Living in the Spirit, by Witness Lee


In John 15 the Lord said, “Abide in Me and I in you” (v. 4). How can we abide in Him, and how can He abide in us? This is altogether a matter of the spirit. Because He is the Spirit, we can abide in Him, and He can also abide in us. Today we all abide in the air, and the air also abides in us. In the Scriptures, air is a type of the spirit. Furthermore, in the Old Testament air and spirit are denoted by the same Hebrew word, and in the New Testament, they are denoted by the same Greek word. The Lord Jesus breathed into His disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22). It would be quite appropriate to translate the Lord’s word into, “Receive the Holy Breath.” The Spirit is the breath. Our Lord today is the holy breath. This is why today we can abide in the Lord, and the Lord can also abide in us.

If we would read the Gospel of John as someone who has never heard the gospel or has never read the Bible before, we would see something wonderful. We would see that after doing so many things, God became a wonderful Spirit, and that He has breathed Himself into us. We would also see that we have a spirit to receive Him into us. In our spirit we have been regenerated. In our spirit we can contact Him. In our spirit we can live by Him. In our spirit we can abide in Him, and in our spirit He can abide in us.


Most of us are clear about this matter. Regrettably, however, when it comes to our practical living, most of the time we do not consider the Gospel of John. For example, suppose I wake up one morning and remember the word in Ephesians that says that husbands should love their wives. I begin to pray, “Lord, I agree that husbands should love their wives, but, Lord, You know that I am weak and that I cannot love. Please help me, and as the Holy Spirit move me!” Suppose I have a very good morning watch that morning, but as a result, I am delayed and arrive ten minutes late for breakfast. As soon as my wife sees me, she says, “What is the matter with you? Where did you go? Do you not know what time it is?” Then immediately I respond, saying, “This is a cross from the Lord. I must bear the cross!” Upon hearing this, my wife becomes so angry that she scolds me and even throws chopsticks at me. “What do you mean by bearing the cross?” she asks. Then I may say within myself, “Oh, I need to receive the discipline of the Holy Spirit. I need this knife. I have many sharp places in my being. My parents did not teach me properly, so now I need my wife to teach me. Oh, I should pick up the cross! I should receive the discipline of the Holy Spirit!” Then I simply skip breakfast and hurriedly go to work while in my heart all I can think about is bearing the cross and receiving the discipline of the Holy Spirit. However, at noon time, the more I think about the situation, the angrier I become, thinking, “She should not have thrown chopsticks at me!” Then I tell myself, “It is not right to think this way. I must pray! I must be watchful and pray that I may not fall into temptation.” Therefore, I pray, “O Lord, keep me from falling into temptation!” When I return home after work, my wife is still angry with me. When she sees me, the first words she says are, “Have you had enough bearing of the cross yet? Have you learned the lesson of being disciplined by the Holy Spirit?” Sometimes the Lord allows Satan to bother us in this way.

There are different ways of looking at all our situations. We may think that all the things that happen to us are lessons from God. However, if we had the light from the Gospel of John, we would see things from another angle and realize that it is not a matter of “learning lessons.” We would see that all the things that happen to us test us as to whether we are living in the spirit or in our self. When you are truly living in the spirit, there is no need to bear the cross, to be broken, or to be disciplined by the Holy Spirit. Even if your wife were to create a big uproar, you would not be bothered but would simply live in the spirit. If your wife gave you chicken soup, you would say, “Hallelujah.” If she gave you plain water, you would also say, “Hallelujah.” You would simply be living in the spirit. If you try to bear the cross and receive the discipline of the Holy Spirit without living in the spirit, you will only stir up your wife to give you more discipline. The devil knows how to deal with us. When we resist losing our temper, the devil will bother us again and again until we cannot help losing our temper. Under the devil’s constant bothering, one day we will throw chopsticks at our wife. Then she will be happy and say, “So you also throw chopsticks! Now we are the same!” The best way to silence Satan is to live in the spirit. The best way is not pretending, being patient, “learning lessons,” or being broken. We should not know anything except to live in the spirit. Today our Lord lives in our spirit, and we should live by Him. When we are rebuked, we should live by Him. When we are embraced and kissed, we should live by Him. When we are slapped on the face, we should still live by Him.

Do not think that these are just my words. The Lord said in the Gospel of John, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (6:57). We should live by Him, not for only twenty minutes a day but for all twenty-four hours. It should not be that when our wife kisses us, we live by Him, but when she scolds us, we endure and bear the cross. It should not be that when we go into a department store, we quickly pray and become watchful in order that we would not fall into temptation. Rather, we should live by Him when we enter the meeting hall, and we should also live by Him when we enter the department store. Whether we have John chapter three in front of us or a variety of things in front of us, we should live by Him. Outwardly our situations may change, but inwardly we should always be in a condition of living by Him.

(Living in the Spirit, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)