THE TRANSFORMING SPIRIT
Romans leads us to see the Body, whereas 1 Corinthians shows us that the Body needs to be built, that the Spirit within us is the building Spirit, and that the basic need for the building is transformation. This matter has been referred to in 1 Corinthians and even in Romans, but it is mentioned most clearly in 2 Corinthians. When the Holy Spirit comes into us, we are regenerated. Regeneration is a matter of the spirit. However, transformation is not a matter of the spirit. Romans 12 shows us that transformation begins with our mind; our mind is first renewed and then transformed. Our mind is the leading part of our soul. When our mind is transformed, our emotion and will also are transformed. We have been saved and regenerated, and there is no problem with this. However, regeneration is a matter that is in our spirit. Our problem now is not with regeneration but with transformation. Some of us may be more transformed, some may be less transformed, and some may not be transformed at all.
The anointing of the Spirit in us is for our transformation. The sealing of the Spirit to impress us with the image of God is for our transformation. The Spirit as the pledge in us and as the firstfruit for our enjoyment and foretaste is for our transformation. He is inscribing a letter to write Christ into us for our transformation. He is the ministering Spirit to loose us and to free us, which is also for our transformation. Transformation simply means that we allow the Spirit of life who indwells us to saturate our spirit and spread outward to permeate our mind, emotion, and will.
Brothers and sisters, please remember that transformation is absolutely related to building. Consider this: Can three brothers who are regenerated but have not been transformed be built together? No, they cannot. Why? Their soul is a hindrance. They are regenerated in their spirit, but they have different views, ideas, preferences, and decisions. Thus, how can they be built together? Therefore, brothers, building depends not on man’s work but on transformation. If a brother has been transformed and his mind, emotion, and will have been saturated with the Spirit, it is very easy for him to coordinate and be built together with another brother who also has been transformed. How much transformation there is determines how much building there will be.
Several young Chinese brothers and sisters went to the United States and were there for a few years. Originally, they were very useful in the different localities in Asia, but after they went to America, they were not able to manifest their usefulness. One time when I was with them, they asked, “Brother Lee, why is it that we cannot manifest our usefulness here? It seems that we have become unemployed.” I said, “This matter is very mysterious, but do you know that on the whole earth the people who are the hardest to be broken are the Chinese? Their national characteristic is too conservative. On the one hand, this kind of national characteristic is quite good, but on the other hand, it is a great hindrance that prevents the Lord from coming out of us. Look at the people who come from Europe, Australia, South America, and Africa. After they have been in America for one or two generations, they look just like Americans. However, the Chinese, after being in America three or four generations, are still full of the Chinese ‘smell’; they have not changed at all. After living in America all these years, you have not changed a bit but have remained Chinese brothers and Chinese sisters. You expect every brother and sister to be like you before you can serve and minister to them. Therefore, in order for the Lord to come out from you, first, you as Chinese people must be broken and transformed. Yes, you have a spirit, yet you do not live by the spirit. Rather, you live by your mind and emotion. Your mind is a stronghold that locks the Lord securely within you so that He cannot break through. Chinese habits, Chinese concepts, Chinese thoughts, and Chinese mentality are in the mind. This stronghold must be overthrown.”
Dear brothers and sisters, your problem today is that you are often in your mind. You are under a cloud of theories. The more you are in the theories, the more confused your mind is. However, if you are willing to forsake your mind and return to your spirit, everything will be clear. Do you remember Psalm 73:16-17? There the psalmist said that when he considered the matter in order to understand it, it was a troublesome task in his sight, but when he went into the sanctuary of God, the matter became clear. You say that you are not clear about this matter or that matter; this is because you are in your mind. Once you come back to your spirit, you will be clear.
Therefore, the basic need for the coordination and building is transformation. You should let Christ swallow up everything. You should never excuse yourself. Not one excuse is valid. Others may excuse you, but you should not excuse yourself. You should allow Christ to have the ground in you and come out of you so that you may be gradually transformed. Your body is not a problem; the problem is in your soul. Today the problem in the church is that our mentality, our emotion, and our will are troublesome. The problems of the brothers and sisters, as well as the problems of the church, arise out of the mind, emotion, and will.
God’s redemption consists of three steps: regeneration in the spirit, transformation in the soul, and transfiguration in the body. We have already received regeneration in our spirit as the first step, we will have the transfiguration of our body as our portion in the future, and now we are in the process of being transformed in our soul. What God is doing today is the work of transformation. How does He do it? By the Holy Spirit’s anointing, sealing, supplying, inscribing, and releasing in us to saturate every part of our soul with Christ. Thus, every part of our soul will be transformed. You will be transformed, I will be transformed, and we all will be transformed. We will be one in spirit and one in soul. In this way we will be built together.
Philippians 1:27 says, “Stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving together along with the faith of the gospel.” To serve in one spirit with one soul is to be in oneness. The brothers and sisters are usually one in spirit. It is their soul that is mischievous, troublesome, disturbing, and bothersome. Your mind, your emotion, and your will are giving you trouble. Hence, you must return to the spirit, remain in the spirit, and let the spirit subdue your soul. When the spirit conquers your mind, your mind is changed. The spirit is connected to the Lord. When you are in subjection to the spirit, you are in subjection to the Lord. However, some brothers and sisters are not like this. They do not care about the spirit; they care only for their emotions. When their emotions are troubled, they say, “I cannot take it; I do not care. I will do this and I will do that.” When they are not able to take it and when they do not care, they become a trouble in the church.
Dear brothers and sisters, there are so many people and so many matters in the church. In such a complicated situation, how can everything be according to your feeling and fit the taste of your emotions? This is impossible. If you learn the lesson and know the Lord, and if you turn to your spirit, even if there are a million things, none will affect or influence you. This is because you are in the spirit. Instead of listening to your emotion, you listen to your spirit. The emotion is affected by the circumstance, but the spirit is under the direction of the Lord. If you live in the emotion, you will surely be touched by the environment, but if you live in the spirit, your spirit will be so strong that it dominates your emotion. No matter how the circumstance fluctuates, you remain the same in spirit.
Therefore, the coordination in the church is a matter of the spirit. The solution to the problems of the church is also a matter of the spirit. We have our reason, but everyone has a reason; even the thieves have their reasons. No one admits that he is wrong. Therefore, it is not a matter of right or wrong, nor is it a matter of likes or dislikes, but a matter of returning to the spirit. As long as we are in the spirit, and as the spirit spreads outward to saturate our entire soul, then in this one spirit with one soul we are built together.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)