The Spirit in the Epistles, by Witness Lee


After pointing out some of these things to you, brothers and sisters, I believe that you surely must have seen something clearly. Now let me ask you again, what does 1 Corinthians 2 through 16 speak about? No doubt these chapters speak about some other matters, but those are simply “background drawings.” It is a pity that today when people see these background drawings, they cling to them and cannot go on to see the central matters. Some can truly expound the book of 1 Corinthians. They can present clearly and reasonably, by quoting Scripture, the matters of lawsuits, excommunication, and idol sacrifices. You cannot say that these things are wrong, but after reading through the entire commentary, you cannot find a passage telling you how to turn to the spirit to touch the pneumatic Christ. Brothers and sisters, I am afraid that this is also what many of you know about 1 Corinthians. What I would like to tell you, however, is that God has called us into the fellowship of His Son to enjoy Him and that God has also put us in Christ, making Christ everything to us. Paul said that he did not know anything except this when he went out to work for the Lord. This is so mysterious, so rich, and so excellent that it has not been seen by man’s eye or heard by man’s ear. It all depends on the Spirit to reveal it in our spirit. If we want to see this, however, we must see the flesh and deny the soul; we must not live in the flesh or in the soul. When we live in the spirit, immediately we touch and perceive this. As a result, we are joined with this Spirit as one spirit. This means that we have not only left Egypt but also crossed the Jordan and entered Canaan. In Canaan we then enjoy the God-promised blessing, which is Christ. This means also that we have left the outer court, passed through the Holy Place, and entered the Holy of Holies, where we are enjoying Christ Himself in the glory of God. This is altogether a story in the spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, please consider this. Is this what 1 Corinthians speaks about or not? First Corinthians shows us that filthy things such as fornication and idolatry are of the flesh and of the animal nature, and therefore we should not practice them. Furthermore, such things as being divisive, being contentious, being self-exalted, and being conceited, considering ourselves better than others, are fleshly, and therefore we should also not do them. Even the gifts, such as speaking in tongues, healing, and casting out demons, are wonderful, but they are still the things in the Holy Place; hence, we must not remain in them. We must lay these things down and touch Christ directly. We should be joined to Him as the Spirit to be one spirit and to experience Him in spirit. We must not be in the flesh or in the soul but in the spirit. In this way we can enter into Canaan. This is the spirit, the life, of 1 Corinthians. All the other things are peripheral things and background drawings showing us that when we are not living in the spirit, the first possibility is that we are fleshy, defiling ourselves. The second possibility is that we are fleshly—being jealous, divisive, proud, and despising others, and the third possibility is that we are in the Holy Place, touching the matters of the spirit but not the spirit itself. Therefore, the purpose of this book is that we enter into Canaan.

In the New Testament there are two books that tell us to enter into Canaan; one is 1 Corinthians and the other is Hebrews. These two books tell us to live in the spirit, and only these two books repeatedly speak about the discerning of the spirit from the soul. First Corinthians mentions the soulish man and the spiritual man, while Hebrews speaks about the dividing of soul and spirit. I hope that when the brothers come together to pray and to read the Word, they would also go in this direction. Just as in mining, one should not dig for worthless things but for diamonds and gold. At the same time, you yourself must have some experiences in these matters. What the churches need the most these days is this kind of experience.

Finally, I say again, dear brothers and sisters, 1 Corinthians is altogether a book showing us that Christ is our everything. It is He Himself who is in us as our righteousness. When we live in the spirit and live by Him, He is our righteousness. When He is lived out of us, He becomes our righteousness. Not only so, when we live in and according to Him, He is then our holiness, and He sanctifies us. He does not sanctify us according to any method; rather, He sanctifies us with His nature. When we live by Him, He is our holiness and our righteousness. This means that in us there is nothing unlawful, nothing disorderly, and nothing that is not according to the truth. Everything of Christ that comes out of us is righteous and just and is up to the standard. Speaking in a deeper way, it is suited to God and fully compatible with God’s nature. What we live out is just Christ Himself. Then one day, at His coming back, He Himself will come out of us through transformation. He is saturating us with Himself, and then at that time our whole body will enter into His glory. In this way He will become our glory. That will be the redemption of our body. We will then be fully delivered out of the old creation, and we will be fully filled with Him within and without. This result is not accomplished by God using an objective method or an objective power. Rather, it is carried out by His transforming us subjectively with Himself as the element within us. Now we must turn to the spirit to touch the pneumatic Lord and to live by Him. We must fellowship with Him in the spirit all day long, and we must live daily in His fellowship, having communion with Him and enjoying Him as our blessing. If we live by Him daily, the result will be that righteousness and sanctification will be lived out of us, and one day it will be seen in our body, which will be the redemption of our body. This is the life of the book of 1 Corinthians.

(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)