The Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Dealing with self and dealing with the natural constitution are the deeper experiences in the stage of the cross. Therefore, after studying these two experiences, we will summarize them together.

Dealing with self and dealing with the natural constitution are of extreme importance in spiritual experience. They are related not only to life, but also to service. Dealing with self and dealing with the natural constitution are preparations for our service to God. If we wish to have the kind of service according to God’s heart desire, dealing with self and the natural constitution is a must. Strictly speaking, those who have never been dealt with in the self and in the natural constitution cannot serve God.

This matter is clearly demonstrated in the life of Moses. Before God used him, the work which God did upon him was to deal with his self and his natural constitution. When he was forty years old, he was very strong in his natural constitution. He “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works” (Acts 7:22). Therefore, he was about to use his own strength to deliver the Israelites. One day, when he saw an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brethren, he smote the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. That was his natural strength or device. However, this natural constitution of his, God could not use. God cannot use one who works for Him by using his own natural ability. Therefore, God raised up an environment which forced him to flee into the wilderness, and for forty years God afflicted him and dealt with him in order to terminate his natural constitution. When Moses wrote Psalm 90 he said, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore years” (v. 10). It was not until he was eighty years old, which, according to his own calculation, was the time of his feeble and dying days, that God called and used him. Furthermore, at the time God called him, God caused him to see the vision of the bush burning, yet not being consumed—an indication to Moses that the power of God’s work was to be manifested through him, yet not using what he had by birth, which was his natural constitution, as fuel.

When we study the life of Moses, we see that ever since he was called by God, he never again used his own power and ability to work for Him. From the time he first saw Pharaoh in Egypt till the time of his death on Mount Nebo (forty years), although he still had ability, it was no more natural, but had passed through breaking and resurrection.

Furthermore, dealing with the natural constitution and dealing with self are closely related. Those who are able and capable always have many opinions. If anyone has no opinions or ideas, surely he must have no capability. It is because Moses’ natural ability had been dealt with that during his forty years of serving the Lord he did not have his own opinions or ideas. Although he prayed to God, he was but seeking His counsel; he did not, except on one occasion, voice any of his opinions or ideas. The only exception was at the time he was irritated by the Israelites, when he spoke rashly and smote the rock twice; other than this he made no mistake in forty years. He served God not according to his own strength or his own opinions. He was one who had indeed been wholly freed from self and the natural constitution. Therefore, he became the one who was most used by God in Old Testament times.

It was upon this same principle that God led the Israelites to serve Him in the wilderness. When the Israelites were led to the wilderness, where God desired them to serve Him, the first lesson for them to learn was to see that their strength and their opinions as well were to be laid aside. They could not serve God with their strength, nor could they serve according to their own opinion. The means by which they served God were the tabernacle and the offerings. The tabernacle signified that all their ways and activities pertaining to the service of God must be according to the pattern shown on the mount, according to God’s revelation and not according to their own opinion. The offerings signified that their service could only be acceptable and satisfying to God if it were rendered through the sacrifices instead of by their own ability and capability. Therefore, when God at Mt. Sinai prepared the Israelites to serve Him, He gave them on one hand the tabernacle, showing them the need for laying aside their own opinion, and on the other hand He gave them the offerings, which implied the need for their laying aside the natural constitution. The service rendered through the tabernacle contained no self-opinion, while the service through the offerings contained no natural constitution. Since both the tabernacle and offerings typified Christ, we must take Christ as our wisdom and way as well as our strength and ability, allowing Him to replace our self-opinion and our natural constitution; thus, we can serve God.

(The Experience of Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)