Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), by Watchman Nee


Christ Having the First Place
in the Life and Experience of the Christians

Christ Having the First Place
in the Christian Life

Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20

The life of a Christian is Christ (Col. 3:4). Christ being our life and Christ being our power are two different things. How can we be holy? How can we be victorious?

(1) Many think that holiness and victory mean being delivered from the little sins and dealing with the temper.

(2) Some think that holiness and victory mean being patient, humble, and meek.

(3) Some think that holiness and victory mean putting the self and the flesh to death.

(4) Some think that holiness and victory mean studying the Bible more, praying more, being careful, and trusting in the Lord for one’s strength.

(5) Some know that power is with the Lord, that our flesh has been crucified on the cross, and that by faith, we should claim the Lord’s power to overcome and be holy.

None of the above five cases is right. The fifth case may seem to be right, but actually it is not for the following reason:

Christ is our life. This is victory! This is holiness! The victorious life, the holy life, the perfect life, are all Christ. From beginning to end, everything is Christ. Outside of Christ, we have nothing. Christ must have the first place in all things. The victorious life God has given us is not a thing, such as patience or meekness, but the living Christ. Christ never mends our wrongs. What we lack is not patience but a living Christ. God will never tear a piece of cloth from Christ to mend our hole. To be short of patience is to be short of Christ, because God wants Christ to have the first place in all things. Therefore, to put the self to death is not holiness. Holiness is Christ. Christ must have the first place in all things.

If God were to cause us to have power, it would only make us powerful persons; Christ would not have the first place in us. Christ is my power; it is Christ who holds the first place in me. We do not have power because we are not weak enough. The power of Christ "is made perfect in weakness." It is not that the Lord makes me powerful; but it is the Lord who is the power in my stead.

Mr. Hudson Taylor saw that "You are the branches." The author of The Victorious Life saw that victory is just Christ. It is not that I draw power from Christ to help me be a man; rather, it is Christ who is the man in my place. It is not that Christ gives me the power to be patient; rather, it is Christ who lives the patience out from me. "Lord, I allow You to live out from me!" We do not overcome by the Lord; rather, it is the Lord who overcomes through us! It is not us overcoming through Him; rather, it is Him overcoming through us. By faith I commit myself to the Lord and allow the Lord to live Himself out of me. I do not live by Christ; rather, "it is Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). I live because of the life of Christ and also because of "the faith in the Son of God" (v. 20b). When we believed and received the Son of God, not only did His life enter into us, but His faith also entered into us. Therefore, we can live because of His faith.

Victory is Christ! Patience is Christ! What we need is not patience, meekness, or love, but Christ. Christ must have the first place in all things. From within us, Christ lives out patience, meekness, and love. Man deserves only to die. There is nothing else that he deserves. After God created Adam, He had a will, and Adam had to obey this will. But when God re-created us, it was not like this. He put us in death, and God Himself lives out His will from within us. We should not only see a substitutionary Savior on Mount Golgotha, we should also see a Lord within us who lives in our stead. Christ is our wisdom. In the past He was our righteousness for our salvation. In the present He is our sanctification for us to live a holy life. In the future He will be our redemption that our body may be redeemed (1 Cor. 1:30). He holds the first place in all things!

How can we enter into this victorious life? We must do the following things:

1. Have Absolutely No Hope in Our Self

We must know the self thoroughly. We must see that the self deserves only to die; any hope in the self must come to an end. Our end is God’s beginning. We cannot receive the victory of Christ if we still have hope in our self. Christ is living in us, but we have not given Him the ground to rule over us and reign within us.

2. Have a Full Consecration

We must consecrate wholeheartedly. If we do not see our utter weakness, we cannot accept the cross and fully consecrate ourselves, nor hand over all our rights to the Lord’s hand to allow Him to be the Lord.

3. Believe

After consecration we have to believe that Christ is being lived out in us and that He has taken over our rights.

Christ is to be lived out in our flesh in the same way that He was lived out of the flesh given Him through Mary. Christ today wants to live Himself out on the earth through our flesh as He did in His own flesh while on earth. Christ has to be lived out in our lives. Our victory is based on our yielding to Christ the first place in all things and allowing Him to be the Lord in all of our living.

The Old Testament tells us how God’s chosen people lived on the earth. There was first the tabernacle as the center of the twelve tribes. Later the temple was their center. The center of the temple was the ark. The tabernacle, the temple, and the ark all typify Christ. When the relationship between the Israelites and the tabernacle or the temple was proper, they were victorious; no nation could overcome them. Although their enemies had learned warfare and they had not, they still overcame all their enemies. When something was wrong between them and the temple, they were carried away. It did not depend on whether or not they had a competent king; neither did it depend on whether or not they were clever and able. It depended only on whether or not something was wrong between them and the ark in the temple. We must allow the Lord to have the first place. Only then will we be victorious. We must be concerned about the Lord’s victory before we can have the victory. Once the hair of separation is shaven, there can be no victory. The same is true with us today. If we do not give Christ the highest place, we cannot be victorious. If Christ does not have the first place in our heart, we cannot be victorious.

(Morning, January 29)

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 10, by Watchman Nee)