WALKING BY THE SPIRIT BY APPLYING THE CROSS
The way to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit is in Galatians 5:16-25. The Spirit in this passage is the Spirit of life, who brings forth the fruit of life from within us. This portion of the Word tells us that we have this Spirit already; what we need is to walk by the Spirit. The way to walk by the Spirit is to realize the work of the cross. Verse 24 says, “But they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts.” We need to apply the work of the cross upon our flesh with its passions and lusts. The flesh here includes both the flesh and the soul. Passions and lusts are not only of the body. When a person dies, his body is still present, but the passions and lusts are gone. The passions and lusts of the fallen person are the desires of the soul, the soulish life, related to the body. This means that we must apply the cross to the soulish life.
The grammatical construction of verse 24 is very meaningful. It does not say in the passive voice that the flesh with its passions and lusts has been crucified. Rather, it says in the active voice that they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified it. This means that we apply the work of the Lord’s cross upon our soulish life. It is notable, however, that the verb is in the perfect tense. We need to crucify the flesh, but we have done it already. This means that the crucifixion of the flesh has been accomplished by the Lord, but we now need to apply it.
Our flesh was crucified on the cross by the death of the Lord Jesus, but now we need to be active to apply to our soulish life what the Lord accomplished. If we do not apply the work of the cross, we will live in the soul. We will live under the direction of the passions and desires related to the flesh. Then there will be no room for the indwelling Spirit to fill us because we will be filled with something else. We need to be dealt with by the work of the cross so that we can give the ground, the room, to the Holy Spirit.
Verse 24 speaks of the cross, and verse 25 speaks of the Spirit, saying, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” To apply the work of the cross to the soulish life, the natural life, with its passions and desires related to the body is the only way to walk by the Spirit. The more we apply the cross to our soulish life, our self, our natural life, the more we will walk by the Spirit, and the more the Spirit will fill us. The only way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to apply the work of the cross to our natural life.
We need to take some time to go to the Lord to deal with Him and to let Him deal with us. We must ask Him to reveal to us the passions, desires, and other things of the soulish life we need to deal with. This is not a once-for-all matter. We always need to deal in this way. Day by day, even moment by moment, we need to apply the cross of the Lord to our soulish life with its passions and desires related to this sinful body. This is the only way to walk by the Spirit.
We have the Spirit, but we need to apply the Spirit, and the only way to apply the Spirit of life within us and let Him fill us is to apply the cross to our soulish life. There is no other way. Therefore, we need to spend more time with the Lord, not praying that He do this or that for us as matters of business, but that He would bring us into His light. We need to do this in the morning and in the evening, day by day. We should forget about our matters of business. Even if we are sick, we should forget about our sickness. We have a spiritual illness that is more serious. We must simply go to the Lord, and not only once. We need real experiences of these matters.
Until 1931, six years after I was saved, I was with a group of believers who studied the Word but were spiritually dead in their study. Day by day, every morning, I went to the Lord. In those times, I did not have any prayer about matters of business. For about six months the only thing I prayed day by day was, “Lord, bring me into Your light and show me where I am and what is within me.” It was wonderful. Day by day the Lord showed me something natural, worldly, sinful, soulish, or fleshly within me that I needed to deal with. That was the application of the cross in prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit. Every morning I experienced the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Every morning after I prayed, I was full of joy. In those days I dared not to sing a certain hymn about how the name of the Lord Jesus is like music, because whenever I sang it, my tears came down. I constantly sensed the filling of the Holy Spirit.
To be sure, if at that time I had had the teachings and background of the Pentecostal movement, I would have added speaking in tongues to my experience. Eventually, in 1936, I did add speaking in tongues, but in 1931 I did not have this kind of teaching. I simply experienced the Lord to a full extent without any kind of strange speaking.
The only way to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit is to be dealt with by the cross in the light of the Holy Spirit. If we try to keep something for ourselves, we are finished. We must deal with all the soulish, natural, worldly, and sinful things within us, applying the work of the cross to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then we can constantly walk by the Spirit and have the experiences of the Spirit.
(The Work of the Holy Spirit, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)