BOASTING IN CHRIST
The second contrast in verses 2 and 3 is the contrast between the evil workers and those who boast in Christ. Whatever we do for God, no matter what it is, is an evil work if it is not Christ. In Matthew 7 the Lord Jesus said that many will come to Him and say that they prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name, and did many mighty works in His name. However, the Lord will say that they were lawless. This means that what they did was not Christ. Hence, anything we do that is not Christ Himself is evil in the eyes of God, and when we do things that are not Christ we are evil workers. Instead of being evil workers, we must be those who boast in Christ. Our boast must be Christ Himself, not anything of ourselves.
It is not easy for us to boast in Christ. In order to do this, we need to see the vision that anything we do that is not Christ is evil in the eyes of God. God’s will is not that we do good things for Him. God’s will is that we live out Christ. God only cares for Christ. Therefore, anything we do that is not Christ will not please God. On the contrary, God will consider it evil because it is the doing of our will, not the carrying out of His will. It is actually a form of rebellion. Our works may be good in our eyes, but if they are without Christ, in the eyes of God they are rebellion. If we see this vision, we shall hate not only our hatred, but also our love. When you are about to love someone, you must check whether or not you are loving by Christ. The issue is not one of love or hate; it is whether we act by Christ or by our natural life. If what we do is something other than Christ, God does not want it. God does not want our love, our humility, or our goodness. God does not want anything of us. He only wants Christ.
EVIL WORKS AND EVIL WORKERS
According to the Gospels, the Pharisees boasted in their good works. But in the eyes of God all their good works were evil. Thus, the Pharisees were evil workers. This is proved by the verses in Philippians 3 where Paul said that he was circumcised the eighth day, that according to law he was a Pharisee, that according to zeal he persecuted the church, and that according to righteousness in the law he was blameless (vv. 5-6). But all these things were evil in the eyes of God because they were not Christ. The Jews boasted that according to the law they were Pharisees, that according to zeal for God they persecuted the churches, and that according to the righteousness of the law they were blameless. In their own eyes they were very good, but in the eyes of God they were evil workers.
The word "evil" here does not denote such things as murder, stealing, or fornication. It refers to something good that is outside of Christ. Even if you do something good, it is an evil work if it is without Christ. We may do many good things, but are these things Christ? If not, we are evil workers. When Paul was Saul of Tarsus, he was such an evil worker. However, at that time he did not realize his real condition. Rather, he thought that he was zealous for God, that he was perfect, righteous, and blameless. He thought this because he was in darkness. But after he received the vision and was enlightened, his eyes were opened to see how foolish he had been. He came to realize that all those good things were actually evil in the eyes of God and that he was an evil worker because he was doing things outside of Christ.
Suppose a certain brother is humble and polite and another brother is tough and rough. We would all prefer the humble brother and regard him as a very good brother. However, the goodness of this brother is outside of Christ. Hence, he is actually an evil worker. Do you have the boldness to say this? We would all be willing to say that the tough brother is an evil worker, but not the humble brother.
Some may feel that they do not have the ability to discern between Christ and the good points of the natural life. The way to discern is by noticing the difference in weight. Christ is much weightier than anyone’s good characteristics. In this way we can make a distinction between these things and Christ. However, we should not weigh others, but ourselves. We need to determine whether our love is weighty or light. If we test our love, we may find that it is as light as a feather. We may also find that our patience and niceness are light, superficial, and easily exhausted. But anything that is of Christ is weighty and long-lasting.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)