CHRIST AS THE REALITY OF ALL HUMAN VIRTUES
Man was created in God’s image, possessing the image of God’s virtues. Christ is the embodiment of God, the reality of God’s virtues. When you receive Christ into you, your love becomes one of His “rooms,” your righteousness becomes another “room,” and your holiness becomes still another “room.” All your human virtues become His habitation. Do not think that because we are those who live in Christ, we do not practice ethics and morality. No! Our ethics and morality are higher and more real because they are not our own work but the living out of Christ in our human virtues.
Formerly, when we did not have Christ, we conducted ourselves with all propriety, observed the moral principles, and upheld the ceremonies for courtesy. However, like an empty glove, everything we did was without the real content. It is only after we have received Christ that He becomes our life, reality, and content. When man was created, he had the human virtues in him, but all these virtues were devoid of reality, because only Christ is the reality of all these virtues. When Christ comes into our being, He makes every virtue real. Thus, our love towards others becomes real, and our honoring of our parents becomes real. This is because these virtues are the living out of Christ from within us.
LIVING OUT CHRIST IN HUMAN VIRTUES
According to the revelation in the Bible, God went through four steps to enable man to live out Christ in human virtues. First, God created all things in the universe and in particular He created man in His image. Second, He decreed the law. The content of the law is a portrait of God’s image. God is light, so the law also gives light; God is compassionate, so the law also shows compassion; God is holy and righteous, so the law is also holy and righteous. Man was created in God’s image; likewise, the law was also written according to God’s image. Accordingly, the law and man should be in complete harmony. But man fell and was not able to live and walk according to what was written in the law. In other words, fallen man cannot express God.
Third, God was incarnated and became the man Jesus, who lived on earth for thirty-three and a half years. What the Lord Jesus lived out on earth was exactly what was portrayed in the law. In the four Gospels, we see that the human living of Jesus was just the expression of God. He was love, light, holiness, and righteousness; He was also full of thoughts, emotions, and intentions. The Lord Jesus lived out God exactly according to what God is.
Now we see that man was created in God’s image, that the law was written according to what God is, and that the Lord Jesus lived out a life that was according to what God is. Concerning these three steps, some Christians have a misconception. They think that since the Lord Jesus lived out the likeness of God, He is qualified to be our pattern and we should imitate Him. In fact, however, Christians who try to imitate Jesus are just like monkeys trained to imitate men eating food with a fork; that is a mere performance and not the genuine living. Therefore, man cannot live Christ by imitating Him. Hence, man needs the fourth step of God’s work. In this step, after the Lord Jesus lived out God for men to see, He went to die for them and shed His blood for the redemption of their sins, and then He was resurrected to become the life-giving Spirit. When we receive this pneumatic Christ, He enters into us to be our life and lives out the image of God from within us. This is the way for Christians to live out Christ.
Since the Lord Jesus lives in us, He uplifts our love toward others, causing us to love them in a more real and sincere way. We no longer love by ourselves, but we love by the Christ who lives within us. It is not we who love, but it is Christ who loves in us. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is Christ who is lived out in our human virtues. In this way children will surely honor their parents, husbands will surely love their wives, and wives will surely submit to their husbands. You will conduct yourself in a way that is upright, true, dignified, righteous, pure, lovely, and well spoken of. Your living and your every move will be excellent and worthy of praise. Nevertheless, all these are not by your own effort; rather, it is Christ who lives in your spirit and who lives out of you.
Today Christ is the Spirit. Not only can He be in us, but we also can be in Him. This is just like the air. The air can get into us, and we can also be in the air. The Lord is like the air; on the one hand, He is in us, and on the other hand, we are in Him. We are mingled with Him as one. His life and our life have become one. This is not an exchanged life but a grafted life. Therefore, we no longer live by our natural life, but we live through Him and by Him. Consequently, He is lived out in our human virtues.
The Christ who lives in us is the Spirit with a bountiful supply and the One who empowers us. He has become one with us. Therefore, we do not have to depend on our own strength to keep the law and work out the righteousness which is out of the law. We have to reject ourselves, take Christ as life, and live by Him. Then He will be the bountiful supply in our spirit. If we allow Him to live out through us, then what is lived out is not our own righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness which we have by keeping the law is the expression of ourselves. But if because of our faith in Christ we reject ourselves and allow Christ to live out from us, then what we express is not our own righteousness by our own keeping of the law but the righteousness which is out of God through faith in Him. This righteousness is the expression of God and the magnification of Christ. This is to live Christ. When Christ is lived out from us, He is lived out from our human virtues.
(The Subjective Experience of the Indwelling Christ, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)