The Spirit in the Epistles, by Witness Lee


Now we want to focus on chapter 8. How do we experience the salvation of life mentioned above? This matter is absolutely related to our knowledge of the spirit. In order to experience the salvation in life, we need to experience Christ as the Spirit of life. If we want to experience Him as the Spirit of life, we must know our spirit and learn to discern the spirit from the soul. I absolutely believe that now we can easily discern and know that which is of the spirit and that which is of the soul. Besides this, in order to experience Christ as the Spirit of life, we also need to know our mind. We should not take the matter of the mind lightly. Many difficulties arise simply because we do not know how to use our mind, and we use it wrongly.

We know that even in receiving the salvation of the Lord we need to cooperate with Him. This may be illustrated by eating. After someone has prepared a meal for us, we still must cooperate by eating. If we do not eat or drink, we cannot receive the food into us. This illustration is very clear. Therefore, although the Lord wants to afford us the salvation of life, He needs our cooperation. If our cooperation is lacking, salvation cannot be realized.

However, the primary key to our cooperation with the Lord is actually not in the spirit but in the mind. This is because until now the real problem of the fallen man is in his mind and not in his spirit. If we know how to control, regulate, and employ the mind, then we are a proper person. Very often our difficulties arise from our mind.

Concerning this matter, I have to come back and say that in the church we need to minister the word a great deal because the word can render help to the mind. The problems of people today are in their mind, so they need the word to correct, to help, to open, to enlighten, and to instruct them in their mind. The word is mainly related to the mind.

For a person to be saved, the most important thing is not for his spirit to be moved but for his mind to be opened. If he will open his mind, then it will be easy for his spirit to be moved. Second Corinthians 4 says that “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those who are perishing, in whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers” (vv. 3-4a). When we preach one or two messages, we destroy Satan’s binding power and remove his covering on people. Thus, we cause people’s minds to be opened to God, and the light of God is able to shine into their spirit through their mind. Hence, the key to our salvation is in our mind, and the key to the exercise of our spirit is also in our mind. If we want to know how to exercise our spirit, we must know how to use our mind.

The Independent Mind Issuing in Death

The book of Romans shows us that the Christian’s mind consists of three phases, three stages. In chapter 7 the mind may be considered our own mind, an independent mind. Ordinarily, when we say that we struggle and strive by ourselves, in reality, it simply means that our mind intends to act independently. We feel that we must please God, so we use our mind to focus on how to behave well, how to do good works, and how to keep God’s commandments.

Romans 7 does not say that man is doing bad things by his mind. Instead, it tells us that man is trying to do good and to keep the law of God by his mind. However, his mind is an independent mind. Today’s Christians do not try to keep God’s law as Paul did when he was under the law, but they still try to use their mind to do good things. After hearing a message with our mind, we may feel that it is a good message and we are deeply moved, so we consider how to work it out. This is an independent mind. An independent mind does not necessarily want to sin. On the contrary, very often it intends to do good in order to please God.

However, when the mind is independent, whether in doing bad things or in doing good things, the principle is the same: it is disconnected from the spirit. The Spirit of life is in your spirit, and when you are disconnected from your spirit, you are independent of the Lord, and when you are independent of the Lord, where are you then? Please remember that the experience in Romans 7 is the experience of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Once you are independent of the Lord, this will result in your falling into the tree of knowledge. Every time you try to do good or try to be spiritual by exercising your mind, you are eating of the tree of knowledge once again, and the result is death. You need to know that not only your going to movies or losing your temper will result in death, but even when you, by your mind, try to work out the message which you heard or the Bible passage with which you were touched, it will also result in death. This is because both are of the tree of knowledge. One is the death brought in by the evil of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the other is the death brought in by the good of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Both issue in death.

Romans 7 is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, just as Romans 8 is the tree of life. The man in chapter 8 is simply enjoying the tree of life, while the man in chapter 7 is eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil every day, although here he eats only the good fruit and not the bad fruit. Whether it is the good fruit or the bad fruit, both lead to his death. Therefore, he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (v. 24). He is so desirous to keep the law, yet the result is death. This is the death that comes from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. This is the result of the mind being independent. You have an independent mind when your mind is not set on the spirit and is detached from the spirit.

(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)