We are DEAD and HID with Christ Part 2

Dead and Hid with Christ Part 2

Colossians 3:3

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

King James Version (KJV)

Part I

We Are DEAD & HID with Christ dear Saints... Praise God! (thethirdheaventraveler.com)


While meditating and writing Part I I was frankly overwhelmed with our LIVES HID with Christ and had accepted the word DEAD as a given - an acceptable understanding that dead means dead.  

However, during the middle of the night I awoke and had a compelling unction to do a part 2 and focus on the importance of the necessity of understanding DEATH in the context of Colossians 3:3 and describe What this looks like in our daily lives. 

Background Scriptures:

Philippians 3:10

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

King James Version (KJV)

Philippians 3:11,12,20,21 KJV

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Strongs G599 apothnesko to die; G575 apo of separation; G2348 thnesko to die, be dead.  G2288: thanatos: THAT SEPARATION OF THE SOUL AND THE BODY by which the life on earth is ended; G3498: nekros: DESTITUTE OF A LIFE; INACTIVE deceased, departed; 

Oxford English Dictionary page 652: Literally and in senses directly connected said of things THAT HAVE BEEN ALIVE. That has ceased to live; deprived of life in that state in which the vital functions and powers have come to an end.  And are incapable of being restored. Specifically used of that which has died of ITSELF instead of being killed. As good as dead in respect to something insensible to of things, practices, FEELINGS. Deprived of; void of life wanting some vital or characteristic physical qualities; Jude 12, (twice dead - second death = the lost)  Romans 5:15, (First death to all creation) Ephesians 2:5 (Dead in Sins) vs  Romans 6:2 (Dead to Sin)

Bereft of sensation or vitality. 

 * Bereft: bereave (v.)

Middle English bireven, from Old English bereafian "to deprive of, take away by violence, seize, rob," from be- + reafian "rob, plunder," from Proto-Germanic *raubōjanan, from PIE *runp- "to break" (see corrupt (adj.)). A common Germanic formation; compare Old Frisian biravia "despoil, rob, deprive (someone of something)," Old Saxon biroban, Dutch berooven, Old High German biroubon, German berauben, Gothic biraubon.

We see and we must apprehend (grasp, capture and thoroughly understand) that to die we must go to the cross and to go to the cross is by faith and in continual living IN the Word of God which splits SOUL from SPIRIT.

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

King James Version (KJV)

QuoteS from Watchman Nee's Spiritual Man:

THE NECESSITY FOR DEATH To the degree that a believer is enlightened by the Holy Spirit into apprehending something of the pitiful condition of being fleshly, to that extent will his struggle with the flesh be intensified; and more often will be manifested his failures. In defeat he will be shown more of the sin and frailty of his flesh in order that he may be aroused to an increased indignation at himself and an ardent determination to contend with the sin of his flesh. Such a chain reaction may extend protractedly until at last, through experiencing the deeper work of the cross, he is delivered. That the Holy Spirit should lead us in just this way is truly fraught with meaning. Before the cross can do its deeper work there must be an adequate preparation. 

Struggle and failure supply just that. Apropos the believer's experience, although he may agree mentally with God's estimate of the flesh that it is corrupted to the core and irredeemable, he nevertheless may lack that clear spiritual insight which accurately appreciates the defilement and corruptness of the flesh. He may suppose what God says to be true. But though the believer still would never say so, he still tries to tinker with his flesh. Many believers, ignorant of the salvation of God, attempt to conquer the flesh by battling it. They hold that victory depends upon the measure of power they have. These therefore earnestly anticipate God will grant them increased spiritual power to enable them to subdue their flesh. 

This battle normally extends over a long period, marked by more defeats than victories, until finally it seems complete victory over the flesh is unrealizable. During this time the believer continues on the one hand to wage war and on the other to try improving or disciplining his flesh. He prays, he searches the Bible, he sets up many rules ("do not handle, do not taste, do not touch") in the vain hope of subduing and taming the flesh. He unwittingly tumbles into the trap of treating the evil of the flesh as due to the lack of rules, education and civilization. If only he could give his flesh some spiritual training, thinks he, he will be freed from its trouble. He does not comprehend that such treatment is useless (Col. 2.21-23). 

Because of the Christian's confusion in apparently desiring the destruction of the flesh while concurrently trying to refine it, the Holy Spirit must allow him to strive, to be defeated, and then to suffer under self-accusation. Only after he has had this experience over and over again will the believer realize that the flesh is irredeemable and his method futile. He then will search out another kind of salvation. Thus he now has come to appreciate in his experience what before he merely came to know in his mind. If a child of God faithfully and honestly believes in God and sincerely entreats the Holy Spirit to reveal God's holiness to him so that he may know his flesh in that light, the Spirit certainly will do so. 

Henceforth he may perhaps be spared many sufferings. But such believers are few. Most trust in their own method, assuming that they are not that bad after all. In order to correct this incorrect assumption, the Holy Spirit patiently leads believers into experiencing little by little the futility of their own devices. We have observed that we cannot yield to the flesh; nor can we repair, regulate, or educate it, because none of our methods can ever alter in the slightest the nature of the flesh.

 What then can be done? The flesh must die. This is God's way. Not through any other avenue but death is it to be. We would prefer to tame the flesh by striving, by changing it, by exercising the will, or by innumerable other means; but God's prescription is death. 

If the flesh is dead, are not all problems automatically solved? The flesh is not to be conquered; it is to die. This is most reasonable when considered in relation to how we became flesh in the first place: "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." We became flesh by being born of it. Now the exit simply follows the entrance. The way of possessing is the way of losing. Since we became flesh by being born of the flesh, it naturally follows that we shall be freed from it if the flesh dies. Crucifixion is the one and only way. "For he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom. 6.7). Anything less than death is insufficient. Death is the only salvation. The flesh is most defiled (2 Peter 2.10-22); God accordingly does not attempt to change it. There is no method of deliverance other than to put it to death. Even the precious blood of the Lord Jesus cannot cleanse the flesh. We find in the Bible how His blood washes our sin but never washes our flesh. It must be crucified (Gal. 5.24). The Holy Spirit can not reform the flesh; therefore He will not dwell in the midst of sinful flesh. His abiding in the believer is not for the purpose of improving, but for warring against, the flesh (Gal 5.17). "It (the holy anointing oil which is a type of the Holy Spirit) shall not be poured upon the bodies of ordinary men" (Ex. 30.32). If such be the case, how absurd for us frequently to pray that the Lord will make us good and loving so that we may serve Him! How vain is that hope which aims at a holy position some day wherein we may be daily with the Lord and are able to glorify Him in all things! Indeed, we should never attempt to repair the flesh in order to make it cooperate with the Spirit of God. The flesh is ordained to death. Only by consigning the flesh to the cross may we be liberated from being enslaved permanently by it.

THE DELIVERANCE OF THE CROSS Upon reciting many deeds of the flesh in his Galatian letter, the Apostle Paul then points out that "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5.24). Here is deliverance. Is it not strange that what concerns the believer vastly differs from what concerns God? The former is concerned with "the works of the flesh" (Gal. 5.19), that is, with the varying sins of the flesh. He is occupied with today's anger, tomorrow's jealousy, or the day after tomorrow's strife. The believer mourns over a particular sin and longs for victory over it. Yet all these sins are but fruits from the same tree. While plucking one fruit (actually one cannot pick off any), out crops another. One after another they grow, giving him no chance for victory. On the other hand God is concerned not with the works of the flesh but with "the flesh" itself (Gal. 5.24).

 Had the tree been put to death, would there be any need to fear lest it bear fruit? The believer busily makes plans to handle sins: which are the fruits, while forgetting to deal with the flesh itself: which is the root. No wonder that before he can clear up one sin, another has burst forth. We must therefore deal today with the source of sin. Babes in Christ need to appropriate the deeper meaning of the cross, for they are still carnal. The aim of God is to crucify the believer's old man with Christ with the result that they who belong to Christ "have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Bear in mind that it is the flesh together with its powerful passions and desires that has been crucified. As the sinner was regenerated and redeemed from his sins through the cross, so now the carnal babe in Christ must be delivered from the rule of the flesh by the same cross so that he can walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.

Thereafter it will not be long before he becomes a spiritual Christian. Here we find the contrast between the fall of man and the operation of the cross. The salvation provided by the latter is just the remedy for the former. How fitting indeed they are to each other. Firstly, Christ died on the cross for the sinner to remit his sin. A holy God could now righteously forgive him. But secondly, the sinner as well died on the cross with Christ so that he might not be controlled any longer by his flesh. Only this can enable man's spirit to regain its proper rule, make the body its outward servant and the soul its intermediary. In this way the spirit, the soul, and the body are restored to their original position before the fall.

If we are ignorant of the meaning of the death herein described we shall not be delivered. May the Holy Spirit be our Revealer. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus" refers to every believer in the Lord. All who have believed Him and are born anew belong to Him. The deciding factor is whether one has been related to Christ in life, not how spiritual one is or what work he does for the Lord nor whether he has been freed from sin, has overcome the passions and desires of his flesh, and is now wholly sanctified. In other words, the question can only be: has one been regenerated or not? Has one believed in the Lord Jesus as his Savior or not? If he has, no matter what his current spiritual state may be: in victory or in defeat: he "has crucified the flesh." The issue before us is not a moral one, nor is it a matter of spiritual life, knowledge, or work.

It simply is whether he is the Lord's. If so, then he already has crucified the flesh on the cross. The meaning clearly is not that of going to crucify, or of in the process of crucifying, but has crucified.

 It may be helpful to be more explicit here. We have indicated that the crucifixion of the flesh is not dependent upon experiences, however different they may be; rather is it contingent upon the fact of God's finished work. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus": the weak as well as the strong: "have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." You say you still sin, but God says you have been crucified on the cross. You say your temper persists, but God's answer is that you have been crucified. You say your lusts remain very potent, but again God replies that your flesh has been crucified on the cross. For the moment will you please not look at your experience, but just hearken to what God says to you. If you do not listen to His Word and instead look daily upon your situation, you will never enter into the reality of your flesh having been crucified on the cross. Disregard your feelings and experience.

 God pronounces your flesh crucified; it therefore has been crucified. Simply respond to God's Word and you shall have experience. When God tells you that "your flesh has been crucified" you should answer with "Amen, indeed my flesh has been crucified." In thus acting upon His Word you shall see your flesh is dead indeed. 

The believers at Corinth had indulged in sins of fornication, jealousies, contentions, party spirit, lawsuits and many others. They were plainly carnal. True, they were "babes in Christ"; nevertheless they were of Christ. Can it actually be said that these carnal believers had had their flesh crucified on the cross? The answer undeniably is yes; even these had had their flesh crucified. How is this so? We should realize that the Bible never tells us to have ourselves crucified; it informs us only that we "were crucified." 

We should understand that we are not to be crucified individually but that we have been crucified together with Christ (Gal. 2.20; Rom. 6.6). If it is a crucifixion together then the occasion when the Lord Jesus was Himself crucified is that moment when our flesh too was crucified. Furthermore, the co-crucifixion is not inflicted on us personally since it was the Lord Jesus who took us to the cross at His crucifixion. Wherefore God considers our flesh as crucified already. To Him it is an accomplished fact. Whatever may be our personal experiences God declares that "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh."

 In order to possess such death we must not give too large a place to discovering how or to noticing our experience; we should instead believe God's Word. "God says my flesh has been crucified so I believe it is crucified. I acknowledge that what God says is true." By responding in this fashion we shall soon encounter the reality of it. If we look at God's fact first our experience will follow next. From God's perspective these Corinthians did have their flesh crucified on the cross with the Lord Jesus; but from their point of view they certainly did not have such an experience personally. Perhaps this was due to their not knowing God's fact. Hence the first step towards deliverance is to treat the flesh according to God's viewpoint. And what is that? It is not in trying to crucify the flesh but in acknowledging that it has been crucified, not in walking according to our sight but according to our faith in the Word of God. If we are well established on this point of acknowledging the flesh as already crucified, then we shall be able to proceed in dealing with the flesh experimentally. If we waver over this fact, the possibility of our definitely possessing it will escape us. In order to experience co-crucifixion we first must set aside our current situation and simply trust the Word of God.

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND EXPERIENCE "While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions . . . were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are . . . dead. . ." (Rom. 7.5-6). Because of this the flesh has no rule over us any further. We have believed and acknowledged that our flesh has been crucified on the cross. Now: not before: we can turn our attention to the matter of experience. Though we presently stress experience, we nevertheless firmly hold to the fact of our crucifixion with Christ. What God has done for us and what we experience of God's completed work, though distinguishable, are inseparable. God has done what He could do. The question next is, what attitude do we assume towards His finished work? Not just in name but in actuality has He crucified our flesh on the cross. If we believe and if we exercise our will to choose what God has accomplished for us, it will become our life experience. We are not asked to do anything because God has done it all. We are not required to crucify our flesh for God has crucified it on the cross. Do you believe this is true? Do you desire to possess it in your life? If we believe and if we desire then we shall cooperate with the Holy Spirit in obtaining rich experience. Colossians 3.5 implores us to "put to death therefore what is earthly in you." This is the path towards experience. The "therefore" indicates the consequence of what precedes it in verse 3; namely, "you have died." 

The "you have died" is what God has achieved for us. Because "you have died," therefore "put to death what is earthly in you." The first mention of death here is our factual position in Christ; the second, our actual experience. 

The failure of believers today can be traced to a failure to see the relationship between these two deaths. Some have attempted to put their flesh to naught for they lay stress only upon the death experience. 

Their flesh consequently grows livelier with each dealing! Others have acknowledged the truth that their flesh in fact was crucified with Christ on the cross; yet they do not seek the practical reality of it. Neither of these can ever appropriate experimentally the crucifixion of the flesh. If we desire to put our members to death we first must have a ground for such action; otherwise we merely rely upon our strength.

 No degree of zeal can ever bring the desired experience to us. Moreover, if we only know our flesh has been crucified with Christ but are not exercised to have His accomplished work carried out in us, our knowledge too will be unavailing. A putting to naught requires a knowing first of an identification in His death; knowing our identification, we must exercise the putting to death. These two must go together. We are deceiving ourselves should we be satisfied with just perceiving the fact of identification, thinking we are now spiritual because the flesh has been destroyed; on the other hand, it is an equal deception if in putting to naught the wicked deeds of the flesh we over-emphasize them and fail to take a death attitude towards the flesh. Should we forget that the flesh is dead we shall never be able to lay anything to rest. The "put to death" is contingent upon the "you have died." 

This putting to death means bringing the death of the Lord Jesus to bear upon all the deeds of the flesh. The crucifixion of the Lord is a most authoritative one for it puts away everything it encounters. Since we are united with Him in His crucifixion we can apply His death to any member which is tempted to lust and immediately put it to nought. Our union with Christ in His death signifies that it is an accomplished fact in our spirits. 

What a believer must do now is to bring this sure death out of his spirit and apply it to his members each time his wicked lusts may be aroused. 

Such spiritual death is not a once for all proposition. Whenever the believer is not watchful or loses his faith, the flesh will certainly go on a rampage. If he desires to be conformed completely to the Lord's death, he must unceasingly put to nought the deeds of his members so that what is real in the spirit may be executed in the body. But whence comes the power to so apply the crucifixion of the Lord to our members? It is "by the Spirit," insists Paul, that "you put to death the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8.13),

To put away these deeds the believer must rely upon the Holy Spirit to translate his co-crucifixion with Christ into personal experience. He must believe that the Holy Spirit will administer the death of the cross on whatever needs to die. 

In view of the fact that the believer's flesh was crucified with Christ on the cross, he does not need today to be crucified once again. All which is required is to apply, by the Holy Spirit, the accomplished death of the Lord Jesus for him on the cross to any particular wicked deed of the body which now tries to rise up. It will then be put aside by the power of the Lord's death. The wicked works of the flesh may spring up at any time and at any place; accordingly, unless the child of God by the Holy Spirit continually turns to account that power of the holy death of our Lord Jesus, he will not be able to triumph. But if in this way he lays the deeds of the body to rest, the Holy Spirit Who indwells him will ultimately realize God's purpose of putting the body of sin out of a job (Rom. 6.6). 

By thus appropriating the cross the babe in Christ will be liberated from the power of the flesh and will be united with the Lord Jesus in resurrection life. Henceforth the Christian should "walk by the Spirit" and should "not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5.16). We always should remember that however deeply our Lord's cross may penetrate into our lives we cannot expect to avoid further agitations of the wicked deeds of our members without constant vigilance. 

Whenever one of God's own fails to follow the Holy Spirit he immediately reverts to following the flesh. God unveils to us the reality of our flesh through His Apostle Paul's delineation of the Christian's self in Romans 7 from verse 5 onward. The moment the Christian ceases to heed the Holy Spirit he instantly fits into the carnal life pattern described here. Some assume that because Romans 7 stands between Chapters 6 and 8 the activity of the flesh will become past history as soon as the believer has passed through it and entered into the life of the Spirit in Romans 8. In actuality Chapters 7 and 8 run concurrently. 

Whenever a believer does not walk by the Spirit as in Romans 8 he is immediately engulfed in the experience of Romans 7. "So then I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (7.25). You will notice that Paul concludes his description of his experience given before this verse 25 by using the phrase "so then." 

He encounters incessant defeat up through verse 24; only in verse 25 does he enter into victory: "Thanks be unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (v.25a). Upon gaining victory over constant defeat we read Paul saying: "I of myself serve the law of God with my mind." Here he is telling us that his new life desires what God desires. That, however, is not the whole story; for Paul immediately continues by declaring: "but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." And this we find him saying just after his victory of verse 25a. The obvious inference is that no matter how much his inner mind may serve God's law, his flesh always serves sin's law. However much he may be delivered from the flesh it remains unchanged and continues to serve sin's law (v.25), because the flesh is forever the flesh. Our life in the Holy Spirit may be deepened, but this will not alter the nature of the flesh or prevent it from serving the law of sin. If we therefore desire to be led of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8.14) and freed from the oppression of the flesh, we must put to death the wicked deeds of the body and walk according to the Holy Spirit.

GOD'S VIEW OF THE FLESH We Christians need to be reminded once again of God's judgment upon the flesh. "The flesh," says the Lord Jesus, "is of no avail" (John 6.63). Whether it be the sin of the flesh or the righteousness of the flesh, it is futile. That which is born of the flesh, whatever it may be, is flesh, and can never be "unfleshed." Whether it be the flesh in the pulpit, the flesh in the audience, the flesh in prayers, the flesh in consecration, the flesh in reading the Bible, the flesh in singing hymns, or the flesh in doing good: none of these, asserts God, can avail. However much believers may lust in the flesh, God declares it all to be unprofitable; for neither does the flesh profit the spiritual life nor can it fulfill the righteousness of God. Let us now note a few observations concerning the flesh which the Lord through the Apostle Paul makes in the letter to the Romans. (1) "To set the mind on the flesh is death" (8.6). According to God's view there is spiritual death in the flesh. The only escape is to commit the flesh to the cross. Regardless how competent it is to do good or to plan and plot so as to draw down the approval of men, God has pronounced upon the flesh simply one judgment: death. (2) "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God" (8.7). The flesh is opposed to God. Not the slightest chance is there of peaceful co-existence. This holds true in regard not only to the sins which issue from the flesh but also to its noblest thoughts and actions. Obviously defiling sins are hostile to God, but let us observe that righteous acts can be done independently of God as well. (3) "It does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot" (8.7). The better the flesh works the farther away it is from God. How many of the "good" people are willing to believe in the Lord Jesus?

Their self-righteousness is not righteousness at all; it is actually unrighteousness. None can ever obey all the teaching of the Holy Bible. Whether a person is good or bad, one thing is certain: he does not submit to God's law. 

In being bad he transgresses the law; in being good he establishes another righteousness outside of Christ and thus misses the purpose of the law ("through the law comes knowledge of sin" 3.20). (4) "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (8.8). This is the final verdict. Regardless how good a man may be, if the doing is out from himself it cannot please God. God is pleased with His Son alone; aside from Him and His work no man nor work can delight God. What is performed by the flesh may seem to be quite good; nevertheless, because it derives from self and is done in natural strength it cannot satisfy God. 

Man may devise many ways to do good, to improve, and to advance, but these are carnal and cannot please Him. This is not only true of the unregenerate; it is likewise true of the regenerated person. However commendable and effective should anything be that is done in his own strength the believer fails to draw down upon himself the approval of God. God's pleasure or displeasure is not founded upon the principle of good and evil. Rather, God traces the source of all things. 

An action may be quite correct, yet God inquires, what is its origin? From these Scripture references we can begin to appreciate how vain and futile are the efforts of the flesh. A believer who is shown precisely God's estimation of it will not blunder easily. As human beings we distinguish between good works and evil works; God on the other hand goes behind and makes a distinction as to the source of every work. The most excellent deed of the flesh brings down upon it the same displeasure of God as would the most defiled and wicked work, for they all are of the flesh. 

Just as God hates unrighteousness, so He abhors self-righteousness. The good acts done naturally without the necessity of regeneration or union with Christ or dependence upon the Holy Spirit are no less carnal before God than are immorality, impurity, licentiousness, etc. However beautiful man's activities may be, if they do not spring from a complete trust in the Holy Spirit they are carnal and are therefore rejected by God. God opposes, rejects and hates everything belonging to the flesh: regardless of outward appearances and regardless whether done by a sinner or a saint. His verdict is: the flesh must die. 

THE BELIEVER'S EXPERIENCE But how can a believer see what God has seen? God is so adamant against the flesh and its every activity; yet the believer appears to reject only its bad features while clinging affectionately to the flesh itself. He does not reject categorically the whole thing: he instead continues to do many things in the flesh: he even assumes a self-confident and proud attitude about it as though he were now rich with God's grace and qualified to perform righteously. The believer literally is making use of his flesh. Because of such self-deceit the Spirit of God must lead him over the most shameful path in order to make him know his flesh and attain God's view. God allows that soul to fall, to weaken, and even to sin, that he may understand whether or not any good resides in the flesh. This usually happens to the one who thinks he is progressing spiritually. The Lord tries him in order that he may know himself. Often the Lord so reveals His holiness to such a one that the believer cannot but judge his flesh as defiled. Sometimes He permits Satan to attack him so that, out of his suffering, he may perceive himself. It is altogether a most difficult lesson, and is not learned within a day or night. 

Only after many years does one gradually come to realize how untrustworthy is his flesh. There is uncleanness even in his best effort. God consequently lets him experience Romans 7 deeply until he is ready to acknowledge with Paul: "I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh" (v.18). How hard to learn to say this genuinely! If it were not for countless experiences of painful defeat the believer would continue to trust himself and consider himself able. Those hundreds and thousands of defeats bring him to concede that all self-righteousness is totally undependable, that no good abides in his flesh. Such dealing, however, does not terminate here. Self-judgment must continue. For whenever a Christian ceases to judge himself by failing to treat the flesh as useless and utterly detestable but assuming instead even a slightly self-flattering and vainglorious attitude, then God is compelled to run him again through fire in order to consume the dregs. How few are they who humble themselves and acknowledge their uncleanness! Unless such a state is realized God will not withdraw His dealings. Since a believer cannot be freed from the influence of the flesh for a moment, he should never cease exercising the heart to judge himself; otherwise he will step once more into the boasting of the flesh. Many suppose the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin pertains just to the people of the world, for does He not convict them of their sins into believing the Lord Jesus? But Christians ought to know that such operation of the Holy Spirit is as important in the saints as it is in the sinners. Out of necessity He must convict the saints of their sins, not merely once or twice but daily and incessantly. May we more and more experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that our flesh can be put under judgment unceasingly and never be able to reign. May we not lose, even for a moment, the true picture of our flesh and God's estimation of it. Let us never believe in ourselves and never trust our flesh again, as though it could ever please God. Let us always trust the Holy Spirit and at no time yield the slightest place to self. If ever there was one in the world who could boast of his flesh that person must be Paul, for as to righteousness under the law he was blameless. And if any could boast of his flesh following regeneration, it certainly must be Paul again because he has become an apostle who has seen the risen Lord with his own eyes and who is used greatly by the Lord. But Paul dare not boast, for he knows his flesh. His Romans 7 experience enables him to realize fully who he is. God already has opened his eyes to see via his experience that there dwells in his flesh no good, only sin. The self-righteousness of which he boasted in the past he now knows to be refuse and sin. He has learned and learned well this lesson; hence be dare not trust the flesh again. But with this lesson he does not in any wise cease. No, Paul continues to learn. And so the Apostle declares that he can "put no confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more" (Phil. 3.3-4). Despite the many reasons he can marshal for trusting his flesh (vv. 5-6), Paul realizes how God regards it and well understands how absolutely undependable and untrustworthy it is. If we continue reading Philippians 3 we shall discover how humble Paul is with respect to trusting in himself: "not having a righteousness of my own" (v.9): "that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (v.11) : "not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (v.12). Should a believer aspire to attain spiritual maturity he must preserve forever that attitude which the Apostle Paul maintained throughout his spiritual walk; namely, "not that I have already attained." The Christian dare not entertain the slightest selfconfidence, self-satisfaction or self-joy, as though he could trust his flesh. If the children of God honestly strive for the life more abundant and are ready to accept God's assessment of the flesh, they will not esteem themselves stronger and better than others, notwithstanding their extensive spiritual progress. They will not utter such words as "I of course am different from the others." If these believers are disposed to let the Holy Spirit reveal to them God's holiness and their corruption and do not fear to be shown too clearly, then hopefully they will come to perceive by the Spirit their corruption at an earlier time, with perhaps a consequent lessening of the painful experience of defeat. How lamentable it is, though, that even when one's intention may not be to trust the flesh, there may yet lurk beneath the surface some little impurity, for such a one still thinks he has some strength. In view of this, God must permit him to encounter diverse defeats in order to eliminate even that little confidence in himself. THE CROSS AND THE DEEPER WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Because the flesh is grossly deceitful, the believer requires the cross and the Holy Spirit. Once having discerned how his flesh stands before God, he must experience each moment the deeper work of the cross through the Holy Spirit. Just as a Christian must be delivered from the sin of the flesh through the cross, so he must now be delivered from the righteousness of the flesh by the same cross. And just as by walking in the Holy Spirit the Christian will not follow the flesh unto sin, so too by walking in the Holy Spirit he will not follow the flesh unto self-righteousness. As a fact outside the believer the cross has been accomplished perfectly and entirely: to deepen it is not possible. As a process within the believer the cross is experienced in an ever deepening way: the Holy Spirit will teach and apply the principle of the cross in point after point. If one is faithful and obedient he will be led into continually deeper experiences of what the cross has indeed accomplished for him. The cross objectively is a finished absolute fact to which nothing can be added; but subjectively it is an unending progressive experience that can be realized in an ever more penetrating way. The reader by this time should know something more of the all-inclusive character of his having been crucified with the Lord Jesus on the cross; for only on this basis can the Holy Spirit work. The Spirit has no instrument other than that cross. The believer by now should have a fresh understanding of Galatians 5.24. It is not "its passions and desires" alone which have been crucified; the flesh itself, including all its righteousnesses as well as its power to do righteously, has been crucified on the cross. The cross is where both passions and desires and the spring of those passions and desires are crucified, however admirable they may be. Except as one sees this and is ready to deny all his flesh, bad or good, can he in fact walk after the Holy Spirit, be pleasing to God, and live a genuinely spiritual life. Such readiness must not be lacking on his part, for though the cross as an accomplished fact is complete in itself its realization in a person's life is measured by his knowledge and readiness and faith. Suppose the child of God refuses to deny the good of his flesh. What will be his experience? His flesh may appear to be extremely clever and powerful in undertaking many activities. But however good or strong, the flesh can never answer to God's demands. Hence when God actually summons him to prepare to go to Calvary and suffer, the Christian soon discovers his only response is to shrink back and to become as weak as water. Why did the disciples fail so miserably in the Garden of Gethsemane? Because "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26.41). Weakness here causes failure there. The flesh can only display its apparently excellent power in matters which suit its taste. That is the reason the flesh draws back at God's call. Its death is therefore essential, else God's will can never be done. Whatever has the intent and desire to develop ourselves that we may be seen and admired by others belongs to the flesh. There is natural good as well as natural bad in this flesh. John 1.13 informs us of "the will of the flesh." The flesh can will and decide and plan to execute good in order to receive God's favor. But it still belongs to human flesh and hence must go to the cross. Colossians 2.18 speaks of "the mind of his flesh" (Darby). The self-confidence of a Christian is nothing but trusting in his wisdom, thinking he knows every teaching of the Scriptures and how to serve God. And 2 Corinthians 1.12 mentions the "wisdom" of the flesh. It is highly dangerous to receive the truths of the Bible with human wisdom, for this is a hidden and subtle method which invariably causes a believer to perfect with his flesh the work of the Holy Spirit. A very precious truth may be stored securely in the memory; however, it is merely in the mind of the flesh! The Spirit alone can quicken, the flesh profits nothing. Unless all truths are enlivened continually by the Lord, they profit neither ourselves nor others. We are not discussing sin here but the inevitable consequence of the natural life in man. Whatever is natural is not spiritual. We must not only deny our righteousness but also our wisdom. This too must be nailed to the cross. Colossians 2.23 speaks of a "worship" or "devotion" of the flesh. This is "worship" according to our opinion. Each method we devise to stir, seek, and acquire a sense of devotion is worship in the flesh. It is neither worship according to the teaching of Scripture nor worship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Hence the possibility of walking by the flesh always exists; whether in the matter of worship, or in Christian work, or in Biblical knowledge, or in saving souls. The Bible frequently mentions the "life" of the flesh. Unless this is yielded to the cross it lives within the saint just as much as in the sinner. The only difference is that in the saint there is spiritual opposition to it. But the possibility remains for him to take that life and draw upon it. The life of the flesh may help him to serve God, to meditate upon truth, to consecrate himself to the Lord. It may motivate him to perform many good acts. Yes, the Christian can take his natural life as true life in such a way as to make him feel he is serving the will of God. We must understand that within man two different life principles exist. Many of us live a mixed life, obeying one and then the other of these two different principles. Sometimes we entirely depend on the Spirit's energy; at other times we mix in our own strength. Nothing seems to be stable and steadfast. "Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once?" (2 Cor.1.17) A characteristic of the flesh is its fickleness: it alternates between Yes and No and vice versa. But the will of God is: "Walk not according to the flesh (not even for a moment) but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8.4). We ought to accept God's will. "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2.11). We should be willing to allow the cross, like a knife in circumcision, to cut off completely everything which pertains to the flesh. Such incision must be deep and clean so that nothing of the flesh is left concealed or can remain. The cross and the curse are inextricable (Gal. 3.13). When we consign our flesh to the cross we hand it over to the curse, acknowledging that in the flesh abides no good thing and that it deserves nothing but the curse of God. Without this heart attitude it is exceedingly difficult for us to accept the circumcision of the flesh. Every affection, desire, thought, knowledge, intent, worship and work of the flesh must go to the cross. To be crucified with Christ means to accept the curse our Lord accepted. It was not a glorious moment for Christ to be crucified on Calvary (Heb. 12.2). His being hanged on the tree meant His being accursed of God (Deut. 21.23). Consequently, for the flesh to be crucified with the Lord simply implies being accursed with the Lord. As we must receive the finished work of Christ on the cross, so must we enter into the fellowship of the cross. The believer needs to acknowledge that his flesh deserves nothing else than the curse of death. His practical fellowship with the cross begins after he sees the flesh as God sees it. Before the Holy Spirit can take full charge over a person there first must be the complete committal of his flesh to the cross. Let us pray that we may know what the flesh exactly is and how it must be crucified. Brethren, we are not humble enough to accept willingly the cross of Christ! We refuse to concede we are so helpless, useless, and utterly corrupt that we deserve nothing but death. What is lacking today is not a better living but a better dying! We need to die a good death, a thorough death. We have talked enough about life, power, holiness, righteousness; let us now take a look at death! Oh that the Holy Spirit would penetrate our flesh deeply by the cross of Christ that it might become a valid experience in our life! If we die correctly we shall live correctly. If we are united with Him in a death like His we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. May we ask the Lord to open our eyes to behold the absolute imperative of death. Are you prepared for this? Are you willing to let the Lord point out your weaknesses? Are you ready to be crucified openly outside the gate? Will you let the Spirit of the cross work within you? Oh, may we know more of His death! May we completely die! We should be clear that the death of the cross is continuous in its operation. We can never enter upon a resurrection stage which leaves death entirely out, for the experience of resurrection is measured by the experience of death. A peril among those who pursue the ascension life is that they forget the categorical necessity of continuously putting to nought the flesh. They forsake the position of death and proceed to resurrection. This results in either treating lightly as of no serious hazard to their spiritual growth the works of the flesh, or in spiritualizing them, that is, assuming the things of the flesh to be of the spirit. How essential to see that death is the foundation for everything. You may proceed to build but you should never destroy the foundation. The so-called risen and ascended realm will be unreal if the death of the flesh is not maintained continuously. Let us not be deceived into thinking we are so spiritually advanced that the flesh has no more power to entice us. This is merely the enemy's attempt to remove us from the basis of the cross in order to render us outwardly spiritual but inwardly carnal. Many such prayers as: "I thank you Lord, for I am no longer such and such but am now so and so" are simply echoes of the unacceptable prayer recorded in Luke 18.11-12. We are most susceptible to deception by the flesh when we are on the verge of being delivered from it. We must abide constantly in the Lord's death. Our security is in the Holy Spirit. The safe way lies in our readiness to be taught, fearful lest we yield any ground to the flesh. We must submit ourselves cheerfully to Christ and trust the Holy Spirit to apply the dying of Jesus to us that the life of Jesus may be exhibited. Just as formerly we were filled with the flesh, so now we shall be filled with the Holy Spirit. When He is in complete control He will overthrow the power of the flesh and manifest Christ as our life. We shall be able then to say that the "life I now live in the flesh is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."

 Yet the foundation of that life is and always will be that "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2.20)! If we live by faith and obedience we can expect the Spirit to do a most holy and wonderful work in us. "If we live by the Spirit": this is our faith, for we believe that the Holy Spirit abides in us; then "let us also walk by the Spirit": this is our obedience (Gal. 5.25). We ought to believe simply and restfully that our Lord has given us His Spirit, now abiding in us. Believe in His gift and trust that the Holy Spirit indwells you. Take this as the secret of Christ's life in you: His Spirit dwells in your innermost spirit. Meditate on it, believe in it, and remember it until this glorious truth produces within you a holy fear and wonderment that the Holy Spirit indeed abides in you! Now learn to follow His leading. Such guidance emerges not from the mind or thoughts; it is something of life. We must yield to God and let His Spirit govern everything. He will manifest the Lord Jesus in our life because this is His task.

without them, they can scarcely move a step. A very common expression of a soulish walk manifests itself in the will: that power of self-assertion. Through it believers who live in the soul make self the center of every thought, word and action. They want to know for their satisfaction, feel for their enjoyment, labor according to their plan. The hub of their life is self and the ultimate aim is to glorify themselves. Previously we learned that the term "soul" in the Bible is translated also as "living creature" or "animal." It simply connotes "the animal life." This should help to indicate to us how soul power expresses itself. The most appropriate phrase which can be selected to describe the life and work of soulish believers is "animal activities" or "animal aliveness": much planning, numerous activities, confused thinking, and mixed emotions: the whole being, both within and without, in agitation and turmoil. When emotion is activated the rest of the being naturally follows suit. But if emotion is depressed or sensation has cooled somewhat, the mind will remain excited in its own right. 

The walk of a carnal Christian is characterized by perpetual movement: if not physical activity, then mental or emotional liveliness. Such a walk is bristling with "animal aliveness"; it is far from communicating the life of the spirit. We may summarize by saying that the tendency of the fallen soul is to set believers to walking by their natural power, to serve God with their strength and according to their ideas, to covet physical sensation in knowing the Lord or experiencing the Lord's presence, and to understand the Word of God by the power of their minds. Unless a Christian has received from God a view of his natural self, he unquestionably shall serve God in the energy of his created life. This inflicts great damage upon his spiritual life and results in his bearing little if any true spiritual fruit. Believers must be shown by the Holy Spirit the shamefulness of performing spiritual work with creaturely power. Just as we consider it disgraceful for an ambitious child to flatter himself, so similarly God regards our "animal activity" in spiritual service to be a disgrace. May we be rich in the experience of repenting in dust and ashes instead of striving for the first place before men.

CHAPTER 4: THE CROSS AND THE SOUL THE CALL OF THE CROSS On at least four separate occasions and recorded in the four Gospels the Lord Jesus called His disciples to deny their soul life, deliver it to death, and then to follow Him. The Lord fully recognizes that this is the sine qua non for any believer who desires to follow Him and to be perfect like Him in serving men and in obeying God. The Lord Jesus mentions soul life in all these calls, yet He places a different emphasis upon each. Since soul life can express itself in various ways, the Lord stresses a different aspect each time. Anyone who would be a disciple of the Lord must give close attention to what He has said. He is summoning men to commit their natural life to the cross. THE CROSS AND SOULICAL AFFECTION "He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his (soul) life will lose it, and he who loses his (soul) life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 10.38-39).

 These verses beckon us to relinquish our soul life and hand it over to the cross for the Lord's sake. The Lord Jesus explains how a man's foes shall be those of his household; how the son, for the sake of the Lord, shall be torn away from his father, the daughter from her mother, the daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law. This constitutes a cross and the cross denotes being crucified. It is our natural inclination to cherish our beloved ones. We are happy to listen to them and willing to respond to their bidding. But the Lord Jesus calls us to not rebel against God because of our beloved ones. When the desire of God and the desire of man are in conflict, we must for the Lord's sake take up our cross by committing our soulical affection to death, even though the person we love is dear to us, and even though under ordinary circumstances we would be most reluctant to hurt him. The Lord Jesus beckons us in this way so that we may be purified from our natural love. It is for this reason that He therefore declares that the one "who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (v.37). "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 

Whoever does not bear his 27). Now Matthew shows us in the matter of affection how believers ought to choose loving the Lord first rather than one's family; while Luke signifies what attitude must be maintained towards the love which arises from our soul life: we ought to hate it. Strictly speaking, we are not to love just because the objects of our affection are those whom we would naturally love. Dear and near as parents, brothers, sisters, wives and children are to us, they are listed among the forbidden. Such human love flows from soul life which will cling to its heart desires and will call for love in return. The Lord maintains that such soul life needs to be delivered to death. Though we do not now see Him, He wants us to love Him. He desires us to deny our natural love. He wishes to rid us of our natural love towards others so that we will not love with our own love. Of course He wills that we should love others, but not with our natural soulical affection. If we love, let it be for the sake of the Lord and not for their sake. A new relationship comes to us in the Lord. We should receive from Him His love so that we may love others. 

In a word, our love must be governed by the Lord. Should He desire us to, we must love even our enemies: if He does not ask us to, we cannot love even the dearest of our household. He does not want our heart to be attached anywhere because He wants us to serve Him freely. This new love relationship being the case, the soul life must be denied. That is a cross. In so obeying Christ as to disregard his natural affection, a believer's natural love suffers intensely. Such sorrow and pain becomes a practical cross to him. Deep are the heart wounds and many are the tears when one has to forfeit the one he loves. These inflict intense sufferings upon our lives. How very loathe the soul is to yield up its beloved for the Lord's sake! But through this very action is the soul delivered to death; yea, it even becomes willing to die; and thus the believer is liberated from the power of the soul. Upon losing its natural affection on the cross the soul cedes ground to the Holy Spirit that He may shed abroad in the believer's heart the love of God, and enable him to love in God and with the love of God. Let it be observed that, humanly speaking, this expression of the soul is quite legitimate, for it is most natural and is not defiled as is sin. Is not the love we have mentioned shared by all men? What illegitimacy can there be in loving those of one's family? Hence we know that our Lord is summoning us to overcome the natural, even to denying man's legal right . . . for the sake of God. God wants us to love Him more than our Isaac. It is true that this soul life is given by the Creator; nevertheless, He desires us not to be governed by that life principle. 

People of the world cannot understand why; only the believer who is losing himself gradually into the life of God can comprehend its meaning. Who can appreciate God's asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac whom God Himself had first given? Those who apprehend God's heart make no attempt to cling to God-imparted gifts; rather do they desire to rest in God, the Giver of all gifts. God wills for us to be attached to nothing aside from Him, whether it be man or a thing or even something conferred on us by Himself. Many Christians are quite disposed to leave Ur of the Chaldees, but few there be who can see the need to sacrifice on Mount Moriah what God has given. This is one of the penetrating lessons of faith and relates to our being united with God. He requires His children to forsake everything that they may be wholly His. They must not only rid themselves of whatever they know to be harmful but also yield to the cross whatever is humanly legitimate: such as affection: in order that they may be entirely under the authority of the Holy Spirit. 

Our Lord's demand is most meaningful, for is it not true that human affection is tremendously uncontrollable? Without consigning it to the cross and losing it, affection can become a formidable obstacle to spiritual life. Human feelings change as the world changes. Their easy excitement can occasion a saint to lose his spiritual balance. Their constant disturbance can affect a believer's peace in his spirit. Do not sorrows, moanings, sighs and tears usually result from hurt feelings? If the Lord is not pre-eminent in our affections He can hardly be Lord in other respects. This is a test of spirituality and a measure of its degree. We must accordingly hate our soul life and refuse its affections to have free rein. The Lord's demand differs completely from our natural desire. What was previously loved shall now be hated; and even the organ which generates love, our soul life, must be abhorred as well. Such is the spiritual way. If we verily bear the cross we shall be neither controlled nor influenced by soulical affection but shall be fit to love in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even so did the Lord Jesus love His family while on earth.

THE CROSS AND THE SOUL'S LOVE OF THE WORLD Once again our Lord speaks: "Remember Lot's wife. Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17.32-33). Although these are by now familiar words to the reader, we must note the Lord here lays stress upon selfdenial in relation to the things of this world. How irksome it seems for believers to have their hearts detached from earthly possessions. We need to follow our Lord's admonition to remember Lot's wife, for she was one who did not forget her possessions even in a time of the greatest peril. She was not guilty of having retraced a single step towards Sodom. All she did was look back. But how revealing was that backward glance! Does it not speak volumes concerning the condition of her heart? It is possible for a believer outwardly to forsake the world and leave everything behind and yet inwardly cling to those very elements he had forsaken for the Lord's sake. It does not require a consecrated person to return to the world or to repossess what he had forsaken in the world to indicate that the soul life is still active. If he but casts one longing glance it is sufficient to disclose to us that he does not truly recognize where the world stands in relation to the cross. 

When the soul life is genuinely crushed nothing of this world can again move a believer's heart. Soul life is worldly; hence it is attached to the things of the world. Only after one is actually willing to offer his soul life to death will he be fit to follow the "Sermon on the Mount" without flinching. Though in that "sermon" we do not find the Lord Jesus mentioning the work of the cross, we nonetheless know for certain that unless one experiences identification with Christ in death: not merely having died to sin but having died to the self life as well: he attempts in vain to keep our Lord's teachings enunciated on the Mount. He may appear to be following these instructions, but his heart is not one with his appearance. Only a Christian who has yielded his soul life can spontaneously and unpretentiously give away his cloak when he has been sued for his coat. He whose self life has been sacrificed to death is cut loose from the things of the world. Gaining spiritual life is conditional on suffering loss. We cannot measure our lives in terms of "gain"; they must be measured in terms of "loss." Our real capacity lies not in how much we retain but in how much has been poured out. Those who can afford to lose the most are those who have the most to give. The power of love is attested by love's sacrifice.

 If our hearts are not separated from love of the world, our soul life has yet to go through the cross. "And you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property" (Heb. 10.34). The believers referred to in this passage did not simply endure but even joyfully accepted the plundering of their goods. This is the work of the cross. The attitude of saints towards their possessions most assuredly signifies whether they continue to preserve their self life or whether they have consigned it to death. If we desire to tread a pure spiritual path we must allow God to so operate in us that our hearts can be severed from everything pertaining to the world and be totally released from the intent of Lot's wife. This is the prerequisite for experiencing perfect life in Christ. We can despise all the things in the world only after the Holy Spirit has shown the reality of heaven and its perfect life. Matters below and matters above defy comparison. The experience of the Apostle in Philippians 3 begins with esteeming everything as loss and proceeds to suffering the loss of all things. 

Therein does the Apostle come to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Such is the perfect way. Often we are unconscious how powerful our self is until tested in regard to material matters. At times it seems we require more grace to lose our wealth than to lose our life! Earthly things truly represent an acid test for soul life. God's children who indulge in eating and drinking and in ease and comfort need a deeper cutting away of the cross to free their spirit from the bondage and influence of the soul and to be free to live in God. Any who still hanker after the things of the world have yet to learn how to lose their soul life through the deep penetration of the cross. THE CROSS AND SOUL POWER In the Gospel of John the Lord Jesus touches upon soul life once more. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (12.24-25). He subsequently gives the explanation with these words: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (v.32). John 12 records the most prosperous moment in our Lord's life. Lazarus had been raised from the dead and many Jews believed in Him. Triumphantly He entered into Jerusalem and was acclaimed by the populace. Even Gentiles sought to see Him. 

From the human viewpoint Calvary would now seem to be quite unnecessary, for could He not easily attract all men to Himself without going to the cross? But He knew better. Although his work appeared to be prosperous, He realized He could not grant life to men without His going to death. Calvary was the only way of salvation. If He died, He would draw all men to Himself and could indeed give life to all. In John 12 the Lord explicitly describes the operation of the cross. He compares Himself to a grain of wheat. If it does not fall into the earth and die it remains alone. But if He be crucified and die, He shall impart life to many. The one condition is death. No death, no fruit. No other way is there to bear fruit than through death. Our purpose, however, is not simply to learn about the Lord Jesus. We wish beyond this to draw particular attention to its relationship to our soul life. The Lord applies the grain of wheat to Himself in verse 24, but in verse 25 He implies that every one of His disciples must follow in His footsteps. He pictures the grain as representing their self life. Just as a grain is unable to bear fruit unless it dies, so there can be no spiritual fruit until the natural life has been broken through death. Here he emphasizes the matter of fruitfulness. While the soul life does possess tremendous power it nevertheless cannot fulfill the work of fruit-bearing. All the energies generated in the soul including talent, gift, knowledge and wisdom, cannot enable believers to bear spiritual fruit. If the Lord Jesus must die to bear fruit so also must His disciples die in order to produce fruit. The Lord regards soulish power as of no help to God in His work of fruit-bearing. The greatest peril for us in Christian service is to lean upon our selves and to draw upon our soul power: upon our talent, gift, knowledge, magnetism, eloquence or cleverness. The experience of countless spiritual believers confirms that unless our soulishness is definitely delivered to death and its life at all times inhibited from operating, it will be most active in service. 

If this is true of them, then how can those who are unwilling to yield up, or unwatchful in denying, their soul life prevent the intrusion of that life? Everything pertaining to our natural life must be handed over to death so that in no sense may we depend upon any of it but be willing instead to be led through death's darkness of no support, no sensation, no sight, no understanding, and silently trust God Himself to work until we emerge on the other side of resurrection to possess a more glorious life. "He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Our soul is not annihilated; rather, by passing through death it affords God an opportunity to communicate His life to us. Not to lose the soul life in death shall mean great loss for the believer; but in losing it he will save it for eternity. Do not misunderstand this verse as signifying the inactivity of our mind and talent. The Lord clearly asserts that in losing our soul life we will keep it unto eternal life. Just as "the sinful body might be destroyed" (Rom. 6.6) does not mean the destruction of the hands, feet, ears and eyes of the human body, so too the committal of the soul life to death must not be construed as connoting the negation or destruction of any of its functions. 

Even though the body of sin has been destroyed, we still yield our "members to God as instruments of righteousness" (Rom. 6.13); just so, when natural life is sacrificed to death, we shall find renewal, revival and restraint of the Holy Spirit in all the faculties of our soul. It cannot therefore imply that henceforth we become wood and stone without feeling, thought or will because we must not or cannot use any of the parts of the soul. Every part of the body as well as every organ of the soul still exists and is meant to be fully engaged; only now they are being renewed, revived and restrained by the Holy Spirit. The point at issue is whether the soul's faculties are to be regulated by our natural life or by the supernatural life which indwells our spirit. These faculties remain as usual. What is unusual now is that the power which formerly activated them has been put to death; the Holy Spirit has made God's supernatural power their life.

CHAPTER 5: SPIRITUAL BELIEVERS AND THE SOUL THE DIVIDING OF SPIRIT AND SOUL Our Lengthy Discussion as to the difference between spirit and soul and their respective operations has been to lead us to this present point. For a believer who strives after God the element to be apprehensive about is the inordinate activity of the soul beyond the measure set by God. The soul has been in ascendancy for such long duration that in the matter of consecration it even presumes to take upon itself the task of realizing that act to God's satisfaction. Many Christians are unaware how drastically the cross must work so that ultimately their natural power for living may be denied. They do not know the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit nor that His authority must extend to gathering under His control the thoughts, desires and feelings of the entire being. Without their having an inner appreciation of this, the Holy Spirit is unable to accomplish everything He wishes to do. The greatest temptation for an earnest and zealous saint is to engage his own strength in God's service rather than to wait humbly for the Holy Spirit to will and to perform. The call of the cross of the Lord Jesus is to beckon us to hate our natural life, to seek opportunity to lose, not to keep, it. Our Lord wants us to sacrifice self and be yielded wholly to the working of His Spirit. If we are to experience afresh His true life in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must be willing to present to death every opinion, labor and thought of the soul life. The Lord additionally touches upon the issue of our hating or loving our self life. The soul is invariably "self-loving." Unless from the very depth of our heart we abhor our natural life, we shall not be able to walk genuinely by the Holy Spirit. Do we not realize that the basic condition for a spiritual walk is to fear our self and its wisdom and to rely absolutely upon the Spirit?

 This war between the soul and the spirit is waged secretly but interminably within God's children. The soul seeks to retain its authority and move independently, while the spirit strives to possess and master everything for the maintenance of God's authority. Before the spirit achieves its ascendancy the soul has tended to take the lead in all regards. Should a believer allow self to be the master while expecting the Holy Spirit to help and to bless him in his work, he undoubtedly will fail to produce spiritual fruit. Christians cannot anticipate a walk and work pleasing to God if they have not crushed their soul life by persistently denying its authority and unconditionally laying it in the dust. Except all power, impatience, and activity of the natural life are deliberately and one by one delivered to the cross and a ceaseless vigil is maintained, it will seize every chance to revive itself. The reason for so many defeats in the spiritual realm is because this sector of the soul has not been dealt with drastically. If soul life is not stripped away through death but is allowed to mingle with the spirit, believers shall continue in defeat. If our walk does not exclusively express God's power it shall soon be vanquished by man's wisdom and opinion.

THE SOUL UNDER THE SPIRIT'S CONTROL Very early in this volume we likened our whole being: spirit, soul, and body: to the ancient Jewish temple of God's habitation. God dwells in the Holy of Holies. A curtain separates it from the Holy Place. This curtain seems to enclose God's glory and presence within the Holy of Holies, barring His glory from the Holy Place. Men of that time therefore can only know the things outside the curtain in the Holy Place. Apart from faith they in their outward life cannot sense the presence of God. This curtain, however, only exists temporarily. At the appointed hour, when the flesh of our Lord Jesus (which is the reality of the curtain, Heb. 10.20) was crucified on the cross, the curtain was rent from top to bottom. What separated the Holiest and the Holy Place was removed. God's aim was not to dwell permanently just in the Holy of Holies. Quite the contrary. He desired to extend His presence to the Holy Place too. 

He was merely waiting for the cross to complete its work, for it is the cross alone which can rend the curtain and permit God's glory to shine out from the Holiest Place. God today would have His own enjoy such a temple experience in their spirit and soul: if only the cross is allowed to perfect its work in them. As they ungrudgingly obey the Holy Spirit the communion between the Holy and the Holiest grows deeper day by day until they experience a great change. It is the cross which effects the rending of the curtain; that is, the cross so functions in the life of the believer that he has a rent-curtain experience between his spirit and soul. His natural life renounces its independence and waits upon the spirit life for direction and supply. The curtain was torn in two, "from top to bottom" (Mark 15.38). This has to be God's doing, not man's. When the work of the cross is finished God tears the curtain. This cannot be achieved either by our labors or by our strength, not even by our entreaty. The moment the cross accomplishes its task at that moment is the curtain rent. Let us therefore renew our consecration and offer ourselves to God without reservation. Let us be willing to have our soul life committed to death in order that the Lord Who dwells in the Holiest may finish His work.

 If he observes that the cross has wrought thoroughly enough in us the Lord shall indeed integrate the Holiest and the Holy within us just as He centuries ago rent the curtain by His might so that His Holy Spirit might flow out from His glorious body. Thus shall the glory in the shelter of the Most High overwhelm our daily sensuous life. All our walk and work in the Holy Place shall be sanctified in the glory of the Holiest. Like our spirit is, so shall our soul too be indwelt and regulated by the Holy Spirit of God. Our mind, emotion and will shall be filled by Him. 

What we have maintained by faith in the spirit we now also know and experience in the soul, nothing lacking and nothing lost. What a blessed life is this! "And the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house" (2 Chron. 7.1-2). 

However lovely our activities of priestly service may have seemed in the Holy Place, they all shall cease in the glorious light of God. Henceforth His glory governs everything. 

No more is animal activity adored. This brings us to the other, and equally significant, aspect of the dividing of spirit and soul. Insofar as the soul's influence and control of the spirit is concerned, the work of the cross is to effect the division of the two; but insofar as the spirit's filling and reigning is concerned, the cross works towards the surrender of the soul's independence so that it may be reconciled completely to the spirit. Believers should seek to experience oneness of spirit and soul. 

Were we to allow the cross and the Holy Spirit to operate thoroughly in us we would discover that what the soul has relinquished is scarcely a fraction of what it ultimately gains: the dead has now come into fruition, the lost is now kept for eternal life. When our soul is brought under the reins of the spirit it undergoes an immense change.

Beforehand it seems to be useless and lost to God because it is employed for self and often moves independently; afterwards God gains our soul, though to man it may appear to be crushed. We become as "those who have faith and keep their souls" (Heb. 10.39). This is much more profound than what we commonly term "saved," because it points especially to life. Since we have learned not to walk by sensation and sight, we are now able to save our life by faith into serving and glorifying God. "Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1.21). As God's Word is implanted we receive its new nature into us and are thus enabled to bear fruit. We obtain the life of the Word from the Word of life. Although the organs of the soul still remain, these organs no longer function through its power; rather, they operate by the power of God's Word. This is "the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1.9). Human nerves are rather sensitive and are easily stirred by outside stimuli. Words, manners, environments and feelings greatly affect us. Our mind engages in so many thoughts, plans and imaginations that it is a world of confusion. Our will is agitated to perform many acts according to our sundry delights. None of the organs of our soul can bring us into peace. Singly or collectively, they disturb, they confuse, they shift us around. But when our soul is in the spirit's hand we can be released from such disturbances.

 The Lord Jesus implores us: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11.29). If we are favorably inclined to yield to the Lord, to take up His yoke, and to follow Him, our soul shall not be aroused inordinately. If we learn of Him by seeing how He, when despised by men, continued to follow God's will and not His Own, our soul shall return to tranquility. 

The reason for our hurt feelings lies in the fact that we are not amenable to being treated as our Lord was and are loathe to submit ourselves to the will and ordering of God. Were we to deliver our natural energies to death and capitulate entirely to the Lord, our soul, though so nervously sensitive, would rest in the Lord and not misunderstand Him. 

The soul which comes under the Holy Spirit's authority is a restful one. Once we busily planned, today we calmly trust the Lord. Once we were flushed with anxieties, today we are like a child quieted at its mother's breast. Once we entertained many thoughts and ambitions, today we consider God's will best and rest ourselves in Him. In obeying the Lord wholly, we rejoice in heart fully. With complete consecration comes perfect peace. "As bondmen of Christ doing the will of God from the soul" (Eph. 6.6 Darby). We do not rely upon the soul to execute God's will, rather we perform His will from the soul, that is, with our whole heart. The soul which once rebelled against God's desire is now perfectly committed to Him through the operation of the cross. That which carried out its own will, or tried to do God's will by its own idea, is now of one heart with God in all things. A soul under the rule of the Holy Spirit never worries for itself. "Do not be anxious about your life (original, soul)" (Matt. 6.25). 

We now seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness because we believe God will supply our daily need. Once touched by the cross through the Holy Spirit, the soul no longer is able to be anxious about itself. While self-consciousness is the soul's prime expression, yet believers actually lose their self in God; hence they can trust God utterly. Every work of the soul, including self-love, self-seeking and self-pride, have been so eliminated that believers are no longer selfcentered. Because the cross has done its task we do not busily plan any more for ourselves. Instead of suffering anxiety we can restfully seek God's kingdom and righteousness. 

We know if we care for God's cares that God will take care of our cares. Once we wondered at miracles, now we live by the God of miracles and know in experience how God provides every need. This all flows naturally since God's power is backing us. The cares of this life emerge as very small items indeed along our daily path. "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4.19). Many people know God as the Creator but not as Father; believers, though, should experience Him not only as Father but also as Creator. As the latter God reveals to us His power. By this we will understand and acknowledge that the whole universe is in fact in His hand. Formerly it was hard for us to believe the idea that things in the world could not move against His will; but now we know that every element in the universe: be it human, natural, or supernatural: is under His careful scrutiny and clever ordering. 

We now acknowledge that all things come to us either through His order or by His permission. A soul governed by the Holy Spirit is a trusting one. Our soul ought to desire the Lord as well as to trust Him. "My soul clings to thee" (Ps. 63.8). No more do we dare be independent of God nor do we dare serve the Lord according to the idea of the soul. Rather, we today follow Him with fear and trembling and trail after Him closely. Our soul genuinely clings to the Lord. No more is there independent action, but instead a full surrender to Him. And this is not by compulsion; we do it gladly. 

What we henceforth hate is our life; what we wholly love is the Lord. Such persons cannot but utter the cry of Mary: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1.46). No longer is there self-importance, either in public or in private. These believers recognize and admit their incompetency and only wish to exalt the Lord with humbleness of heart. They will not steal the Lord's glory any further but magnify Him in their souls. For if the Lord is not magnified in the soul, nowhere else is He magnified either. Only such as these count not their life (original, soul) of any value (Acts 20.24) and can lay down their lives (original, souls) for the brethren (1 John 3.16). Unless self-love is abandoned the believer shall forever shrink back when called actually to take up the cross for Christ. He who lives a martyr's life and is willing to nail his self to the cross is able as well to die a martyr's death if ever the need should arise. 

He can lay down his life for his brother if occasion demands it because in ordinary days he has denied himself continuously and has not sought his own right or comfort but has poured out his soul for the brethren. True love towards the Lord and the brethren arises out of no love for self. He "loved me" and "gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2.20). Love flows from the denial of the self life. Blood-shedding is the source of blessing. Such a life is in truth one of prosperity, as is written: "thy soul prospers" (3 John 2 Darby). This prosperity originates not with what self has gained but with what self has denied. A soul lost is not a life lost, for the soul is lost in God. Soul life is selfish and therefore binds us. But the soul renounced shall abide in the boundlessness of God's life. This is liberty, this is prosperity

. The more we lose the more we gain. Our possessions are not measured by how much we receive but by how much we give. How fruitful is this life! To forsake the soul life, however, is not as easy as deliverance from sin. Since it is our life, the choice is ours to make daily not to live by it but by the life of God. The cross needs to be borne faithfully and to be borne increasingly faithfully. Let us gaze upon our Lord Jesus Who "endured the cross, despising the shame": "Consider him . . . , that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls" (Heb. 12.2-3 ASV). The race set before us is none other than that of His despising the shame and enduring His cross. "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name l" (Ps. 103.1)

THE FUNCTION OF EMOTION Our emotion emits joy, happiness, cheerfulness, excitement, elation, stimulation, despondency, sorrow, grief, melancholy, misery, moaning, dejection, confusion, anxiety, zeal, coldness, affection, aspiration, covetousness, compassion, kindness, preference, interest, expectation, pride, fear, remorse, hate, et al. The mind is the organ of our thinking and reasoning and the will, of our choices and decisions. Aside from our thought and intent and their related works, all other operations issue from emotion. Our thousand and one diverse feelings manifest its function. Feeling comprises such a vast area of our existence that most carnal Christians belong to the emotional type. Man's sensational life is most comprehensive, hence highly complicated; to help believers understand it, we can gather all its various expressions into the three groups of (1) affection, (2) desire, and (3) feeling. These groups cover the three aspects of the function of emotion. Should a saint overcome all three, he is well on the way to entering upon a pure spiritual path. To be sure, man's emotion is nothing but the manifold feelings he naturally has. He may be loving or hateful, joyful or sorrowful, excited or dejected, interested or uninterested, yet all are but the ways he feels. Should we take the trouble to observe ourselves we will easily perceive how changeful are our feelings. Few matters in the world are as changeable as emotion. We can be one way one minute and feel quite opposite the next. Emotion changes as feeling changes, and how rapidly the latter can change. He therefore who lives by emotion lives without principle. The emotion of man often displays a reactionary motion: a time of activity in one direction will sometimes produce an opposite reaction. 

For example, unspeakable sorrow usually follows upon hilarious joy, great depression after high excitement, deep withdrawal after burning fervor. Even in the matter of love, it may commence as such but due to some emotional alteration it may end up with a hatred whose intensity far exceeds the earlier love. A BELIEVER'S EMOTIONAL LIFE The more one probes the workings of an emotional life the more he will be convinced of its vacillation and undependability. No one should wonder that a child of God who walks by emotion rather than by spirit usually comports himself in a wavelike fashion. He bemoans his existence because it is so unstable. Sometimes he appears to live in the third heaven transcending everything, while at other times he plunges to the low level of an ordinary man. His experience is replete with ups and downs. It does not require an enormous circumstance to change him, for he is unable to withstand even the tiniest mishap. Such phenomena exist because a person is controlled by feeling and not by spirit. Since the dominant impulse in his walk continues to be emotion, it not having yet been delivered to the cross, his spirit will receive no strengthening of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore this one's spirit is weak, helpless to subdue emotion and through it to govern the whole man. If, however, by the power of the Holy Spirit he has his emotional life crucified and accepts the Holy Spirit as the Lord over all things, he most assuredly can avoid this kind of alternating existence. Emotion may be denominated the most formidable enemy to the life of a spiritual Christian. We know a child of God ought to walk by the spirit. To walk this way he needs to observe every direction given by his inner man. We know also, however, that these senses of the spirit are delicate as well as keen. Unless the child of God waits quietly and attentively to receive and discern the revelation in his intuition, he never can secure the guidance of his spirit. Consequently, the total silence of emotion is an indispensable condition to walking by the spirit. 

How often its small and delicate motion is disturbed and overpowered by the roaring of one's emotion. On no account can we attribute any fault to the smallness of the spirit's voice, for we have been endowed with the spiritual capacity to be able to hear it. No, it is entirely the mixing in of other voices that causes the Christian to miss the spirit's voice. But for that person who will maintain his emotion in silence, the voice of intuition can be detected easily. The upsurge and decline of feeling may not only disqualify a believer from walking in the spirit but may also directly cause him to walk in the flesh. If he cannot follow the spirit he will naturally follow the flesh. Because he is unfit to obtain the guidance of his spirit, he invariably turns to his emotional impulse. Be it therefore recognized that when the spirit ceases to lead, emotion will do so. During such a period the believer will interpret emotional impulses to be motions of inspiration. An emotional Christian can be compared to a pond of sand and mud: as long as no one disturbs the water the pond looks clear and clean; but let it be agitated a moment and its true muddy character appears.

THE PROPER USE OF EMOTION If God's children permit the cross to operate deeply upon their emotion they shall find afterwards that it no longer obstructs, but rather cooperates with, their spirit. The cross has dealt with the natural life in the emotion, has renewed it, and has made it a channel for the spirit. A spiritual man we have said before is not a spirit, but neither is he a person devoid of emotion; on the contrary, the spiritual man will use his feeling to express the divine life in him. Before it is touched by God emotion follows its own whim. And hence it habitually fails to be an instrument of the spirit. But once it is purified it can serve as the means of the spirit's expression. The inner man needs emotion to express its life: it needs emotion to declare its love and its sympathy towards man's suffering: and it also needs emotion to make man sense the movement of its intuition. Spiritual sensing is usually made known through the feeling of a quiet and pliable emotion. If emotion is pliably subject to the spirit the latter, through the emotion, will love or hate exactly as God wishes. Some Christians, upon discerning the truth of not living by feeling, mistake spiritual life as one without it. They accordingly try to destroy it and to render themselves as insensate as wood and stone. 

Because of their ignorance of the meaning of the death of the cross, they do not understand what is meant by handing over one's emotion to death and living by the spirit. We do not say that, in order to be spiritual, a Christian must become exceedingly hard and void of affection like inanimate objects: as though the term spiritual man means for him to be emptied of feeling. Quite the contrary. The most tender, merciful, loving, and sympathetic of persons is a spiritual man. To be entirely spiritual by delivering his emotion to the cross does not denote that henceforth he is stripped of his feeling. We have observed numerous spiritual saints and have noticed that their love is greater than that of others, which demonstrates that a spiritual man is not without emotion and additionally that it differs from that of the ordinary man. In committing our soul to the cross we must remember that what is lost is the soul life, not its function. Were its function nailed to the cross we then could no longer think, choose, or feel. We must therefore remember this basic fact: to lose soul life means to doggedly, resolutely, and continuously deny the natural power and to walk exclusively by the power of God; it means to live no longer after self and its desires but to submit unexceptionally to the will of God. Moreover, the cross and resurrection are two inseparable facts: "for if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6.5 ASV). 

The death of the cross does not connote annihilation; hence the emotion, mind and will of the soul are not extinguished upon passing through the cross. They only relinquish their natural life in the death of the Lord and are raised again in His resurrection life. Such death and resurrection cause the various operating organs of the soul to lose their life, to be renewed, and to be used by the Lord. Consequently a spiritual man is not emotionally deprived; rather, his emotion is the most perfect and the most noble, as though newly created out of God's hand. 

In short, if anyone has trouble here, the trouble lies with his theory and not with his experience, for the latter will bear out the truth.

Emotion must go through the cross (Matt. 10.38-39) in order to destroy its fiery nature, with its confusion, and to subject it totally to the spirit. The cross aims to accord the spirit authority to rule over every activity of emotion. 


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