THE CHURCH BEING THE NEW MAN
If you know Christ, then you must also know the church. Matthew chapter sixteen shows us that if you know Christ, you need to also know the church. Peter said to the Lord, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Then the Lord answered him, “I also say to you…upon this rock I will build My church” (v. 18). Then, after mentioning the church, He went on to speak concerning the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom of the heavens is the church, and the church is the kingdom of the heavens. We should pray-read all the verses concerning the church in the first five chapters of Ephesians. What is revealed in these chapters is not a natural thought or a human concept but a divine revelation. The church is not only the Body but also the new man. Formerly every one of us was an old man, but today, having been saved, we are all in the church, and every one of us is a new man.
In order for a person to have a part in the church, he must see that his old man was terminated on the cross. Everyone who comes into the church needs to first leave his old man on the cross. This teaching is clear, and in theory it sounds very good. However, after a long period of practicing this, we still may be unable to leave our old man on the cross. Even if we are able, it may be only temporary. This is not because the teaching that the old man should be terminated is wrong. When we come to Ephesians 4, we see that merely crucifying the old man is not enough. The old man also needs to be put off. What we need is not just a short-term crucifying of the old man but a long-term putting off of the old man.
PUTTING OFF THE OLD MAN AND PUTTING ON THE NEW MAN
Now we must see what the new man is. The new man is Christ as the Spirit, the life-giving Spirit, and the all-inclusive Spirit. This Spirit is Christ (2 Cor. 3:17). When you believe in Christ, the Spirit enters into you. However, do not think that now we have only the new man. We must realize that now we have two men. On the outside is the old man, and on the inside is the new man. To use the utterance of the Scriptures, our spirit as our inner man is the new man, and our flesh as our outer being is the old man. If someone scolded you and you became very angry, you would be expressing the old man. Thank the Lord that we are a new man, not in our flesh but in our spirit. However, we need to remember that we have the old man as well as the new man. This is why in Ephesians chapter four Paul says that we need to put off the old man (v. 22). If someone scolds us, we should not get angry. Instead, we should quickly put off our old man. The more we are rebuked, the more we should put off the old man. If we do this, eventually we will even be able to help them with the rebuking. We must lay aside our old man and should by no means put on the old man.
We also need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (v. 23). Those who have been completely renewed in the spirit of their mind can completely ignore everything of the old man. Their concepts have been changed completely. This is not an easy matter. We should not say that we have already heard this teaching, because merely hearing this teaching is useless. If a person loves the Lord very much, yet he often vindicates himself or holds a grudge when he is wronged by others, then he has not put off the old man. If you still have a grievance and cannot let go of it, this proves that you are still putting on the old man. If you have put off the old man, you will realize that regardless of how others have offended you, they have offended your old man and not your new man. Your new man is in another realm. Therefore, we need to change our concept altogether by being renewed in the spirit of our mind. Then, when others offend us, we will no longer become angry, nor will we feel offended, because the one who was offended was our old man. Even if they were able to cut up our old man into many pieces and then bury or burn the pieces, we would not feel anything because we have put off our old man. This is easy to say but very difficult to experience. The one way we can experience this is by turning to our spirit. There is a new man within us. We need to turn to our spirit because there is indeed a new man within us.
This new man is the church. To put on the new man is to put on the church, and to put on the new man is to live the church life. If you do not know the church to this extent, you may be very burning today, but tomorrow you will cool down. If you know the church, you will put off the old man and put on the new. I do not care how others treat me because ultimately they help me to put off the old man. We should not view our relationships with one another according to our natural perception. Instead, we should view them altogether in the new man. Gradually, the brother who offended you will also see the light. When he sees that, instead of being offended, you have put on the new man, he will also give up his natural being and put on the new man. In this way your coordination in the church will be in oneness, the genuine oneness that cannot be broken.
We must realize that the church is the new man. If we truly see that the church is the new man, and if we put off the old man and put on the new, we will never be a problem in the church. If this is the case, we will spontaneously stand on the ground of the church, and there will definitely be the oneness. This is possible because the Body is one and the Spirit is also one. When we are in spirit, we are on the ground of oneness. As long as we are in spirit, we are in the oneness. We need to see the church, which is very mysterious. According to experience, the church is the golden lampstand, and the golden lampstand is the seven Spirits. The seven Spirits should be the church life today. To be the church is to live under the control of the seven Spirits and to continually walk in the spirit. We need to know God’s eternal purpose, we need to know Christ, and even more, we need to know the church. Christ is all, and the church is in the Spirit. Christ is all, and the church is the new man. Therefore, every day we need to learn this basic lesson of turning to the spirit, putting off the old man, and putting on the new man.
(The Revelation of the Mystery, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)