DISCERNING THE SPIRIT FROM THE SOUL
AND ENTERING INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Now we come to Hebrews 4:12, which says, “The word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Holy Spirit, as the speaking Spirit, the Spirit of grace, the Spirit for our enjoyment, and the unlimited, eternal Spirit, dwells in our spirit today. Therefore, we must learn to discern our spirit from our soul. If we do not know how to discern the spirit from the soul, we will have no way to enjoy the Spirit of grace or to enter into the eternal Spirit. We will also have no way to hear the word of God or to understand the Bible. Many people think that a smart mind is required for the understanding of the Bible. This is not necessarily true. To understand the Bible requires us to enter into our spirit. Only when we are in our spirit will we be able to hear the speaking of the Holy Spirit. Our spirit is where He as the Spirit is, so we must divide our spirit from our soul.
Dear brothers and sisters, of all the Epistles in the New Testament, only Hebrews tells us to enter into the Holy of Holies (10:19), which is our spirit. Furthermore, 4:16 says to come forward to the throne of grace, which is signified by the cover of the Ark within the Holy of Holies, in the Old Testament time.
We know that both with the tabernacle and with the temple, there were three sections: the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. In the outer court were the altar and the laver. The altar signifies the cross, and the laver signifies the washing of the Holy Spirit. This is the experience of salvation. In the Holy Place were the table of the bread of the Presence, the golden lampstand, and the incense altar, signifying the bread of life, the light of life, and the fragrance of resurrection respectively. Finally, there was the Holy of Holies, in which was only one item—the Ark. We know that the Ark signifies Christ. The Ark is in the Holy of Holies; this means that Christ is in our spirit. We are the temple of God, and our spirit is the Holy of Holies. The Lord is not in our soul but in our spirit. Therefore, to enter into the Holy of Holies is to turn to our spirit. To come forward to the throne of grace is to come before the Christ who is in our spirit. God dispenses grace to man, meets with man, and fellowships with man at the throne of grace, that is, in Christ.
There are some believers who believe that, according to Hebrews 8 and 9, the Holy of Holies signifies heaven, where the Lord is today. This is correct. However, today the Holy of Holies is also our spirit. If the Holy of Holies refers only to heaven, how can we enter it? Verse 19 of chapter 10 explicitly says that we have the boldness to enter the Holy of Holies. Dear brothers and sisters, it is true that the Holy of Holies is in heaven, but because of the eternal Spirit, the Holy of Holies in heaven has been brought into our spirit. Today we do not need to go to heaven to contact the Lord; we just need to turn to our spirit. Let us use electricity as an illustration. Electricity is at the power plant, but today it has been transmitted into the house. Today when we want to use electricity, we do not need to go to the power plant; we can use it right where we are. Thus, subjectively speaking, today our spirit is the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies within us and the Holy of Holies in heaven are connected. If the eternal Spirit were not in us, then the Holy of Holies in the heavens would not be connected to us within. Since the eternal Spirit is in us, He connects the Holy of Holies in heaven to our spirit. As a result, our spirit has become the Lord’s Holy of Holies. We can enter the Holy of Holies at any time and anywhere. This is to turn to our spirit. To come forward to the throne of grace is to come forward to Christ, to contact God and touch God in Christ. Today the speaking Spirit, who is also the Spirit as our enjoyment and the unlimited, eternal Spirit, is in our spirit. Therefore, our spirit is the Holy of Holies, and the Lord is with us in our spirit. Hence, for us to draw near to the Lord, to contact the Lord, we must turn to our spirit. However, there is not one Christian who has thoroughly learned this lesson. Every one of us is still lacking in this matter.
Brothers and sisters, when you are saved by receiving the Lord as your Savior, you enjoy the redemption of the Lamb and also receive the washing of the Holy Spirit, yet all of this belongs to the outer court. Gradually, you go one step further and know how to enjoy the Lord as life, to have the light of life within, and to enjoy the fragrance of the Lord’s resurrection. You may feel that this is very good. However, you must remember that all of this is still in the Holy Place, in the soul. When I was young, I do not know how often I heard messages of appreciation for the blessing that the Israelites had in eating the manna. Finally one day, I saw that although manna was good, it was eaten in the wilderness. When the Israelites entered Canaan, they ceased eating manna. Thus, although manna is good, it is prepared for the saints who are wandering in the wilderness. Once you enter Canaan and know how to labor together with God on the land in Canaan to bring forth produce from the land, then you will no longer need the manna. Therefore, manna is for the childish Christians, the wandering Christians, and the Christians who are still living in their soul. Once you enter into Canaan, the Holy of Holies, the land of rest, and you truly know how to co-labor with God, at that time the Christ whom you enjoy will no longer be manna to you. If He is manna, He is not merely the manna that came down from heaven. Rather, He is the hidden manna, which is much deeper.
Dear brothers and sisters, learn to enter into the Holy of Holies to touch the throne of grace. Today many brothers and sisters are still living in their soul. If they turn to their spirit, it is only a moment before they come out of their spirit. For example, a husband and a wife who are believers in the Lord may argue at times over certain trivial matters. Please consider, when they are arguing, are they running out or entering in? Sisters, do not blame me for saying that in general the sisters are more skillful than the brothers in arguing. When a couple argues, eight out of ten times, the husband loses. Therefore, I ask the sisters, when you are arguing, are you entering in or running out? As a matter of fact, you are running out. The more you argue, the more you are outside. The more you argue, the more reasons you have, and there is no end to your reasons. Eventually, your emotion is stirred up, and your will also joins in. Occasionally this may even result in fights. At times a sister may feel that she has been wronged, so she goes to the elders to bring a charge against her husband. When I was in North China, I was involved a great deal in taking care of the affairs of the local church, so I often encountered this kind of thing. Sometimes a sister came to me and said, “Brother Lee, look at your brother...” At that time, because I was still young, I did not have a good understanding of these things, so I often tried to counsel the sister. Little did I know that the more I counseled her, the more her whole being turned to go out, to the extent that even my whole being also went outside. Consequently, there was nothing that I could do, and everything became a mess. Slowly I began to find the secret; I realized that the best way was not to say anything to her, not to give her any advice, and not to reason with her, but to help her pray. Once we prayed together, her being, which had turned outward, began to turn inward. Sometimes she began to weep just by calling, “O Lord.” This happened quite often. Why did it happen? It was because she had turned back to her spirit. Once she did that, she entered the Holy of Holies and touched the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace for timely help. Then, out of such a place, living waters flowed forth to solve all her problems. This surpassed any amount of human speaking. This is the secret of Christian living.
For this reason, Hebrews speaks about discerning the spirit and entering into the Holy of Holies. If you do not discern the spirit, you are in the soul and not in the Holy of Holies. Brothers and sisters, the secret of Christian living is absolutely not a matter of dealing with anything outwardly but a matter of returning to the spirit to enter into the Holy of Holies, to come before the throne of grace, where there is mercy and grace flowing forth as living waters to transform us from within. A Christian is not one who has been changed on the outside but one who has been transformed on the inside. Today there is truly a great mystery within us. In these recent years, having been led by the Lord to pay attention particularly to the matter of the spirit, I sense that it is truly mysterious. The Spirit, as the speaking Spirit, the Spirit of grace, and the unlimited, eternal Spirit, is right within our spirit, making our spirit God’s Holy of Holies. The Christ who lives in us is the throne of grace as the base, the ground, for the dispensing of grace. In Him, God is pleased to dispense grace to us. Once you turn to the spirit, you meet Christ and God; grace and mercy flow as living waters within you. Then all of your problems are solved.
Therefore, I repeat, brothers and sisters, where is the key to the book of Hebrews? It is in the Holy of Holies, and this Holy of Holies is our spirit. The key to this book is in 4:12; that is, we need to discern the spirit from the soul. Now we understand why this matter is mentioned only in this Epistle and not in the other Epistles. This book shows us that the exodus from Egypt of the children of Israel in the Old Testament and their wandering in the wilderness is a type. The New Testament believers may be just like them, wandering outside of the Holy of Holies and never entering into the rest to enjoy Christ. Today the good land is Christ, who is in our spirit. If we do not turn to the spirit, we will be wandering in the wilderness of our soul and not entering into the rest. If we read 4:9-12, we will know that there is a rest that remains for us. We must be diligent to enter into that rest. The word of God is living and is able to divide our spirit from our soul. It is thus that we are able to enter into the rest. For this reason, these verses say that the spirit must be divided from the soul and that we must not remain in the soul. If we remain in the soul, we are still wandering in the wilderness and are unable to enter into rest.
Brothers and sisters, do you see how great this grace is? In the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, but today every saved person can enter into the Holy of Holies. However, this depends on your decision. If you remain in the outer court, you are only a Levite. If you reach only the Holy Place, you are only a priest. If you turn to the spirit, to contact the Lord Himself directly, then you are a high priest. Whether you are a Levite, a priest, or a high priest depends on you. The Lord’s desire is that you be a high priest. He desires that you enter into the Holy of Holies to come forward to the throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace for timely help. Satan’s strategy is to continuously tempt us to go outside. Once you are outside, you are defeated; you have fallen into Satan’s deception. However, once you turn to the spirit, you can overcome, you are in the heavens, and you are in the Lord’s Holy of Holies. Christ is with you, and once you touch His throne of grace, His mercy and grace will flow as the living waters to water you continually within. This is something that the unbelievers do not understand. This truly is tremendous grace. If you truly touch this, you will have no unresolved problems. Every problem will automatically be solved.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)