Dead to Law but Living to God, by Witness Lee


Being Dead in Relation to Law and Living in Relation to God

Galatians 2:19 says, “Died to law…live to God.” This verse is very important and has a special place in the truth. Why is this verse so important? It is important because here it says, “Died to law…live to God.” There are two goals here: one is the law, and the other is God. Moreover, there are two kinds of dealings: one is to be dead, and the other is to live, that is, to deal with the law by being dead and to deal with God by living. We cannot have dealings with the law and God at the same time, and neither can we deal with them in the same way, because they are absolutely different.

Galatians 2:19 says, “For I through law have died to law that I might live to God.” What does I through law have died to law mean? As through law is not too easy to understand, we can first look at died to law…live to God. On the one hand there is the law, while on the other hand there is God. To the law, I have died; to God, I live. This means that we deal with the law by being dead, and we deal with God by living. Whenever we live to God, not only do we live, but God also lives in us. Whenever we are dead to the law, not only are we dead, but the law is also dead. The two die together. When we live to God, both we and God live. We and God, God and we, live together. This is really wonderful and is truly a mystery.

Living to God Only by Being Dead to Law

On the other hand, for God to live in us, the law has to die: “I through law have died to law that I might live to God.” Through is needed here; only by being dead through law can we live to God. We all know that the God in whom we believe is the living God, but is this living God living in us? If we want God to live in us, the law has to die. Only when the law is absent can God live in us. If there is a place for the law, then there is no place for God. Living to God is the result, whereas being dead to law is the cause.

The Law Being Dead Ordinances

What is the law? Ordinances, letters, resolutions, determinations—all these are included in the law. For instance, suppose I consider myself to be a Christian, yet I do not have the desire to know God. There are, however, obligations and responsibilities to being a Christian. Since this is the case and since in the church we are encouraged to visit the saints, I decide that every Wednesday or Saturday I will go out for visitations and that I will visit at least two persons every week. As another example, a sister may feel that she has a bad temper, so she makes up her mind to endeavor to change herself. She is determined that from now on she will learn to be as gentle as a lamb in dealing with others. Such a determination, such a decision, and even such a desire to love the Lord and the brothers and sisters are also part of the law. The law not only includes the Ten Commandments and other commandments found in the Scriptures; it also includes all our hopes, decisions, resolutions, expectations, aspirations, longings, and desires, including the desire to have a certain kind of living.

We all acknowledge the fact that whether we are unbelievers or Christians, as long as we are human beings, we cannot avoid facing the law in our human living. We will surely encounter the law. The law requires us to do good, to cultivate our conduct, to improve ourselves, and to pursue good. In our youth we acquire the law from our parents. We have to be quiet when visitors come—this is a law. We have to be polite in front of others—this is also a law. Then later we also make our own laws. We think it is wrong to cause our mother who loves us so much to be so angry and cry, so we determine not to make her angry again. This is also a law. Then when we grow older, we have the laws of the older people. For example, I was doing very well when I was praying a short while ago, but then a few minutes later, when my grandson talked back to me, I became angry. After thinking about it, I regretted it, so I made up my mind that I would never lose my temper again but rather would be patient and forgiving. What is this thought? It is still a law. Therefore, laws are innumerable; they are present everywhere. We make laws not only for ourselves but for others as well. For human beings, this is both proper and commendable; however, for Christians, this is a problem.

God Being the Living Law

God and the law are opposite to each other. Although the law includes ordinances, regulations, resolutions, expectations, and longings, the Scriptures teach us to be dead to law and living to God. This is because the law consists of dead ordinances, while God is the living law. The law and God are always present in our daily living. Just as we cannot escape from the law, so we also cannot escape from God. Therefore, we often put these two opposing things, the law and God, together. For instance, we may decide to be humble and gentle; this is the law. Yet we also discover that there is no way for us to be gentle and that it is also difficult for us to be humble, so we pray, asking for God’s help. Usually we make a law first, and then we ask God to help us fulfill the law. Actually, God does not want this. Rather, God wants us to be dead to law. God wants both us and the law to die.

(Dead to Law but Living to God, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)