SATAN HINDERING OUR PROGRESS BY DECEIVING US
Therefore, we are very often easily deceived in the matter of spiritual experience. After we hear a certain truth and before we have the spiritual reality, we may think that we already have it. On the other hand, sometimes we already have the spiritual reality, but being deceived by the enemy, we think that we do not have the reality. For example, many of us have doubted whether we are saved. If a person has clearly been saved yet is doubtful about his salvation, that is a deception that comes from the enemy. This kind of deception causes us to doubt that we have the spiritual reality after we already have it. This is precisely the reason that God’s work is not able to advance in us. The problem is that either we do not have the reality yet think we have it, or we already have it yet doubt that we have it. Both are due to the deception of Satan, the evil one, whose aim is to keep us in our original situation. He does not want us to progress in our spiritual pursuit, so he uses all kinds of ways to hinder us.
THE CONTRADICTION RELATED TO SPIRITUAL REALITY
In our spiritual pursuit we must first know that spiritual reality is neither doctrine nor knowledge but the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Next, we should not consider that we have already obtained the spiritual reality, neither should we consider that we are lacking it. We are deceived if we lightly consider that we already have obtained it; similarly, we are deceived if we casually think that we are lacking it. Generally speaking, those who easily believe that they have already obtained spiritual reality are people who are too careless, while those who easily believe that they have not obtained spiritual reality are people who are overly serious. This seems like a contradiction; either way that we think, we seem to be deceived. But this is God’s way regarding spiritual reality. For example, the treasure is put in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7), the fire burns in the thornbush (Exo. 3:2), the new creation is contained in the old creation, and God’s life is mingled with man’s life. These are all seemingly contradictory situations.
Today within some of us the new creation is flourishing and the old creation is languishing, while within others the old creation is flourishing and the new creation is languishing. We ourselves are responsible for this. While it is impossible for us to be completely freed from the old creation before our rapture, we are still responsible for whether the new creation is flourishing in us or the old creation is occupying the first place in us. If Paul were alive today, on the one hand he would surely say, “To me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21a), but on the other hand he would also say, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7a). Although Paul still had the earthen vessel, the flesh, the old creation, he could testify that by the grace of God he did not allow the earthen vessel to prevail against the treasure within nor did he allow the old creation to take the first place. Rather, by the grace of God Paul allowed the new creation to subdue the old creation and allowed Christ as the treasure to take the first place in him.
In our daily living we are always facing this question: Do we allow the new creation to prevail against the old creation, or do we allow the old creation to overcome the new creation? Do we allow God to have the upper hand in us, or do we still allow our self to have the upper hand? No one can answer this question for us. Today whether the new creation prevails over the old creation or the old creation prevails over the new creation is our own responsibility. Although it seems to be a contradiction that we are deceived whether we think that we have the spiritual reality or we think that we do not have it, we still can be responsible for allowing the new creation to prevail against our old creation. Whenever God demands something within us, we have to learn to say to God, “O God, You win; may You prevail in me.”
We must realize that the new creation is contained in the old creation, the treasure is placed in the earthen vessel, God is mingled with man, and God’s life is mingled with man’s life. After we have this clear knowledge, whenever there is a conflict between the new creation and the old creation, we can then choose the new creation. Whenever we feel that there is a struggle between God and us, we will be able to pray, “O God, have mercy on me! By Your grace may You be victorious and may I be defeated.” This is the responsibility we must bear. We have to learn this lesson daily and constantly. How spiritual we are is not our responsibility. In our experiences in daily life, instead of depending on excitement or our mood, we should simply allow that which is “new” to win while denying that which is “old.” This is the work that the Lord desires, and this is what the Lord wants to gain. All those who love God and pursue God must pay attention to this way by preparing themselves to cooperate with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, by the grace of God they must stand on His side. May the Lord be merciful to us. This is the experience of the spiritual reality.
(Dead to Law but Living to God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)