II. THE NATURE OF CHRIST’S VICTORY
AND THE CHURCH
Scripture Reading: Rev. 3:21
All victories should take the victory of Christ as a pattern: "As I also overcame."
The Bible tells us that we have three different enemies: (1) the flesh, within us, (2) the world, outside of us, and (3) Satan, above and below us. As far as the church’s ascended position is concerned, Satan is below us.
There were three nations in the Old Testament that typified these three enemies. Amalek typifies the flesh; we should overcome it with our prayer. Egypt typifies the world; it should be buried in the Red Sea. The Canaanites typify the powers of Satan; they should be overcome and removed one by one.
The flesh is against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). The world is against the Father. If any man loves the world, the love for the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). Satan is against Christ. Christ came to destroy Satan (1 John 3:8). Therefore, subjection to the Spirit is victory over the flesh, the love for the Father is victory over the world, and faith in Christ is victory over Satan.
The first thing that came in was the flesh. One day, the archangel tried to uplift himself to be like God by means of the "self," and the "self" entered the world. This was the beginning of sin, the world, and Satan.
At the time God created man, He bestowed on him the highest ability, the ability to reproduce, by which he can pass his life on to his offspring. Originally God expected man to eat the fruit of the tree of life so that he would have God’s life to pass on to his offspring. God forbade him to eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Satan came and committed spiritual fornication with the first couple in their soul. Satan put his poisonous seed within them so that they passed this on to their offspring. Satan is the father of liars. The seed of Satan is lies. The seed of God is truth. The principle with which Satan beguiled Adam to sin is the same principle as that which caused Satan himself to sin at the beginning.
Satan has his household and kingdom. He gains men to be the members of his household and citizens of his kingdom so that he can be the king over them.
After Satan beguiled man to sin, his work was confined from the universe to just the earth, the world. He was cursed: "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, / and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life" (Gen. 3:14). He could only move on the earth and could only have man, who comes out of the dust, for his food. This was a great defeat for Satan. Man’s fall is a great victory for God.
Satan has his system on the earth. His organization becomes the present world. Satan is the king of this organization, while the whole world lies under his hand.
The Victory of Christ
Before the Lord Jesus began to minister, He was baptized. This means that His work during the three and a half years was carried out after His death and resurrection. As a result, there was no flesh in His work. We can call this three and a half years as a living of the cross. The Lord Jesus never walked according to His will but according to the will of Him who sent Him. He did the Father’s will and also waited for the Father’s time (John 7:6).
Satan tempted the Lord to do something without God’s word by asking Him to turn stones into bread. But the Lord answered and said that man shall live on every word of God (Matt. 4:4). He said many times that He only spoke what He had heard, and in John 5:30 He said, "I can do nothing from Myself." This means that He did not consider the self as His source. Satan always wants man to justify himself after God has already justified him. This is like Satan trying to persuade the Lord to declare that He was the Son of God after God had already declared this.
The crucifixion of the Lord was according to the will of God. He prayed in Gethsemane, "Not as I will, but as You will" (Matt. 26:39). "If this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done" (Matt. 26:42). At the end He said, "The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). To be able to accept the cross is a victory. Not to be shaken by things inwardly or outwardly is a victory. Overcoming is having nothing of the flesh within, nothing of the world without, and nothing of Satan below. Throughout His life, the Lord did not allow the flesh to come into His living. He always put aside the flesh. The Lord was the first One from whom Satan could gain nothing. Neither the flesh nor the world had any ground in Him.
God Intending the Church
to Live Out the Victory of Christ
God’s salvation of man is to save him from the flesh, the world, and Satan. God wants us to refuse everything that is from the world, earth, self, flesh, and Satan. Satan attacks us through the world and flesh. Only those who are absolutely spiritual, who have absolutely refused the worldly system and the will of the flesh, will be attacked by Satan directly.
The cross of Christ needs the Body of Christ. If a sinner merely accepts the cross objectively, only he himself will gain something. However, if we accept the cross subjectively, God will gain something. The cross of Christ cuts off like a knife everything of the old creation, while His resurrection brings us into a new beginning.
The victory of Christ is seen in (1) the crucifixion which removes the whole old creation on the negative side, (2) the resurrection which brings in a new beginning on the positive side, and (3) the ascension which secures for Him the position of victory.
The church lives out Christ’s victory on earth by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The cross should be planted in the center of our life. God wants us to be responsible for the cross’ cutting off of that part of the old creation which is known to us. God does not want us to be responsible for that part of the old creation which is not known to us.
(Afternoon, January 25)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)