The Christian Life, by Witness Lee

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The putting to death of Jesus in our environment cooperates with the indwelling Spirit to kill our natural man (our outer man), comprising our body and our soul. This is mentioned emphatically in 2 Corinthians 4:10-12. Paul said that he was bearing about in his body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus might be manifested in his body.

We have the indwelling Spirit within us, but because we are sometimes stiff-necked and stubborn, God raises up the environment to deal with us. The entire situation of our living rises up against us to help the indwelling Spirit. The indwelling Spirit works to kill us. The Spirit is the Killer, but He needs an instrument, a "knife," to kill us. The "knife" may be a brother’s wife, his children, or certain brothers and sisters in the church. A certain saint can become a "knife" which the Spirit uses to kill us.

We all like to have a nice environment, with everything smooth, peaceful, sweet, and nice. When people ask us, "How are you?" We always say, "Fine." Many times when we say this, however, we are lying. If we were fully honest, we would respond by saying, "Not so good." This is because we are under an environment of sufferings and pressures which works with the Spirit to kill our natural man. Brother Nee referred to this kind of environment as the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The putting to death, the killing, in 2 Corinthians 4 is through the environment. In speaking about the application of Christ’s death, Romans 8 refers to the indwelling Spirit, while 2 Corinthians 4 refers to the outward environment. The outward environment cooperates with the inward Spirit to carry out the killing of our natural man.

Second Corinthians 4:16 says, "Our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." The word decaying means being consumed, being wasted away, being worn out. According to the Chinese translation of the Bible, it can also mean "being destroyed." As our outer man is being consumed by the killing work of death, our inner man is being renewed with the fresh supply of the resurrection life.

(The Christian Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)