THE FLESH AND THE CROSS
From the time I brought the Lord’s recovery to the United States, I have stressed four matters: Christ, the Spirit, life, and the church. The burden concerning these matters has been very heavy. In this message, however, I am burdened to speak about the flesh and the cross. We need to know what the flesh is and how it is dealt with by the cross of Christ. In the Lord’s recovery today, we need a word concerning the flesh and the cross. Our enjoyment of Christ may be full of leaven and honey and may also be lacking in salt. Therefore, I am burdened to minister salt, the cross, to the churches.
In speaking about the flesh and the cross, my concern is not doctrinal but experiential. As long as we live in this body, we still have the flesh. We need to be on the alert. Yes, we have been buried with Christ in baptism, but Satan tries to resurrect what has been buried. Therefore, we need to be watchful, especially when we rise up in the morning. Having enjoyed the Lord in fellowship the night before, we may have slept peacefully. But when we rise up in the morning, the evil flesh may try to follow us. Although the flesh has been buried, it will still try to incite us to think negatively about our wife or husband or about certain brothers. We need to realize that such thoughts are a devilish resurrection of our flesh.
At such a time we need to pray, saying, “Lord, have mercy on me. I do not want to walk by this ugly flesh instigated by Your enemy. I want to enjoy You, Lord.” Then, perhaps with tears, we may go on to pray, “Father, I take Your Son, my dear Lord, as my burnt offering. I cannot be absolutely for You, but I can enjoy such a life in Him. I take Him as my burnt offering to offer to You, Father. I also take Him as my daily food.” This will bring us into the enjoyment of Christ as the peace offering. Then, as we are before the Lord, we will be enlightened and exposed, and we will see what kind of person we are. At this point we need the dear Lord Jesus as our sin offering. This is to take as our sin offering the very Christ who is our burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering. This sequence is not a doctrinal matter. Rather, it is according to our personal, and often painful, experience.
Whenever we have the experience of enjoying peace with the Triune God, we will realize our need of the sin offering. We will confess to the Lord, saying, “Father, I have never realized that I am so sinful. I am not only sinful—I am sin. Sin dwells in my flesh, and I am a totality of sin. I surely need my Lord Jesus to be my sin offering. How I treasure Him as my sin offering!”
Whatever issues from the flesh is sin. Whether we criticize others or praise them, both have their source in the flesh and are sin. The only way to deal with this flesh is the cross, the salt. We need much salt in our daily life, family life, and church life. Only when we have the salt will the “germs” become inactive. The church life today needs “pest control,” the killing of germs by the experience of the cross. This killing is the Lord’s mercy; it is the Lord’s merciful salvation to us.
SIN, THE FLESH, SATAN, AND THE WORLD
According to the New Testament, there are four things that cannot be separated: sin, the flesh, Satan, and the world. These four things are one.
Three Denotations of Flesh in the Bible
In the Bible the word flesh has different denotations. First, the flesh denotes the meat of the human body (Gen. 2:21). Second, in Genesis 6:3 the flesh denotes fallen mankind. This is also the denotation in Romans 3:20, where Paul says that “by the works of law no flesh shall be justified” before God. Third, the flesh denotes the corrupted body (Rom. 7:18). God created the human body. But after the body was corrupted, it became the flesh. In contrast to a spiritual person, who lives in the spirit, and a natural person, who lives in the soul, a fleshly, or fleshy, person lives in the lusts of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1, 3; 2:14).
(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)