PUTTING ASIDE THE CONCEPT OF RELIGION AFTER SALVATION
To put aside the concept of religion after salvation is just like “destroying the bridge after having crossed the river,” as the Chinese people say. Without the bridge there is no way to cross the river, but after we have crossed the river, we have to destroy the bridge immediately. Without the concept of religion we have no way to come to God and to know God. If we hold on to our religious concepts, however, we have no way to know God in a further way. Hence, please remember that immediately after we receive the Lord and once we possess God, we must drop our religious concepts. Otherwise, these concepts will become a big problem in our Christian life. It is not because of sin or the world that many people do not have much growth in life and cannot have further knowledge of God after their salvation. The biggest problem lies with the religious concepts within them. A saved one may think that since he sinned and did evil in the past, now that he is saved and has become a child of God, he should practice doing good. This is in accordance with his concept of religion. He thinks that although this concept of doing good was formerly obliterated by his sins and evil doings, now that he is saved and has come to the church, he will surely have the opportunity for this concept to be put to use. Therefore, he instinctively applies his concepts of religion—serving God, being zealous, conducting himself as a man, doing good, behaving himself, being meek and obedient—to all aspects of his Christian life.
These concepts, which are one hundred percent religious, are not derived from God’s enlightenment or teaching that a person may receive after he has been saved. Actually, these concepts were in him long before he was saved. Thus, now that he is saved, he brings these religious concepts into the church. On the one hand, he has the concept that he must serve God; on the other hand, he has the concept that he has to conduct himself properly as a man. If he does well in these two aspects, he considers himself a perfect man. He never searches the Bible to find out what a standard Christian is. He has only ethical and religious concepts, which are all natural and traditional and do not require the enlightenment and confirmation of the Holy Spirit. Later, this will become a big hindrance and an opponent to God in his experience. May God be merciful to us and open our eyes to show us that the kind of service He desires is totally different from the kind of service we imagine according to our original religious concepts. If God is merciful to us to show us such a difference, we will surely put aside whatever we had before, whether it be sinful or ethical. Before we received revelation, owing to a lack of light, we thought that what was acceptable to God and profitable to us was something moral and religious. Now that we have been enlightened by God, however, we see that the service that God desires is not something religious but is in another realm.
TWO KINDS OF SERVICE
What we have said above is based on Philippians 3, in which chapter we see two kinds of service. One is service in spirit, service that is in Christ; the other is service in the flesh, service that is outside of Christ. Although both of them aim at service and worship to God, they are in different realms, on different grounds, from different sources, and have different natures. I hope that we who have a heart for God and a desire to serve God will see that Philippians 3 plainly speaks of these two kinds of service. Paul’s is an example of one who had these two kinds of service. Previously, he served God in religion—he was circumcised, he was zealous, and he did his best to keep all the commandments of the law. In other words, he tried to serve God on the one hand and to conduct himself properly as a man on the other. Toward God, he was exceedingly zealous; before man, he kept the law of God diligently. He could be considered a blameless person and a good pattern for followers of religion. The religious followers of Christianity today are far inferior to the way Paul was in his time. Nevertheless, Paul said that his service was apart from Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit. Hence, this kind of service is religious. Such service is not in Christ or in the Spirit but is outside of the Spirit. This kind of service requires confidence in the flesh but not in the Spirit. Therefore, these two kinds of service come from two different sources and have two different natures. One is in the Spirit whereas the other is in the flesh. One has confidence in the Spirit whereas the other has confidence in the flesh. One cannot do anything without the Spirit whereas the other can do everything without the Spirit. The latter is the service in religion while the former is the service in Christ. Paul suffered the loss of all things of religion that he might gain Christ.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)