THE PRESSURE OF SIN
I would like to ask the brothers who are sitting here today: how many of you have the clear experience of overcoming sins? Which of you is clear about the law of the Spirit of life setting us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death? Are there any among you who have ever dealt with sin and been clearly set free from sin? Why are there only a few Christians who have been set free from sin and overcome sins? Perhaps the reason is that most people do not know how to apply this principle. They do not know how to use the pressure of sin. When sins oppress them, they lapse into despair at this oppression, instead of using this oppression to call on God and look to His deliverance. Many times we have to be oppressed by sin to the extent that we can no longer help or save ourselves, and our inner being can no longer bear or sustain its oppression. At such times, we will find the power to come to God and the power to receive the victory of Christ. Only then will we obtain deliverance.
Suppose a believer finds himself lying unintentionally from time to time. A little carelessness, and a lie rushes out of his mouth. He will never overcome if he does not feel the evil of lying, if he does not feel the pain of lying, and if he does not realize that he has no strength to fight against his lying and that he is oppressed by his lying. When he tries to overcome this sin, he feels its oppression. Every time he struggles against it, he feels its pressure. Yet he finds himself still speaking untrue things and feels frustrated. When will he be released from sin? Finally, one day he feels that he has to overcome this sin and that if he cannot overcome it, he will not be able to go on. He feels the pressure of this sin and can stand it no longer. The pressure has become so great that the power to overcome it also has become great. At such times, he finds himself with more power to come to God and call on Him. It seems that he has more strength to accept the work of Christ. At such times, he can say to God, "O God! If You do not make me overcome my sins through what the Lord Jesus has done, I cannot go on." If he holds on to God like this, he will have the victory. Can you see this? The pressure of sin brings him the power to come to God and be freed.
Let me give you another example. Some believers often complain that unclean thoughts go through their mind. They often cannot stop thinking unclean things. They realize that this is not good. However, they never oppose them and never find the strength to pray to God about them. They may have resisted and prayed a little, but they have done so only in a halfhearted and powerless way. Why do they behave this way? The reason is that they have not felt the pressure of sin. As a result, they have no strength to overcome sin. If they thought about this once, twice, a hundred times, and resisted it once, twice, a hundred times, and found themselves failing again and again, confessed to God, and felt the frustration of these failures, they would realize that the pressure of sin is too great, and in the end, they would not tolerate it even for five minutes. Then they would find the faith and power to overcome their sins. At ordinary times, they may feel that their faith is powerless. But when they feel the mounting pressure, they find strength in their faith. At ordinary times, they may find themselves powerless to resist. But when the pressure becomes great, they find that they have the strength to resist. Please remember that pressure produces power. May we turn all the pressure that we encounter in our daily life to power, so that we can advance forward. Please remember that a powerful believer does not have any more power than we have; he only knows how to use the pressure that is put upon him.
THE PRESSURE OF NEED
There is a brother who asked me why his prayer was not answered. I answered that it was because there was no pressure. He then asked why pressure was necessary? I replied that prayer can be answered only when there is pressure. I often ask the brothers if God has listened to their prayer. They frequently answer, "After I pray for something three or five times, I forget about it." Why do they forget? They forget because they do not feel the pressure of the need. It is amazing that most people are like this. If you forget, you cannot blame God for also forgetting. If you just pray a few words in a halfhearted way, God surely will not accomplish it for you. Many prayers are like a composition. It would be better if you did not pray these prayers at all. Many prayers have broken the first principle of prayer. No wonder these prayers are not answered. What is the first principle of prayer? It is not faith. It is not promise. It is need. Where there is no need, there is no prayer. Therefore, in order for God to answer your prayer, the first thing He has to do is put a need within you. The first thing God will give you is pressure. By this you will feel a need and realize that you have to go to God. Then you will receive His answer.
John Knox was a person who prayed effectively. Queen Mary of England once said, "I do not fear the whole army of Scotland, but I fear John Knox’s prayer." How did John Knox pray? He said, "O God! Give me Scotland, or I die!" Why did he pray this way? He prayed this way because the pressure in him was great. The pressure was so great that he could bear it no longer. He had such a pressure in his heart that he had to utter such a prayer. Today the churches in Scotland remain the best churches in the whole world.
You may not understand why Moses prayed, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Exo. 32:32). Moses prayed this way because he had a need. He was pressured by this need to such an extent that if God would not save Israel, he would rather be blotted out. That is why God listened to his prayer.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 21, by Watchman Nee)