THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST AS OUR SALVATION
Philippians 1:19 says, “For me this will turn out to salvation through…the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Regardless of our circumstances, the life-giving Spirit becomes our salvation through His bountiful supply. For example, if a man falls into the water, I can save him by dragging him out of the water. This kind of salvation merely delivers him from drowning; he does not gain me. He is saved, but he does not gain me as his salvation. What this verse means is that when a brother is in the midst of afflictions, because the Spirit of the Lord is in him, he is strengthened when he calls, “O Lord!” The more he calls, the more strengthened he is. Eventually when he is filled by the Holy Spirit, he is strengthened and empowered to overcome the oppression of afflictions. In this way the Lord becomes his salvation in him. Here you see that this brother is not only saved, but even more he has experienced the Spirit in him as his salvation. Many Christians, when reading this word, “for me this will turn out to salvation,” understand it as an objective salvation. However, the Spirit of Jesus Christ turning out to be our salvation is subjective. Not only does He save us outwardly, but even more He becomes our salvation inwardly.
Christ in us becoming our salvation can be likened to the life in our body being our daily salvation. For example, if your feet get trapped in the mud and if you are a person made of wood, a lifeless person, or you are a weakling, then you need others to pull you out of the mud. But as long as you are a living person with the power of life within you, the life in you will enable you to extricate your feet from the mud. Thus, the life in your body is your salvation. When medical doctors diagnose illnesses, they invariably tell patients that medicine helps cure an illness, but the real cure to someone’s illness is the life in the body. If your physical life is healthy and strong, it cures you every day until your body fully recuperates. Thus, the life in your body is your salvation; this is not an objective, outward salvation, but rather a subjective, inward salvation. The Lord Jesus has become the Spirit of life in our spirit as our subjective salvation.
Philippians 1:20 says, “As always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.” Although the Lord Jesus as the Spirit indwelling our spirit is abstract, impalpable, and invisible, He is indeed saving us inwardly. The Lord Jesus has become the life-giving Spirit as our life and our salvation within us.
THE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST’S SALVATION IN OUR HUMAN SPIRIT
Christ has become the life-giving Spirit as the life and life supply in our spirit. Therefore, we must live in our spirit to experience the salvation and the bountiful supply of the Spirit. Man has a three-layer constitution: the outermost layer is the body; within the body is the second layer, which is the soul; and within the soul is the third layer, which is the spirit. Today Christ is the Spirit, and within us we also have a spirit; therefore, we can experience Him. The two spirits—the Lord’s Spirit and our spirit—are mingled and have fellowship with one another. This may be compared to metal conducting electricity. If we sin, an insulation comes between us and the Lord and then the “electricity” cannot pass through. At such a time we need to open up to Him in our spirit to repent and confess our sins. In this way the barrier of sin is removed; immediately we can have fellowship with the Lord Spirit and once again experience His salvation within us. Then the Lord Jesus is no longer a doctrine to us but a reality. As the Spirit, He now indwells our spirit so that we can daily experience Him as our salvation.
ONE PROBLEM—BEING ACCUSTOMED TO LIVING ACCORDING TO THE SOUL AND NOT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT
Although we have a spirit, do we live by this spirit in our daily life? This is our problem. Indeed, we have the spirit in us, yet we do not live according to the spirit. We are accustomed to living according to our soul in our daily life. We delight in and are accustomed to using our mind to consider, our emotion to love or to hate, and our will to decide. Every day we live according to our soul instead of according to the spirit within us. Before you were saved, you spoke recklessly and you lied. But now that you have repented and believed in the Lord, you realize that you should behave differently. Therefore, you do not commit outward sins and you do not lie. Nevertheless, just as your lying was of yourself, now your not lying is also of yourself; formerly your reckless behavior was of yourself, but now your proper behavior is also of yourself. You are not living according to the spirit but according to yourself. Consequently, although the Lord Jesus lives in your spirit, He is securely confined and restricted in you; you do not allow Him to live out through you. Instead, you are still living out your old habits and your old self.
Old habits are very difficult to change. Let me tell you a true story. In my early years in my hometown, Chefoo, there were electric lamps and telephones, but only very few people had them installed in their homes. Whenever we came home after dark, we would look for a match to light the kerosene lamp; we did this every day such that it became our habit. In 1939 my house finally had electric lamps. However, during the first couple of months, when I went home at the end of a busy day and noticed the room was dark, I would still spontaneously look for a match to light the kerosene lamp. My children would laugh at me. This is also the story of our daily life. Our speaking and our thoughts can be likened to lighting the kerosene lamp. The kerosene lamp is our self, whereas the electric lamp is the Spirit. Although we have the electric lamp installed in us from heaven, we are still controlled by our old habit. Instead of appropriating the electric lamp by turning on the switch, our spirit, we light up our kerosene lamp. Not using what one already has is tantamount to not having that thing at all. As believers, we have the Lord Jesus in our spirit, but our problem is that we do not use our spirit. We are accustomed to living according to the soul and not according to the spirit.
(The Subjective Experience of the Indwelling Christ, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)