VICTORY OVER THE WORLD
Concerning victory over the world, the same thing applies. First, there is the accomplished work of Christ, which is God’s fact. Jesus says, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Second, there is our faith, for "the victory which has overcome the world [is] our faith" (1 John 5:4). When a man claims the victory of Christ as his victory, he overcomes the world. This is an experience in life that comes after we have believed. Facts are works of God; faith is our trust in God’s works; while experience is the spiritual encounters in our life. Not only does sanctification follow this principle; many other major doctrines concerning God’s way with man also follow this principle.
All of God’s facts are God’s own works; they do not come from man’s struggle. God’s facts, such as sanctification and victory, cannot be accomplished by the believers’ prayer, work, self-denial, holiness, charitable donations, or planning. God’s facts are accomplished by God alone. God has entrusted all His enterprises to Christ. Only by faith can we appropriate these facts; there is no other way.
Let us now consider an example to see the great difference between God’s fact and man’s experience. According to God’s fact, the church in Corinth was sanctified in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2). It was the temple of the Holy Spirit (6:19). It had been washed (v. 11). Yet in experience, it was "altogether a defeat" for them, for they wronged and defrauded (vv. 7-8) and sinned against Christ (8:12). The reason for this is that they did not apply the grace (i.e., the fact) that God had prepared for them. The result was a loss. The high position that we have obtained in fact does not come through our self-effort, diligence, self-buffeting, or pretense. We do not obtain this practical experience by exerting our own effort. In order to experience the reality of the fact that God has prepared for us, all we need to do is exercise our faith to claim what the Lord has accomplished for us and to count it as our own. The perfect and genuine faith is that which daily acknowledges the works (i.e., facts) that the Lord has accomplished. The meaning of claiming is to acknowledge daily all that the Lord has accomplished for us, that is, to acknowledge that all these accomplishments are effective in us. Then, when temptation comes, we will live out these accomplishments as if we have already attained to the position (the fact) that the Lord has placed us in. If we do this, our experience will follow.
A believer who is high in spiritual achievement is not high in himself. Rather, it is his claiming that makes him high. The spiritual experiences of the believers are not isolated matters. This means that there is a basis to these experiences; they do not exist in themselves or evolve around themselves. The experience of the believers’ spiritual life is fully based on the facts that God has accomplished for them. The facts are the basis, the experience is the accomplishment, and faith is the process. In other words, the facts are the cause, faith is the way, and experience is the result. The experience of the believers’ spiritual life is just the end result, the final achievement. Before there can be any lofty spiritual life in the believers, there first must be the perfect work of the Lord Jesus as its wellspring. It is absolutely impossible for a believer to try to be sanctified, to overcome, or to die by his own effort. Sanctification, victory, death, and so forth do not come from self-effort. They come from: (1) acknowledging our sanctification, victory, and death to the self in the Lord Jesus Christ, and (2) practicing it by believing that one is joined to the Lord Jesus in life and that one will be as sanctified, victorious, and dead to the self as the Lord Jesus is. The Lord Jesus has already encountered every experience that we have and will have. To claim by faith is to reckon as ours all that the Lord Jesus has and to apply through an attitude and a conduct of faith all that we have counted as grace.
Here we must never forget the Holy Spirit. Why does God’s fact become man’s experience through his faith? It is because of the work of the Holy Spirit. When we believe in God’s facts shown in the Bible and when we claim these facts, the Holy Spirit will apply to us all the graces that God has accomplished for us in Christ, making them real to us in our lives. In this way, they become our personal experiences. An acknowledging and claiming faith opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work and to apply in our lives all that the Lord Jesus has accomplished so that we will have the practical experience. The work of the Holy Spirit is based upon the facts of God. The Holy Spirit does not accomplish any fact for us; He only makes the things that have been accomplished real and living in our lives. God has accomplished all the facts in Christ. What we must do is acknowledge and claim these facts, trusting in the Holy Spirit to apply in our lives what God has accomplished so that we will have the spiritual experiences.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 01: The Christian Life and Warfare, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)