KNOWING THE HUMAN SPIRIT
Scripture Reading: Rom. 8:4-6
THE SENSE OF THE SPIRIT
To know the spirit is to know it by the sense of the spirit. Even up until this day, no one has ever seen electricity itself. The light of a lamp is not the electricity but an expression, a sign, of electricity. We can know electricity by its signs and expressions. Also, no one has ever seen the physical life of a person’s being, but we can know the physical life by its expression and by certain senses. In the same principle, the spirit is very mysterious. You cannot see it, but you can sense it. You cannot see electricity, but when you touch it, you can sense it. In like manner, you can know the spirit by sensing the spirit. To sense the spirit is the way to know the spirit.
SIN IN OUR MEMBERS
Because of the fall, man’s body was corrupted by sin. The physical body plus sin equals the flesh. God created a body for man, but God did not create the sinful flesh. What God created was a pure body. When Adam took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he took it into his body. We know it was taken into his body because it was eaten (Gen. 3:6). Whatever you eat is taken into your body. In nature, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is sin, because it is the tree not only of good but also of evil. Since Adam took this tree into his body, Romans 7 tells us clearly that sin is in the members of the body (vv. 20, 23). Sin is in the members of the body because sin came into the body; therefore, the body is corrupted. After being corrupted the body became the flesh. All the fleshly lusts are in the body.
THE MIND, THE FLESH, AND THE SPIRIT
Romans 8:6 says, “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” The mind is the leading part of the soul, and the soul is our very being, our self. The body is not the self or our being, but an outward organ. The spirit is not the self or our being either, but an inward organ. We are a being, a human being, a soul. The soul is a being with two organs—the outward organ of the body and the inward organ of the spirit. Our being, our self, is the soul. This is why the Scripture reveals that the soul is the self in Matthew 16:24-26 and Luke 9:23-25 and that a human being, a person, is called a soul (Exo. 1:5). If I call you a body, that is wrong. If I call you a spirit, this is also wrong. A man is not a body or a spirit, but a soul. The soul is your self, your being, and the mind is the leading part of your being representing your self. The mind represents the self, the body is the flesh, and our spirit contains the Spirit (Rom. 8:16). In our spirit is the Triune God (Eph. 4:6; Gal. 2:20; John 14:17) as the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; 2 Tim. 4:22; 1 Cor. 6:17). Within us there are three parties: Satan as sin is in our flesh (Rom. 7:17-18, 20), God is in our spirit, and the self is in our soul represented by our mind. To set the mind on the flesh means to take sides with the flesh, to cooperate with the flesh, to stand with the flesh. To set the mind on the flesh is death. To set the mind on the spirit means to take sides with the spirit, to cooperate with the spirit, to stand with the spirit. To set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.
DISCERNMENT BY SENSING
The way to know life and peace is by sensing life and peace. When you take sides with the spirit, cooperate with the spirit, walk in the spirit, and do things by the spirit, you sense life and peace.
An example may help to illustrate what the sense of life is. When I was a young boy, I attended a feast. On the table there were two kinds of white, fine powder: refined sugar and refined salt. I put a lot of salt on a certain food, thinking that I was using sugar. When I put the food into my mouth, I suffered. I sensed that the powder I used was not sugar but salt. Though my eyes could not discern the difference between the sugar and salt, my taste could. This is the way to discern the spirit—by sensing.
THE SENSE OF LIFE
The first item of the sense of life is satisfaction. How do you know there is life within? There is satisfaction. You are satisfied, and you sense the satisfaction. Then following satisfaction you have the sense of strengthening. When you are taking sides with the spirit, you also have the sense of refreshment. The sense of being watered is another sense of life. A person who is setting his mind on the spirit also senses enlightenment and the anointing (1 John 2:20, 27). The sense of life is the sense of satisfaction, strengthening, refreshing, watering, enlightenment, and anointing. When you sense all these items deep within, that is the sense of life, and this sense proves that you are walking according to the spirit.
THE SENSE OF PEACE
To set the mind on the spirit is not only life but also peace. The peace mentioned in Romans 8:6 is not the peace in our outward circumstances but the peace within us. The sense of peace is firstly the sense of ease or comfort. Then following this there is harmony. There is no struggle or strife within. Rest, joy, and liberty are also included in the sense of peace. When we sense peace, we sense comfort, harmony, rest, joy, and liberty. These are the different aspects of the sense of peace. If we sense these things within us, this proves that we are walking in the spirit.
THE SENSE OF DEATH
Whenever you take sides with the flesh, the result is death. You know death because you can sense it. You have the feeling, the consciousness, of death. When you do things according to the flesh or according to your self, you sense dissatisfaction and emptiness. Something within is also weakening you. This proves that you are not in the spirit but in the flesh or the soul. Oldness, dryness, darkness, and depression are other aspects of the sense of death versus the sense of life. Strife, discord, discomfort, restlessness, pain, bondage, and grief are aspects of the sense of death versus the sense of peace. When you have all these kinds of feelings, then you know where you are—you are in death. Do not argue or reason. Even if what you are doing is good and “holy,” you must check with your inner feeling. Do you have the ease, harmony, rest, comfort, joy, or liberty?
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT
If you have these positive inward registrations and feelings, this proves that you are in the spirit. If you do not have these kinds of feelings, regardless of how holy, how good, and how scriptural you consider a course of action to be, you are not in the spirit, but in the self, in the flesh. The Christian life is a life absolutely according to the spirit. It is not according to any reasons, any teachings, or any standard of right or wrong, good or bad, worldly or holy. Our Christian life is according to the spirit, and we know the spirit by the inner sense of life and peace.
If I come to a place to minister the Word, it is quite possible for me to speak in my self and by my self. If I am speaking the word of God and for God and yet I am speaking by my self, I will sense the emptiness, dissatisfaction, and dryness within. The Christian walk, the Christian life, the Christian activity, is not according to the standard of good or bad, but absolutely according to the spirit. If we would know this one thing and be ruled and controlled by it, the Lord would transform our inward being and our daily life.
THE INNER SENSE OF LIFE AND PEACE
Do not argue with the inner sense of life and peace. Do not say that something is good, scriptural, or holy. Do not reason and do not argue that what you are doing is for the gospel or for the church. The test is—do you have the inner sense of life and peace? The more you reason with this sense, the more you argue, the more you will sense death within you. We can know the spirit just by this inner sense. If we are going to differentiate the spirit and the soul, we must deny the rational mind, emotion, and will all the time and take care of the inner sense.
(Our Human Spirit, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)