for us to minister Christ into others. We may be able to do many things apart from Christ, but these things will not be recorded in the heavenly account. From the point of view of the heavenly account, whatever we do apart from Christ means nothing. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing that will be recognized by the heavenly Father. So the Christian life is not a matter of being ethical or moral. If it were, the Chinese would not need to become Christians. They were taught by Confucius, so they know how to be ethical. We do not need ethical teachings. We need Christ as our life.

The trouble with us is this. We may know that we need Christ as our life in theory and in doctrine, but in our daily life, in our practice, we forget about this. Those from the East would forget about Christ in their practical life because they have been influenced by the teachings of Confucius. Those in the West would forget about Christ because they have been influenced by ethical and moral concepts. We have been taught to be moral, to behave ourselves, and to build up a good character for ourselves. We were taught in this way, raised up in this kind of atmosphere, and are under this influence.

(The Flesh and the Spirit, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)