Laying Hold on the Eternal Life
Following this, 1 Timothy 6:12 tells us that we need to lay hold on the eternal life, which is the Lord Himself, God Himself. This is the life on which we must lay hold. In other words, we must live in the life we have received, not in interpretations or doctrines. I have briefly pointed out these things to show us that 1 Timothy also speaks about the life in the spirit.
Fanning the Spirit into Flame
In 2 Timothy 1:6-7 Paul said, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness.” What does it mean for us to fan our inner being into flame? This is nothing other than to uplift our spirit. When our spirit is down and deflated, that means the flame in our inner being is going out. At such a time we need to fan our inner being into flame, to make it burning again. This is to lift up our spirit within. Here we see that what we need most is to exercise, to use, our spirit and not be influenced by our environment, so that our spirit may be uplifted, burning, and inflamed.
The Indwelling Spirit Being a Guarding Spirit
Second Timothy 1:14 says, “Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” Such an utterance cannot be found in the other Epistles. Our spirit, which is of power, of love, and of sobermindedness, must be fanned into flame. Furthermore, the Spirit of God is dwelling in us so that, through Him, we may guard the things God has committed to us. Such utterances in 1 and 2 Timothy are not doctrinal but altogether experiential. This tells us that during the decline of the church, not only should we have a strong spirit within, but we should also know that the Spirit who dwells in us is the preserving Spirit, the guarding Spirit. There should be an intimate fellowship between Him and us. When our spirit is strong, and we enjoy the Spirit’s preserving and guarding, then we are living in spirit. In this way we can overcome the situation of the church’s decline, the church’s deformation.
The Lord Being with Our Spirit
Finally, the last verse of 2 Timothy says, “The Lord be with your spirit” (4:22). At the end of the book Paul concluded with such a great verse. In the entire Holy Scriptures, only this verse says so clearly that the Lord is with our spirit.
“The Lord be with your spirit.” Who is the Lord? The Lord is the Spirit. Who is the Lord? The Lord is the life in the Spirit. The Lord is the Spirit and also the life. Today He is with us in our spirit. Therefore, it is useless for us Christians to just listen to thousands of words and thousands of messages. We need to remember that today the Lord is dwelling in our spirit and that He is our life, He is our Lord, and He is our all. In order to experience Him we must come into our spirit. This is the life in 1 and 2 Timothy.
In Titus 3 the Spirit is referred to in a particular way. Verses 5 and 6 say, “Not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
These two verses speak of the Holy Spirit in a particular way. The indwelling Spirit not only affords us regeneration, but this regeneration afforded to us is a washing. This is not the washing away of our sins but the washing of our nature, our old creation. The precious blood can only cleanse us of our sins, our filthinesses; it cannot purge away the things in our nature, in our old creation. This kind of purging can only be accomplished through the washing of regeneration. Not only so, the Holy Spirit continues to do the work of renewing in us. Therefore, the washing of regeneration is a beginning, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit is a continuation. The more we live in the spirit, the newer we become day by day. Thus, the Spirit is continually doing the work of renewing in us.
Brothers and sisters, in the entire book of Titus these are the most important verses. This is because this book shows us that the work of the Holy Spirit in us begins with the washing of regeneration, and from then on He continues to do the work of renewing, to renew our being, which is of the old creation, step by step. This is not a doctrine, nor is it a matter of correction. Rather, it is altogether the work of the Spirit within us.
THE NEED OF THE CHURCH TODAY BEING LIFE AND SPIRIT
Brothers and sisters, during the decline of the churches, what the different localities need are not messages on other matters, but messages on the line of life and Spirit. Therefore, I truly hope that while serving in various places, the co-workers will do more digging, gain more perception, and have more experiences concerning this point and this line. I also hope that by their speaking they will be able to release what they have gained and thus bring the brothers and sisters on toward the same direction. Therefore, we need to pursue life and know the spirit and its two aspects. We must know the Lord as the Spirit, and we also must know the spirit of power, of love, and of sobermindedness in us. By this spirit and according to our conscience we live in the Lord, who is the Spirit. This will result in the church’s being rescued in the time of decline.
If we depend only on studying the Bible to research truths and doctrines, then more confusion will be brought into the church in decline. The more we research the biblical doctrines and the more we study the interpretations in letters, the more the church will suffer loss. We need to see today that when the church is in a deteriorated and deformed state, the way of salvation is not in letters or in doctrines but in life and spirit. We must bring people back from all the letters, from mere Bible researching, Bible reading, and Bible studying. We must turn their attention to the life within and help them to learn to live in the spirit.
In these few chapters we have covered Paul’s Epistles from Romans to 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Of course besides these there are the Epistle to Philemon and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Since they are supplementary books, we will not cover them here. In summary, the Epistles of Paul are altogether the embodiment of the Spirit. I hope that the brothers and sisters can find the marrow, the soul, of these Epistles. Now what we need to dig out, to open up, and to know are not the skeletal structure and skin of these Epistles but the spirit and life within them. Although I have spoken much, these messages give the brothers only a line and an outline. I hope that from now on all of you would go and dig slowly; then you will see more and what you touch will be richer. When your experiences deepen, you will be able to have richer utterances.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)