Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

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Galatians 5:24 says, “But they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts,” and Romans 6:6 says that our old man has been crucified with Christ. On the one hand, the flesh is the old man, but on the other hand, they are not exactly the same. Romans 6 speaks of the old man, while Romans 7 speaks of the flesh. In the same principle, chapter six speaks of Christ, but chapter eight speaks of the Spirit. If we see the difference between the Spirit and Christ, then in principle we can see the difference between the flesh and the old man. The Spirit is none other than Christ, but Christ is the Savior objectively, while the Spirit is the Savior subjectively. If we talk about the Savior in an objective way, we speak of Christ, but if we talk about the Savior in a subjective way, we speak of the Spirit. Who was crucified on the cross? It was Christ. Who is now dwelling in us? It is the Spirit. The One who was crucified on the cross objectively is called Christ, and the One who is now dwelling within us subjectively is called the Spirit, and this very Spirit is the very Christ. In the same principle, objectively speaking, it is the old man, but subjectively speaking, it is the flesh. The old man is the very person, while the flesh is this very person lived out.

If we did not have the Holy Spirit, we could never know Christ; Christ is the Spirit, and the Spirit is Christ lived out. In exactly the same principle, if we did not have the flesh, we could never know the old man. If a brother sits before us and never does or says anything, it is hard to say if he is a new man or an old man. What he is depends on his living, acting, doing, and working. If he acts according to the flesh and walks under the influence and control of the flesh, we will see that he is the old man expressed through the flesh. When we act, live, and walk in a fleshly way, the old man is one hundred percent expressed as the flesh.

Romans 6:6 says that our old man has been crucified with Christ, but Galatians 5:24 indicates that we need to crucify the flesh. Romans 6:6 is in the passive voice, but Galatians 5:24 is in the active voice. That the old man has been crucified on the cross is an accomplished fact, but now we need to apply this accomplished fact to our flesh in our daily walk. Therefore, we need to crucify this flesh. As the old man, it has been crucified already—this is an accomplished fact—but as the flesh, we need to crucify it in our experience and daily living. This means that we must apply what Christ has accomplished on the cross to our daily experience.

Now we know the proper meaning of the word flesh in the Scriptures. First it is the transmuted body, the body which changed in nature. Second, the flesh is a person who lives, acts, walks, and does things always under the control, direction, and influence of the flesh and according to the flesh. Third, it is the old man in our daily living, in our walk.


Now we must see what it means to deal with the flesh. As we have seen, Galatians 5:24 says that those who are of Christ have crucified the flesh. In addition, Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.” The practices of the body are simply the flesh. To deal with the flesh is to put to death the practices of the body, to deal with all the sinful deeds of the body. To gamble is a practice of the body because one gambles with his hands. To be drunken is also a practice of the body. It is difficult to commit sin practically without using our body.

Romans 6:6 says, “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled.” Since the fall, our body has been called the body of sin because this body is now possessed and indwelt by personified Sin. Our body has become the residence of Sin, so it is a body of sin. The meaning of the Greek word for annulled is unemployed, jobless. A living person’s hands can be used to gamble and do many sinful things because his body is possessed and indwelt by Sin and is always used by Satan. The best way to stop his body from committing sin is to put it to death. When the body is put to death, it is jobless. As far as committing sin is concerned, it is out of employment. The old man has been crucified so that the body of sin may be unemployed, jobless. All the sinful things we do are through the body, by some member of the body, so to deal with the flesh, we must first deal with the sinful deeds of the body.

Second, to deal with the flesh means to deal not only with the sinful deeds of our body but with our whole being, our whole person, because in the fall our whole being became flesh. A person as a flesh can never please God or be accepted by God no matter what he does. It is needless to say that with sinful deeds this flesh can never please God; even with good deeds, this flesh, this person as flesh, can never please God. Therefore, we must deal with our whole being.

Third, we need to deal with our fleshly living. There is a certain kind of living which is the very expression of the flesh. We need to deal with the sinful deeds, our whole being, and our fleshly living.

In order to know how to walk in the spirit and experience the inner life, we must know the dealing with the flesh. This is a great subject in the Scriptures. If the Holy Spirit would enlighten us, we will see that today many Christians are living in the flesh. Very few have experienced deliverance from the flesh. Therefore, we must know what the flesh is and how to deal with it.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)