NOT A MATTER OF SELF-CRUCIFIXION
Many years ago I read some books which said that we need to crucify ourselves. But these messages were not accurate, for they taught us that we had to crucify ourselves in order to be crucified with Christ. Some years later, Brother Nee pointed out that this teaching was absolutely wrong. No one can commit suicide by crucifixion. It is possible for a person to commit suicide by any number of ways, but not by crucifixion. Everyone who is crucified is helped in this matter by others. Not even the Lord Jesus could put Himself on the cross; rather, the soldiers nailed Him to the cross. Thus, it is definitely not logical to say that we can crucify ourselves. Although we cannot crucify ourselves, we nonetheless thank the Lord that we have been crucified.
At this point, some may ask about Galatians 5:24. This verse says, "And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Notice that this verse does not say that we have crucified ourselves. It says that we have crucified the flesh. Certainly we can crucify the flesh with its passions and lusts. In the Bible the flesh signifies the evil aspect of the body. We all need to crucify our flesh with its passions and lusts. But this does not mean that we are to crucify ourselves.
Another important verse in this regard is Romans 8:13: "For if you live according to flesh, you are about to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live." This verse indicates that we are to put to death, not only the flesh with its lusts, but also the practices of the body, whether they are good or evil. If we put to death the practices of the body, we shall live. Therefore, we must crucify our flesh and put to death the practices of our body.
Furthermore, in Matthew 16:24 the Lord Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." In addition to crucifying our flesh and putting to death the practices of our body, we need to deny ourselves. We must do these things ourselves. No one else can do them for us. The way to deal with the flesh with its passions is to crucify it, the way to deal with the practices of the body is to put them to death, and the way to deal with the self is to deny it.
OUR DUAL STATUS
We have spoken of our need to cooperate with the Spirit. The reason we need to cooperate with the Spirit is that, as saved people, we have a dual status. Before we were saved, we had just one status. But after we were saved, another life, or another Person, came into us. The One who came into us is Christ as the life-giving Spirit. It is a fact, not a superstition or a doctrine, that another Person, Jesus Christ Himself as the life-giving Spirit, has come into our being. When He came into us, He came not into our mind nor into our flesh, but into our spirit. Thus, at the time we were saved, the life-giving Spirit was added to our spirit. This addition of the Triune God into us caused our spirit to be regenerated. Now as regenerated ones, we have a dual status. Regarding the first aspect of this dual status, we are dying; and regarding the second aspect, in our regenerated spirit where Christ is, we are living. Not one verse in the Bible says that we must crucify our spirit, put our spirit to death, or deny our spirit. But, as we have already pointed out, there are verses telling us that our flesh with its passions must be crucified, that the practices of our body must be put to death, and that the self must be denied. In this we see our dual status: one status with the flesh, the body, and the self; and another status with the spirit indwelt by the life-giving Spirit.
We have seen that the first status comprises the flesh, the practices of the body, and the self. In this status are we living or dying? We are dying. But as we die in the first status, we need to cooperate with the second. Therefore, in the first status we are dying, but in the second status we are cooperating with the Spirit. Hallelujah for our dual status! The first status is fully qualified for death, and the second is qualified for cooperation. In our second status, that is, in our spirit, we have a wonderful Pilot who manages our life. Nevertheless, He needs us to be His co-pilots. As His co-pilots who are dying in the first status, we need to cooperate with the Spirit in our second status.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 22, by Witness Lee)