The Experience and Growth in Life, by Witness Lee

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In the New Testament, the one with the strongest disposition was perhaps the Apostle Paul. His disposition inwardly was very strong, but his stature was probably small and thin. Although Paul’s disposition was strong, in reading 1 Corinthians 7, you cannot see his strong disposition. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth who were of the logical and philosophical Greek background. He wrote in a very logical manner, but you cannot discover a hint of his strong disposition. The person of Paul was there, but the “snake” of his disposition had been dealt with. In 1 Corinthians 7, the person who was Saul of Tarsus with the strong disposition had been dealt with, but the regenerated Paul remained. According to Paul’s word in Galatians 2:20, he was crucified with Christ. His being crucified with Christ dealt with his disposition.

In Galatians 2:20, there is the old “I” and the new “I.” The old “I” included the disposition of Saul of Tarsus. Although his disposition was crucified, Saul was not thrown away. On the contrary, through regeneration Saul of Tarsus was uplifted. As the sand on the seashore is sifted in order to find the precious things, Saul of Tarsus was sifted. All the negative and fallen things were put away, but the regenerated person of Saul was uplifted and purified. As saved sinners, our negative aspects have been put away, but our positive aspects are being uplifted. Through regeneration we have an uplifted humanity. This does not mean that we have exchanged our old humanity for a new humanity. We still have the humanity we received at birth, but before regeneration our humanity was old and of a low standard. After regeneration our humanity is being sifted, and through such a process it is being uplifted and purified. This uplifted and purified humanity is the new “I” in Galatians 2:20. Paul says, “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith.…” Paul lived by the life which is Christ Himself.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the person of Saul who became Paul still remained. Through the sifting process, Saul became Paul, a person who had been uplifted and purified with a high standard of humanity. Such a person is joined to the Lord and is one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). While Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 7, he was joined to the Lord as one spirit. Therefore, he could give a command saying, “I charge,” and he could also say, “Not I but the Lord.” He could say such things because he was one spirit with the Lord. His strong disposition had been sifted away through the cross of Christ, objectively in the fact of being crucified with Christ and subjectively in the experience of this fact. Paul experienced the subjective cross of Christ by experiencing the subjective Christ. Paul was a person who lived under the shadow of the cross all the time; thus, when he wrote 1 Corinthians 7, he was a regenerated, sifted, uplifted, and purified person who was joined to the Lord as one spirit.


Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 7 in the principle of incarnation. The principle of incarnation is that God enters into man and mingles Himself with man to make man one with Himself. Thus, God is in man and man is also in God. This can be illustrated by grafting. When two trees are grafted together, both trees must be cut. The cut in the first tree is an opening to receive the other tree. The second tree must also be cut in order to be put into the first tree. Then the two cuts are put together and the two trees begin to grow together. In order for us to be grafted into Christ, Christ and we must be cut. This cut was made at the cross of Christ. Christ as the good, cultivated olive tree (Rom. 11:17-18; John 15:1) was cut through His death on the cross. We also were cut by our crucifixion with Christ on the cross (Gal. 2:20). When we believed into Christ and were baptized into Him, we were grafted into Christ, the two cuts were put together, and we began to live together with Christ. There was no exchange of lives; rather, two lives were joined together and began to grow together organically (Rom. 6:4-5).

A stanza in a hymn written by A. B. Simpson (Hymns, #482) speaks of the matter of grafting:

This the secret nature hideth,
Harvest grows from buried grain;
A poor tree with better grafted,
Richer, sweeter life doth gain.

(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 25, by Witness Lee)