Living in the Spirit, by Witness Lee


The Lord’s desire is not that we would be zealous and that we would do this or that for Him. Rather, His desire is that we would be one with Him and live by Him. He is our life and our person. Eventually, He wants to become us, and He also wants us to become Him. This is a very simple matter, yet we are not willing to do it.

To be saved is very simple. We are not required to do many things. All that is required of us in order to be saved is that we believe. Once we believe, we are saved. The unique sin of the unbelieving Gentiles before the Lord is their unbelief. Sinners will go to hell not because they stole and robbed but because they did not believe in the Lord. Sinners will perish mainly because of one sin—unbelief. We believers also have one sin—not living by the Lord. With the unbelievers, their main sin is their unbelief. With us believers, our main sin is our not living by the Lord. Simply speaking, we do not live in the spirit.

We may pray, read the Word, attend meetings, work for the Lord, serve Him, and worship Him, yet most of the time we do not remain in the spirit and live by the Lord Jesus. We need to drop our religious views. We should not think that it is good enough just to pray, read the Word, attend meetings, serve, and worship. We should never think this way. This is our religious view. It is very possible to be outside the spirit and apart from the Lord while praying, reading the Word, or meeting and worshipping. We may do all these things yet not be in the spirit. Then our worship becomes something religious, something done to God without God in it, and our service becomes religious, something that is a service to the Lord but lacks the Lord in it. We may have religion but may not have the Lord and may not be in the spirit.


Before the Lord Jesus came to the earth, there was already a temple in the city of Jerusalem, built according to God’s ordination. It was exclusively for the worship of God. In front of the temple there was an altar. The priests, having been trained to serve, served daily in the outer court, wearing their priestly garments and offering sacrifices according to the order of each one’s course. Moreover, they also went into the Holy Place to burn the incense, light the lamps, and arrange the showbread table for the worship of God. Undoubtedly, there was a set pattern of orthodox worship. However, one day God came as the Lord Jesus. When He came, He did not go to the temple. Instead, He went to a manger in a little city called Bethlehem. At that moment, where was God? Was He in the temple, or was He in the manger? Was the worship that was being carried out in the temple true or false? It is difficult to say. On the surface the worshipping in the temple was true worship, but intrinsically people could not touch God because God was not there. Instead, He was in the manger. He grew up in Nazareth and then went forth to preach the word. One day He went to Bethany to visit a brother and two sisters in a little house. He went into that house and fellowshipped with them. At the same time, the priests in the temple were busy offering sacrifices and burning incense. Where was God at that time? He was not in the temple but in Bethany, in that little house. Where was the true worship being rendered? It was being rendered not in the temple but in Bethany. The worship in the temple was fundamental, scriptural, orderly, proper, imposing, and impressive. Everyone recognized it as the true worship. No one would have acknowledged that what was taking place in the little house in Bethany—three young people sitting casually before the Lord Jesus and talking with Him in a natural way—was a form of worship. People would have said that they were too loose, that they did not put on priestly garments or offer sacrifices, or that they were too casual. We all should see this picture clearly. The true worship depends not on outward ceremonies but on the inward reality. If the Lord is in something, it is worship. If He is not, it is a religious ceremony.

(Living in the Spirit, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)