IV. THE SPIRIT ITSELF IS NOT DEFILED
Though we have said that the spirit must be clean, yet the spirit itself is not actually filthy. Indeed, 2 Corinthians 7:1 says to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of...spirit,” but this defilement is not of the spirit itself, but a defilement effected by the soul and body.
Our judgment regarding this is based upon the process of the human fall recorded in the Bible. In Genesis 3 we see that at the fall, man received the suggestion of Satan first in his soul; therefore man’s soul has been corrupted and made filthy. In addition, with his body man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; therefore man’s body has been contaminated by the mingling of the element of Satan. Yet at this time man’s spirit was not involved. During man’s first committing of sin, the spirit did not participate. Therefore, after the human fall, although man’s spirit was deadened through the defiling influence of soul and body, yet there was no mingling of the element of Satan in the spirit. Hence, the spirit itself is not defiled.
For example, our conscience at times is contaminated and produces the feeling of offense; yet the conscience itself has no problem. This fact still remains until today, and it is proven by the unsaved, who, whenever their spirit is revived or their conscience is touched, always stand on the side of God. They are able to differentiate between good and evil, and, through the fellowship part of their spirit, have the concept of worshipping God. Even the strongest atheist, who denies the existence of God, has still a sense deeply within him of God. These remaining functions of the spirit prove that the spirit itself is clean.
V. THE PASSAGE OF THE SPIRIT IS FILTHY
If the spirit itself is not filthy, why does it sometimes manifest itself in an unclean and improper manner? It is because the spirit must pass through many of our inward parts when it comes forth. Within the inward parts is filthiness, so that when the spirit passes through them it is defiled, and thus the filthiness is brought forth also. Therefore when the spirit is released and manifested, it exhibits certain defiled and improper conditions.
For example, the water from a hot spring often bears the odor of sulphur. Actually the water itself is clean and odorless, but as it flows out, it passes through a sulphur deposit and brings with it the sulphuric element. Since there is the element of sulphur in the water, it becomes sulphur water, and when it flows out it carries with it the sulphuric odor.
Likewise, the spirit in our innermost part is pure and undefiled. However, surrounding the spirit are the soul and body, both of which have been mixed with the wicked elements of Satan and are thus filthy and corrupt. Therefore, when the spirit comes forth and passes through the soul and body, it becomes contaminated by this filthiness and corruption. Hence, when being manifested, the spirit bears certain filthiness, corruption, impurity, impropriety, and various other undesirable conditions. If a person is proud in his soul, the spirit also manifests itself in pride; if a person is angry in the flesh, his spirit also reveals the anger. We often encounter the spirit of anxiety, the spirit of jealousy, a crooked spirit, or a rude spirit, all of which are not the problem of the spirit itself, but the defiling influence of the undesirable elements of the soul and body upon the spirit as it passes through them. We can tell the kind of defilement from the kind of spirit, and the kind of spirit reveals the kind of man.
That man’s spirit carries this filthiness of the soul and body is indeed a dreadful thing! It seems that when the spirit is inert the filthiness of the soul and body are not so critical, but when the spirit is activated and released, then all the filthiness of the soul and body are brought forth. This is very serious. We may liken this situation to dynamite, which, when kept in the storeroom, is not harmful. But when a fire breaks out in the storeroom, causing an explosion, the condition is serious. Fire itself is not explosive, but when it passes through the dynamite, the two will explode together. Likewise, if a person hates others in the soul, it is not too serious; but if his spirit is being released while he is hating others, it carries with it the hatred of the soul, and thus it becomes a spirit of hatred. This is rather serious.
Therefore, it is not enough for us to simply learn to release the spirit; we must completely deal with all the mixture in our spirit, so that when the spirit is released it will neither be dangerous nor cause trouble to others.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)