THE SOUL-LIFE BEING CONSUMED,
AND THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL BEING RENEWED
Following chapter 3 of 2 Corinthians, chapter 4 says that there is a treasure in earthen vessels. Earthen vessels need to be broken, changed in nature, and transformed. Although the outer man is being consumed, the inner man is being renewed day by day. What is the outer man, and what is the inner man? With the outer man, the soul is the life, and the body is the instrument. With the inner man, the spirit is the life, and the soul is the instrument. The man who takes the soul as the life and the body as the instrument needs to be consumed day by day. The man who takes the spirit as the life and the faculties of the soul as the instrument needs to be renewed day by day. This means that the spirit is so strengthened that it saturates every part of the soul. When the soul-life is put to death, the faculties of the soul are more and more renewed and uplifted. In the outer man there is the element of the soul, and in the inner man there is also the element of the soul. However, in the outer man the soul is the life, whereas in the inner man the soul with its faculties is the instrument. To put the soul to death is not to put its faculties to death but to put its life to death. To renew the soul is not to renew its life but to renew its faculties. The soul-life must be put to death, while the faculties of the soul must be renewed, uplifted, and broadened. After the renewing of the soul, your mind will become more useful because it will be a renewed, uplifted, and broadened mind. Any faculty that belongs to the flesh, to sin, or to the soul must be consumed, but the spirit as life and the faculties of the soul must be renewed, transformed, and strengthened day by day. This is the work of the transforming Spirit in us.
GRACE, LOVE, AND FELLOWSHIP
Verse 5 of chapter 13 is a special charge to show that Christ is in us. If we have faith, we are not disapproved, because we have Christ in us. This Christ who is in us is the Spirit.
Finally, at the conclusion of this book, the apostle gives a blessing with these words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (v. 14). The Lord Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are triune, and grace, love, and fellowship are also triune.
Grace is mentioned first instead of love because the goal, the central concept, is Christ as grace. In chapter 12 the apostle said that there was a thorn in his flesh for which he entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from him, but the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9). The main purpose of 2 Corinthians is for us to experience the Lord as grace. The source of this grace is the love of God, and the transmission of this grace is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Love, grace, and fellowship are one thing. Love is the source of grace, grace is the expression of love, and through fellowship grace is transmitted to us. This may be compared to the electrical source, the electrical current, and the electricity itself being three-in-one. The source of electricity is electricity, the current of electricity is electricity, and electricity itself is electricity. Without these three aspects of electricity, the electricity cannot come into the room. There is a place where the electricity is generated, and that is the electrical source. There is the electrical current that is transmitted to us, and there is also the electricity itself. In our explanation it seems that there are different aspects of the electricity, but actually the electrical source is the electricity itself, the electrical current is also the electricity, and the substance of electricity is still the electricity itself. Likewise, love, which is in the Father, is the source; grace, which is in the Son, is the expression; and fellowship, which is through the Holy Spirit, is the transmission. This is one matter with three aspects. The Father is the source, Christ is the expression, and the Holy Spirit is the transmission. The Holy Spirit transmits what the Son is and what the Father has into us. This is the work of the Spirit of life. Hence, at the end of 2 Corinthians, the apostle concludes by saying, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” When the Holy Spirit flows within us, the grace of Christ becomes our enjoyment. What we need today is to experience, enjoy, and know this matter.
Dear brothers and sisters, these are the “stories” in the Spirit. We must know this Spirit and know how to come back to our spirit to contact the life-giving Spirit, the all-inclusive Spirit, who is the rich Christ, that we may enjoy all the fullness of God.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)