Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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In order to grow as Christians in the spiritual life, there is no other way to take. There is no shortcut. We must deal with our flesh, deal with our self, and deal with our conscience. If we do not deal with our conscience, we can never be persons living in the presence of the Lord. Many saints are far from the Lord, regarding their fellowship. They are not in the fellowship and presence of the Lord because of many problems in their conscience. What we have learned and what we always tell the young believers is that we must deal with the conscience. This is a must.

If we have never dealt with our conscience, we have never grown. We may think that we have some growth, but it is only growth in doctrine and knowledge and not in the real experience of life. The real experience of the growth in life depends upon our dealing with our conscience. However, in Christianity today this matter has been neglected very much. We can go to many places of meeting and listen to hundreds of messages without hearing one message that tells us to go to the Lord to deal with our conscience.

Thirty years ago I was helped by the Holy Spirit to learn the lesson to deal with the conscience, and for all these years I have kept this lesson. Sometimes when I have written a letter to someone, I have had to tear it up four or five times. If I wrote one sentence too much, there was an accusation in my conscience, and I had to start over. Then I would be careful, but I often would need to tear up the new letter. It is very difficult to speak things rightly. When we deal with our conscience, we find out how inaccurate we are. When people have asked me to pass on a certain word to others, I have often made a mistake. Then I had to come back, confess, and ask forgiveness. Because of this I learned the lesson that whenever people ask me to pass something on to someone, I have them write it down clearly. Because I often have needed to go back to confess my mistakes, I have learned that it is better not to speak anything. It is better to be silent because whenever we open our mouth, within five minutes we need to confess.

I have learned these lessons in a strict way. Once in a conference of co-workers, we did not have many rooms to stay in, and I was put into a room with a certain dear brother. The room was very narrow and had two beds. Since we did not have a bathroom to wash in, we had to wash in our bedroom. I tried to be very careful to not splash water on the brother, but day by day I needed to confess my mistakes. I felt that I had done something wrong. Perhaps some would say that there was no need to confess, but at that time I had learned the lesson of dealing with the conscience. If I was only a little wrong, I had no peace in my conscience.

A certain co-worker who is now with the Lord also learned this lesson of dealing with the conscience. When he went to visit anyone, he would never enter the house until he was invited in. If he were to go in without an invitation, he would not be at peace in his conscience. Then, even after being invited in, he would not sit down unless someone asked him to. Some may say that this is too legal, but in order to be normal Christians, we need to learn all these lessons. Those who say this is too legal are too careless, and a careless Christian cannot have even a little spiritual growth. He may have some kind of growth—in knowledge, doctrine, or other matters—but it is not the real growth in life. The real growth is the growth in the spirit, and the growth in the spirit depends very much on our dealing with our conscience.

In dealing with the conscience, we can never be loose. Whenever we are loose in our conscience, there is the danger that we may commit the worst sins. Our protection and safeguard is a pure conscience. The times when we are loose with our conscience are the most dangerous times.

If we go to the Lord to deal with this matter, we will see, on the one hand, what kind of a problem it is and, on the other hand, what kind of help we will receive. Then we will sense the presence of the Lord in a fresh, sweet way, like we never have before. We will experience something new. This depends very much on our dealing with the conscience. If you deal with your conscience, you will know what I mean. If, however, we have never dealt with our conscience, we have never had any real growth in the spiritual life. This is a serious matter.

We should go to the Lord and say, “Here I am, Lord. Enlighten me, expose me, and bring me into Your presence. I wish to be purged and pure in my conscience.” If we go to the Lord in this way, and if we obey the Lord to deal with our conscience, we will see what problems we have. We may need ten days and ten nights to deal with all the matters. We may have problems we have let remain for many years without dealing with them. How can we grow with a conscience full of offenses? With so many holes in our conscience, how can we have the assurance of faith? It is impossible. We need to deal with our conscience; then we will have a new start in the Christian life. We will see how much help we will receive and what kind of strength and blessing we will enjoy, including the Lord’s presence, the anointing, and much strengthening. That will be wonderful!

Try to deal with your conscience before the Lord. There is no need to reason or argue with people. Simply go to the Lord to deal with your conscience. Then you will see where you are, what kind of problems you have, and what kind of help you need. To deal with the conscience is a very serious, vital, and deep matter. We must not have any trust in ourselves. Even when dealing with the self, we may be subtle, but we can never be subtle in dealing with the conscience. If we deal with our conscience, we will be brought into the presence of the Lord in a living, prevailing way, a way which we have never had before.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)