THE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE SELF
There are two problems with fallen man: sin in the body and the self in the soul. After we have been saved, we need to deal with these two matters. Here we will see how to deal with the self. First, we need to have the revelation that our old man has been crucified on the cross. The soul is the life of the old man, and the self is in the soul. Our old man, that is, the soul-life, our self, has been crucified on the cross. We need to see, to have the revelation of, this fact. Second, after we have seen that the old man has been crucified on the cross, we recognize and accept the fact. We say, “Lord, praise You, I have been crucified!” We even tell the enemy, the devil, “Satan, I have been crucified!”
However, this is not all. Third, we need to apply to ourselves the death of Christ that He accomplished and that we have recognized. This is the correct meaning of bearing the cross. When we recognize that we have been crucified on the cross, we receive this fact. Now, because we have been put on the cross, we receive the cross and put it on us. In this way we bear the cross day by day to put the self to death.
This application must be carried out in the Holy Spirit. It is in the Spirit that we bear the cross. When we are living and walking in the Spirit, the Spirit applies the death of Christ to us. Step by step, day by day, moment by moment, and even event by event we check our self, opinion, will, thought, and concept by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit checks us all the time, and when we are checked by the Holy Spirit, we are willing to put the self under Christ’s death, that is, to put the cross upon the self, to apply the Lord’s death to the self. This application of the cross is always in the Spirit and by the Spirit. This is why we must contact the Lord and fellowship with the Lord. When we are in the fellowship, we are in the stream, and when we are in the stream, we are in the Holy Spirit.
With the Holy Spirit there is always the death of Christ. Do you realize who the Holy Spirit is? The Holy Spirit is the very One who became incarnated and lived on this earth for thirty-three and a half years, who was crucified, resurrected, ascended, and exalted to the heavens. From this very One the stream of living water, the Spirit, flows out. Now within this living water, who is the Spirit, there are many elements, including incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, the human nature, and the divine nature. All these elements are in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the stream of living water.
We may compare the Spirit to a drink. In one drink we may add many items. We may put in juice, sugar, and other ingredients. Then from the pitcher the drink flows out into our cup. Now in the cup are all the ingredients. The Lord was incarnated, He lived on this earth, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended. After all this, He came to us as the Spirit, and within this Spirit are the many elements. Divinity is in this Spirit, humanity is in this Spirit, and the elements of His all-inclusive death, resurrection, and ascension are in this Spirit. Therefore, to be filled with this Spirit is to be filled with divinity, humanity, the effectiveness of the death of Christ, resurrection, and ascension. This is wonderful!
The Spirit can be compared to a dose of medicine with many ingredients. The Holy Spirit is a “dose,” and within this dose are many elements. Our experience bears witness to this. When we are in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we have the effectiveness of the death of Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the transcendence of His ascension. Many things come to suppress, depress, and oppress us, but when we are in the Spirit, we experience resurrection power. Nothing can suppress us. The more pressure there is, the more release we have. Likewise, if we are in the Holy Spirit and we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way, we sense that we are transcendent because within the Holy Spirit is the transcendence of Christ. We sense that we are on high; we are on the top. No one can touch us, and all the enemies and evil spirits are under us. When we are in the Spirit, we feel that we are in the heavenlies.
In the same principle, when we are in the Holy Spirit, we experience that we are dead; we are through. We are dead to the self, dead to our opinion, and dead to our will. We need to be in the Holy Spirit because it is by the Holy Spirit that the effectiveness of the death of Christ is applied to us. It is in the Holy Spirit that the application of the cross is prevailing. This is why we insist so much that we go to the Lord. We must contact the throne and have the flow of living water from the throne flowing through us.
If we have problems, we should not argue with one another. To argue is awful; arguments get us nowhere. We can argue for many days and nights, but the more we argue, the more reasonings we have. Our reasonings cannot be exhausted; rather, they will increase. The more we argue, the more we are in the self, and the more we are under the influence of Satan, even the control of Satan. What then must we do? Whenever there is an argument, we should stop and say to one another, “Let us go to the Lord and pray. Let us contact the Lord.” However, we must not pray in our reasonings.
To deal with the self is to live and walk in the Spirit; it is by the Spirit always to apply the Lord’s death to our opinion, will, and self. This is to deny the self, which is to bear the cross, to put the death of Christ upon our self.
To deal with the self is not a once-for-all matter. We must deal with the self day by day and moment by moment. Once we are out of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we are in the self again. Whenever we do not apply the death of the Lord, we are in the self. We need to be very watchful. To deal with the self is more difficult than to deal with sin. For Christians to be released from the bondage of sin is easy, but it is very difficult to deal with the self. This self is a very subtle enemy. I cannot adequately express how much damage the self has caused the church.
We must learn the lesson that to experience the Holy Spirit we need the full knowledge of the cross. Many people say that they experience the Holy Spirit, but they do not have the full knowledge of the cross. They do not know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and to realize that with the Holy Spirit there is the application of the Lord’s death to their very self. Whenever we have an opinion, a thought, a will, or a desire to express or insist upon, we need to pray. We need to contact the Lord. We must check the opinion, will, thought, and desire with the cross. We must check, “Has this thought, opinion, will, and desire passed through the cross?” We must make the cross a “checkpoint” for the will, thoughts, opinions, and desires. If we check in such a way, we will be delivered from the self. This is to bear the cross and deny the self.
Our two problems—sin and self—are our two practical enemies, enemies not in theory but in practice. We need to reckon ourselves dead on the cross; then we will be released from the bondage of sin. We also need to apply the death of the cross to our self in our daily life and apply this death to all the items of our self. This is the way to deal with the self. If we do not know how to deal with the self, and if we do not practice to deal with the self, it is hard for us to have any improvement in the spiritual life. It is hard for us to grow even a little in the spiritual life. We must pray about this and remember that the way to practice the dealing with the self is by the cross in the Holy Spirit.
(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)