Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Someone may ask us how we feel about a brother, and we may reply that he is a good brother and that we have no problem with him. If a person knows how to sense the human spirit, however, he will be able to realize that we actually have many problems with that brother. If someone asks me if I am Chinese, I can say no, but he should recognize that my tone and accent are Chinese, just as Peter’s Galilean accent gave him away (Matt. 26:73). This illustrates that when we listen to a person, we should listen not only to the words but to his “tone,” that is, his spirit. A number of times someone has said, “Let me fellowship with you about a certain brother. I have no problem with him, and I have not come to accuse him.” At that point we may discern that he is accusing. His word is not accusing, but his spirit is. If we have a spirit of hatred, even though we may say one hundred times that we love a brother, the spirit of hatred is still there.

Someone cannot be sure that I am Chinese until I say something. In the same way, it is hard for someone to know our spirit if we say nothing. The wisest way not to expose our spirit is not to open our mouth. The more we express ourselves, the more our spirit is exposed. One secret of dealing with people is not to stop them from speaking. Let them speak much. The more they speak, the more we are clear about them, because the more they speak, the more they expose their spirit. If we listen not merely to their words but to their spirit, to their spiritual “tone” and “accent,” we will know where they are in the spirit. This is the way the spiritual man can discern all things.

What we are is not in our word but in our spirit. What kind of spirit we have is what we are. We may say, “I am speaking humbly,” but we can still have a spirit of pride. If we do not deal with the spirit of pride, we can never be truly humble. On the other hand, if we do not have a proud spirit, if we have dealt with the spirit of pride, we can even say, “I am too proud,” but others will sense that we are very humble. In word we can be proud, but in reality, in the spirit, others can see we are humble. Sometimes a parent may tease his child and say, “I hate you,” but the more he says that, the more the child comes to him, because the child senses that the parent actually loves him. On the other hand, a certain person may say, “I love you,” but in truth there is no love. The more he says he loves us, the more we sense that he has no love for us. It is not a matter of word; it is a matter of the spirit. Therefore, we must deal with our spirit.


In order to help people, to serve the Lord, to minister something of the Lord to others, and to practice the church life, there is the real need to deal with our spirit. If our spirit is right, we can do everything. We have the full liberty, the full freedom, when our spirit is right. But when our spirit is not right, we should be careful not to say anything to others. If we say nothing, then the wrong thing within us will be hidden, like a bomb about to explode, but as soon as we express something, the hidden matter comes out.

If there is nothing wrong in us and our spirit is right with others, there is no need to be so careful. We can speak something freely with others. But if we have a problem with a brother and we are unhappy with him, he can sense the problem with our spirit as soon as we greet him. Therefore, we must deal with the spirit. Whenever we sense that there is something wrong in our spirit toward a brother, we need to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, deal with me. What is wrong with my spirit? Why do I not have the freedom, peace, and boldness to contact my brother? Why must I be so careful in contacting my brother, and why am I afraid to contact him?” The answer is that we have something wrong with our spirit, and we must deal with it.

In order to deal with our spirit, we must deal with our motives, intentions, and desires. We may, for example, have a desire to exalt ourselves. We may have the desire to let the brothers know that we have received a great revelation, yet we pretend to be humble. If the responsible brothers come to us and ask, “Do you have something to speak?”, we may pretend and say, “I am not certain.” This is a lie because within our heart we desire to use the entire time for our message. This is a problem with our desire. In this case, our spirit can never be clear, clean, and pure. We may say that we are seeking the Lord’s mind, but our spirit will never be clear about the Lord’s mind because it is so perplexed by the desire in our heart, in our emotion, to find the opportunity to exalt ourselves. Then even if we pretend, we still have a wrong spirit.

To merely be humble does not work. We must deal with our desire. This desire must be put on the cross and pass through the cross. We need to apply the cross to this desire by saying, “Lord, I thank You that You gave me this light, but I realize that there is a desire within me to utilize the light You gave me. I simply apply Your cross to this desire. Lord, if it is not of You, I will not speak one word about the light You have given me.” Then, even if the brothers ask us if we have something to say, we will say no. This is the truth, not a lie, because we have something, but at the present time we have no desire to utter it. Then the Lord may gradually prepare the opportunity for us to say something, and the indwelling Spirit will give us the inner anointing, the inner guidance, to speak something not for ourselves but for the Lord. We will speak and release a revelation not to exalt ourselves but to edify the saints by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When we minister in this way, the ministry will be a pure flow. Not only will the water of life and light be pure, but even the channel will be pure. We may minister a message which is very spiritual, right, and heavenly, but we may be a person with an impure spirit, a spirit of pride, of self-desire, of self-love, of self-intention, and of self-exaltation. Then, if someone has learned the lesson of dealing with the spirit, he will sense that our message is spiritual and heavenly, but the spirit is defiled. We can give people something heavenly and spiritual yet not pure. This is due not to the self but to our spirit.

We must learn to deal with our spirit. Today the Lord needs some spiritual brothers and sisters who know how to minister the spiritual things to people, that is, how to minister Christ the Lord Himself to others as their everything. However, there is a need to minister in a pure spirit, in a spirit which has been dealt with by the cross. If we have any wrong intention, ambition, or human motive in our ministering to others, we may minister something right, spiritual, heavenly, and eternal, but it will be in a wrong spirit. If we have a self-intention, self-ambition, self-exaltation, self- interest, and an undealt with, impure motive for self, and if our desire has never been crucified, we may do many right and spiritual things, and we may seem to minister something of Christ, but we will minister in a wrong, impure spirit.

Here is the need to be purified in our spirit. Our spirit has to be purified in its motives, intentions, desires, ambitions, will, and interests. If we are sent by the Lord to do any kind of work, or if we are committed by the Lord with any kind of commission, we must perform it in a right way and even the more in a purified spirit, with a pure motive, a pure intent, a pure desire, a pure will, and a pure interest. Then we can minister a pure flow of the pure divine life to people. This is what the Lord needs today for His church, for the church life, and for the building up of the church.

We can speak many things, but what matters is the spirit in which we are speaking. We can serve, work, and practice many things in the church, but we need to check with what motives, intentions, desires, will, and interests and for whose exaltation we are doing these things. We need the checkpoint of the cross. If we deal with all these things, the passage for the spirit to flow out will be cleared and purified. We will have a clear and purified passage for the spirit to flow out something pure of the Lord. The life, the flow, and the channel will all be pure, and we will minister a pure flow of the pure life to the Lord’s children. Then the church will truly be built up. Dear brothers and sisters, this is not merely a matter of right or wrong, or good or evil; it is a matter of motives, interests, intentions, and desires. It is a matter of the purification of the passages of the spirit to allow the flow of living water to be released. This is the greatest checkpoint of the cross through which we must pass.

This is the final item of dealing. We must learn to deal with the flesh, the self, the conscience, the world, and the spirit, and to deal with the spirit simply means to deal with our motives, intentions, desires, will, and interests.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)