The book of Philippians shows us in a more specific way how we can experience this Christ. Philippians speaks altogether about the experiences in Christ and our experience of Christ. Therefore, the most important phrase is “the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” mentioned in 1:19. It does not use the terms “the Spirit of God” or “the Holy Spirit”; rather, it says, “The Spirit of Jesus Christ.” This is very meaningful. This is the Spirit of the One who was incarnated, became a man, lived on the earth, suffered ordeals and afflictions, died on the cross, was raised from the dead, and ascended to the heavens. The Spirit of such a One includes all these elements of His; hence, in this Spirit there is a bountiful supply. Therefore, in verses 20 and 21 Paul says, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me, to live is Christ.” This is to practically experience Christ.
Then in chapter 4 Paul says, “I have learned” (v. 11), “I have learned the secret” (v. 12), and “I am able to do all things in Him [Christ] who empowers me” (v. 13). He had experienced and gained Christ.
The whole book of Philippians is concerning our pursuing of Christ. In verse 8 of chapter 3 Paul says, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ.” In verses 13b and 14 Paul says, “Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal [which is Christ] for the prize [which is also Christ] to which God...has called me upward.” How do we gain Christ and experience Christ? This is entirely a story of the Spirit.
Therefore, when we help the brothers and sisters, we need to help them to get into the Spirit. We must show them over and over that this all-inclusive Spirit, this Spirit with the bountiful supply, is actually Christ Himself, the Lord Himself. He passed through the processes of becoming flesh, becoming a man, living on earth, suffering earthly hardships and afflictions, dying on the cross, and being buried. Then He resurrected, ascended to the heavens, and entered into glory. After passing through all these processes, He has become the Spirit with all these elements to be our supply. He wants us to receive Him, to experience Him, and to enjoy Him. Satan’s stratagem is to distract us with many things other than Christ. Therefore, we must learn over and over again to forsake all things that we may wholeheartedly pursue this Christ.
The book of Colossians shows us that the enemy, by his craftiness, is doing the work of carrying us off as spoil. His intention is to carry us off from the Christ who is the Spirit, who is life, who is the Head. Satan uses all kinds of ways to capture us, to take us away from Christ. Sometimes he even carries people off as spoil through the messages we give, because he entices us to speak other things. You may have been utilized by Satan to carry people off as spoil by speaking other things to them, yet you were unaware of it and still thought that you were edifying them. The proper preaching of the word ought to bring people to Christ, yet your preaching, doing just the opposite, takes people away from Christ by turning their attention to things apart from Christ.
Brothers and sisters, many things mentioned in Colossians 2 take people captive. Sin is not mentioned there because sin seizes only the weak Christians, the fallen Christians, and the sinning Christians. Sin cannot capture the Christians who pursue the Lord. The world is also not mentioned as a capturing factor. The things mentioned in chapter 2 which take people captive are things that have been disguised and have become very attractive, such as the worldly philosophy, the empty words of deceit, the elements of the world, and the traditions of men. These include certain kinds of preaching in Christianity. Some preaching in Christianity includes a certain amount of philosophy. What is philosophy? It is a kind of theory without Christ. Regardless of what kind of message you give, if Christ is not in it, if it does not enable people to touch Christ and to enter into Christ in the spirit, then that is a philosophy. Of course, the philosophy mentioned in Colossians refers to Gnosticism, but the principle is the same.
If we take a look around us, we shall see that in Christianity today many people are preaching philosophies which appear to be true but are not. They hang out the sign of Christ and the sign of the Bible, and they select a sentence from the Bible, but what they talk about are some doctrines without Christ. Under this principle, we have to be careful because it is very likely that we can also do this. We may receive some light from reading the Bible, find a topic from it, and begin to preach to others. Then when others listen to us, they may think that our speaking is quite good and has some inspiring power, yet in it there is neither Christ nor the Spirit. Please remember, this is also something included in Colossians 2. Unknowingly we may be used by Satan to take people captive so that they would not pay attention in their spirit to Christ.
Therefore, we need to have an accurate perception. We need to learn to be in the spirit to have a great deal of experiences of this Lord who is the Spirit, and then when we go to release messages among the brothers and sisters, we will know from where we should speak and to where our speaking should lead people. We know the wiles of the enemy. He is not afraid of religion, not even Christianity. What he is afraid of is that man would enter into his spirit to touch this pneumatic Lord.
Today if you go and visit the United States, you will discover the extent to which Satan has taken people captive. In Christendom the group that is most knowledgeable of the truth is the Brethren, yet you cannot believe how much the Brethren oppose the matter of the spirit, even to the uttermost. They simply cannot accept the truth concerning the spirit. Rather, they say that to speak about the spirit is to preach heresy. Most of the people in the Brethren assemblies do not acknowledge that our spirit is distinct from our soul. Instead, they say that the spirit is the soul, and the soul is the spirit.
Brothers, look at these four books. Christ in us is our life, and this results in His being our living; these matters are in the spirit. To be sure, we must help the brothers and sisters to see this. Christ lived out is the church, and the church is the expression of Christ; these matters also are altogether in the spirit. Furthermore, that we are able to personally experience Christ, enjoy Christ, and gain Christ is also completely in the spirit. Today we need to be cautious about one thing: Not only can sin and the world hinder us, but even religion, philosophy, doctrines in Christianity, and messages spoken from the Holy Scriptures can be used by Satan to carry us off as spoil, preventing us from experiencing the pneumatic Christ in our spirit. These four books show us that we must be in the spirit to touch this pneumatic Christ and live by Him, thereby living out the one Body.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)