THE TWO CONDITIONS
How then can we enter into this blessing? There are two very important matters. The first is mentioned in verse 11: "So also you, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus." This is faith. God says that our old man has been crucified with Christ, and we believe His Word. Thus we reckon ourselves to be dead. How do we die? "Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin." God says that we have been resurrected with Christ, and we believe His Word and reckon ourselves to be living. How do we live? "Reckon yourselves to be...living to God."
This kind of reckoning is nothing other than believing God according to His Word. God says that the old man has been crucified, so we reckon that the old man has already died. God says that we are living, so we reckon ourselves to be living. The failure of many is that they want to feel, to see, and to experience, but they do not believe the Word of God. They want to wait until they themselves have felt something, seen something, and experienced something; then they will believe that what God has said concerning their old man being crucified is real. They do not know that what God has done is already done in Christ. As long as we believe His Word and reckon that what He has done is real, His Holy Spirit will give us the experience. His Spirit will cause what is in Christ to flow into us.
Another matter is mentioned in verse 13: "Neither present your members as weapons of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members as weapons of righteousness to God." This is consecration. This is also a very important part. If we have something we are not willing to part with, anything which God wants us to give up, yet we are not willing, sin will still have power over us; our "reckoning" will be of no effect. If God wants us to do something, to go somewhere for Him, and to speak something for Him, yet we are not willing to yield our members as weapons of righteousness to God, we will be perplexed and wonder why we cannot be freed from sin. As long as we are not willing to give up something and if we have any resistance, it is still possible that sin might return to rule. Naturally, under such a condition, we will not have the power to reckon, to believe the Word of God. If we do not reckon and our faith stops, although we are in Christ positionally, our living is not in Christ—we do not have the abiding in the Lord mentioned in John 15—we will not have the fact which is only possible in Christ, that is, the fact that we have been crucified already.
This reckoning and this consecration must both be specific. They must be as specific as our receiving of the Lord Jesus as our Savior. If there is merely a mental understanding without the specific believing and the specific consecration, then it is not possible to have this kind of living.
Whenever we are defeated, we can definitely say that it is because we have failed either in our faith or in our obedience. Besides these, there is no other reason. If there is failure, the problem is either in one of these or in both. We should learn to live by faith in Christ, never looking at ourselves, thinking about ourselves, or employing ourselves outside of Christ. We must learn daily to believe that we are in Christ and that all the facts in Christ are real. At the same time, we must keep our own consecration by the power of God. We need to count all things as dung. There is nothing on the earth which we cannot give up for the Lord. There is nothing we want to reserve for ourselves. Whatever God asks of me, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how much it is contrary to the flesh, my heart is always willing. There is no price too great to pay if it is for God. I will not care for any sacrifice as long as I can please God. Daily I will learn to be an obedient child.
If we have such a reckoning and such a consecration, what will be the consequence? The Word of God is very clear. Verse 14 tells us, "For sin will not lord it over you."
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIN AND THE BODY
Once a believer has the understanding of the truth of co-crucifixion and the experience of being freed from sin, he is in a very dangerous stage. If he can have proper guidance at this time and rely on the Holy Spirit to do the deeper work of the cross in him, then he can enter into the state of being completely in the spirit. However, if he becomes complacent, thinking that living a life of overcoming sin is the highest living and does not allow the cross to terminate his soul-life, he will remain in the realm of the soul and consider the experience of the soul as the experience of the spirit. Although his old man has been dealt with already, his soul-life has not been dealt with by the cross. The will, mind, and emotion of this life are active without any restraint, so that the experience of such a believer is still of the flesh.
We must know to what extent the effect of the freedom from sin in our whole being is. Then we will know what has been dealt with and what has not been dealt with.
We must especially know this one thing, that is, "sin" is particularly related to our body. Unlike many philosophers, we do not think the flesh is intrinsically evil, but we admit that the body is the sphere where "sin" rules. Therefore, we see in Romans 6:6 that the Holy Spirit calls our body "the body of sin," because before we experience the dealing of the cross, before we yield our members as weapons of righteousness to God, our body is simply "the body of sin." Before we reckon ourselves as dead to "sin" and yield our body to God, "sin" possesses our body, "sin" is the master of our body. Our body is the stronghold of "sin," the tool of "sin," and the defense post of "sin." Therefore, there is no other term more appropriate than this, "the body of sin."
If we carefully read the portion in the Bible that speaks about the freedom from sin in Romans 6 through 8, we will see what the relationship between the body and "sin" is. Furthermore, we will know that God’s full salvation is to save our body to the extent that it is fully delivered from the work and service to "sin," and yields its members to God.
The apostle tells us in chapter six "that the body of sin might be annulled" (v. 6). "Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body so that you obey the body’s lusts" (v. 12). "Neither present your members as weapons of unrighteousness to sin, but present...your members as weapons of righteousness to God" (v. 13).
God again speaks through the apostle concerning the body in chapter seven. "The passions for sins...operated in our members" (v. 5). "But I see a different law in my members...making me a captive to the law of sin which is in my members" (v. 23). "Who will deliver me from the body of this death?" (v. 24).
The voice of the Holy Spirit is even clearer in chapter eight. "The body is dead because of sin" (v. 10). "Will also give life to your mortal bodies" (v. 11). "If by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live" (v. 13). "The redemption of our body" (v. 23).
After reading these verses, we should know how much God pays attention to our body. This is because the body is particularly the sphere of the activities of "sin." The reason man is the slave of "sin" is that man’s body is the puppet of "sin." Whenever the body becomes unemployed to "sin," man becomes the slave of "sin" no longer.
Therefore, we see that a man is freed from "sin" when his body is delivered from the power and might of "sin."
Because of this we see "our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled." The crucifixion of the old man is to cause the body to be delivered from the dominion of "sin." The old man, which is the co-worker of "sin," has been crucified. Now the new man occupies the position formerly occupied by the old man. Now the Spirit of God lives within. Although sin still exists, its power over the body has been broken. Because of the crucifixion of the old man, "sin" can no longer use the body. Without the old man as its co-worker, "sin" cannot use the body directly.
Therefore, we must remember that our deliverance from "sin" is only to have our body delivered. (Of course, we still have to wait until the future for the full redemption, to be freed from the presence of sin.) The natural life—the soul-life by which we live—has not been dealt with. If we consider the living of overcoming sin as the highest living, then we merely consider the "paralysis" of the body as the highest living and have forgotten that besides our body of sin, there is still a natural soul, the soul-life. This soul-life, just like the body, needs to be dealt with. If a believer only knows the "annulling" of the body (of course, this is already very marvelous), yet he does not know how to deny his soul-life, his spiritual experience is rather shallow and cannot be very deep.
We have mentioned previously how "self" (soul) is still very active in the work of God. Actually, although the body has become paralyzed, the whole life of the soul is still very active at this time. This life is sheltered in the self, yet this life has very different expressions outwardly. The soul-life is comprised of at least three main parts—the will, the mind, and the emotion. Therefore, when the believers live according to the soul-life, some incline toward the will, some incline toward the mind, and some incline toward the emotion. Or sometimes they incline toward one part and at other times toward another. Although the outward manifestations may differ significantly due to the differences between the will, the mind, and the emotion, they are the same in that they belong to the soul. For those who incline toward the will, the focus of their living is their own preference, and they are not willing to obey God’s will. Those who incline toward the mind chart the course of their way by their own wisdom instead of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their intuition in a calm and undisturbed manner. Those who incline toward the emotion seek pleasures in their feelings, considering this to be the supreme living. However, if believers walk according to their soul-life, regardless of what their inclination is, one thing is common to all of them, that is, that they live by the power of the self. This power of the self is all the believer’s natural power which he had before he believed in the Lord, whether talent, ability, eloquence, cleverness, charisma, enthusiasm, or whatever. With regard to the believers who walk according to the soul-life, we must know that first, in principle, the soul-life is the natural power of the self, and second, in manifestation, the soul-life has three different livings—stubbornly unsubmissive, self-conceited, or sensuously pleasure-seeking. If a believer lives by his soul-life, exhausting his own energy for everything, inevitably he will outwardly have these three different expressions. At this time, if he does not go on and put his soul-life to death, he will nurture his "self-life" which causes God to be displeased and causes him to lose the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)