Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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The passivity of many believers is due to a misunderstanding of the truth of "dying with Christ." The apostle said, "I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20). Based on this, believers assume that the highest spiritual life is "no longer I." They assume that they should lose their personality, that they should have no more will and self-power, and that their "I" should die completely. Thus they become a machine to obey God. They think that they should not have any more feelings, that they should annihilate their personality, and that they should annul all the desires, interests, and preferences of life. They become like a corpse. Henceforth, there are no more "I"s; their "persons" are all gone. They think this kind of commandment requires them to efface themselves, destroy themselves, and "commit suicide" to the point that they do not have any feeling about themselves or their need, situation, sensation, desire, environment, state, comfort, affliction, etc., so that they only sense God’s operation, working, and moving. They assume that dying to oneself means having no more self-consciousness. Therefore, they hand their "self-consciousness" over to death and try to die to the point that they do not feel anything but the presence of God. They realize that death must be fulfilled. Therefore, every time they have self-consciousness, they single-mindedly put themselves to death. Every time they sense that they have a desire, lack, need, interest, or feeling, they single-mindedly deal with it and put it to death.

They assume that they have been crucified with Christ and that the "I" is gone. They also assume that Christ is living within them and that the "I" is living no longer. "I am crucified with Christ." Therefore, the "I" has died. They try to put this death into practice by no longer having any thoughts or feelings. They think that their personality should no longer exist because "it is Christ who lives in me." Since Christ is within them, they think that they should subject themselves to Him in a passive way and let Him think and feel on their behalf. Yet they fail to notice the next phrase of Paul: "The life which I now live in the flesh!" Paul has died, but Paul has not died! The "I" was crucified on the cross, yet the "I" still lives. After passing through the cross, Paul said, "I now live"!

The cross does not annihilate the "I." It will exist forever. Even after going to heaven, there will still be "I." What meaning is there to salvation if someone can substitute for "me" to go to heaven? The meaning of accepting Christ’s death is to die to sin and hand over our soul-life to death. Even the best, the noblest, and the cleanest have to be handed over to death. We have spoken about this many times before. God wants us to reject the heart that lives by our natural life; He wants us to live by Him and absorb His life moment by moment so that our whole being is supplied its needs. He does not intend to annihilate the various functions of our being, nor does He want our entire being to fall into passivity. On the contrary, the Christian life requires us to daily, single-mindedly, actively, and trustingly exercise our will to deny our natural life and draw on God’s spiritual life. Just as the death of man’s body is not an annihilation, and death in the lake of fire is not an annihilation, crucifixion with Christ in the spiritual life is not an annihilation. Man’s person should exist, and the representative of man’s person—his will—also should exist. Only the natural life by which man lives should die. This is the teaching of the Bible.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 37, by Watchman Nee)