KEEPING OURSELVES IN THE SPIRIT TO ENJOY CHRIST
In 1 Corinthians 1:30 Paul says that it is of God that we are in Christ Jesus. Moreover, Paul says that Christ became wisdom to us from God including three important items in God’s salvation: righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Righteousness refers to salvation involving the regeneration of our spirit. This is something which transpired in the past. Sanctification refers to the transformation of the soul (Rom. 6:19, 22). This is something for the present. Redemption, which is something for the future, refers to the transfiguration of our body (8:23; Phil. 3:21). Thus, in the past we have had our spirit regenerated through the righteousness of God which is Christ Himself, we are presently in the process of the transformation of our soul, and in the future we will have our body transfigured.
All of these aspects of Christ must be realized by us in our experience. There is a real shortage of the practical enjoyment of Christ among the Lord’s children. We must realize what Christ is today. According to 1 Corinthians 15:45b, Christ today is the life-giving Spirit. He surely is our Savior, Lord, and Master, but we should also realize that if He were not the life-giving Spirit, He could not be subjective to us, realized by us, or enjoyed by us. Christ as the life-giving Spirit does not refer to who Christ is, but to what Christ is. He is the life-giving Spirit. If we are to enjoy Christ, to experience Christ in a practical and real way, we have to know and realize that Christ is such a Spirit. As the Spirit, He is waiting for us to contact Him.
On the one hand, 1 Corinthians says that Christ became wisdom to us from God: both righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1:30). On the other hand, this same book tells us that Christ became a life-giving Spirit (15:45b). The practical way for us to enjoy this Christ is to realize that He is such a living Spirit waiting for us to contact Him. First Corinthians also tells us that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit (6:17). He is the life-giving Spirit dwelling in our human spirit, and these two spirits have been mingled together as one spirit (John 3:6; 4:24; Rom. 8:16). We must contact Him by our spirit, which has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6). We have a regenerated human spirit with which to contact Christ as the life-giving Spirit.
We need to exercise our spirit (4:24) to contact, enjoy, and experience Christ day by day and at all times. Let me illustrate. Suppose we have certain weaknesses, such as a bad temper or pride. How can we enjoy Christ to overcome these weaknesses? If we can lose our temper, this proves that we are out of Christ already. Because we are out of Christ, we have this problem. If we remain in Christ, the problem is over. In order to enjoy Christ as the victory over our weakness, we must keep ourselves in Him. To pray that He would help us to overcome certain points is ineffectual. We must always watch and pray to keep ourselves in Christ by turning ourselves to the spirit. It is so simple. We must turn ourselves to the spirit, to our own spirit, our human spirit, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. If we would be normal Christians, we must keep ourselves all the time in the spirit. When we are in the spirit, we are one with Christ, one spirit with the Lord. In the New Testament, especially in the Epistles, we are told many times to do things by the spirit, such as to walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25), to walk according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4), to pray in spirit (Eph. 6:18), to serve in spirit (Rom. 1:9; 12:11), and to be filled in spirit (Eph. 5:18). To keep ourselves in the spirit does not refer only to the Holy Spirit but also to our human spirit which has been mingled with the Holy Spirit to be one spirit. Our problem is that we are often out of this mingled spirit trying to do something apart from the Lord. We must check our experience. When we are in spirit, we view things one way, and when we are out of the spirit, we view the same things differently. When we are in spirit, we have one understanding, but outside of the spirit we have another understanding.
WALKING IN HIM BY WALKING IN SPIRIT
What does it mean to walk in Him (Col. 2:6)? It simply means to walk in the spirit. When you walk in the spirit, live in the spirit, do things in the spirit, move in the spirit, and have your being in the spirit, your whole life will be changed. There is no need to correct yourself or to improve your behavior. Just keep yourself in the spirit, and you will see the change in your life. There will be an automatic, unconscious change. Do not pay attention to your weakness. Forget about your weaknesses, circumstances, and surroundings, and simply turn to the spirit.
Suppose you need rest, peace, or comfort in a certain way. How could you enjoy Christ as rest, peace, or comfort? Some would say, in a very natural way, that you have to trust in the Lord and pray that the Lord would comfort you and grant you His peace within. This is certainly not wrong. However, the secret to enjoying Christ is not in practicing this way; rather, it is in keeping yourself in the spirit. Learn to keep yourself in the spirit by watching and praying (Matt. 26:41; Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18). When you watch and pray to keep yourself in the spirit, you will have the peace. Sometimes when you are in a difficult situation, you need peace and comfort. You may have tried to enjoy Christ as your peace, but you may have failed. The reason for this failure is that you were out of the spirit trying to enjoy Christ. The right way is to keep yourself in the spirit, to turn to the spirit; then you will have peace and rest. It is so simple.
Suppose I need guidance. Whenever I am out of the spirit, I just wander, not knowing where to go or the right way to take. The more I am in my mind considering, the more complicated I am. Likewise, the more I am in my mind thinking and considering which is the proper way to take, the more indecisive and hesitant I will be. But when I forget about the so-called proper guidance or the right way and simply watch and pray, keeping myself in the spirit, I become clear about the way I need to take.
The problem is that it is so easy for us to be outside of our spirit. When we are depressed or “out of it,” there is no need for us to get out of the spirit because we are out of the spirit already. If we consider our daily walk, day by day, from morning to evening, we will realize that we are often not in the spirit. If we would check our daily life, most of the time we are in our mind, not in our spirit. When we are in the mind, we do not have peace, we do not have the presence of Christ, and we are in darkness. But when we turn to our spirit, immediately we are clear about things, and we have the guidance, the peace, the patience, and the inner anointing. This experience is so simple, yet we make it so complicated. We would not turn to the spirit. Rather, we prefer to remain in our mind with our considerations, asking the Lord to help us in this matter and to do this or that thing for us.
We need to turn ourselves to the spirit all the time. This is the only way for us to enjoy Christ all the time. Perhaps you are about to quarrel with your wife or to say something to the brothers. Do not try to determine not to quarrel or to speak the best word. Turn yourself to the spirit. Spontaneously, you will know how to respond to your wife. You will also know the right way to talk to your children or to fellowship with the brothers. When you are in the spirit, you have a certain point of view; when you are in your mind, you have another point of view. You are the same person with the same environment, yet how you are depends upon where you are—in the spirit or in the mind.
The practical way to enjoy Christ is to simply turn yourself to the spirit all the time, remaining there to contact the Lord. There is no need for you to ask Him to help you or to do something for you. Just contact Him, look to Him, and give Him thanks, praises, adoration, and worship. Forget about your problems, weak points, and surroundings. Simply remain in the spirit to contact Him, looking to Him, thanking Him, praising Him, adoring Him, and worshipping Him. You will see the difference.
Learn to do one thing—turn yourself to the spirit all the time. Remain in the spirit to contact the Lord. You will see how much He will be to you. He will be whatever you need, such as peace, guidance, and wisdom. Our problem is that we are out of the spirit most of the time. We must realize the deceit of the enemy and watch and pray to always keep ourselves in the spirit. If we would ask the Lord to help us in anything, we should ask Him day and night, “Lord, help me to keep myself in the spirit. Help me to remain in the spirit. Lord, keep me in the spirit.” The Lord is so rich and unlimited, yet we cannot enjoy Him outside of the spirit. There is only one place and only one way by which we can enjoy Him; that is, we have to turn to the spirit and remain in our spirit, contacting Him all the time. We must do this all the time from morning to evening, looking to the Lord that we might be kept in spirit.
(Christ our Portion, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)