IX. THE WAY OF DEALING WITH THE SPIRIT
A. Our Initiative
The practical way to deal with the spirit is similar to that of the various dealings mentioned before. First, we need to condemn the mixtures, and second, to remove them by the power of the Holy Spirit. For example, if we have a crooked spirit, we must first condemn this crookedness as sin. Secondly, we must purge out this crookedness from within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although the condemning and the removal are through the power of the Holy Spirit, yet they are of our own initiative. We must be willing to have such dealings and desire them; then we can draw from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit requires the cooperation of our will; when He has this, He will supply us with the power for dealing. This is the most basic principle of our dealing in life.
The putting to death mentioned in Romans 8:13 means that we take the initiative to put to death; it does not mean that the Holy Spirit does it for us. The Holy Spirit is the means, but we must take the initiative. The Holy Spirit supplies the strength, but we must take the initiative to put to death the deeds of the body through the Holy Spirit. We have spoken before of Galatians 5:24, which says that we that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. This crucifying is also of our initiating, not of the Lord’s. No doubt the crucifixion was accomplished by the Lord, but that is only an objective basis; our taking the initiative to crucify the flesh is our subjective application. We need to take the initiative to apply the cross and crucify the passages of the spirit, including our flesh, our self, our natural constitution, our purpose of heart, aim, intention, inclination, motive, etc.
B. The Cross as the Basis
This type of dealing initiated by us differs from human cultivation. Human cultivation is purely the work of man, whereas the dealing which we initiate is based upon the fact of the cross. It is because the Lord has already condemned sin on the cross that we can deal with sin. It is because the Lord has already judged the world on the cross that we can deal with the world. Likewise, it is because the Lord has done away with our old man on the cross, and our flesh, temper, self, natural constitution, and all other mixtures as well, that we can employ this fact as a basis upon which to deal with our flesh, temper, self-will, natural ability, and all the mixtures in the passages of our spirit.
C. The Function of Life
In dealing with the spirit, we have not only the accomplished fact of the Lord on the cross as the basis, but we have moreover the life of the Lord’s death and resurrection as the power. Because this life issues from the death of the cross, it has within it the element of the death of the cross. Therefore, when His life flows into us, it brings us back to the death of the cross in order to unite us with the death of the cross, thereby joining us to the cross. This may be likened to the electric current following through the light bulb: it connects the bulb with the power plant, while at the same time the electricity of the power plant can manifest its function by causing the bulb to give forth light. Likewise, when the resurrection life of the Lord enters into us and moves within us, it produces the effect of death, which enables us to have the various dealings of putting to death. This life within us spontaneously gives us feelings which require us to deal with sin, the world, the feeling of the conscience, the boasting and desires of the flesh, the self-opinion, the ability of the natural life, and all the mixtures in the different parts of our whole being. All these dealings are in the accomplished fact of Christ on the cross and are now being experienced by us in the Holy Spirit.
Once we have the feeling derived from the life of the Lord within us, we need to exercise our will to cooperate with His life and immediately initiate the dealing. If we cooperate in this manner, this feeling of life becomes a killing power, enabling us to have the experience of the killing of the cross. At this time, the putting to death of the cross becomes manifest in our living in a very practical way by removing our unrighteousness, unholiness, offense in our conscience, flesh, temper, self-opinion, natural constitution, and all mixtures in various parts of our being. At this stage, our whole being is not only broken so that the spirit can be released, but also purified so that the spirit which is released is pure and upright, meek and normal.
D. The Standard of Peace
The standard of our dealing with the spirit is still “life and peace.” We only need to deal to the degree of having peace within; this is sufficient. However, concerning the degree of dealing whereby we can obtain peace, the Holy Spirit will be responsible to speak to us and give us a clear feeling. Many times the speaking of the Holy Spirit within us has a higher standard than the outward demand. If our growth in life reaches the degree of dealing with our spirit, then the demand of the Holy Spirit within us will not only be higher than the law of this world, but higher and more severe than the regulations in letter in the Bible. Therefore, as long as we feel that there is no problem deep within, that is sufficient. If, however, there is some problem deep within which gives us no peace, we should not listen to outward reasonings. We must take heed to the inner demand of the Holy Spirit and thereby attain the standard required by the Holy Spirit deep within.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)