The Flesh and the Spirit, by Witness Lee


Christ died on the cross to deal with the flesh and condemn sin. In one sense, He was put into death. In another sense, He walked into death. He took a tour by traveling through death, but death could not hold Him. He walked out of death and walked into resurrection. In one sense, He was resurrected. In another sense, He resurrected Himself because He is life. In resurrection, He was transfigured into another form. He was transfigured from the form of flesh to the form of the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:17).

Romans 8:3 says that He came in the likeness of the flesh of sin. But today according to verse 10 He is no longer in the flesh. Verse 10 says that Christ is in us! When He was in the form of the flesh, He was on the cross, but today He is within us. He is not in the form of the flesh anymore, but He is the life-giving Spirit.

He was in the flesh for thirty-three and a half years. John 1:14 tells us the Word became flesh. While He was in the flesh, He was the Lamb of God (v. 29). In John 14 He told the disciples that He was going to be another Comforter. He was a Comforter in the flesh, and He was going to be another One as the Spirit (vv. 16-17). Then He said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. Yet a little while and the world beholds Me no longer, but you behold Me; because I live, you also shall live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you" (vv. 18-20). This word has been fulfilled in Romans 8:10, which says that Christ is now in us. Our Christ today is no longer on the cross. He is in us. On the cross He was in the flesh. In us He is the Spirit. He is now in our spirit. He condemned and dealt with our flesh. He has also come into our spirit to transform it with glory and to make our spirit the most wonderful thing in this universe. Christ dwells today in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22).

Hebrews 2:14 says that He destroyed Satan through His death. Ephesians 2:15 says that in His flesh on the cross, He abolished, destroyed, the law of the commandments in ordinances. In the flesh on the cross, Christ did a destroying, abolishing, annulling, and killing work. In our spirit, His work is absolutely different. It is a building up, raising up, and strengthening work to make our spirit the most wonderful place in the whole universe. Ephesians 2:15 speaks of His abolishing work on the cross in the flesh, whereas verse 22 says that our spirit is now God’s habitation. We are being built into a habitation of God in our spirit. Now something positive is being built. This is the building up of God’s habitation in our spirit.

We all have to see that judicially the flesh is over because it was dealt with by Christ on the cross, but it still remains with us because of our Father’s wisdom. Whether we are happy or unhappy, the flesh helps us to turn to Christ in the spirit and have no more confidence in the flesh. In this sense, we can be thankful for the flesh. But we are also disgusted with and afraid of the flesh. We would be alert all the time to turn to our spirit. The Lord does not care for whether or not we have a victory. The Lord cares for only one thing—that we gain Christ. Because we are afraid of the flesh, we turn to our spirit and gain Christ.

At the end of our spiritual journey, the Lord will not say, "Child, you were so good. You have gained many victories." Jacob lived over a hundred years, but how many victories did he get? It is hard for us to find a victory in his life. He had many defeats. He was subtle, striving, and supplanting. He was a heel holder. But in all his defeats and striving, Jacob gained more of God. Eventually, he was transformed, so his name was changed from Jacob, the supplanter, to Israel, the prince of God.

God does not care for victory. Do not listen to the teachings of Christianity which say that you have to be a victor. Whether you will be a victor or not, I do not know, but I do know that the Lord wants you to gain Him more. The Lord’s goal is not to let you have the victory. His goal is that Christ may be gained by you and that Christ be more and more wrought into you.

Through all the defeats, through all the failures, through all the bad experiences with your wife, husband, children, and the dear saints around you, day by day you are gradually gaining more of Christ. You may expect to have wonderful elders in the church, but instead they may disappoint you. But the more you are disappointed with the elders, the more you are helped to turn to the spirit. Do not look at the elders. Look at Christ in your spirit. Do not turn to the elders. Turn to your spirit and gain more of Christ. The wives should not consider what kind of husbands they have nor should the husbands consider what kind of wives they have. Instead, we all need to turn to the spirit and gain Christ. This is all that God cares for. On the one hand, we are happy because our flesh has been crushed. On the other hand, we are unhappy because the flesh will remain with us until the day of our maturity. When we are fully matured, we can say good-bye to the flesh and thank it for its help.

(The Flesh and the Spirit, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)