I. GOD’S ECONOMY
First Timothy 1:3 and 4 say, "Even as I exhorted you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God’s economy, which is in faith." These two verses indicate that 1 Timothy is dealing with God’s economy. At Paul’s time some were teaching different things other than God’s economy. Paul told us that we have to put all these different teachings aside and come back to the economy of God. God’s economy is His household administration, His plan, to dispense Himself into us. His dispensing produces a life of godliness. Actually, godliness is the issue of the divine dispensing.
Such a godly life issuing from God’s dispensing depends upon the exercise of our spirit. The whole book of 1 Timothy shows us this. A godly life comes out of God’s dispensing, but God is not dispensing Himself into lifeless vessels. In England they call a drugstore a dispensary. In the dispensary, drugs are dispensed into lifeless bottles, and because they are lifeless, their cooperation is not required. God, however, is dispensing Himself into us, the living vessels, who already have our own taste, choice, preference, feeling, thinking, mentality, will, etc. If we do not exercise our spirit strongly to cooperate with the Lord, God cannot dispense Himself into us. Our spirit is not only the receiving organ, the retaining organ, but also the opening for God’s dispensing. When our spirit opens wide, our whole being opens. Then God has a way to impart Himself into us. God’s dispensing depends upon our coordination, and our coordination is the exercise of our spirit.
This is why we have to pray. Just as walking exercises our feet and legs, only prayer exercises our spirit. When we pray, we should not be concerned so much for material things and for our personal affairs as the goal. We should pray in the spirit in order to touch God, to contact God, and to worship God. This kind of prayer exercises our spirit and opens our spirit, and in our spirit we meet God. Then the divine dispensing immediately flows into our spirit. Today our Christian life is a life of godliness, which comes out of God’s dispensing of Himself into us. This depends upon our spirit being fully exercised.
II. THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS
A. God Manifested in the Flesh
The mystery of godliness is God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16). Today we are the flesh in which God can be manifested. God is manifested in the flesh, but you have to realize that God can never be manifested by the flesh. The flesh is just the earthen vessel. It is not the key to carry out God’s manifestation. The key of God’s manifestation in us is our spirit.
B. The Church of the Living God
The church of the living God is the ultimate mystery of godliness because the proper church life is the corporate manifestation of God in the flesh. In order to usher all the saints into the proper exercise of our spirit, we have to point out all these basic points. We have to develop these points and impress the saints with them.
(Basic Lessons on Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)