THE SOURCE OF OUR LIVING
Frankly, this passage in Ephesians 5 troubled me for years. From my experience it seemed to me that this word did not work. It says to love, or to submit, but this is beyond our power. If this is what God requires of us, why does He not enable us to do so? I kept studying this passage, trying to find the answer.
I saw that I was taking the verses out of context. Earlier it tells us to “be filled in spirit” (Eph. 5:18). The love or the submission comes from the filled spirit. There is no sense ordering the light bulbs to give light if we do not turn on the switch. Unless the electricity goes into the light bulbs, they cannot give light. Light is not a matter of their behaving; it is the expression of the electricity.
Loving your wife is not a matter of your proper behavior. It should be Christ expressed, His life flowing out. Submitting to your husband is not within your capacity; there is no sense looking within to find the submission. Christ Himself is the real submission. When you are filled with Him, what will come out toward your husband is submission.
The same is true of other virtues, like gentleness and patience. Consider how quickly your patience is exhausted. Notice how soon your gentleness disappears. Meekness is beyond your best efforts. How are you going to measure up to all these standards?
TOUCHING HIM BY CALLING ON HIS NAME
The answer to all your shortcomings is to live out Christ. You must cease trying to love or to submit, to be gentle or to be meek. Admit that you are unable and stop trying. Simply live out Christ. Call on His name. This is not something for just the young people to do. The older sisters need to say, “O Lord Jesus!” too. The brothers, whatever their position in society, must also say “O Lord Jesus!” You need Him. If your situation does not allow you to call on Him loudly, you can say His name softly over and over. You will feel different inside. Because He is the true and living God, when you call on His name, you touch the Spirit. The Spirit contains the Person of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the name, and the Spirit is the Person. Keep breathing Him in in this way. Do not think you have heard such a message before. You still need to breathe! Do not feel it is embarrassing and uncultured to call on His name. It is not by being in an impressive-looking church building and acting in a dignified, solemn way that you will touch the Lord. In such places it is hard to say, “O Lord Jesus!” Whoever you are and whatever your position, be assured that you need Him. You need Him. Call on His name! The effect this will have on you is not merely psychological. If it were, then whatever name you say should give the same effect. Try saying, “O Socrates,” and you will see how vain it is. It is only when you call, “O Lord Jesus,” that you touch the Spirit.
STUDYING VERSUS EATING
For too many years we have exercised our mind to understand spiritual matters. We have searched the Scriptures, but we have not come to the Lord for life. The Jews had only thirty-nine books to study, but we have the additional twenty-seven in the New Testament! Then, since the time of the Reformation, countless books have been written. We have been inspired by the life of Madame Guyon and tried to be like her. We have read the writings of Zinzendorf about the Moravian brothers. We have studied the writings of the Brethren. Brother Nee’s writings are available to us. We have hundreds of Life-study Messages. What has been the result of studying all these writings? Because we have not come to the Lord for life, the result has been differing opinions. We measure the church by what we have studied and conclude that things are not the way they should be.
Let me tell you that you are the first one who is not the way you should be. You are not breathing freely. Your spirit is plugged up. The problem is not whether things are being done correctly. It is not a matter of knowing who is doing well and who is not. The problem is a lack of the Spirit. You will not gain any life from merely understanding the Bible. Life is Christ Himself. Life is the Spirit. You must come to the Lord. I do not mean for you not to study the Bible, not to read spiritual books, and not to read the Life-study Messages. But you must come to such reading the way you come to a meal.
When you read a Life-study Message, you should eat and drink it! The food may not always suit your taste. You may tire of the same cooking after many years. But whether you enjoy it or not, you need the nourishment. If you do not eat and sleep properly, you will not have any energy. Sometimes you may be given too much to eat. Overeating is not good for your health either, but this is not the problem with most of you. Most of you are undernourished. You approach things in an analytical way, trying to look into this and check out that. If you go on in this way, you will end up in a coffin. Whenever you are trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong, you are eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Sometimes I do not enjoy the food I am served. But whether it tastes good or not, I eat it because I know it is nourishing. I am like a car with a long way to go. If it does not have a full tank of gasoline, how can it get to its destination?
If you really love the Lord and are seeking after Him, turn away from your studying and your efforts to figure out what is right and wrong. Eat and drink! Praise the Lord that the Triune God has passed through this lengthy process and is now in the realm of ascension, waiting for us to contact Him. He is the Spirit. Look away from doctrines and praise Him that you also have a spirit. Your spirit is as important as the heavens and the earth. God formed your spirit so that you could contact His Spirit. These two spirits mingle as one. Live out this spirit that comes from the two spirits joined as one. Let nothing else bother you.
THE SPIRIT, NOT DOCTRINE
The matters of right and wrong cannot be settled. Some day they will pass away. Nor do arguments over doctrine lead anywhere except to death. We may talk about the ground of the church, but if we do not live in the Spirit, while we are preaching about oneness, we shall not be one. When we live in the Spirit, instead of the doctrine we shall have the oneness. We know there is one God, one Lord, one Spirit, and one Body. By living in this Spirit, we are living in the Body and standing on the ground of oneness. But we do not hold this as our doctrine. We simply live in this Spirit. I have seen too much. As soon as doctrinal matters come up, everyone is divided. Whenever we are in the realm of doctrine, there are problems.
God is Spirit and life. He has passed through a process and is now ready for us to receive Him. Praise the Lord that we have done so! His Spirit and ours are joined as one. Every moment we live in this Spirit. His divine life makes our spirit life. Then our soul becomes life by the spreading of His life, until finally our body is also life by His saturating of us. Here is what God wants: the Spirit saturating our whole being until every part is Christ. Morality and ethics cannot compare with this. When man lives himself, even the best of his living is only copper. When we live Christ, our living is gold, shining bright.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)