Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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We have seen the difference between the spirit, the soul, and the body and that our human spirit is the innermost part of our entire being, through which, in which, and by which we contact God. Therefore, dealing with our human spirit is even deeper than dealing with our conscience. We need to deal with our flesh, our self, our conscience, and even the more with our spirit as our innermost part.

To learn how to deal with our spirit is very important because the spiritual ministry, the spiritual service, and even the spiritual flow of life depend upon our spirit. What we minister to people must be something spiritual, that is, by the spirit and in the spirit. Ministering by the spirit can be illustrated by serving a drink. Before we serve someone a drink, we must wash our hands and wash the cup, because if our hands or the cup are dirty, we will make the drink dirty. This is a picture of dealing with the flesh, the self, and the conscience. However, after washing our hands and the cup, we also must purify the water itself. Our hands and the cup may be absolutely clean, yet the water itself may be dirty. Dealing with the water is a picture of dealing with the spirit. After we learn how to deal with the flesh, the self, and the conscience, we must learn how to deal with the spirit itself. Our spirit must be pure because what we minister to people is from the spirit. If the spirit is not pure and right, no matter how clean we are in other matters, there still will be something defiling.

If we read the Scriptures carefully, we will notice that there are many different conditions of the spirit. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, / And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Our spirit must be steadfast. It may be that we have no problem with the flesh, no trouble with the self, and no offense in the conscience, but whether or not our spirit is steadfast is another matter. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness.” The spirit here is not the Holy Spirit; it is our human spirit. It is a spirit of power toward the enemy, a spirit of love toward others, and a spirit of sobermindedness toward ourselves.

Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, even if a man is overtaken in some offense, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of meekness.” A spirit of meekness is a certain condition of the spirit. Our spirit must be powerful yet meek. First Peter 3:4 speaks of “the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God.” Proverbs 16:19 says, “It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, / Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” A lowly spirit is another condition of the spirit. Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.” This is not to have a poor spirit but to be poor in spirit. Finally, 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Therefore since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We must be cleansed from all filthiness not only of the flesh but of the spirit. There are many passages concerning the spirit, but this selection is sufficient to show us that the spirit may be in different conditions. Therefore, there is the need to deal with our spirit to keep our spirit in a right condition. Our spirit must be steadfast, and it must be a spirit of power, of love, and of sobermindedness. It must be meek, quiet, lowly, and cleansed, and we must be poor in spirit.


The human spirit has been defiled, influenced, damaged, and spoiled by the soul and by the flesh, but in itself it is not sinful as the flesh and the soul are. Our great problem is not in the spirit but in the soul and the flesh. As we already have seen, we have sin in the flesh and the self in the soul. Sin and self are the two biggest problems we have with God. We cannot trace, however, that there is a direct problem with our spirit. The only verse that might indicate this is 2 Corinthians 7:1, which speaks of defilement of flesh and of spirit. However, the defilement of the spirit is not the defilement of the spirit itself. It is something of the soul and the flesh, which influence the spirit. Because our human spirit is under the influence of the soul and the damage of the flesh, it is defiled.

We may compare this to a fountain with a flow of water. The fountain and the water themselves may be clean, but the water has to flow through a passage. If the passage is clear and clean, the flow of the water will be clean. However, the water can be dirtied by the passage. The passage is the problem. By now we are clear that the spirit is the innermost part of our whole being, but in order for us to release our spirit, our spirit needs to pass through our soul and body. In this way, the soul and body become the passages of the spirit.

The body is a dwelling place, a residence, for the soul, and the soul is a vessel for the spirit. The spirit is contained in the soul, and the soul dwells in the body. Therefore, when the spirit is released, it passes through the soul and the body. Even though there is no problem with the spirit, there are many problems with the passages of the spirit. When our soul is pure and there are no problems of the flesh, the spirit is released in a proper way.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)