Basic Lessons on Service, by Witness Lee


Strange fire in the priestly service causes death before God. Leviticus 10:1 and 2 say, "Now the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer and put fire in it, and placed incense upon it, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from before Jehovah and consumed them, and they died before Jehovah." Maybe the two sons of Aaron did this with a good heart, with a good intention, but still they were burned to death. The offering of strange fire caused death to these two priests before God.

We have to tell the saints that we are today’s priests. As today’s priests we must be careful about what we offer to God. We may have a good heart and a good intention in offering something to God, but if we offer the wrong thing, this can cause death to us. This does not seem like some serious sinful thing, but it is serious in the eyes of God. This death is mostly in the spiritual sense. Whenever we serve the Lord with a kind of natural enthusiasm, this brings in death to our spirit. This means we serve the Lord in a natural way. Any kind of natural service brings death to our spirit.

Many Christians today serve with a kind of natural hotness, a kind of natural enthusiasm. It is not something dealt with by the cross and altogether not in resurrection. In the past we have seen some capable ones who were hot in serving the Lord in the church. Gradually, the more they served, the more they brought in death to others and mainly death to themselves. They killed themselves in their spirit by their serving, so eventually they disappeared in the service. Their priesthood was lost. This is altogether the real significance of the death because of offering strange fire.

We must point out that we all need to serve, to function, and to use our one talent, our gift. But we must be careful not to serve in a natural way, with our natural hotness. Of course, the Lord does want us to be hot in the spirit, not cold or lukewarm. But we have to be hot in our spirit, not in our natural life. In Romans 12:11 Paul tells us to be "burning in spirit, serving the Lord." Any hotness in our natural life is strange fire to God, and this brings in death.


After the death of the two sons of Aaron, Aaron was silent. He was told not to mourn for his two sons, who were condemned and killed by the holiness of God (Lev. 10:3, 6). This means that the priests should control their natural affection, not sympathizing with the victim condemned by God’s holiness. It was difficult for Aaron as the father not to sympathize, so he needed to control his natural affection.

Thus, in our priestly service not only should the natural enthusiasm be rejected but also the natural affection should be controlled. Today everyone in the church life is a priest in the priesthood, and all the priests should control their natural affection, not sympathizing with anyone who is condemned or killed by the holiness of God. The fire on the burnt offering altar signifies God’s holiness. It was God’s holiness that burned on the altar day and night. Thus, the fire that came out to devour the two sons was the holiness of God.

In Leviticus 10 we can see two natural things: the natural hotness, the natural enthusiasm, and the natural affection, the natural sympathy. Both should be rejected. We should not bring in natural hotness, nor should we exercise our natural affection to sympathize with any natural ones.

(Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)