DEADENED BY THE FLESH, THE SELF, AND THE WORLD
Man’s body became the flesh, man’s soul became the self, and the things of the earth were systematized to become the preoccupying world. As a result, man’s entire being has been usurped and deadened by Satan. Now there is no possibility for God to accomplish anything for His purpose because man has been deadened by the flesh, the self, and the world.
The human spirit is deadened by the flesh in the body, by the self in the soul, and by the world. The more you live in the flesh and according to the flesh, the more dead you are in your spirit. In like manner, the more you live by the self, the more dead you are in your spirit. Furthermore, living in a worldly way will deaden your spirit. This was our history. Living according to the flesh, by the self, and according to the world, we were deadened in our spirit and were utterly finished with God’s purpose.
DELIVERED FROM THE THREE DAMAGING ELEMENTS
The Lord Jesus has come to redeem us, to bring us back to God. He has come to deliver us from the three damaging elements: the flesh, the self, and the world. He begins by quickening, enlivening, our deadened spirit. This means that He has regenerated us, making our spirit alive, and now He dwells in our spirit to be life to us. It is by His being the life within us that we are gradually emancipated, released, and liberated from the flesh, the self, and the world. According to our experience, first we are delivered from the flesh, and then we are gradually delivered from the self. Then, with difficulty, we are delivered from the world.
The deliverance from the flesh, the self, and the world is actually a cycle that is repeated again and again. You may think that you have been thoroughly delivered out of the flesh, the self, and the world. However, you will soon realize that you need a further deliverance from a hidden aspect of the flesh. Thus, you need the liberating Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) to release you again from the flesh. Following this, you will see that you need the liberating Spirit to release you more from the self and the world. This cycle will be repeated, and with each repetition you will be delivered further from the three elements—the flesh, the self, and the world—which damage humanity as the materials which God created for His building.
Eventually, the Lord’s recovery will reach the crucial matter of building. If we would realize the building up of the Body, we need to be delivered from the flesh, from the self, and from the world.
NOT CONFORMED TO THIS AGE BUT
TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF THE MIND
FOR THE BUILDING UP OF THE BODY
In our experience the liberating Spirit becomes the transforming Spirit (v. 18). The Spirit’s liberating work is also the Spirit’s transforming work. Eventually, we will be transformed into the image of Christ. This is why in Romans 12:2 Paul says, “Do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” To be fashioned according to this age is to be conformed to the present course of the world. Instead of being conformed to the present age, we should be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The more we are transformed, the more we are delivered from the flesh, the self, and the world.
Are you clear about what the world is? Anything can become an item of the world to us, if that thing occupies us and preoccupies us. You need to be fully emancipated from every occupying and preoccupying thing. The time must come when you are able to say, “Lord, I praise You that I have been liberated. I have been fully emancipated from every kind of preoccupation. On this earth there is nothing occupying me or preoccupying me.” When this is your situation, you will have nothing to do with the world, yet you will still be living on the earth. You will continue to need food, marriage, clothing, housing, and transportation, but none of these things will occupy or preoccupy you.
If we see the vision of the world, we will realize that we should not love anything worldly. We should not love any occupying or preoccupying thing. Rather, we should give our love fully, wholly, and absolutely to the Lord. All our capacity is for Him. All the ground, all the room, in us is for Him.
We all need the vision of the world that we may see what the world is and how the enemy uses the world to keep us from realizing the Body. Only when we have been liberated from the world will we be fully built up to realize the Body life.
(The Heavenly Vision, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)