The Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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We have defined the natural constitution as that which pertains to human ability, capability, wisdom, and cleverness, because all these are derived from our natural life and not from the resurrection life of God. They are acquired naturally; they do not spring from resurrection by passing through the breaking in Christ. The difference between the natural constitution and resurrection life is indeed great. Our dealing with the natural constitution is that our inherent ability, capability, wisdom, and cleverness may pass through the death of the cross, become resurrected, and thereby become acceptable and useful to God.

When some people hear about dealing with the natural constitution, they think that God does not want our ability and capability. This concept is wrong. In order to be useful to God, we definitely need our ability and capability.

From the revelation of the Bible, we clearly see that the work of God on this earth requires man’s cooperation. It is impossible for man to cooperate with God without possessing any ability and capability. Just as wood and stone cannot cooperate with God, so also foolish and incapable persons cannot cooperate with God. We always say that a clever man is useless before God, but a stupid one is even worse. We also say that a capable man is useless before God, but that the incapable ones are worse. Actually, all those who are useless in this world are also useless in the hand of God. Throughout the generations, all those who have been used of God have been the capable ones gained from this world. We have to admit that Moses was a capable man with ability, foresight, wisdom, and cleverness; therefore, God could use him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Moreover, through him the most important books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, were written. We must also admit that Paul was a capable man who had great learning and was rich in thinking; therefore, he was able to receive revelation from God which enabled him to write the deep and lofty truths in the New Testament. Though Peter and John were but fishers of Galilee, we can presume that they were among the best of the fishers and by no means ordinary men.

The greatest principle in spiritual service is that of man cooperating with God. Although God does all things, yet in all things God needs man to cooperate with Him. It can never be that those who do not know how to do anything and are incapable and unwilling to do anything can be used by God. We often hear brothers and sisters say, “I believe that God can do it,” yet they themselves make no effort to cooperate. This kind of faith is vain. No doubt, God can do it, but it is also necessary that man be able to do it. If man cannot do it, though God can, He will not do it. God must seek those who are able and willing to cooperate with Him. God works as far as man is capable. God works according to the degree of man’s cooperation. Therefore, we must be able and capable, and learn to be a useful man in every aspect; then we are fit for His use.

However, God still cannot use one who is merely naturally capable. Natural capability, unless broken, is a hindrance to God. It must be broken; it must pass through death and be resurrected that it may be used by God. Natural ability is similar to raw iron which, because it is too hard and brittle, is not suitable for use and is easily broken. Resurrected ability is like wrought steel, firm but malleable, suitable for use and not easily cracked. Therefore, God cannot use one who is incapable; neither can He use one who is capable, yet has not been broken. Those who are usable in the hand of God are those who are capable, yet whose capability has been broken. If we examine all those who have been used by God throughout the generations, almost all were very capable, rich in soul-power, having foresight and cleverness, while at the same time they were broken by God.

The most outstanding example in the Bible is Jacob, of whom we have already spoken. Naturally speaking, he was capable and crafty. But one day he was broken by God and became Israel; then he lost his capability and craftiness. Yet when we observe him at the time he blessed the two sons of Joseph, he was by no means confused. He was exceedingly clear and had foresight. Moreover, the blessings which he commanded upon his children (Gen. 49) are great prophecies in the Bible. Those words are truly great and wonderful. If Jacob had been one who was insensible and stupid, how could he have uttered such words? On the other hand, if Jacob merely depended upon his natural mind, natural thought or capability, he could not have uttered those words either. His natural mind, natural thought, and natural ability, having been broken by God, became resurrected and spiritual; thus he could be used by God to speak forth those great prophecies.

(The Experience of Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)