CONFESSION AND CLEARANCE
The second main item we must have is confession, or clearance. After we begin to love the Lord, we must have a clear dealing with ourselves in order to have the real growth in life. We must have a clearance and make a thorough confession before the Lord. In other words, we must deal with our conscience. Then we will have a pure, good conscience without accusation, a conscience void of offense and so much at peace. We have seen how important the conscience is regarding spiritual things. We need a pure conscience, and one who has a pure conscience is one who has thoroughly confessed all the sinful things, dirtiness, failures, and trespasses. We must go to the Lord to have such a dealing. Sometimes we need three days for this. I do not believe you can finish your confession within only one or two hours. If we mean business with the Lord, we will need a longer time to have a thorough dealing. This is not something legal; it is a principle.
Why are many Christians not spiritually healthy? It is simply because their conscience is not purged. Within their conscience are many accusations and offenses. Some even realize this, but they are not willing to make a confession, so to one degree or another they are frustrated. This brings us back to the first point above: If we are not willing to confess, it is because we do not love the Lord. The more we love the Lord, the more we sense our failures, shortcomings, weaknesses, and wrongdoings. Perhaps at this time you do not feel that you are wrong in anything, but when you start to love the Lord, you will realize how wrong you are in many things, with people and with the Lord. You will sense the need to confess to the Lord.
All these matters cannot remain as mere doctrine. I have no intention to give you more doctrine. Rather, if we do not put all these things into practice, they mean nothing. If we put them into practice, we will see that they truly help us. We need to pray that the Lord would grant us a love for Him. Then we must be faithful to make a thorough dealing with the Lord. Do not argue with this, and do not care for mere theology.
More than twenty years ago, when I was in northern China, I learned all these lessons from the Lord and with the Lord; this is how I now know them. At that time some people opposed this very much. They said, “There is no need for us to deal with our conscience, because the blood is good enough. The blood covers and cleanses us.” There is no need to argue with people in the way of doctrine and theology. The best way to defeat the opposing ones is to touch their conscience. If we touch their conscience, there is no need to argue; rather, help them to check their experience. Do not take these matters in the way of doctrine. If you come to argue with me, I cannot answer you in a doctrinal way. I know the problem with people, especially with those who study theology, but if you would put these things into practice, you will see they are right. I am not here taking care of doctrine; I am here trying to help people to have the proper practice.
KNOWING AND EXERCISING THE SPIRIT
After loving the Lord and having a thorough confession, we right away have to know the spirit. When we say spirit in this way, we mean our human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. This is a difficult matter among Christians today. It is not so hard, however, with new believers. A certain older brother had been a Christian for many years. He studied at Bible institutes and was a preacher for years, preaching, teaching, reading, and listening. After I delivered some messages about the exercise of the spirit, this brother came to me and said, “Brother Lee, what do you mean by the exercise of the spirit? Do you mean to have a whole heart?” I found out that it is difficult to speak concerning the spirit to people with old concepts.
However, I can assure you that if we do not know how to discern our spirit from our soul, we may know the entire Bible in a doctrinal way, but we will not have an inch of the growth in life. We may also experience many so-called spiritual things, but we still will not have the growth. Spiritual growth is a matter absolutely in the spirit. This is why the phrase in the spirit, or in spirit, is so important and is mentioned so often in the New Testament.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)