I. IN GOD’S OLD CREATION THE SPIRIT OF MAN IS
THE REALITY OF MAN AND NOT THE PERSON OF MAN
In the old creation the spirit of man is the reality of man (Gen. 2:7). If we did not have a human spirit, we would be more or less like the animals. Although man is also a kind of animal, he is different from the other animals. Man has a spirit, whereas the other animals do not. Many people love dogs, but although they are clever and lovable, dogs do not have a spirit. Even if a dog stayed in your home for five years, it would still be the same, not knowing anything. But if you give birth to a child, after five days he will become different. After fifty days he will even be able to smile. After another few months, he will even call "Mama!" But regardless of how long a dog stays in your home, it will never call you "Mama!" No matter how you teach it, it will not understand. Yet if a child stays in your home for eight or nine months, he will be able to call you "Mama!" After another period of time, he will be able to discern who is Daddy and who is Mommy. Gradually, the child will grow. When he is five or six years old, his parents may talk to him about God. Gradually, he will know God and he will pray to Him. If you teach a dog, telling it, "God is your Creator; He is the Lord of heaven and earth; you need to worship Him," the dog will at most wag its tail and walk away. The little dog is just an animal. It does not have a spirit; it has no way to understand God. You can teach it, but it cannot understand. But with little children, after they become five or six years old, you can teach them and they can understand and say, "Lord Jesus, my mother told me that You died for me. Lord Jesus, I thank You." This is because man not only has God’s image outwardly; man also has a spirit within that can contact God. The spirit of man is the reality of man. Without this spirit, there is no reality.
In God’s old creation, the spirit of man is not the person of man. The person of man is the soul. Hence, both the Old and New Testaments call men "souls." The house of Jacob, consisting of seventy persons, went down to Egypt, but the Bible did not say "seventy persons" but "seventy souls" (Exo. 1:5). On the day of Pentecost three thousand people were saved, yet the Bible says, "There were added on that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). In the old creation man is a soul, but the reality within him is the human spirit. This spirit is the organ for contacting and receiving God.
II. IN GOD’S NEW CREATION THE SPIRIT
OF THE BELIEVERS IS THE PERSON OF
THE MAN OF THE NEW CREATION
(THE INNER MAN) OF THE BELIEVERS
In God’s new creation the spirit of the believers is not merely an organ for contacting and receiving God, but it has become the person of the man of the new creation (the inner man) of the believers (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 3:16). In the old creation the soul is the person of man; in the new creation the spirit is the person of man. Today it is the spirit that is the master and the person within us. In the old creation our person is the soul. In the new creation our person is the spirit; the soul is merely an organ in us. In the man of the new creation, there is a Lord who is Christ. This Christ dwells in our new man to be our Lord and our person. Galatians 2:20 says, "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me." This means that our old "I" has been terminated; our soul is finished. Now it is no longer the "I," the soul, who lives but Christ who lives in us to be our new person. He lives in our spirit and has become one with our spirit. Hence, the person in our being as a new creation, on the one hand, is our spirit and, on the other hand, is Christ. Both are the person in our new man.
The spirit of man was created by God. It became dead in sins due to man’s transgressions and fall and lost the function of contacting God (Eph. 2:1). Since man is sinful, he needs redemption. Through the redeeming death of Christ, the spirit of man has been enlivened through the resurrection of Christ (2:5). However, this kind of enlivening is still not resurrection; it is just like a dead person being enlivened from death. Our spirit is first enlivened; then it is regenerated with the life of God in the resurrection of Christ, by the life-giving Spirit, who is the wonderful, processed Spirit (Eph. 2:6; John 3:5-6; 1 Pet. 1:3). Man was dead in sins. Based on the redemption of Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to enliven man and then resurrect him together with Christ, in the resurrection of Christ, by the life of God to regenerate him.
Regeneration is to bring God into man. The life-giving Spirit who regenerates man is just God Himself. Therefore, when this life-giving Spirit regenerates man, God enters into man. God’s coming in is Christ’s coming in because Christ is the embodiment of God (Col. 2:9). Christ’s coming in is just life’s coming in because Christ is life (John 14:6). In this way the Spirit, God, Christ, and life all come into man. When we believe in the Lord, the processed and consummated Spirit enters into us. When we say, "O Lord Jesus, You are my Savior; I receive You," at that moment the Spirit comes into us. When He comes, God comes; when He comes, Christ comes; when He comes, life comes. This consummated Spirit comes into us not to bring us some doctrines but to bring God, Christ, and life into us to be our elements so that our deadened spirit can be resurrected and thus be regenerated. Hence, regeneration is to remake, rebuild, and reconstitute us to be a person of the new creation with God, Christ, and life as the elements.
(The Issue of the Union of the Consummated Spirit of the Triune God and the Regenerated Spirit of the Believers, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)