Question: According to James 1:17, the heavenly Father never gives any gift of imperfection. But in reality, He has granted many believing brothers some imperfections, which benefit the weaker believers. Is this not also a great gift from the heavenly Father? (Chung, Shanghai)
Answer: James 1:17 says that the gifts from the heavenly Father are perfect in themselves. Although God has given many servants to His church (Eph. 4:11), I do not consider it a great gift of God to the church that some brothers become a "benefit" to other believers. Such brothers are merely used by God to bring benefit to others. They may become a means for God to bestow gifts to others, but they themselves are not the gifts of God.
THE SINFUL NATURE IN THE SAINTS
Question: Does 1 John 1:8 refer both to the believers and to the apostle John as well? (Chung, Shanghai)
Answer: Yes. "Sin" refers to the sinful nature. Although believers have been regenerated and have the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), they still possess a sinful nature. John said that he who says that he does not have a sinful nature any longer is deceiving himself. At present, there is a kind of holiness teaching that tells people that the sinful nature can be eradicated. This is most dangerous.
SINNING IN THE CASE
OF THE REGENERATED BELIEVERS
Question: Does 1 John 3:9 say that a regenerated believer cannot sin? (Chung, Shanghai)
Answer: A regenerated believer can sin, but he does not have to sin, and he should not sin. It is the experience of all the believers that they do sin. There are two phrases that we should pay attention to: "does not practice sin" in the first half of the verse, and "cannot sin" in the second half of the verse. In the original language, "does not sin" means that one does not continue in sin, or that one does not consider it his occupation to sin. Hence, the first half of this verse means that a regenerated believer does not continue unceasingly in sin, or that a regenerated believer does not make it his occupation to sin. In the same way, the second half of the verse should be read, "does not continue in sin." Therefore, John is not saying that it is impossible for a regenerated person to sin. Rather, he is saying that a regenerated person does not continue in sin. When he falls accidentally, he goes immediately to God to confess his sins and trusts in the Lord as his Mediator. Otherwise, what could John have meant when he said, "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate [not a Savior, for a Savior is in relation to sinners] with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous" (2:1)?
Question: What does Matthew 5:41 mean? (Chung, Shanghai)
Answer: The context of this portion of the Word clearly shows that the Lord Jesus was teaching us not to oppose others—"not to resist him who is evil." Verses 36 to 42 are merely giving us a few examples. A saint living in this world should not oppose others for any reason (except when he is being forced to sin). When describing the unreasonableness of men, the Lord Jesus said that if others compel you to go a mile, you should go with them two. The present-day rickshaw drivers can be a real test to the believers. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten about the second mile in their daily lives!
CHANGING WATER INTO WINE
Question: Can it be that the wine that was changed in John 2:3-9 was a kind of harmless wine? Please explain this sign. (Chung, Shanghai)
Answer: Perhaps it was grape wine. But if it were consumed in great quantity, it would also be harmful. However, since it was a wine recently changed and it was new, it should not have been harmful. The Lord never forbids the drinking of wine. But at the same time, He was never drunk. This sign is significant in many ways. We will enumerate them briefly. In type, wine signifies joy (Psa. 104:15; Judg. 9:13). To be without wine is to be in the failure of the dispensation of the law; there is no joy of salvation, and there is no joy to God. The Lord’s mother represents the nation of Israel, who wanted Him to manifest His outward glory. The Lord rejected her and gave the new wine (the gospel) to others. In prophecy, this sign describes the condition of the Lord Jesus in the millennium. In John 1, there are three "next days"; hence, there were four days already. Verse one of this chapter says "the third day," which means that this sign was done on the seventh day. The seventh day at the time of creation was a type of the coming millennium (Heb. 4). By that time, God will marry the Israelites. Although they have failed, God will be gracious to them. And Christ will manifest His glory. In teaching, we see how Mary was rebuked for not waiting on the Lord’s timing, how the servants were completely obedient, how the Lord changes those whose hearts are as hard as stone and fills them with blessing, how the world first rejoices and then suffers, but how the believers first suffer and then rejoice. All these are beautiful lessons.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)