THE KIND OF PERSONS WHO ARE ABLE
TO REMAIN IN SPIRIT
Brothers and sisters, I would like you to know that 1 Corinthians shows us a picture: Here there is a temple with a group of people. Some are in the outer court, others are in the Holy Place, and still others are in the Holy of Holies. First Corinthians seems also to show us a map: Some people are in Egypt, others are wandering in the wilderness, and only a few have entered into Canaan. As to the individuals, some are living by the flesh, which is very low. Others are living by the soul, and a few are living by the spirit. The book of 1 Corinthians shows us such a picture to encourage us to enter into the spirit and to live by the spirit. Then 2 Corinthians shows us what kind of persons are those who live in the spirit, who live in the Holy of Holies, and who remain in Canaan.
Being Excessively Burdened, beyond Their Power,
and Not Trusting in Themselves
There are several portions in 2 Corinthians that we must definitely read. For example, 1:8-9 says, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” What is the self mentioned here? The self refers not to the flesh but to the soul. We should not base our confidence on ourselves may also be rendered as “we should not trust in ourselves.” Not trusting in ourselves does not refer to not trusting in ourselves to transact business, to pursue education, or to seek pleasure. Rather, it refers to not trusting in ourselves to work for God or to serve God. To not trust in ourselves is to be in the Holy of Holies, while to trust in ourselves is to be in the Holy Place.
Other examples are 4:16 and 12:9; these expressions can only be found in the book of 2 Corinthians. This is because 2 Corinthians, as a continuation of 1 Corinthians, shows us what kind of persons are able to live in the Holy of Holies, that is, in the spirit. These persons are the ones who are excessively burdened, beyond their power, so that they despair even of living and judge themselves to be utterly helpless and who therefore no longer trust in themselves. Only such ones can live in the spirit.
Conducting Themselves in the World
in Singleness and Sincerity of God
Verse 12 of chapter 1 says, “Our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in singleness [or, simplicity] and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world.” Paul spoke these words out of a very deep experience. When we live in the soul, that is, by ourselves, we are neither single nor simple; rather, we have many ways. But when we are excessively burdened, beyond our power, and in desperation, having exhausted all our human ways, we then live according to the singleness, the simplicity, of God.
Please consider the case of Jacob. Jacob was a very capable person who had so many ways before the socket of his hip was touched and he was crippled. Every one of us is a little Jacob. We also have many ways before we have been dealt with by God to a great extent. We still try to escape and hide. We are not simple. Yet look at Jacob. After he crossed over the ford of the Jabbok, the socket of his hip was touched by God; at that point he became simple. He became a completely different person. Formerly, he had so many ways, but after his hip was dislocated and he was crippled, he had no ways at all. He then began to live in the singleness, the simplicity, of God.
After singleness is sincerity. Non-singleness is disguised insincerity. Paul conducted himself in the world in the singleness and sincerity of God. He did not depend on human wisdom; that is, he did not depend on the soul. Rather, he depended on God’s favor, God’s grace.
This portion of the Word tells us that Paul was one who lived in the Holy of Holies. He had crossed the Jordan. While the Red Sea buried the Egyptian armies, it was the Jordan that buried the children of Israel. Hence, Paul was already buried in the Jordan, and his self was already cut off, sifted out, filtered out. He really knew what it was to have no confidence in himself, to not depend on human wisdom, and what it was to base his confidence on God, who raises the dead, and on the grace of God. Here we see a person who was not in the flesh or in the soul, not in Egypt or in the wilderness, not in the outer court or in the Holy Place, but who was altogether in the Holy of Holies, in Canaan, in the spirit, enjoying God Himself. He was not enjoying God’s help or God’s rescue but Christ Himself.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)