The Christian Life, by Witness Lee

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Galatians 5:16 and 25 speak of both living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit. Verse 25 says, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." According to this verse, to live is one thing, and to walk is another. It is difficult for Bible translators to decide which spirit is referred to in this verse—the divine Spirit or the human spirit. In the Recovery Version of the New Testament, we made a decision on this verse according to the context. One way to read Galatians 5:25 in its context is to interpret the spirit in this verse as the divine Spirit. However, it is also possible to interpret and apply this verse in another way. The matter of living has two aspects. First, to live means to have life, to receive life. Second, to live is to have a living. To receive life is one thing, and to have a living is another thing. Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11, which are quoted from Habakkuk 2:4, say that the righteous "shall have life and live by faith." According to these verses, we first have life, and then we live. To have life is surely by the divine Spirit, but to live, that is, to have a living, implies our human spirit.

The two spirits are implied also in the matter of walking by the spirit. To walk surely is by the divine Spirit with our human spirit. These two spirits—the divine Spirit and the human spirit—are mingled within us; hence, we call this spirit "the mingled spirit." Romans 8:4 says that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled "in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit." Here it is difficult to decide whether our walk should be according to the divine Spirit or according to the human spirit. Actually, it should be according to both of these spirits, that is, according to the mingled spirit.

The Christian life is not simple. When I was a young Christian, I thought that the Christian life is simply a life of being good. However, we should not think that if we are humble, gentle, kind, and tolerant, we are holy and are living the Christian life. The Christian life is to live by the Spirit and then to walk by the Spirit. To walk means to have our being and implies everything in our daily human life. If we are quiet, we should be quiet by the Spirit. If we are quiet by our self, we are not living and walking by the Spirit. To be quiet is not wrong, but we should be quiet by the Spirit. A cemetery is a very quiet place, and none who are buried there make any noise. If we are quiet by the Spirit, we will not be like a dead person buried in a tomb; on the contrary, we will be very active and very living.

To live the Christian life, we must make many subtractions. We must subtract our natural life, our self, our goodness, and many other things. We must subtract everything until we have nothing further to subtract. Then, what is left will be the Spirit. As long as we still have something to subtract, we are still not living by the Spirit.

When we say "Hello" to others, we must do so by the Spirit. When we touch such details of our living, we can see that we are all very natural. After saying "Hello" to someone, we often say "How are you?" out of habit, without any consciousness or intention. We do not say such things by our spirit. However, to walk, to have our being, implies everything in our daily living. This means that we should be a person absolutely living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit. The apostle Paul was one who practiced this. In 1 Timothy 4:7 Paul charged Timothy to exercise himself unto godliness. Godliness is the manifestation of God (1 Tim. 3:16). Thus, we need to exercise ourselves unto the manifestation of God. When we say "Hello," we need to ask, "Is this the manifestation of God?" If the answer is negative, we should not say that. Some may feel that this is too much. However, we do need to exercise ourselves to such an extent unto godliness.

When we are asked, "How are you?" most of the time we respond, "Fine." Such a response may not be by the Spirit. If we exercise ourselves unto godliness, we must hesitate when we answer such a question. In our hesitation, we need to consider how to answer in such a way that we exercise ourselves unto godliness, unto the manifestation of God. We must exercise ourselves to such an extent that all day long, whatever we are, whatever we do, whatever we think, whatever we express, and whatever we say must be the expression, the manifestation, of God. This surely must be done by the Spirit.

(The Christian Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)