The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Now we come to the self, something deeper and more hidden than the love of the world. The self is more hidden and subtle than our love for our family and our children. We know that the self is in the soul, but how is the self expressed? We return once again to the mind. The self in the soul is mostly expressed by our opinion. Our concepts and opinions inevitably express the self in our soul. Peter said, "God be merciful to You, Lord." This is a concept, an opinion, a good idea toward the Lord. This opinion, however, exposed the self of Peter. This self is the very element of Satan. We may also turn this statement around and say that the element of Satan is the self. Whenever we express a dissenting thought or a differing opinion, we express the self.


In Matthew 16 the Lord Jesus rebuked Peter saying, "Get behind me, Satan." Then the Lord told Peter that his mind was not set on the things of God, but on the things of men. Following this, the Lord Jesus said that those who come after Him must deny the self. By this we can see that Satan, the mind, and the self are three things in one. Satan is in the mind, and the mind is in the self. The self is in the mind, and the mind is in Satan. These three are indivisible. It is difficult to separate the self from the mind or the mind from Satan.

Self is subtle and hidden. We may think that our concepts are merely concepts and our ideas simply ideas. But actually, our concepts and our ideas are our self. Perhaps we have never realized that our ideas and dissenting thoughts are expressions of self and that our self is one with Satan. We all need to be crossed-out people, having no dissenting thoughts or concepts. It is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. Strong concepts are the expression of self. The self is always one with Satan in the soul, and the self is inevitably expressed in the concepts.

This does not mean we should no longer have any concepts. We need to have concepts. We are not a chair or a table. Tables and chairs have no concepts, but as human beings we must have concepts. We need to have concepts, but everything depends on whether or not the self is contained in the concepts. Is self expressed in the concepts? Although it is true that many concepts are the expression of the self, many times we may have a concept without any trace of self in it. The self has been dealt with. In the leadership and responsibility of the church life, we need to fellowship together about many things. For example, we need some concepts about what time the meetings should be and on which days they should be held. When we come together to fellowship we need to speak something. We must understand that it is not a matter of the concept itself, but what is behind or within the concept. The self that is hidden within the concept must be dealt with, because that self is one with Satan. However, do not take this as an excuse to have many concepts; it is better not to have many concepts. If we continually express our concepts, we will express our self. What kingdom are you in? It all depends on whether or not the soul has been crossed out.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)