WORKING AND ENJOYING
However, what do many Christians do? They try to force themselves to do what they cannot do. There are things that they do not want to do, but they realize that God wants them to do these things. Therefore, they force themselves to do these things. Or they want to do something, and they know that God does not want them to do it. Therefore, they force themselves not to do it. They are Christians by their "doings"! This is absolutely wrong. This is not Isaac, because there is no enjoyment.
The proper way is to do things by the life that God has given us in Christ. This life spontaneously does what God wants us to do; it does not force us to do anything. At the same time, this life turns away from things that God does not want us to do. As a result, we do not have to force ourselves to turn away from certain things. We can turn away from them spontaneously. Whether we do certain things or do not do certain things, everything is spontaneous. There is no need to force ourselves to do anything. This is Isaac. God has a provision, and we should put ourselves under this provision. This is being an Isaac. When Abraham was about to offer up Isaac to God, Isaac only asked one question: "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" This was his only question. But his father answered, "God will provide himself." This is the characteristic of Isaac; his characteristic is to enjoy God’s provision.
THREE SPECIFIC EXPERIENCES
A CHRISTIAN SHOULD PURSUE
What then is the meaning of the God of Isaac? The God of Isaac means that all of God’s demands, expectations, and standards which He set forth in Abraham are fulfilled by God alone. In Abraham we see God’s purpose, and in Isaac we see the operation of God’s life. God’s demands and standards are seen in Abraham, while God’s provision and storehouse are found in Isaac.
The God of Abraham speaks of God setting up a standard for the vessel. The God of Isaac speaks of the fact that all the life and power one needs to become such a vessel and reach such a standard come from the Son of God. Isaac is the son, and the son inherits everything from the father. There is no need for a son to strive with his own strength. We will not reach God’s goal just by knowing the God of Abraham. In order to reach God’s goal, we have to learn to know the God of Isaac. But we cannot stop there. We also should know the God of Jacob. It is not enough just to have Abraham, and it is not enough just to add Isaac; Jacob must also be added.
Jacob was a crafty and deceitful person. Yet he met God. God’s work in Isaac was a supplying work, while His work in Jacob was a smiting and disciplining work. These two kinds of work are different. God was always supplying Isaac, while He was always stripping Jacob. Isaac continually received grace before the Lord, while Jacob was continually chastised by the Lord. In other words, in Isaac we see God supplying Christ to us, while in Jacob we see the Holy Spirit disciplining us. Isaac shows us the meaning of the enjoyment of the overcoming life, while Jacob shows us the meaning of the dealing of the natural life. Isaac shows us the riches of the resurrection life of Christ which God has given to His children, while Jacob shows us how God deals with the natural life, the soulish life, and the fleshly energy until one day the root is cut off, and the hollow of the thigh is touched. God will not stop working on us until we realize that it is spiritually useless to do anything according to our planning, our wisdom, and our strength. God wants to teach us one deep lesson, which is to remove our self. In other words, the God of Jacob completes the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob is for the God of Isaac. The life that God has given us is bound by our natural life and cannot be free. Therefore, God needs to deal with the natural life step by step. A Christian must be dealt with by God to the extent that others see a mortal blow in him. Unfortunately, some Christians have been dealt with by God tens and even hundreds of times, yet they have not received a mortal blow. Only a mortal blow will subdue Jacob and stop him from his scheming, planning, energy, and activity. Once the activity of the natural life ceases, the life that God gives us will be liberated. If we want to see everything that is in Christ being perfected in us, we must make sure that nothing in us comes from the natural life. We must cease from everything that is natural before Christ can be fully manifested in us.
(The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Chapter 7, by Watchman Nee)