NOT OUR BEING OBEDIENT TO THE BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, BUT THE LORD LIVING HIMSELF OUT THROUGH US
Do not think that it is easy for us to be obedient. This is not so. To obey the teachings of the Bible is seemingly an easy task, but to obey the One within us is not so easy. A person can be zealous according to the Bible by himself, but he absolutely cannot obey the Lord by himself. What the Lord wants is not that we would love others after reading about it in the Bible. Rather, what the Lord wants is to live out His love and to love others through us.
BOTH LOVE AND HATRED BEING THE EXPRESSION OF OURSELVES
Perhaps we have had an experience similar to the following. After reading from the Bible about loving others, it so happens that someone we like is right beside us, so we begin to display our love for that one. Apparently we really love him, and many people may even publicize the fact that we love others. However, this love is one hundred percent out of ourselves. When it is we who love others, the Holy Spirit will give us a feeling that this love is out of our natural man and is actually ourselves. Just as our hatred is the expression of ourselves, so our love is also the expression of ourselves.
Whether I am wearing a Western suit or a Chinese long gown, I am still myself. Even if I put on the best garment in the whole world, I am still myself and have not changed a bit. In the same way, I may wear a “garment” of love or a “garment” of hatred. Although outwardly there is a difference, I am still the same. I am the one who hates, and I am also the one who loves—I am the one doing both.
THE EXPERIENCE OF THE CROSS TERMINATING OURSELVES
The experience of the cross is not merely a suffering but a termination. Whether we love or hate people, we need to be terminated. Unless we are put to an end, Christ will not be able to come out of us; He will have no way out of us. If we love others by ourselves, people will be able to touch our love and ourselves, but they will not be able to touch Christ. This is because the cross has not worked in us. In other words, the cross has not yet put an end to our love; the cross has not yet put us to death.
DENYING THE SELF, TAKING UP THE CROSS, AND FOLLOWING THE LORD
The Lord Jesus said that if anyone wants to follow Him, he must take up his cross (Matt. 16:24). Prior to this word, the Lord mentioned that man must deny himself. We need to see that the cross is an adversary of the self and that what the cross deals with is the self. The Lord spoke such a word with a certain background. That day the Lord had solemnly spoken to the disciples that He would go to Jerusalem to suffer death. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God be merciful to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!” But the Lord turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men” (vv. 21-23). What Peter expressed was not hatred but sympathy, love, and concern. Yet this love was of the self, and Satan is hidden in the self. May God open our eyes one day to show us that Satan is hidden in and mingled with our self. Not only is our hatred Satan, but even our love for others has Satan hidden in it.
Sadly, hardly anyone today knows this. Even Peter did not realize this. Do you think he hated the Lord or loved the Lord? Of course, he loved the Lord. No one would ever say that Peter hated the Lord, yet the Lord called him “Satan.” Many times our thoughts of loving the Lord, of doing good, and of pleasing God all come out of Satan. Why is this? As the Lord said, “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.” Whenever we are in ourselves, setting our mind on the things of men, we are Satan.
If someone were to tell us that we were full of Satan, we surely would be upset. However, this is a portrait of man, not a statement to be used for scolding people. If we really knew our self, we would see that what is in you and me, the descendants of Adam, is Satan. The bad element is Satan, and the good element also is Satan. In the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there is good as well as evil. Everything that comes out of us is unclean because it has been mingled with Satan.
The Lord Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (v. 24). If a person is willing to give up himself and deny himself, Satan will have no ground in him. Satan is mingled with man’s intention, but the cross, which is on God’s side, does away with man. Everything that is of man comes out of Satan. If we hate God by our self, we definitely cannot please God. However, even if we love God by our self, we still cannot please God because Satan is in our self. Hence, in a way God does not pay attention to what is being expressed. Rather, God pays attentions to whose expression it is—Christ’s or ours. If it is ours, then we need not only repentance but also the cross. The cross requires those of us who follow the Lord to forsake ourself and deny ourself. If we want to follow Christ, we need to deny ourself, take up the cross, and follow Him.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)