The Experience and Growth in Life, by Witness Lee

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The New Testament reveals that we have an old man (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22) and that we are a new man (2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:10-11; Eph. 4:24; 2:15). Before we were saved, we were an old man without the new man. But after we were saved, we became a new man with an old man. Before we were saved, our soul was our person, and our spirit was merely an organ for us to contact and receive God. But when we were saved, receiving Christ as the life-giving Spirit into our spirit, our spirit became our new person, a new man. This new man is our regenerated spirit with Christ, who is the life-giving Spirit, as its life. Our spirit has become our new person, and the soul has become an organ to serve our spirit.

Through regeneration our spirit received the divine life, making it a new man. Thus, our new man is the spirit, and our soul has become the organ of this new man. Our soul serves our spirit by its ability to think, understand, interpret, decide, love, or hate. All of these abilities are for the spirit’s use, to serve the spirit’s purpose. Our soul has been rejected as the person, but our soul is still useful as an organ for our new man, the regenerated spirit.

In order to live Christ, to live because of Christ, we must learn to deny our soul. The truth of denying the soul has been opposed by some. Some have said that if we deny our soul, we will be finished. To deny our soul, however, means to deny the soul as our person, but not as our organ. As an organ, our soul—our mind, emotion, and will—is very useful. In spiritual experience, the more spiritual we are, the more thoughtful we are. The more spiritual we are, the more emotional we are. Actually, if we do not know how to weep or shed tears, we are not very spiritual. However, we need to consider how we shed tears. If we shed tears from our soul as our person, this is not to live Christ.

For many years I never shed tears from my soul as my person. But when I began to live in the spirit, in my new man, taking the soul as my organ, I began to shed tears. At these times I shed tears by the soul as my organ, not as my person. The person who shed tears was my spirit. It is the same principle today. When we love someone by our soul as a person, that is wrong. It may be love, but it is of the old man and is still related to the flesh. To love by our soul as our person is wrong, but to love by our spirit as our person with our soul as our organ is right. It is impossible to love someone without our soul. Our spirit, strictly speaking, does not have the loving ability. In order to love, we must have a loving organ. The loving organ is our emotion, a part of our soul.

Our spirit by itself cannot weep or shed tears. In the Gospels the Lord Jesus wept (John 11:35; Luke 19:41). He wept from His spirit as His person with His soul as His organ. He did not love by the soul as His person; rather, He loved by His spirit as His person with His soul as His organ. Today, as Christians, we are the same as the Lord Jesus. In our Christian life, our soul must be denied as our person, yet our soul is still very useful as an organ. When our soul rises up to be our person, we should tell our soul: “Dear soul, you were my person in the past, but not today. Today, you are my organ in resurrection, and my person is my regenerated spirit with the Lord Jesus as its life. This spirit is the new man, and this new man is my person. You, dear soul, are now only my organ. Stay in your position, and do not propose anything to me. When I love or think, you must be my loving and thinking organ.”

In my personal time with the Lord, my confession has most often been about living from the soul as my person. Very often I forgot that the soul was not my person, and I listened to him. My soul told me to love, so I loved. I lived the old man, not in doing bad things, but in doing good things. To merely do good things is not to live Christ; it is not something of the tree of life. Both good things and bad things are of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Only when we live Christ in our spirit are we living the tree of life. We must ask ourselves each day whether we have lived Christ or whether we have just behaved properly. Many times I have confessed to the Lord, saying: “Lord, forgive me. I still have not succeeded in living You. I lived You perhaps only one fourth of the time. But the rest of the day, I lived the old man by doing good. Paul could say, ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,’ but I cannot say this. Lord, forgive me.”

(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)