The Crucified Christ, by Witness Lee

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God does not require that His children have a change in behavior or a desire to do good. If God’s children change themselves from being indifferent to being zealous, from not reading the Bible to reading the Bible, from not praying to praying, from not attending meetings to attending meetings, God’s heart still will not be satisfied. If we had the right understanding, we would know that our seeking God and our slothfulness in not seeking God are actually the same. From the spiritual perspective, reading the Bible and not reading the Bible are the same. This does not mean that it is not necessary for us to be zealous, to pursue the Lord, to pray, to read the Bible, or to meet. This is not what we mean. We should regularly read the Bible, pray, and meet. However, merely reading the Bible, praying, and meeting does not mean that we are spiritual, for these things cannot satisfy God. What counts and what can satisfy God’s heart is that Christ is in our reading of the Bible, in our praying, and in our attending meetings. Only Christ can satisfy God.

Hence, God’s heart is not satisfied if now we are reading the Bible when formerly we did not. God’s desire is not fulfilled if now we pray when formerly we did not. God’s purpose is not accomplished if now we attend meetings when formerly we did not. This is not the way God’s purpose is fulfilled. God’s purpose is not in our attending meetings, in our being zealous, in our reading the Bible, or in our praying. God’s purpose is in Christ. If we are zealous merely for the sake of being zealous, if we meet merely for the sake of meeting, if we read the Bible merely for the sake of reading the Bible, and if we pray merely for the sake of praying, then in God’s eyes all these things are nothing but religious activities, which can never satisfy Him.

I hope that we can see that all spiritual matters depend on Christ, not on spiritual activities. The reason why all these activities have some value is that they help us to touch Christ. The reason why reading the Bible and praying have some value is that they help us to touch Christ. The reason why seeking God zealously has some value is that it helps us to touch Christ. However, if we merely have a kind of seeking, zeal, Bible reading, prayer, or meeting—all without touching Christ—these things are merely activities and are merely a religion. What is a religion? When we have a certain kind of action and a certain kind of living in which we seek and worship God without touching Christ, that is called a religion. It is neither spiritual nor pleasing to God because in it we do not touch Christ Himself.

For instance, there may be a person who prays every day. To do this is right and correct. The question, however, is whether or not after he has prayed for a period of time, has there been an increase in his inner knowledge and experience of Christ? After this kind of prayer if his inner knowledge and experience of Christ have not increased and are exactly the same as before, then his prayer is nothing but a religious ritual. However, after half a year of prayer, if his knowledge of Christ and the element of Christ have increased within him, and he has deeply experienced Christ, then in God’s view his prayer is not something religious but is something pleasing to Him. It is pleasing because he has touched Christ, gained Christ, and experienced Christ.

God’s only heart’s desire is that Christ would be in us as our life. If we do not live in this life or by this life—if what we live out is not of this life—then no matter what we do, whether good or bad, it will not be acceptable to God. Even if it is something good, in God’s view it will be merely something religious because it is not out of God or out of revelation, and it is not Christ Himself. Only what belongs to Christ and comes out of Christ is worthwhile and acceptable to God.

(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)