DYING AND LIVING
The more we die, the more living we become. If we all die, then we shall be very living in the meetings. When what we are according to our first status is kept in the tomb, what we are according to our second status, the spirit, rises up. As we are dying, we live by cooperating with the life-giving Spirit. On the negative side we need to do three things: crucify the flesh, put to death the practices of the body, and deny the self. It is not good enough to be tired of these things; we need to die to them. How wonderful it is to die to the flesh, to the practices of the body, and to the self! We need to cooperate with the life-giving Spirit to deal with these three things on the negative side. Whenever the flesh expresses itself, perhaps in anger, we need to cooperate with the Spirit to crucify it.
This is not mere doctrine, but something we have learned through our experience. I did not learn this from a book, but from my experience. For years I tried various ways to deal with these things, but none of them worked. In particular, I followed the teaching about reckoning ourselves dead. However, although I tried my best to reckon myself dead, it did not work. In fact, the more I reckoned myself dead, the more alive I was.
Eventually, by experience I learned that as we are dying, we need to cooperate with the Spirit. The more we die in our first status, the more living we become in the second status. This means that our spirit rises up. As our spirit rises up, we need to cooperate with the Spirit in us to crucify the flesh, to put to death the practices of the body, and to deny the self. We need to pray, "Lord, I know that the secret of the spiritual life is not firstly to live, but to die that I may live. Lord, I pray that You will help me to die." You need not bear the responsibility for living. Simply take care of dying. If you take care of dying to live, the Lord will take the responsibility of living.
To die actually means to be conformed to Christ’s death. The Christian life is a life of dying. In our Christian life there is a mold, and that mold is the death of Christ. Like dough that is pressed into a mold, we need to be pressed into the mold of Christ’s death until we are conformed to it. Do not try to live. Instead, you simply need to die. Wherever we are, especially at home, we need to die. When the young people get married, they should not get married to live, but to die. All the problems in married life come from the fact that we are still living. But whenever we die, we are rescued and are at peace. We are happy when we die, but in misery when we try to live.
PUTTING TO DEATH THE GOOD PRACTICES
When we die, Christ lives in us, rising up not simply by Himself, but with our spirit. We need to cooperate with His rising up within us. Therefore, we die in our first status and cooperate with Him in our second status. When the Spirit as the Pilot is about to crucify our flesh, we, the co-pilots, must cooperate. If the Spirit tells us to crucify the flesh, we need to be willing to do so. If we do this, the Spirit will be happy. Then the Spirit will proceed to put to death all the practices of the body, including such things as our humility, love, and good intentions. Do not reason with the Spirit by saying that such practices of the body are good. Because we are not willing to put to death such practices, we bargain with the Spirit and say, "These are very good practices. For example, this is my practice of humility and that is my practice of helping others." Nevertheless, the Lord will tell us to put these practices to death. However, not many of us are willing to do this.
I have struggled with the Lord regarding this for years. Sometimes there was no struggle because I persisted in thinking that my love, humility, helpfulness, and work for the Lord were good. Yes, they may have been good, but they were natural. It took years for me to learn this. How often I offended the Lord and even rebelled against Him by being good! Eventually, I repented and prayed, "Lord, forgive me. not only of my sins, but also of my goodness. Lord, forgive me for doing so many good things for You." Have you ever made such a confession? In confessing, we may think that we need to confess only evil things, but not good things. Have you ever made a confession concerning your love or work for the Lord? Have you ever confessed the good things you have done to help the saints? Under the Lord’s mercy, I have confessed my good works as much as my sins. Romans 8:13 says that by the Spirit we must put to death the practices of the body. This includes both good and evil practices. To do something by our body means to do it by the self. We must repent of everything we have done in ourselves and then put these things to death.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)