VII. THE APPLICATION OF DEALING WITH THE FLESH
After we pass through the above process, we begin to experience dealing with the flesh. Yet this kind of experience and dealing is not once for all. We need to apply this experience and dealing to our practical living continuously, allowing the Holy Spirit to execute the putting to death in us, so that in every matter we may have the experience of dealing with the flesh. This continual experience is what we mean by the application of dealing with the flesh. We can divide this topic into three points:
A. In the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
The application of dealing with the flesh is a matter which is completely in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. None can experience the dealing of the cross outside of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in order to experience and apply continuously the dealing with the flesh, the most basic requirement is to live in the fellowship, or to live in the Holy Spirit. Whenever we are not in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we immediately lose the reality of dealing with the flesh.
Romans 6 speaks of the fact that the old man is crucified in Christ, while Romans 8 speaks of dealing with the flesh in the Holy Spirit. Romans 6 speaks of the death of Christ solving our sin and the resurrection of Christ solving our death. Yet these are the objective facts which can only become experience in the law of the Spirit of life of Romans 8. Therefore, we have said emphatically that the fact in Romans 6 can never be our experience unless it is placed together with the Holy Spirit of chapter 8. It is very possible that someone may clearly realize the fact mentioned in chapter 6 and also accept it by faith; yet if he does not live in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit of chapter 8, this fact cannot become his experience. On the other hand, there have been many saints throughout the generations who have neither known the truth in chapter 6 adequately nor seen it clearly, yet they have remained living in the fellowship of chapter 8; as a result they have spontaneously experienced release from the flesh. Therefore, the fellowship of Romans 8 is absolutely necessary in the application of dealing with the flesh.
When we have fellowship with the indwelling Holy Spirit and allow Him to move freely in our fellowship, then we touch the life of the Lord in the Holy Spirit. One of the elements of this life, the death of the cross, or the element of death, will then be applied to us in a practical way. The more the Holy Spirit moves in us, the more the element of the Lord’s death will accomplish a killing work in us. This killing is the applying of the cross, or the application of dealing with the flesh. Therefore, if we wish to apply dealing with the flesh, we need to live continuously in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
B. Allowing the Holy Spirit to Execute the Death of Christ upon All Our Actions
When we are in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to execute the death of Christ in us, His activity is limited in the beginning to a few actions of ours and occurs only occasionally. It is not until our experience gradually grows deeper that this death will be executed generally upon all our actions. In the early stage, we have dealings only when we discover our fleshly actions. Later, we allow the Holy Spirit to purify all our actions, whether good or bad, by executing the death of the cross in us. Consequently, all that we are in the natural constitution, the old creation, the self, will be solved by the cross. What remains should be of God and the substance of His life.
Take for example the matter of visiting the saints, offering a gift, and other such things which we think are good and spiritual. Even in these matters, we need first to allow the Holy Spirit to execute the death of Christ. Thus, we can be clear whether we should do any visiting or give an offering. The flesh of man fears the cross more than anything, for once it meets the cross, it is through. Yet God and His life in us become more living by contact with the cross. The cross of Christ is the dividing line between the old and the new creations. If we have never passed through the cross of Christ, we cannot discern the new creation from the old, the Holy Spirit from the flesh, or the resurrection life from the natural. The two are always confused one with the other and are difficult to differentiate, especially with regard to good and so-called spiritual things. Yet once we pass through the death of the cross, the new and the old are separated. All that falls and is finished is of the old creation, of the flesh, and of the natural constitution. All that can stand and remain is of the new creation, of the Holy Spirit, and of the resurrection life. Thus, the cross is the best filter. It retains the flesh and all that pertains to it, while it releases God and all that is of God.
If we continually apply the experience of the cross and allow the Holy Spirit to execute the death of the cross upon every aspect of our living and action, the flesh will be dealt with in a more effective manner and thus become atrophied. If we live continually under the shadow of the cross, the flesh will have no way to raise its head. Only thus can we be in the church without causing any trouble and be knit together with the brothers and sisters as one Body for the best service to the Lord.
Praise the Lord, in the past years we have served the Lord with many co-workers, yet among us there has been no quarrel or division. Apparently, it is because we all sought the Lord and loved the Lord with one heart and were all for the Lord. But the deeper reason is that we all have to some extent learned the lesson of dealing with the flesh by the cross. The cross within us kills all the strife and jealousy of the flesh, to the end that we cannot quarrel or be divisive.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)