Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


Food, protection, and pleasure are necessary for human existence and living, but because humans have lost God, they now care for their own living, protection, and amusement. Humans sense the need for these things, and without a doubt we do need them. The problem, however, is that the enemy of God, Satan, came in to take advantage of these needs to organize a system, a kosmos, which is the world. The world is a satanic system, an organization systematized by Satan. Satan has systematized all these needs and organized them in order to systematize people.

Being That Which Is More Than We Need for Our Living

The world is that which is more than we need for our living. This brief definition is adequate. The enemy utilizes the needs of human life and adds something to them.

We may illustrate this with marriage. Marriage in itself is not something of the world. Rather, it is ordained by God for human existence. In all the Scriptures the best example of marriage is that of Isaac and Rebekah. In this case there was only a marriage and not a system of marriage. Isaac married Rebekah due to the need for human existence, but there was no system in that marriage. Today, however, there is a system of marriage. In China, for example, as part of the agreement of marriage, a woman may demand that fifty tables be prepared for the marriage feast in a large rented hall which can seat five hundred people. Then a veil and a long wedding gown to be borne by several small girls must be prepared. Moreover, one family may have to pay one thousand dollars, and the two families may bargain for a greater or lesser amount. Many times the families come to a deadlock until after two months they restart the arguing and bargaining. These are some of the terms and conditions of the marriage agreement. Isaac and Rebekah never talked about such matters. They simply were married without any system. Now we can see what the world is. Marriage is not the world; the system of marriage is the world. The enemy has utilized the necessity of marriage to create a certain kind of system, and many young people today, both in the West and in the East, have been systematized by marriage.

Eating is also necessary for us to live. Eating in itself is not sinful or worldly, but today a system has been added to eating. Many people prefer particular foods and drinks and certain places to eat. For some, a five dollar meal is not good enough; their meals must cost over ten dollars. This is the system that is added to eating.

In principle, clothing is the same. A human must be clothed, which in itself is right, but today a great system has been added to clothing, and many people are systematized by it. In the Far East many women are bound by the matter of clothing. Day by day they know nothing but dressing. A woman may spend only twenty dollars for eating but five hundred or one thousand dollars for dressing. Without the system of clothing, many department stores would close.

In the same way, we need a house to live in, but a terrible system has been added to housing. In the West there is the western system, and in the East there is the eastern system. People have been very bound by the matter of housing. If someone is poor, he has nothing with which to be systematized; he is not rich enough to be systematized and bound. The richer someone is, however, the more he is bound. Many rich men have become bondservants to their house. If we ask people to serve the Lord, to have a Bible study, or to pray, they may say that they do not have the time. However, they have much time to be bondservants to their house. This is the system added to the necessities of human life.

(Basic Principles of the Experience of Life, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)