LIVING BY THE TASTE OF GOD’S LIFE
A Christian should not take good itself as the standard. He has to take God’s life as the standard. Whether a Christian should or should not do something is based upon whether or not that thing fits his taste. This is like whether or not a man drinks a certain kind of soup having nothing to do with whether or not he is glorifying God; it is a matter of his taste. We must not only exhort others not to beat their wives; we must also ask based on what does a man not beat his wife. A Christian does not smoke, not because smoking will not glorify God, but because smoking is contrary to his taste within. God’s law is written in us, because God’s life is within us. Whether or not we like something is based on the law of a taste within us. This law gives us a certain taste. A five-month-old baby cannot write or speak; his mind and reason are not fully developed. He cannot argue with you. But if you put ginger in his mouth, he will not swallow it. You do not have to teach him not to swallow it; it is not a question of mental knowledge, but a question of life-taste. When God created man, He put this law of life within the sense of life already. It is not up to the mind to decide whether a person wants something or not. It is up to the inner sense to decide it. If you put ginger in a baby’s mouth, he will not swallow it. But if you put chocolate in his mouth, he will take it and will want more. He may not be able to speak with his mouth. He may not even be able to distinguish clearly with his eyes. But he can tell the difference between good food and food that is not good. This illustration is a most appropriate one.
Within every Christian, there is the life of God. We know how to reject everything that is contrary to the taste of God’s life. In the New Testament, two passages tell us that a saved person can know God without others teaching him. These two passages are in Hebrews 8 and 1 John 2. We have to repeat a hundred times that a Christian who has life does not need others to teach him anything.
In Chefoo a brother once asked me at a dinner if he could do something. I pointed my finger at his heart and asked, "How does that part feel?" He said, "I know. I know." But soon after, he came and asked me again concerning another matter. I smiled and pointed my finger at his heart again, saying, "How does that part feel?" He said again, "I know. I know." I then responded, "If you know already, why do you come to ask me?" The third time he came and asked the same thing again, and I answered him the same way. Today, within us, all of us know. If you say that you do not know, you are lying. The real problem is not that we do not know, but that we are not willing to pay the price. If you have life, you will surely have the taste, and once you have the taste, you will surely have the feeling. Whether a thing smells good or bad is not determined by our teaching, but by our feeling.
Twenty-six years ago, I saw a child eating a rice dumpling. He should have added sugar to it, but someone added salt to it instead. Although the child could not distinguish between salt and sugar with his eyes, when he ate it, his taste told him the difference. Some food makes a person feel right, whereas other food makes a person feel wrong. Outwardly, things may look the same. But the taste tells the difference. This is the "law of the Spirit of life" spoken of in Romans 8 and referred to in Hebrews 8. This law has a taste. We reject anything that is contrary to this taste, and we accept anything that matches this taste. Every genuinely saved Christian has this taste. Unfortunately, many Christians neglect this inner taste. They live according to the outward standard of good and evil, and not according to the inner sense, taste, and law. What we need is not teachings, but the sense of life.
Eight or ten years ago, if you asked me some questions, I could give you many ways. But today, I will tell you that the answer to all the questions is found in the taste of our inner life.
There was a story in The Christian magazine which said that once, after Moody preached the gospel, a lady told him, "I am a Christian. But I am not like you. I have children, and I am married. My husband often takes me to the theater to watch the plays. Should I go or not?" Moody asked the lady, "Have I ever mentioned in my pulpit anything about whether or not one can go to the theater?" The lady said, "No." Moody then said, "What I preach is all published in the newspapers. Can you find in any of the articles anything I have said about this matter?" The lady again answered, "No," but she added, "Although nothing was said, I imagine you would not like to see Christians going to the theater." One afternoon, the lady again went with her husband to watch a play. The minute she entered the theater, she did not have the peace within, and she left. The husband said, "You have become crazy through listening to Mr. Moody’s preaching." She answered, "No. I am not crazy. The taste within me has changed. I do not have the taste for this any longer." Hence, we see that it is not a matter of outward teaching, but a matter of an inward taste of life.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 19, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)