Dead to Law but Living to God, by Witness Lee


Our faith is true, is spiritual, is of revelation, and is of life. Our faith is not a method for our behavior. However, many mistakenly think that the Scriptures teach us doctrines, which naturally produce behavior. What are doctrines? Doctrines involve teaching and obeying. This teaching and obeying issue in behavior. Actually our faith is real; it is not behavior but life. Doctrines can bring forth only behavior, but the Holy Spirit brings forth life in us.

For instance, suppose there is a person who is saved and has God’s life. No one tells him not to drink wine and not to play mah-jongg, but amazingly, when he goes to drink and to play mah-jongg again, there is a restriction within prohibiting him from doing so. Therefore, he stops drinking and playing mah-jongg. His outward behavior is not due to his own decision or some teaching; rather, it is because he is forbidden by the sense of life within him.


Because the emphasis of training is on teaching people and on opening their understanding, the danger of training is that it tends to teach people to practice the truth that they have heard by using their own strength. Although training encourages people to endeavor, to be serious, and to make an effort to know the truth, its purpose is merely to prepare people that they may become experienced in cooperating with the Spirit within them. However, even when a person has become experienced after a great deal of practice, this does not mean that he is spiritual, because spiritual things cannot be achieved by training. None of us can do the spiritual work; the spiritual work is carried out solely by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit moves a little in us, then we have a little measure of spiritual reality in us. If the Holy Spirit does not move in us, then no matter how much truth we understand, we still do not have any spiritual reality in us. This does not mean, however, that training is useless. The greatest use of training is in preparing us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. If we are prepared, then whenever the Holy Spirit moves in us, we will be able to follow and cooperate with Him.

Therefore, none of us can do spiritual things; only the Holy Spirit can. On the one hand, if we have a proper attitude and the right intention, then after we have been trained and have become clear concerning spiritual doctrines, it will be easier for us to touch our spirit and for the Holy Spirit to work in us. On the other hand, if we think that because we have received some training, understood the doctrines, and learned the methods, we have a complete grasp of all the spiritual things and are therefore spiritual, then the training we have received will become the greatest hindrance to our being spiritual. Training cannot give us the spiritual reality; training can only prepare us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. It is not until the Holy Spirit works in us that we begin to have the spiritual reality. Spiritual reality is not doctrine and not even objective truth; spiritual reality is the particular work done by the Holy Spirit within us.


Do not think that understanding spiritual matters is equal to obtaining the spiritual reality. As an example, consider the matter of being saved. Suppose that after hearing the gospel, a person confesses that Jesus died for him and also believes that Jesus is his Savior. Moreover, he acknowledges that he is sinful and prays. Like him, another person confesses that he is sinful and also seems to believe in Jesus. However, in the end one is saved while the other is not. How can it be that two people can have the same thoughts and could say the same things, yet one is saved while the other is not? Although they both heard the same truth, they ended up differently before God. The crux of the matter depends on whether or not the Holy Spirit works in them after they hear the word. If the Holy Spirit works in them, then they will be saved because they will have the reality of the word they heard. If there is no work of the Holy Spirit, then they will not be saved because there will not be the reality and effect of the word within them. This is altogether the work of the Holy Spirit.

This is true not only in the matter of salvation but in all spiritual experiences and truths as well. Doctrines require memory to remember and human strength to carry out; spiritual reality, being of life, does not require memory to remember nor human endeavor to carry out. When the socket of our hip is touched by God and we become crippled, thereafter, without remembering that we are crippled and without endeavoring to act crippled, we are crippled. This is a matter of life. Whenever we walk, we will limp. This is different from understanding the doctrine of being touched on the socket of the hip and receiving the knowledge of being crippled. If we only understand the doctrine and receive the knowledge but have not experienced its reality, we have no alternative but to depend on memory and performance. Doctrines cannot afford us the spiritual reality; only through the work of the Holy Spirit can we have the spiritual reality.

(Dead to Law but Living to God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)