New Believers Series: Discipline of the Holy Spirit, The #20, by Watchman Nee


The Lord causes many things to come our way, few of which are according to our preference. This is why the Bible charges, "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4). We should rejoice in the Lord. This is the only way we can rejoice always. Besides the Lord, what can make us rejoice always? Why does God allow all the bad things to come upon us? What is His purpose for doing these things? His goal is to break down our natural life. If we read Jeremiah 48:11, we will be clear.

Jeremiah 48:11 says, "Moab has been at ease from his youth;/And he is settled on his lees/And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel;/Nor has he gone into exile./Therefore his taste remains in him,/And his scent is not changed." The Moabites were the descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:36-37). They were related to Abraham but were of the flesh. Moab was at ease from his youth and never experienced any tribulation, trial, blow, suffering, or pain. Nothing happened to him that would cause him to shed tears; nothing ever rent his heart or frustrated his way. In man’s eyes this is such a blessing. But what did God say about the Moabites? He said, "He is settled on his lees/And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel." For wine to settle on its lees means that the liquid is a mixture. When wine ferments, the top part becomes clear liquid, while the lees sink to the bottom. As soon as the vessel is shaken, the lees and the liquid mix together again. In order to have a clear liquid, one has to pour the wine from one vessel to another. In the old days there was no filter, and the only way to remove the lees was to pour the liquid from one vessel to another. The liquid and the lees were originally mixed together. By pouring the liquid from one vessel to another, the lees were left behind. Sometimes some lees would escape with the liquid to the other vessel, and there would be the need to pour the liquid to yet another vessel. This would go on and on until all the lees were gone. Moab was never emptied from one vessel to another. He was like wine settled on its lees. His "lees" were not yet removed. This is why it says that "his taste remains in him,/And his scent is not changed." Moab always tasted like Moab. His scent remained the scent of Moab. His condition had not changed since the first day. But God is not after the old scent. He wants to change the scent.

Some have been believers for ten years, yet their taste remains the same as it was ten years ago. They are like Moab, whose taste remained and whose scent was not changed. Some people were sloppy when they first believed in the Lord. After twenty years they are still sloppy. They lived in ignorance and foolishness the first day, and they still live in ignorance and foolishness today. Their taste remains the same, and their scent is not changed. God does not want this. God wants to remove our old habit, nature, and character; He wants to remove every undesirable element in us. He wants to empty us from this vessel to that vessel and from that vessel to another vessel. After being emptied a few times, our "lees" will be left behind, and the original taste will be gone.

Moab had an easy life, but as a result, "his taste remains in him,/And his scent is not changed." Perhaps our life is not as easy as Moab’s. Perhaps we have not been "at ease from...youth." Perhaps we have had to go through "many tribulations" like Paul (Acts 14:22). If so, we should realize that the Lord is removing our lees and our original taste. The Lord wants to take away our own taste and natural scent. The old things must be torn down. The Lord has to uproot them all. He is pouring us from one vessel to another and then to a third. He allows this to happen to us today and that to happen to us tomorrow. The Lord turns us from one environment to another, from one experience to another. Each time He arranges an environment around us and breaks us, we will shed some of our old taste and scent. Time after time we will be purified of our old taste. Every day we will be a little different than the day before, and the next day we will be different still further. This is the way the Lord works in us; He tears down a little today and a little tomorrow, until all our lees are gone, our taste is lost, and our scent is changed.

(New Believers Series: Discipline of the Holy Spirit, The #20, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)