HOW TO BE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW
We have seen that, first, we need to be delivered from the law. But how can we be delivered from the law? The only way is death. Death can deliver us from the law because as long as we live, the law will have a demand on us. A living person is not supposed to break the law because the law will punish him. This is what the apostle said, that as long as the husband lives, the law puts its demands on the wife. However, if he dies, the power of the law will not reach her and will not make demands on her. Therefore, to be delivered from the demand of the law, there is no way except by death. As long as we live, the law will continue to put its demand on us.
For now, I will not speak of how God’s law puts its demand on us; I will only speak of how we make demands on ourselves by our own enacted law. When do we do this? If we get up late today, we resolve to get up early tomorrow. We make resolutions to overcome when we are very defiled, when we struggle day and night with sin, when we are in the turbulent current of the world, and when we feel that our life is very wrong. We think that we can make it, that we are able to make it, and that we will make it. In this way, we consider ourselves still to be alive. But by doing this, we will not see the clear work of Christ in us. If we truly know God, we will realize that He has completely given up hope in us. This is why He had no other option than to crucify us on the cross. If we really see that we are only worthy of death, all our resolutions will be gone. I can speak the same thing for myself. Many times I resolved that I would never do such and such a thing again. But afterward, I asked myself again, "Are you not worthy of death? If you are, why do you still make resolutions?" Therefore, we must see that the way to overcome is not by making resolutions but by standing on the ground where God has placed us. We should not cherish the hope that the next time will be better. Instead, we only stand on the ground where God has put us. We should not make resolutions anymore, nor should we hope to advance. We should no longer struggle to overcome because we know that all these are the works of the old Adamic life. We have to put them in the place of death and ignore them. If we are truly standing in the place of death, we will overcome and experience deliverance from all these things. Therefore, death is our only way; it is the unique way of salvation. The world, sin, the self—nothing is able to touch a dead person. If we consider all these things as dead, they will not touch us anymore.
HAVING DIED IN CHRIST
Now we will go one step further to consider how we have died. Verse 4 says, "So then, my brothers, you also have been made dead to the law through the body of Christ." From this we see that our death is "through the body of Christ." In the same way that Christ died, we died. The time that Christ died is the time that we died. Christ has died, and we have died too. This is not a spiritual suicide, in which we artificially consider ourselves to be dead. Nor is it a repeated declaration to ourselves that we are dead, in an effort to signal to ourselves that we are dead. Rather, when we see Christ’s accomplished fact on the cross and realize that God has included us in this death of Christ, we are led to the inevitable conclusion that we have died. There are two spiritual experiences in this world which are most amazing. The first is seeing God’s plan, that is, what God has planned for us and what God thinks we should do. For example, He has judged that we are dead. The second is to see what God has done in Christ for us. These two things are very wonderful. We see what God has ordained for us, we see how we have become one with Christ, and we see how, in Him, we can receive all that He has accomplished. When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, we were included in His death because God has included us in Him. When His body was broken, we were broken as well. His crucifixion is our crucifixion. Therefore, we and Christ are one. This is why we pay attention to the matter of baptism. Many people say that baptism is only an outward ritual and not important. No, it is altogether a testimony of something inward. We believe that when Christ died, we also died. The first thing after a death is burial and this is why we bury ourselves in the water of baptism. If we do not believe that we are dead, we would not be buried. The fact that we are willing to be buried means that we believe we are dead. Therefore, baptism is to believe that Christ has died and that we also have died. This is why we bury ourselves. The burial is a proof that we are dead. Christ has been crucified. When He was crucified on the cross, we were included in Him. When the veil was rent, the cherubim were rent as well. The veil was rent from top to bottom; it was God who rent it from top to bottom. At the same time, the cherubim were also rent by God from top to bottom because the cherubim were sewn on the veil. We know that the veil is the body of Christ, while the cherubim are God’s creatures. Therefore, when Christ died, all of God’s creation died. This is what it means to be dead to the law through the body of Christ.
The way of deliverance is not to deliberately reckon ourselves dead. Those who have been preaching the doctrine of reckoning themselves dead are preaching the wrong teaching. What is the right teaching? The right teaching is to reckon ourselves dead in Christ. We do not die in ourselves; rather, we die through the body of Christ. Christ died, and since we are joined to Him, we also died. The secret to victory is never to look at ourselves apart from Christ and never to consider the self that is outside of Christ. This is what the Lord meant in John 15 when He said that we should abide in Him. It means that we should never look at ourselves apart from Christ. What is outside is still very uncomely and cannot be improved. If we want to look at ourselves, we can only look at ourselves in Christ. Once we look at the self outside of Christ, we will immediately fail. Many times we forget the facts that Christ has accomplished. We become angry and frustrated at ourselves and ask why we are the way we are. We continue to fail, fall, and suffer disappointment with a resulting loss of heart. Please remember that these are the things that a person does outside of Christ. Today, in Christ, I have died to the law. If anyone has not received this deliverance and freedom, I would invite you to look at yourself only in Christ. In Christ, God has crucified us because He has judged us irreparable. There is no way to save us except by death. Therefore, God has judged us to be dead, and He has crucified us together in Christ. We are therefore free and delivered from the demands of the law. There are two facts here which we have to absolutely stand on. The first is that God has considered us absolutely hopeless. Only death can deliver us from the law. The second is that in Christ God has crucified us on the cross. The first has to do with God’s plan, while the second has to do with God’s work. The first is what God has destined, while the second is what God has accomplished. God knows that there is no other way of salvation except through death. We have been broken into pieces, and there is no way for us to become whole again. Herein lies the basis of our redemption—the cross. For this reason, in our daily life we should accept this fact all the time so that we can be delivered from the law. If we stand on this ground, we will not find obstructions. Of course, we should confess and ask God for forgiveness when we fail. But we do not need to look back, because all the failures and degradations come from the old Adamic life. In man’s eyes, there is nothing better than to ask the Lord to give us the strength not to do the same thing again. But in God’s eyes, this is redundant, because if we have died in Christ, there is no need to make any more resolutions. We have died; our history is over and all our ideas and decisions are also over. Man always thinks that making resolutions is a good thing. But these are like reeds; they cannot fight the enemy, and they are absolutely useless before God.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)