Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), by Watchman Nee


Since there are the two aspects of sin, the aspect before God and the aspect before men, there are also two aspects of deliverance. There is the punishment of sin and the power of sin. Therefore, there are two aspects of deliverance. This does not mean that there are two deliverances; it means that there are two aspects of deliverance. The Lord delivers us from fear, punishment, the condemnation in the conscience, and all unrest. At the same time, He delivers us from the power of sin. The Lord’s deliverance is complete. He saves us from God’s punishment and from the power of sin.

How did the Lord die to deliver us from the two aspects of sin? The Bible tells us that a sinner has to die. The Lord bore the punishment of death for us. He shed His blood to redeem us and wash us of all our sins before God. The Lord’s blood cleanses us. It is amazing that the Bible never tells us that the Lord’s blood cleanses our heart. Who can find a verse that says that the Lord’s blood cleanses our heart? Some may say that Hebrews 9:14 says that the Lord’s blood cleanses our heart. But it says that the blood cleanses our conscience, not our heart. I can honestly tell you that there is no place in the whole Bible that says that the blood cleanses our heart. It only says that the blood cleanses our conscience. What is the conscience? The conscience is the part within us that condemns us, that tells us that we are wrong and deserve to perish. The Lord’s blood only cleanses our conscience from condemnation and brings peace. The Lord’s blood shows us that even though our sins deserve punishment, the Lord has died for our sins and accomplished God’s righteousness. However, through the cleansing of the Lord’s blood, we cannot become moral and sin no more or be released from sin. The Lord’s blood can only cleanse us before God and remove the condemnation in the conscience; it does not cleanse our heart. It does not make our heart clean or rid it of sins. The Lord’s blood is objective; it is not subjective. It does not cleanse our heart; it only cleanses our conscience.

All men are corrupt. With the Lord’s blood, there is forgiveness of sin and no more punishment. But the Bible does not tell us that the blood can remove the power of sin. That is another matter altogether. On the one hand, the Bible tells us of the Lord’s blood. On the other hand, the Bible tells us of the Lord’s cross. The blood signifies death, and the cross also signifies death. The blood relates to punishment; it deals with our sins before God. The cross deals with the power of sin within us. The cross cleanses our heart and enables us to overcome sin.

Now we have to consider the difference between the cross and the blood. The Lord’s blood removes the sins before God, while the cross deals with the sin within man. Please remember that the cross does not crucify the inward sin. We have to understand this. Many people who preach the doctrine of sanctification are wrong in this matter. The Lord’s cross has not crucified sin. We cannot find one verse in the Bible that says that the cross has crucified sin. Who can find a verse that says that the cross has crucified the sin within us or outside of us? No one can find a verse on that point. Then what has the cross crucified? The Lord was crucified there. Some have said sin was also crucified there. But who has said this? The Bible tells us that the old man has been crucified, not sin. Powerful sin was not crucified but the old man who loves to be directed by sin was crucified. The root of sin—the sin that acts as the root—was not eradicated, but the old man—the one which cleaves to the root of sin—was crucified by the Lord on the cross. I will tell you a gospel word today. When the Lord was crucified, He was not crucified there alone. We, who are corrupted beyond measure, who sin, and who are defiled, were also crucified with Him on the same cross! We have been crucified with Him!

Romans 6:6 says, "Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves." Please remember that it says that our old man is crucified with the Lord. It does not say that sin is crucified with Him. Brothers and sisters, have others told you that sin can be crucified on the cross, and that the root of sin can be eradicated? There is not such a thing.

In this verse in Romans, we can see three things: (1) the old man, (2) the body of sin—the body that commits all the sins, and (3) sin. This verse tells us three very important things: (1) that our old man has been crucified with Him on the cross, (2) that the goal is to annul the body of sin, and (3) that the result is to cause us, our person, to become no longer a slave to sin. When the old man is crucified, we can no longer sin and will no longer sin. However, sin itself has not died; it is still living.

Let me illustrate these three things—the old man, sin, and the body of sin—by an example. Sin is like the master; the old man is like the steward, while the body is like a puppet. Sin has no power to direct the body of sin or cause it to sin. Sin directs the old man. When the old man agrees, the body becomes a puppet. Therefore, when our old man is alive, it remains in the middle. The body is outside, while sin is inside. Inward sin tempts the old man and stirs up the lusts in the old man. This causes the old man to give an order to the body to sin and practice all kinds of evils. The body is weak; it will do whatever it is told to do. It does not have power over itself; it cannot do anything by itself. It can only act when it is directed by the old man. In delivering us, the Lord does not kill the body or eradicate the root of sin, but crucifies the old man, so that the old man becomes crucified with Him.

Of the three things in Romans 6:6, only two are left. The body is outside, and sin is inside. In the middle another one, the new man, has been raised up to take the place of the former old man. When inward sin tries to induce the body to sin, it tempts the new man and tries to stir up any lust. However, the new man will not listen to it or yield to its proposals. Formerly, the old man’s mind was set on sin; he loved to sin and craved sin. But the new man does not go along with sin; he ignores sin and refuses to answer the demands of sin. Therefore, the body is not able to sin.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)