DEALING WITH THE SELF BY THE CROSS
At this point we need to consider what the Lord Jesus said in the Gospels concerning the soul and the self. Matthew 16:24-26 says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his soul shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul for My sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited if he should gain the whole world, but forfeit his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" The best way for us to save our soul, is to let our soul be invaded by our spirit. Luke 9:23-25 says, "And He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his soul will lose it, but whoever loses his soul for My sake, this one shall save it. For what is a man profited, having gained the whole world, but having lost or forfeited himself?" In Matthew, the Lord speaks of a person forfeiting "his soul," while in Luke, He speaks of a person forfeiting "himself." This indicates that our soul is our self. The soul is the source, the root, of the self, and the self is our former manner of life, our peculiarity.
The way to deal with our peculiarity is to deal with our self, our soul, by the cross. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20a). The "I" in this verse is the natural person, the soul. When Christ was crucified, we were included in Him according to God’s economy. This is an accomplished fact. Now we need to take up our cross daily and follow Him. Christ first bore the cross and then was crucified. We, His believers, have first been crucified with Him and then bear the cross today. To us, bearing the cross is to remain under the killing of the death of Christ for the terminating of our self, our natural life, and our old man. In so doing we deny our self that we may follow the Lord. To deal with the self in this way is to deal with our peculiarity.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: I still do not understand what you mean by dealing with our peculiarity. Can you share more about this?
Answer: We need to be renewed by the Lord, but our person is the aggregate of peculiarity. We need to be renewed, to be saved from living our former manner of life to living God Himself. Ephesians 4:22-24 reveals this. God does not care so much for the way we do things, but for who is doing them. If we do anything by our self, in our self, and with our self, we are doing it in our peculiarity and apart from God. We have to remember that we are the totality of peculiarity. Our peculiarity needs to be dealt with. Actually, it was dealt with already by the Lord Jesus when He was crucified on the cross because we were crucified with Him. When we believed in the Lord Jesus for our salvation, we took Christ with His cross for our regeneration. But in our daily experience after salvation, the cross needs to be applied to us daily. From day to day we still live in ourselves, by ourselves, and with ourselves. We may not sin, but we are still full of peculiarity, full of ourselves. Now we must learn to stay on the cross of Christ. This means that we bear the cross and deny the self. This also means that we lose our soul. We allow our soul to be invaded by the spirit, to be conquered by the spirit, to be taken over by the spirit, and to be occupied and subdued by the spirit. Are we living as a new man according to God or as an old man in our former manner of life? In a sense, we have been saved from sin. In another sense, we have not been renewed to be saved from our self, from our former manner of life.
Question: When you go through a period of time in which specific peculiarities are exposed, and you feel overwhelmed by them and disgusted with yourself, how do you get through at that time? Do you confess specific things? How do we deal with this before the Lord?
Answer: My advice is for us to return to the cross, to remain in the death of Christ. Let the cross kill you. Let the killing of the death of Christ remain on you and in you. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 Paul said that he was "always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus." This was the killing, the working of death, the working of the cross. This was Paul’s practical cross in his daily life. We have been crucified with Christ, but day by day we need to remain in the death of Christ. Whenever we are active in our peculiarity, we need to go back to the cross. When we come back to the cross, we admit that we have already been killed. This is a deeper lesson that we all have to learn. In Romans 6:6 Paul said that our old man has been crucified with Christ. In Galatians 2:20 he said that he had been crucified with Christ. Then in 2 Corinthians 4:10 he said that he was always bearing about in his body the putting to death of Jesus. This all means that Paul did not live by himself. He lived Christ (Phil. 1:21a).
On the one hand, we have been crucified with Christ. On the other hand, we are still living. What shall we do? We need to go back to the cross. To go back to the cross means to remain on the side of our having been crucified with Christ. To remain there is to take the cross. To take the cross is to remain in the cross, to let the cross be applied to our being. If we remain in the death of Christ, we are greatly blessed. Death always ushers in resurrection. As long as we take care of remaining in His death, we will spontaneously be living in His resurrection.
(Messages to the Trainees in Fall 1990, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)