DENYING THE SELF TO CONTACT CHRIST
However, there is one more thing I wish to point out to you, that is, the work of the cross. Yes, Christ is wonderful, but if you are going to enjoy Him, you have to deny yourself. You have to renounce yourself. This is a problem. On the one hand, we know we are hateful in God’s eyes, but on the other hand, in our eyes we are really lovable. I believe that in our consideration, no other person in the whole world is as good, as nice, as humble, and as patient as we are. We love ourselves and consider ourselves to be better than others. No one considers himself inferior to others. Thus, even though we have become Christians, whatever we do, we will do it by ourselves. When we are humble, we are simply humble by ourselves. When we come to the meetings, we show ourselves to be humble, even though we are not humble at home. That is something by ourselves. How much we need to deny the self so that we may enjoy Christ.
Now let us see the way to deny the self. Whenever we are going to love others, we have to contact Christ. We have to tell Him, "Lord, this I, this ego, has to be put on the cross. No longer I, but Christ. Lord, help me not to love by myself but to love by You. May You love through me." We have to learn to apply the cross to ourselves. There are a lot of teachings and writings about the cross, but there is very little application of the cross to one’s self. We have to learn to apply the cross of Christ to ourselves daily in a practical way. When I am going to contact a brother, I have to learn to contact my Lord first by telling Him, "Lord, I am so afraid I am going to contact my brother by myself. Lord, help me to crucify this ego. Help me to apply Your death, Your killing, Your putting to death, to this ugly self, this ugly ego. I would not and I dare not love others and contact others by myself. Even the best thing I am going to do by myself is so sinful. I am afraid of it; I am trembling. Lord, I want to learn to live by You, to love others by You, and to be humble, patient, good, and kind by You. I want to be everything, do everything, speak everything, and express everything by You."
We need to learn the lesson of applying the cross to our soulish life. Our ego, our self, should be buried under the waters of the Jordan, just like the twelve stones were buried in the Jordan when the children of Israel crossed over it (Josh. 4:9). It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Just as the old children of Israel died and were buried in the Jordan, so our ego, our natural life, died and was buried through Christ’s death on the cross. Now we can enter into the good land of Canaan. If our ego still exists, that means we are still in the wilderness, the land east of the Jordan.
Brothers and sisters, let us learn how to apply the killing death of Christ to ourselves. In all things—in the ministry, in the eldership, in the church administration, in the service of the deacons and deaconesses—we have to learn how to deny the self. If we do this, the good land will be ours, and the riches, the produce of the good land, will be a bountiful surplus. We will have an abundant supply of Christ to bring to His children and the church.
Therefore, two things are very important. The first thing is to realize that your spirit today is the Holy of Holies. You have to exercise the spirit and learn how to enter the Holy of Holies all the time. The second thing is to see that you have the ego, the old life, the natural life, the soul, the wilderness. You also have the flesh typified by Amalek in the Old Testament, who opposed God’s people (Exo. 17:8-16). Our flesh and our natural life are always hindering and frustrating us, so we have to apply the cross. We need first the spirit and then the cross. You have to apply the cross to your ego, to your natural life, to your soulish life; then you will be in the good land and in the Holy of Holies. Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies there is the veil, which is the flesh, the natural man. This has to be rent. Then you are in the Holy of Holies. When you cross the Jordan River and your self is buried there, you will enter into rest and enjoy the resurrected life in the good land of Canaan. You will enjoy the riches of Christ and God’s presence in the Holy of Holies.
(The Centrality and Universality of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)