• Spiritual Christian Life

    by Published on 03-18-2017 02:41 AM     Number of Views: 67 
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    Christ Is Our Righteousness

    What, then, is our righteousness? This is a basic lesson which we Christians must learn thoroughly. We ought to know that in providing for our salvation God solved the problem of righteousness as well as that of sin. Through righteousness God has forgiven our sins, and He has also prepared for us a righteousness by which we can always come to Him. Forgiveness is like taking a bath; righteousness is like wearing a robe. Among men we are clothed that we may appear before them. So too, God clothes us with righteousness that we may live before Him; that is, that we may see Him. He has already cleansed our sins and given us a righteousness by which we may live in His presence.

    What is our righteousness? The word of God tells us that our righteousness is Christ—the Lord Jesus himself. “But of [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1.30). From this rich verse we will lift out but one item and concentrate our attention upon it alone—namely, that God has made Christ our righteousness.


    Not the Righteousness of Christ

    Before we discuss how Christ is our righteousness, we wish to explain briefly that the righteousness of Christ and Christ our righteousness are two totally distinct subjects. It is wrong to con sider the righteousness of Christ as our righteousness. The righteousness of Christ cannot be our righteousness; it is Christ himself who is our righteousness.

    The word found in 2 Peter 1.1—“the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ”—points to the righteousness which Christ himself possesses. If the Lord Jesus himself is not righteous, He is not qualified to be the Saviour, and we have no way to be saved. This righteousness is purely for Christ himself, not for Him to give to us. The Bible never says the righteousness of the Lord Jesus saves us, because this righteousness is for the purpose of qualifying Him to be our Saviour. His righteousness cannot be reckoned as our righteousness. His righteousness is that which He lives out while on earth. It is His personal standing before God. It is the righteousness of Christ’s personal conduct. It has no way to be imparted to us. Christ’s righteousness is what He himself has worked out. It is exclusively His and is absolutely unrelated to us. It is for this reason that the word of God never says we are “in Jesus.” In being Jesus He is still the only begotten Son of God—He has not yet become the firstborn Son and hence we are not yet the many sons. We therefore have no part in Him.

    Let us understand that our union with Christ begins at His cross, not at His incarnation. Until the time of the cross, all that Christ has is exclusively His own; He has not yet shared anything with us. If a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears much fruit (many grains). Only since the Lord Jesus has died are we now those fruits, those many grains. Our union with Christ begins at His death, not at His birth. Calvary is where we are united with Him; at Bethlehem there is no such union. Before Calvary, we can only view His righteousness; we cannot share in it. The Bible from its beginning to its end tells us that we are not saved by the righteousness of Christ nor do we become righteous by His righteousness. Our becoming righteous before God is only because of Christ himself.

    Some may ask, Does not the Bible tell us that God has given us the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus? But we would counter, Does God’s word say that God will clothe us with the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus or that He will clothe us with the Lord Jesus as a righteous robe? In other words, are we clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus or clothed with the Lord Jesus himself? In point of fact, we have never read in God’s word that we are clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus; we read instead that we are clothed with the Lord Jesus: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13.14).

    We see here a most wonderful and distinctive thing: our righteousness before God is not the earthly conduct of the Lord Jesus, our righteousness before Him is the Lord Jesus, a living person. Today we come to God because we are clothed with the Lord Jesus himself. The Lord Jesus is our righteousness; and this is not the righteousness which He has, but He himself as righteousness. Accordingly, since the Lord Jesus lives forever, we have righteousness before God at all times. We may come to Him with boldness at any time, for we have the Lord Jesus as our righteousness.
    by Published on 02-20-2017 07:54 AM     Number of Views: 66 
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    The Way of Victory

    We know man is not delivered by exercising his will. When he is using his willpower, he is unable to trust God’s way of deliverance. He has to wait for the day when he submits himself to God and confesses that he is utterly undone. Then he will pray, “Lord, I am not going to try again.” Whenever one has no way but still thinks of finding a way, he will draw upon his will to help. It is only when he acknowledges he has no way and is not going to find a way that he forsakes calling upon his will for help. Then he will begin to see how to get real deliverance. Then he will read Romans 8.

    Brothers and sisters, do not despise Romans 7. Many believers are unable to get out of that chapter. Romans 7 captures more Christians than any other passage in the Bible. Many Christians keep their address in Romans 7! That is where they may be found, for they dwell there. It is useless to preach Romans 8 alone. The question is not whether you know the teaching of Romans 8, but whether youhave come out of Romans 7. Many preach on Romans 8 but are still buried in Romans 7. They are yet trying to deal with the law by the power of their will. They are still being defeated. Because they fail to see that sin is a law and that the will cannot overcome the law, they are imprisoned in Romans 7 and cannot enter Romans 8.

    New believers should accept what the word of God says. If you have to wait to find out for yourself, you may have to commit many sins. Even after sinning repeatedly, your eyes still may not be opened. You will have to come to the point where you see that all your battles are futile. Paul said in Romans 7 that it is useless to battle, for who can overcome a law? Thus, at the start of Romans 8 he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death” (vv.1-2). You have seen that sin is a law. You have also seen that it is not possible for man’s will to overcome that law. Where, then, is the way of victory, the way of deliverance?

    The way of victory is here: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The word “condemnation” in the original Greek has two different usages, one legal and the other civil. If the word is used legally, it means “condemnation” as found in the English translation. But in its civil usage, the word means “disabling” or “handicap.” According to the context of this passage of Scripture, probably the civil usage is clearer.

    We are no longer disabled. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has given us deliverance. It is something the Lord has done. But how does He do it? It is very simple, for it is explained by the second verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” This is the way of victory. Can you alter Romans 8.2 and read it this way: “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from sin and death”? I suppose ten Christians outof ten would read the verse this way. But what does it say? It says that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” Many have seen only the Spirit of life setting them free from sin and death, but have failed to see that it is the law of the Spirit of life which sets them free from the law of sin and of death.

    To learn the lesson that sin and death is a law may take years. But even as it may take a great deal of time and resolution and failure to realize that sin is a law, so it may take years for many believers to discover that the Spirit of life is also a law. Sin has followed us for years and we have had a close association with it; yet we still do not know that it is a law. Likewise, we may have believed in the Lord for many, many years and have known the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet not known Him as a law.

    It is a day of great discovery when our eyes are opened by the Lord to see that sin is a law. It is a day of even greater discovery when we are given the revelation that the Holy Spirit is also a law. Only a law can overcome another law. The will cannot overcome the law, but a higher law can overcome a lower law. We can never overcome the law of sin by our human will, but the law of the Spirit of life can set us free from the law of sin and of death.

    We know that earth’s gravity is a law which holds us. We know too that there is a thing called density. If the density of a thing is exceedingly low, such as in the case of hydrogen, then earth’s gravitational force cannot hold it down. By pumping hydrogen into a balloon, we can make the balloon rise. The law of earth’s gravitational force is a fixed law, but it only operates within a certain range or degree of density. If the density is too low, the law of gravity does not apply. Then another law takes over, even the law of buoyancy, which sends things upward. This upward surge needs no hand to push, no fan to stir. You just let go, and up it ascends. Thislaw overcomes the other law. It is equally effortless. In a similar manner, the law of the Holy Spirit overcomes the law of sin.

    Let us say it another way. To see sin as a law is a big thing, for it makes you decide against battling sin with your willpower. Likewise, seeing the law of the Holy Spirit in your life is another big crisis. Many seem to understand how the Spirit of life gives them life, but have yet to learn that the Holy Spirit in them, that is, the life which God has given them through Jesus Christ, is also a law. If you let this law operate, it will naturally deliver you from the law of sin and of death. When this law delivers you from the other law, it does not require an ounce of your strength. You need not make one resolution, spend any time, nor even lay hold of the Holy Spirit. . . .

    To overcome sin does not require an ounce of strength, for it is the work of the law. There is one law which makes me sin without my effort, and there is another law which sets me free from sin—also without my labor. Only that which requires no exertion is true victory. I have nothing to do. Let me tell you, we now have nothing to do but to raise our heads and tell the Lord, “Nothing of me.” What happened before was due to law; what is now happening is also due to law. The former law did a thorough work, for it made me sin continuously; this new law does an even better work because I am no longer handicapped by sin. The law of the Spirit of life has manifested itself; it is far superior to the law of sin and death.

    If new believers can be brought to see this from the first day of their Christian life, they will then walk the road of deliverance. The Bible never uses the term “overcome sin”; it only uses the phrase “made free” or “delivered from sin.” It is said here in Romans, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” The law of the Spirit of life has pulled me out of the realm of the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is still present, but I am no longer there for it to work upon. The earth’sgravitational force is present, but if things have been removed to heaven, there is no object for it to act upon.

    The law of the Spirit of life is in Christ Jesus and I am also now in Christ Jesus; therefore by this law I am made free from the law of sin and of death. “There is therefore now no disabling to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The man in Romans 7 is labeled, “disabled.” But this disabled person who is so weak and always sins is now, Paul says, no more disabled in Christ Jesus. How? By the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has set him free from the law of sin and of death. Therefore, there is no more disabling. Do you see now how this problem of deliverance is completely solved?
    by Published on 10-03-2016 01:06 AM     Number of Views: 93 
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    When I read this I am left in awe!

    Man was to destroy all the powers of Satan and be crowned with glory and honor that he might rule over God’s creation. But man had fallen and was thus not able to rule. It was for this cause, then, that the Lord Jesus came. He took upon himself man’s body of flesh and blood and became the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15.45b).

    Continuing with Hebrews 2, we next read this: “that by the grace of God he [Jesus] should taste of death for every man” (v.9b). The phrase “every man” in Greek can be translated “every thing.” The Lord Jesus was born as a man and accomplished the work of redemption—yet not just for men but for all created beings, except the angels. Hence He occupies two positions. In the first, towards God, Jesus is the original man, the man whom God has foreordained; in the second, towards men, He is the Saviour. On the one hand, the Lord Jesus is the man whom God had foreordained to have dominion and to overturn Satan. And this man is now seated on the throne! For hallelujah! this man has already overthrown the powers of Satan. This is the man of God’s expectation and possession. On the other hand, this man is also related to us. We have sinned and fallen, but God set forth Jesus to be a propitiation. He not only became our propitiation, He also was judged for all created things. This fact is demonstrated by what happened at Jesus’ crucifixion with the renting of the veil in the Temple sanctuary (see Mark 15.38). For according to Hebrews 10.20 that veil points to the flesh of the Lord Jesus. On the sanctuary veil had been embroidered cherubim who were representative of created things. So that inherent in the flesh of our Lord Jesus were all created things. And on the day the Lord died, the veil, we are told, was rent into two from top to bottom. Naturally, the cherubim embroidered on the veil were also rent. Hence, in the death of the Lord Jesus, all created things were judged. He has thus tasted death not only for every man but also for every thing.

    Reading further in Hebrews 2, we learn this: “For it became him [God] for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory” (v.10a).

    Isn't it amazing that I know I am one of His sons because I accepted who Jesus is, while many refuse or reject Him; thus, they could not be called "sons of God".
    by Published on 06-21-2015 07:04 PM     Number of Views: 262 
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    Receive Not the Love of the Truth

    Not receiving the love of the truth is another big cause behind obsession. It is shown in 2 Thessalonians that for those who “received not the love of the truth . . . God sendeth a working of error, that they should believe a lie” (2.10-11). This is indeed a most terrible aftermath. People are obsessed by believing lies. They believe things which are non-existent. Because of their not receiving the love of truth, they just naturally incline towards lies.

    “Buy the truth, and sell it not, yea, wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23.23). Truth needs to be bought, that is, a price must be paid. Blessed are we if our hearts are well prepared for the truth of God. We will love the truth and accept it whatever it may cost us. But oftentimes men do not have the love of the truth in them. They distort the truth and even discard it. Finally they actually believe it is not the truth. They proclaim as untrue what is the truth and preach as the truth what is untrue. They seem to do this with confidence. This definitely is obsession. . . .

    Seek Not the Glory That Comes from the Only God

    Not seeking the glory which comes from the only God is also a factor in obsession. “How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?” asks the Lord Jesus (John 5.44). For the sake of coveting glory from men the Jews rejected the Lord and lost eternal life. How very lamentable! This inordinate love of glory from men inclined their hearts to a lie. As a consequence, they believed in falsehood. They became increasingly confident of themselves. They were none other than obsessed. . . .

    “For with thee is the fountain of life: In thy light shall we see light” (Ps. 36.9). It is only by the light of God that we truly see light, that is, see the true character of a thing. The first light is that which enlightens, the second light is the true character which is seen. We need to live in the light of God if we wish to see the true character of a matter. . . .

    Those who know themselves in the light of God know their own selves indeed. If we are not in God’s light we may sin without being conscious of how wicked our sin is, we may fall without being fully aware of how shameful our fall is. We may do a little good outwardly but how deceitful is our inward state. We may show gentleness outside, but who knows how hard we are inside. We may put on a spiritual form, but in our reality we are full of the flesh. When the light of God comes, the true character of these things shall be manifested. We will then see through ourselves; we will confess how blind we were before!

    Herein is the difference between the Old and the New Testaments: in the Old Testament, people know right and wrong by outward law; in the New Testament, we know the true character of a thing by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is possible that we see our fault through doctrine or teaching but even so we have yet to see our fault in the light of God. Knowing our fault through doctrine or teaching is superficial; perceiving our fault in God’s light alone is thorough. This is the meaning of seeing light in God’s light.

    Spiritual reality has this outstanding characteristic, that it bears no mark of time. The time factor vanishes the instant you touch that reality. From the human point of view there is such a thing as prophecy, but from the divine viewpoint no such thing exists. “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2.7). With God it isalways “this day.” Our Lord says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22.13). He is both together, both at once. It is not that at one time He is first and at another time He is last. He is first and last simultaneously. Nor is it that having been Alpha for some time, He becomes Omega later on. To the contrary, He is Alpha and Omega from eternity to eternity. He is always first and last; and He is always Alpha and Omega. In the sight of man He is not Omega till He is manifested as Omega; but in the sight of God He is Omega now. With man, the past and the future are separate; with God they synchronize. The “I” of yesterday differs from the “I” of today; and the “I” of tomorrow differs further still. But “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yea and for ever” (Heb. 13.8). God is the eternal “I Am.” It is here that the knowledge of God comes in.

    Our Lord once said, “No one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven” (John 3.13). Note how these two different positions synchronize in Christ. There is no change of time or place with Him. Of God it is written: “the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning” (James 1.17). He is that in himself. He is that in His Christ: He is that in His Church. . . .

    Spiritual progress is not a question of attaining to some abstract standard, not a question of pressing through to some far-off goal; it is wholly a question of seeing God’s standard. Spiritual progress comes by finding out what you really are, not by trying to be what you hope to be. You will never reach that goal, however earnestly you strive. It is when you see you are dead that you die; it is when you see you are risen that you rise; it is when you see you are holy that you become holy. It is seeing the goal that determines the pathway to the goal. The goal is revealed by inward seeing, not by desiring or by working. There is only one possibility of spiritual progress, and that is by discovering God’s facts. Our great need is just to see the truth as Godsees it—the truth concerning Christ, the truth concerning ourselves in Christ, and the truth concerning the Church, the Body of Christ. . . .

    The Church is not a company of Christians working their way heavenward, but a company of Christians who are actually now citizens of heaven. Alas! Christianity in the experience of most Christians is an endeavor to be what they are not, and an endeavor to do what they cannot do. They are always struggling to not love the world because at heart they really love it. They are always trying to be humble because at heart they are still proud. This is the experience of so-called Christianity, but it is not the experience of the Church. The question of deliverance from the world or redemption from sin never arises in the Church, for the Church never had any connection with sin or with the world.

    The Church existed before the foundation of the world and was never in the world, so she has never been touched by the Fall. Alas, the human mind cannot dissociate the thought of sin from the Church. But in the divine mind, there is no relationship between sin and the Church. The Church infinitely transcends all thought of sin: in fact, the Church is the most positive thing in the universe. The Church is Christ. The Church has no connection with sin, and consequently no connection with redemption. Anything that calls for redemption does not belong to the Church. As individual believers, because we were born of Adam, we need redemption. It is not the Church that is redeemed, but we sinners who are redeemed; and being redeemed, we become part of the Church. In our experience the Church exists after redemption, but in the sight of God the Church existed before redemption. Redemption relates to our standing in Adam; the Church relates to our standing in Christ. The Church is the One New Man where Christ is all and in all. The Church is Christ in corporate form.

    The Church is not an organization, not something to beunderstood and attained to; it is something to be seen. When we see the heavenly reality of the Church, then we see our heavenly nature and we know that our starting-point as Christians is not earth but heaven.

    The Church is perfect, perfect beyond any possibility of improvement. Theologians often say: “That perfection is the standing (or position) of the Church; but her state is not so.” Yet in the sight of God there is no imperfection in the Church eternally. Why be bothered by the endless questions that relate to the old creation? They simply vanish when we see the reality of the Church. The Church is the sphere in which God exercises His authority on the earth; and today, even in the midst of a polluted universe, He has a sphere of unsullied purity for His abode.
    by Published on 02-07-2015 01:22 PM     Number of Views: 339 
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    2. Spiritual Christian Life,
    3. Runing the Race

    I was reminded today of the devilish obstinacy and utter lack of humility of an old man in his flesh whom I have known for decades when he accused me of claiming to be God after I told him he needs to be Christlike because his anger and lack of discipline were showing up in his inordinate nose picking in confined and non-public places which I privately witnessed many times. I told him he should repent, to stop taking pride in his nose picking and that he needs to be Christlike. Is Jesus a nose picker? Christians don't believe we are God for we are not the uncreated Creator, obviously. Only God is uncreated. There are no gods beside Him, before Him, or after Him. He alone is God from everlasting. Let's take a look at some verses that support the need to be Christlike.

    "Christ Be Formed" and "Transformed" and "Like Him"

    As the law of life operates freely in us life will increase to the degree of having Christ formed in us (Gal. 4.19). In the measure that Christ is gradually being formed in us, in that same measure are we increasingly transformed (2 Cor. 3.18); and the goal of transformation is to be like Him (1 John 3.2). Christ formed in us is inseparable from the operation of God’s life in us. To the degree that the life of God works in us to that degree is Christ being formed in us and to that degree is there the amount of our transformation. As our inside is filled with the life of Christ our outside is able to live out and manifest Christ. This is what is meant in Romans 8.29 by "to be conformed to the image of his Son." It is both Paul’s pursuit and experience (Phil. 3.10, 1.20). It should be the calling as well as the practical experience of all children of God today. For us to be wholly like Him will of course have to wait until He shall manifest himself (1 John 3.2), that is to say, at the day of "the redemption of our body" (Eph. 1.14, 4.30, especially Rom. 8.23).

    "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4.19).

    "Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing" (2 Cor. 2.15). Ryan gets his nose in the way of the beautiful fragrance, because his fingers are in his nose way more than they ought to be. That was funny!

    "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3.18).

    "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3.2).

    "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8.29).

    "And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes" (Gal. 3.27).

    "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3.10).

    "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Phil. 1.20).

    "Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1.14).

    "Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church" (Eph. 4.15).

    "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4.30).

    "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8.23).

    And perhaps my favorite verse of all,

    "Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed" (1 Cor. 4.10).
    by Published on 09-05-2014 05:35 PM     Number of Views: 411 
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    DELIVERANCE

    For that which I do I know not; for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I practise. But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:15-8:2

    The Desire for Deliverance from Sin

    A person who believes in the Lord may immediately be delivered from sin. This experience, however, is not necessarily shared by all new believers. Many are not delivered from sin after they first trust in the Lord. Instead, they often find themselves falling into sin. There is no question at all that they have been saved, that they belong to the Lord and have eternal life. Yet the great difficulty remains that they are frequently disturbed by sin. Because of this, they are unable to serve the Lord as they would like.

    It is most painful for a saved person to be disturbed by his continuing sins. Since he is enlightened by God, his conscience is sensitive. In him is the life which condemns sins; so he has the consciousness of sin. He deeply feels his corruption and he abhors himself. This is really an exceedingly painful experience.

    Out of this experience comes a problem: many believers do not really know what sin is. Some believers say that sin can be avoided by resisting it. Thus they exert all their strength to resist the temptation to sin. Others contend that sin needs to be overcome. Hence they fight with sin all the time, hoping that they may overcome it. Still others declare that since sin has bound us and robbed us of our freedom, we may be delivered from its enticement if we really struggle hard. Therefore, they do their best to struggle. But these three ideas are only men’s thoughts; they are neither God’s Word nor God’s teaching. None of them can succeed in bringing people to victory.

    I hope you will take special note of this matter. I personally believe that as soon as people believe in the Lord they should be shown the way of deliverance. I do not agree that they must turn many corners before they can be delivered. They should walk this way of freedom from the beginning of their Christian life.

    The Word of God does not tell us that we should overcome sin; it does tell us, instead, that we must be delivered from sin, freed from sin. These are the words of the Bible. Sin is a power which holds people. We are to be delivered from its grip, not to destroy its power. We cannot put it to death, but the Lord has removed us from it.

    The Law of Sin

    For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. . . . for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it . . . I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members ... So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Rom. 7:15-25

    You need to find the key to Romans 7. In verses 15 through 20, such words as these are used: “I would,” “I would not,” “I hate,” “to will is present with me,” “the good which I would,” “the evil which I would not,” and so forth. The thoughts constantly repeated are “would,” “would not,” or “will.” But verses 21 through 25 show us another point. The emphasis is no longer “would” or “would not,” but is repeatedly seen in words like “the law,” “a different law in my members,” “into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members,” “I of myself with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” If you keep these two points of emphasis before you, you will be able to solve the problem.

    In this section of Romans 7, Paul is thinking of overcoming. He thinks it would be best if he could sin no more and please God by doing that which God can accept. He does not want to sin nor does he like to be defeated. Yet he acknowledges that to will is present with him but to do that which is good is beyond him. He wills to do good, but he cannot do it. Though he tries not to sin, he still does sin. He delights in the law of God, yet he is unable to practice it. In other words, he cannot do what he would do.

    In verses 15 through 20, though Paul wills to overcome, yet he suffers total defeat. This shows that the way of victory does not lie in “would” or “would not.” Victory is not to be found through man’s will. Paul wills and wills, but he ends up in defeat. Therefore, do not think that everything will be all right if only you have the will to do good. To will is with you, but to do is not. All you can do is to will; there is not much use in it.

    However, after verse 21 Paul himself finds out why his will to do good is unsuccessful. The reason is that sin is a law. Since sin is a law, it is futile to will. Paul shows us the reason for his defeat. He explains that though he would do good, evil is present with him. He delights in the law of God after the inward man, but with the flesh he serves the law of sin. Whenever he decides to delight in God’s law, a different law in his members—the law of sin—brings him into captivity. Any time he wills to do good, evil is present. This is a law.

    Many who have been Christians for years still do not see that sin is a power which seems to be quite authoritative. They do not see sin as a law. I hope newly saved brothers and sisters will see this: sin in human experience, as well as in the Bible, is a law. It is not only an influence, a power, but it is also a law. Paul discovered how useless it was for his will to battle against a law.

    The Inability of the Will to Overcome the Law

    Will is the inner power of man, while law is a natural power. Both are powers. I like to use an illustration to help people understand this matter of law. We know that the earth exerts a gravitational force. This force of gravity is a law. Why do we call it a law? Because it is always so. That which is not incidental is a law. That which is occasional is an historical accident, not a law.

    Why is earth’s gravitation a law? If I drop my handkerchief, it goes downward. It happens in Shanghai as well as in Foochow. Wherever the handkerchief is dropped, the same thing happens. Gravity pulls it down, so this is called the law of gravitation. Not only is gravity a force; it also is a law. If the handkerchief is only occasionally pulled to the earth, then this force could not be reckoned as a law. A law is something which always acts in the same way. If I throw my Bible upward, it will fall down. If I throw a chair up, it too will fall down. If I jump upward, I will also come down. No matter where or what, what goes up will come down. Then I realize that not only is there a gravitational force exerted by the earth, but there is also a law of gravity.

    A law simply means it is always so. It permits no exception. If something happens once one way and another time a different way, it is a matter of history. But if something always happens the same way, it is a law. If a person commits a crime on the street, he will be taken into custody by the police. Should he commit this crime at home, he still will be taken into custody. Whoever murders, regardless of whom or where he murders, he will be taken by the police. This we call a law. A law applies to every person; there are no exceptions. If a man kills someone today, he is taken into custody by the police. But if he kills someone tomorrow and is not taken, kills again the day after tomorrow and is taken, then the matter of taking people into custody cannot be considered a law. A law needs to be consistent. It must be the same yesterday, today, and even tomorrow. The term “law” implies that it continues unchanged.

    Every law has its natural power—something not manufactured by human effort. We may use the earth’s gravitation as an example. Wherever I drop something, that thing gravitates downward. I do not need to press it down for there is a natural force which causes it to go down. Behind the law is the natural power.

    What, then, is the will? Will is man’s determination, man’s decision. It speaks of what man decides or desires or wills. The exercise of the will is not without its power. If I decide to do a certain thing, I start out to do it. If I decide to walk, I walk; if I decide to eat, I eat. As a person I have a will, and my will produces a power.

    However, the power of the will and the power of a law are different. While the power of the law is natural power, the power of the will is human. Gravitational force does not need the installation of some electrical appliance behind it in order to attract things downward; it acts naturally. If you light a lamp, the heat will naturally rush upward; this too is a law. When air is heated, it rises and expands; this is a law. In rising and expanding, it demonstrates a power, but this power is natural power. The power of the will, however, is something of man. Only that which is living has a will. Neither a chair nor a table has a will of its own. God has a will; man has a will. Only a living being has will. Though man’s will does possess some power, it is nonetheless a human power. It is in direct contrast to the power of a law which is a natural power.

    The question before us is: when the will and the law are in conflict, which will emerge as conqueror? Usually the will overcomes in the beginning, but the law conquers in the end. Man first overcomes, but the law eventually emerges as victor. For example: I am now holding up a Bible which weighs about half a pound. The force of earth’s gravity is operating on this book and is trying its best to pull the Bible to the ground. So the law is working. But I as a person have a will. My hand is lifting the Bible and I will not allow it to fall. I succeed in holding it up; I have overcome. My will is stronger than the law.

    Right now, at 8:17 in the evening, I have overcome. But wait till 9:17, and I will start to sigh that my hand will not listen to me. By tomorrow morning at 8:17, I will have to get a doctor to treat me! A law never tires, but my hand does. Man’s power cannot overcome natural law. The law of gravitation continues to pull; it pulls without will or thought. I will not let the Bible fall; I forcibly hold onto it. Still the time will come when I can no longer hold on. When I cease to lift up the Bible, it will drop to the ground. The law works twenty-four hours a day, but I cannot.

    Eventually the will of men will be defeated and the law will overcome. All of men’s wills cannot conquer natural law. Human will may strenuously resist natural law and may at the beginning seem to overcome, but finally it will have to give in to the law. Do not despise the law of earth’s gravitation. You are battling with it daily. All who are now in their graves, if able to speak, would have to concede that they are not as strong as the law. For decades you appear to be daily in ascendancy over gravity. You almost forget the great power of earth’s gravity; you live as if there were no death. You are active from morning till night. But there will come a day when you too will be pulled down by the law of sin and death. At that moment, your activity will come to an end. There is nothing you can do; the law has conquered. Can you imagine a person who by force of will could hold onto a Bible so that it never falls? It is impossible. Sooner or later he has to yield; the law will come forth as conqueror.

    In Romans 7 the subject is the contrast between law and will. Its theme is very simple, for it deals only with the conflict between will and law. At an earlier time, Paul was not conscious that sin is a law. Paul is the first one in the Bible to discover this truth. He is also first to use the term “law.” People know that gravitation is a law, that heat expansion is also a law, but they do not know that sin is a law. At first even Paul did not know this; only after repeatedly sinning did he discover that there was a power in his body which gravitated him to sin. He did not sin purposely, but the power in his body pulled him to sin. Sinning is more than historical; it is a law. When temptation comes, we try to resist, but before long we fail; this is our history of defeat. Again temptation comes and again we resist and fail. This happens the tenth time, the hundredth time, the millionth time. It is the same story: temptation comes, we resist; and before we realize it, we are defeated. As this occurs time after time, we begin to see that this is not just an historical fact. It has become a law. Sinning is a law. If one were to sin only once, he might consider it an historical event; however, we cannot say sinning is historical for it is not limited to once. It has become a law.

    Temptation comes and I am defeated. I have no way to overcome. Each time it comes, I fail; thus I come to realize that my defeat is more than just defeat; it is the law of defeat in me. Defeat has become a law to me. Brethren, have you seen this? Paul saw it. In verse 21 he tells us his great revelation—a revelation about himself. He says, “I find then the law.” This is the first time he realizes it that way. He senses a law. What is it? “That to me who would do good, evil is present.” Whenever he wants to do good, he finds evil is present in him. This is the law. When I would do good, sin is present. Sin follows closely after good. Not just once, not just a thousand times, but it is always this way. I now understand it to be a law.

    A GREAT REVELATION

    It is not that I sin accidentally or occasionally; it is not that I sometimes sin and sometimes do not; sinning is a law to me, for I constantly sin. Because this occurs all the time, I know it is a law. Whenever I would do good, evil is present. When Paul’s eyes were opened to this, he realized that all his own efforts were futile. What had he tried? He had tried to do good. He had thought his will could overcome sin, not knowing that no will can ever overcome sin. But as soon as he saw sin as a law, not just a conduct, he immediately conceded that to will was useless. The will could never conquer the law. This, indeed, was a great discovery, a very great revelation.

    When through God’s mercy anyone is brought to see that sin is a law, he instantly knows how ineffective any method of overcoming sin with the will must be. Before he sees this, he is always making resolutions. When tempted, he bites his teeth and determines to overcome, but eventually he fails. The second time he is tempted he surmises that his first resolution was not strong enough, so this time he makes a firmer resolution to not sin again for any reason. But let me tell you, however strong his resolution is, he still fails again. He may yet conclude that something is wanting in his resolution, so when again tempted, he once more resolves before God and asks the Lord to help him. Since he is not sure of his resolution, he prays, “O Lord, please have mercy on me. Help me that I may not sin this time.” After he gets up from his knees, he once again fails. He wonders why he cannot overcome sin by making resolutions. The answer is that it is because no amount of will effort can ever conquer a law.

    This hand of mine may be quite strong; it may be able to lift fifty pounds. I have a watch here which weighs only five ounces. It should not be difficult for a hand that can lift fifty pounds to hold up this five-ounce watch. However, there is also a law here exerting its gravitational force on my hand. It pulls every second, every minute, and every hour. It keeps on pulling till I cannot hold this five-ounce watch. The hardship in bearing a load is that the longer you bear it, the heavier the object seems to become—not that the load itself has been increased, but that the law begins to overcome the bearer. The law overcomes the man. Nature overcomes man. This power operates so constantly that it incapacitates you.

    Another illustration is losing the temper. This is a common and easily recognized sin. Everyone has committed this sin several times. When you hear some unpleasant words, you feel uncomfortable, as if churning inside. If the same person says more unpleasant words, you may answer in kind. But should he continue to say such unkind words, you may be so stirred that you scold him and beat the table. You have lost your temper. You feel badly afterward because as a Christian you should not lose your temper. So you resolve that next time you will not. You are quite sure you will not. After prayer, you believe you are forgiven. Your heart is full of joy, for you say you will not lose your temper again. But later on, you again hear people say distasteful words. How uncomfortable you feel. You hear further words a second time, and your insides churn like a machine. The third time, you burst. You are, of course, conscious of your fault. How can a Christian lose his temper? You ask the Lord to forgive your sin, and you promise that hereafter you will not lose your temper. But after some time, the experience is repeated all over again. What, then, do you call this? It is not just sinning; it is the law of sin.

    Sinning is not accidental; it is a law. If a person kills another person, this is sin. But if he kills every day, this is the law of killing. If a man loses his temper daily, his bad temper has become a law to him. It is not by chance that people sin, nor do they sin only once. People sin countless times throughout their lives. The liars in the world keep on lying; the unclean keep on being unclean; the adulterers keep on committing adultery; the stealers keep on stealing; the ill-tempered keep on losing their temper. It is a law within men which cannot be conquered.

    It is a great discovery when the Lord has mercy on you and opens your eyes to see that sin is, indeed, a law. If you see this, victory is not far away. Should you consider sin merely a matter of conduct, you will no doubt try to pray more and to resist more in order to overcome the next time. But it is futile. As the power of sin is strong and constant, so our strength is weak and untrustworthy. As the power of sin is always triumphant, so our power is always yielding. Sin’s power is victorious and our power is defeated. The victory of sin is a law, even as our defeat is a law. When I would do good, evil is present. Paul says he has found this to be a law, an unconquerable law.

    I do hope that you will be clear on the nature of sin. If you see this law, you will be delivered from many hardships and sorrows. If you are willing to accept God’s Word, you will know that sin is a law and that you cannot overcome it with your will. Then you will be able to see the real way to victory. It is a great blessing to find this law. It may take many defeats, possibly hundreds or thousands of defeats, to discover for yourself this law of defeat. You have to be so utterly defeated that one day you realize you can never overcome sin by your will. Sooner or later, sin will rise up and declare that it is a law, so what can you do? Let me tell you, all who trust in their own willpower will have to acknowledge that they can do nothing about it. Since sin is a law, what can you do? You cannot resist it; the power of your will can never overcome the power of a law.

    The Way of Victory

    We know man is not delivered by exercising his will. When he is using his willpower, he is unable to trust God’s way of deliverance. He has to wait for the day when he submits himself to God and confesses that he is utterly undone. Then he will pray, “Lord, I am not going to try again.” Whenever one has no way but still thinks of finding a way, he will draw upon his will to help. It is only when he acknowledges he has no way and is not going to find a way that he forsakes calling upon his will for help. Then he will begin to see how to get real deliverance. Then he will read Romans 8.

    Brothers and sisters, do not despise Romans 7. Many believers are unable to get out of that chapter. Romans 7 captures more Christians than any other passage in the Bible. Many Christians keep their address in Romans 7. That is where they may be found, for they dwell there. It is useless to preach Romans 8 alone. The question is not whether you know the teaching of Romans 8, but whether you have come out of Romans 7. Many preach on Romans 8 but are still buried in Romans 7. They are yet trying to deal with the law by the power of their will. They are still being defeated. Because they fail to see that sin is a law and that the will cannot overcome the law, they are imprisoned in Romans 7 and cannot enter Romans 8.

    New believers should accept what the Word of God says. If you have to wait to find out for yourself, you may have to commit many sins. Even after sinning repeatedly, your eyes still may not be opened. You will have to come to the point where you see that all your battles are futile. Paul said in Romans 7 that it is useless to battle, for who can overcome a law? Thus, at the start of Romans 8 he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death” (vv. l-2). You have seen that sin is a law. You have also seen that it is not possible for man’s will to overcome that law. Where, then, is the way of victory, the way of deliverance?

    The way of victory is here: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The word “condemnation” in the original Greek has two different usages, one legal and the other civil. If the word is used legally, it means “condemnation” as found in the English translation. But in its civil usage, the word means “disabling” or “handicap.” According to the context of this passage of Scripture, probably the civil usage is clearer.

    We are no longer disabled. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has given us deliverance. It is something the Lord has done. But how does He do it? It is very simple, for it is explained by the second verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” This is the way of victory. Can you alter Romans 8:2 and read it this way: “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from sin and death”? I suppose ten Christians out of ten would read the verse this way. But what does it say? It says that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” Many have seen only the Spirit of life setting them free from sin and death, but have failed to see that it is the law of the Spirit of life which sets them free from the law of sin and of death.

    To learn the lesson that sin and death is a law may take years. But even as it may take a great deal of time and resolution and failure to realize that sin is a law, so it may take years for many believers to discover that the Spirit of life is also a law. Sin has followed us for years and we have had a close association with it; yet we still do not know that it is a law. Likewise, we may have believed in the Lord for many, many years and have known the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet not known Him as a law.

    It is a day of great discovery when our eyes are opened by the Lord to see that sin is a law. It is a day of even greater discovery when we are given the revelation that the Holy Spirit is also a law. Only a law can overcome another law. The will cannot overcome the law, but a higher law can overcome a lower law. We can never overcome the law of sin by our human will, but the law of the Spirit of life can set us free from the law of sin and of death.

    We know that earth’s gravity is a law which holds us. We know too that there is a thing called density. If the density of a thing is exceedingly low, such as in the case of hydrogen, then earth’s gravitational force cannot hold it down. By pumping hydrogen into a balloon, we can make the balloon rise. The law of earth’s gravitational force is a fixed law, but it only operates within a certain range or degree of density. If the density is too low, the law of gravity does not apply. Then another law takes over, even the law of buoyancy, which sends things upward. This upward surge needs no hand to push, no fan to stir. You just let go, and up it ascends. This law overcomes the other law. It is equally effortless. In a similar manner, the law of the Holy Spirit overcomes the law of sin.

    Let us say it another way. To see sin as a law is a big thing, for it makes you decide against battling sin with your willpower. Likewise, seeing the law of the Holy Spirit in your life is another big crisis. Many seem to understand how the Spirit of life gives them life, but have yet to learn that the Holy Spirit in them, that is, the life which God has given them through Jesus Christ, is also a law. If you let this law operate, it will naturally deliver you from the law of sin and of death. When this law delivers you from the other law, it does not require an ounce of your strength. You need not make one resolution, spend any time, nor even lay hold of the Holy Spirit.

    May I ask, does anybody need to hold onto the earth’s gravitational force? Does someone need to pray that this force will quickly pull things down? No, there is no need to pray, for the earth most spontaneously attracts things downward. It is a law. All one needs to do is to remove his hand, to not purposely hold onto things. When the will is not working, then the law is manifested. When the will is not interfering, the law operates. In a similar way, the Spirit of the Lord in us does not need our help. If you are afraid that the Spirit of the Lord in you may not be responsible and so you rush to help when temptation comes, it shows that you have not seen that the Spirit of the Lord in you is a law.

    May new believers see that the Holy Spirit in them is a spontaneous law. If anyone is to be delivered from sin, he has to come to that deliverance naturally. Should he try to get deliverance by exercising his willpower, he will again be defeated. But now those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer handicapped, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made them free from the law of sin and of death. It is all so simple and so natural. We have been given another law which naturally delivers us from the law of sin and of death.

    Someone may ask how this comes about. I do not know, but have you not had some such experience? For example: someone comes to you; he scolds you, quarrels with you, and even beats you. He is utterly unreasonable in all that he does. You should be very angry with him, but somehow you let everything go without knowing why. Afterward you begin to wonder why it was that when you were scolded you forgot to get angry. After that person did so much, you ought to have lost your temper. If you keep on remembering all that he did to you, you will no doubt be very angry. Yet, to your own amazement, you just unconsciously let everything pass. Let me tell you, victories are all won unawares.

    Why is it that you overcome without being conscious of it? It is because a law is working. If it were a matter of your will, you would have to think and hold on. But what the Lord does is to give the victory without your awareness. Such victories are real victories. If you have experienced this even once, then you will understand the revelation that the indwelling Holy Spirit is able to keep you from sin. He is able to make you victorious without the help of your resolves. You do not need to make resolutions, for the law in you will deliver you from sin. If you really see before God that since you are in Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life is also in you, then you will find that the Lord puts His Spirit in you in order to carry you through to victory quite naturally. You do not need to will or to grasp; you will just surprisingly be brought into victory.

    To overcome sin does not require an ounce of strength, for it is the work of the law. There is one law which makes me sin without my effort, and there is another law which sets me free from sin—also without my labor. Only that which requires no exertion is true victory. I have nothing to do. Let me tell you, we now have nothing to do but to raise our heads and tell the Lord, “Nothing of me.” What happened before was due to law; what is now happening is also due to law. The former law did a thorough work, for it made me sin continuously; this new law does an even better work because I am no longer handicapped by sin. The law of the Spirit of life has manifested itself; it is far superior to the law of sin and death.

    If new believers can be brought to see this from the first day of their Christian life, they will then walk the road of deliverance. The Bible never uses the term “overcome sin”; it only uses the phrase “made free” or “delivered from sin.” It is said here in Romans, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” The law of the Spirit of life has pulled me out of the realm of the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is still present, but I am no longer there for it to work upon. The earth’s gravitational force is present, but if things have been removed to heaven, there is no object for it to act upon.

    The law of the Spirit of life is in Christ Jesus and I am also now in Christ Jesus; therefore by this law I am made free from the law of sin and of death. “There is therefore now no disabling to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The man in Romans 7 is labeled, “disabled.” But this disabled person who is so weak and always sins is now, Paul says, no more disabled in Christ Jesus. How? By the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has set him free from the law of sin and of death. Therefore, there is no more disabling. Do you see now how this problem of deliverance is completely solved?

    The Way of Deliverance and Freedom

    The earlier a new believer knows the way of deliverance, the better it is for him. There is no need for a delay of several years before he can know deliverance and freedom. Within a few months he can have many experiences of learning. It is not necessary for him to suffer many wounds before learning. It is possible for a Christian not to be defeated. So, when you are faced with a difficulty, do not strive, using your willpower. If you are defeated, do not turn back. Learn the way of deliverance step by step. The first step is to see that sin is a law to you; the second, to see that the will cannot overcome the law; and the third, to see that there is another law which does overcome the law of sin. Upon experiencing these three steps, the problem is wholly solved.

    May all Christians be able to sing the victory song of praise. How many miles are walked unnecessarily; how many tears are shed because of defeat. If believers see this way of deliverance and freedom from the beginning of their Christian lives, they will be saved many sorrows and tears. What is the way of deliverance? It is that the law of the Spirit of life has set me free. It is a law, perfect and powerful. That law is able to deliver me to the end. It does not require my help. As the law of sin in the world causes everybody to sin, so now the law of the Spirit of life in us naturally leads us into complete victory over sin. It naturally makes us holy, full of life, and full of its power.

    You have already received life. Never think that the Holy Spirit sometimes manifests life and sometimes not. If this is your case, you do not know the Holy Spirit as a law. Since He is a law, He is always the same. He is the same wherever, whatever, and whenever it may be. He is the same, not because you make Him so, but because He is so. Do you believe He is a law? I have no way to persuade you to believe. If you have not seen this, you will not believe what we have said. May God open your eyes that you may see this. We have in us not only the Holy Spirit, not only life, but also a law. Thus we shall be delivered.

    Having seen this law, our problem is resolved. It is not enough to see the indwelling Holy Spirit; we must see Him as a law in us. Then we shall begin to praise. Hereafter, we shall live a transcendent life. How wonderful it is.
    by Published on 08-15-2014 03:00 PM     Number of Views: 413 
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    I was finishing off reading the last chapter of The Character of God's Workman (CFP white cover) by Watchman Nee...

    Other Matters to Be Dealt With

    By way of concluding our study on the character of God’s workman we would like to mention some other matters which every one of the Lord’s workers must deal with before God. These are: (1) maintaining the absoluteness of the truth, (2) caring for one’s physical well-being, (3) not having undue concern about one’s personal lifestyle, and (4) understanding such problem areas as virginity, marriage, and so forth.

    One

    A person who does the Lord’s work must stand for the absoluteness of the truth. This naturally demands total deliverance from his own self. Many brothers and sisters are not completely loyal to the truth because they are affected by human relationships and their own emotions. Hence a basic requirement in the service of God is that truth must not be sacrificed. I can sacrifice myself and my emotions but not the truth. The difficulty with a number of workers lies in their concern about friends, acquaintances, relatives or families, and which in consequence may adversely affect their loyalty to the truth. God cannot use such people. For if truth be truth, nothing—not even one’s own brother or relative or friend—can touch it.

    Take, as an example, an instance in which the son of a worker asks for baptism. Realizing that this is a matter which concerns the truth, he should leave the case with the responsible brothers in the local church and let them decide if his son is ready for baptism. Many a time, however, the worker will take the position that his son is ready and should therefore be baptized. Thus a problem is caused due to this worker’s lack of absoluteness towards the truth. He brings into the picture his father-and-son relationship. If he were truly absolute here, he would let such matters in the church be decided by the dictates of the truth. He would not act according to human relationship.

    Another example can be given. If a strife should occur in any given assembly, people may be inclined to take sides according to their friendships or family relationships. They do not sit down, as they should, and weigh the absoluteness of the truth that is involved; instead, they follow the leading of their affection. This does not mean that they might totally neglect the truth, but it does show that they cannot be completely loyal towards it. To be absolute towards the truth in spiritual matters means that no personal feeling, friendship or human relationship can be allowed to influence the truth. For just as soon as human relationship comes into play, the truth shall no longer be upheld Any addition of man’s word diminishes the verity of God’s word.

    In the Bible there are recorded many decisions and commands of God which need continually to be proclaimed by His servants. We abhor the fact that there are those who are always proclaiming the impossible; but on the other hand, can anyone be a servant of God if he never preaches anything beyond his personal capability? Since the truth is absolute, no one should ever lower the word of the Lord because he himself has not reached that height. No one should alter God’s word due to his own deficiency. On the contrary, sometimes you must speak ahead of what you are, far beyond your personal feeling or relationships. This is indeed a tremendous demand placed upon a servant of God. You cannot deal with your family members in one way and the other brothers and sisters in a different way. For the truth is absolute, and the Lord wants us to maintain its absolute character. Whatever God’s word says must be equally applied to all people. You should not act differently because of any special relationship. To do so would be to lower the truth of God. This is not to say that were you to do so you would be totally untrue, but it would show that you were not being totally loyal towards the truth. Let us therefore learn to maintain this absoluteness. We must not compromise because of any human relationship. For we follow the truth, we do not follow man.

    Many difficulties arise in the Church when the truth is sacrificed. Here, for instance, was how a division occurred in one local assembly: one brother said, “We had no intention of separating from you, but since you failed to inform us last night on a certain matter, we have now decided not to meet with you again.” Yet the truth being absolute, it needs to be said to that brother that it really has nothing to do with his and the others with him being informed or not, because any separation that is perpetrated on that basis is automatically putting forward man in the place of truth.

    Take as another example the case of how people at a certain place had expressed their desire to break bread separately. The reason given was that a brother asked a question at a meeting and it was not answered. Yet, whether one breaks bread together or separately must be a matter that is based on truth. If it is the latter, then it can have nothing to do with anyone’s being well-treated or ill-treated.

    Oh, let us understand most clearly that before we can serve God, this “self” of ours must be rooted out. If our keeping the word of God depends on the treatment we receive, we put ourselves ahead of divine truth. This comes about simply because we have pride and selfishness in us. We consider ourselves to be more important than the truth of God. How can we serve the Lord under such condition? In the way of God’s service, we must totally deny our own selves. Whether we are pleased or hurt in a given situation is a consideration that is completely out of the question. It ought to make no difference how we feel or how we are treated. We cannot bend divine truth to follow our own feeling, for how boldly presumptuous we would be if we should cause God’s truth to follow us!

    We should see the glory of God’s truth and never try to bring our personal feeling into it. How do we stand when compared with the truth of God? It is not that we are smaller than the truth, but that we are absolutely nothing in comparison to it. A tiny touch of self will most certainly damage the truth.

    One brother happened to hear much criticism being leveled against a church assembly, but at first he considered it to be groundless. He subsequently paid a visit to that assembly. While in their midst, however, he touched only some of the brethren there without really touching the truth before God. He was actually quite careless in his conduct. One day, a brother in that assembly pointed out to him his earlier loose conduct based only on certain facts. This action by that brother was taken by his speaking the truth to him in love. Whereupon, he who had at first considered the earlier criticism of this church to be groundless now reacted by speaking disparagingly of this assembly. All this simply reveals the fact that this over-reacting brother was not absolute towards the truth; for had he been absolute, he would not have changed his attitude towards the church assembly in question simply because of the reprimand he had later received.

    What is meant by the absoluteness of the truth? It means that no consideration of personal affection, relationship, experience or self-interest will intrude upon one’s view and application of the truth. It means that none of these things is or can be involved in it. Since truth is absolute, yea is yea and nay is nay.

    There was once a brother who had helped many people. He later walked in the way of maintaining the testimony of the church. Whether or not this way is right is not affected by the manner of his or anybody else’s walk. His walking in this way of the testimony of the church does not make it right. Even if he should fall, this way is still right. And why? Because the truth is absolute. Unfortunately, the eyes of many were upon this brother. They simply assumed that he being right, that way must also be right. Or if he is wrong, that way must also be wrong. So what did they look at? At the truth or at the brother? It is obvious that it was the latter. Now, of course, this is not to suggest that anyone can be careless. We should indeed not be careless, for we must maintain the testimony of God. This is a fact. Even so, whether this way of the church is right or not is a matter to be judged by truth, not by man nor by the way man walks. Can we stop being Christians simply because some other Christians have sinned or fallen? Ought we to deny our faith merely because God’s children are bad? Not so, for the truth is absolute. If the Lord is worth believing, we will believe in spite of the failure of fellow-believers. Though others may disbelieve, we will nonetheless believe. For the determination of the issue involved does not lie with the people but with the truth. The divisions in the Church and the many strifes in the work would all disappear if we would eliminate our personal feeling and relationship.

    The absoluteness of the truth is not a small matter. We cannot afford to be loose here, because if we are lax in this matter, we will be lax in all matters. We shall be able to hold fast to the truth if we lay down ourselves; but without such a determination or habit before God, we shall sooner or later fall apart. Someone may thank the Lord for the helps he has received in a local church meeting. Yet this does not necessarily prove that he is clear about the absoluteness of the truth of the church and its testimony. Perhaps he only feels comfortable in that meeting. Wait, however, till he encounters something disagreeable to him; he may then feel quite differently about the meeting. Nevertheless, the truth still remains absolute. Whether or not the meeting is legitimate in his view should not depend on his treatment. If his treatment—whether good or ill—decides for him the legality of the meeting, then he becomes the most important person in the whole world! For in that case, truth is not important; he instead becomes most important. And consequently, he would not be absolute in his loyalty towards the truth. Herein lies much of the trouble in the Church.

    God expects us to deal with ourselves to such a degree that we are able to set ourselves aside in any matter. In that event our personal feeling, pleasure or hurt will not create any difficulty. The direction of our course ahead is not to be governed by our personal feeling. If God says yea, it is yea; and if God says nay, it is nay. If He says this is the way, we will walk in it, even though no one else may so walk. We walk not because there is much excitement in the way, nor because some other brothers are walking in that way. We walk simply because this is the right way and the truth is held to be absolute. Nobody can be permitted to influence us, for if we allow anybody to do so, we shall then make this or that person bigger than the truth.

    Judgment is also based on truth, and not on ourselves. If judgment should ever follow our personal taste, we shall have degraded the truth and the way of God. The foundation of God’s judgment is the truth. In judging any situation, we look not at the way people treat us but look exclusively at the truth of the Lord. In the work of the Lord, we never allow our personal feeling and interest to become involved. If truth commands separation, we will separate even from our best friends. Though we may daily eat together and live together, yet because of the absoluteness of the truth we will separate ourselves in spite of human affection. And by the same token, if the truth demands that we be together, then no matter how we brush and strive against each other we will still stay together. Should our being together be based on personal relationship, it is an indication that we do not know what the truth is. It will then be hard for us to finish the course set before us.

    This that we have been discussing is a most fundamental issue. Our future depends on our learning the discipline of God. Truth will suffer at our hands if we regard ourselves as so big and important. In order to maintain the truth of the Lord, we ourselves must be set aside. Each one of us has his temperament and feeling. Let us not allow these to affect God’s truth. No minister of the Lord can sacrifice or debase the truth of God to soothe his own feeling. If we disdain God’s truth, we have no spiritual future before Him. A judge on the bench maintains an absolute attitude towards the law. He will pronounce guilty to the sinful and not guilty to the innocent. On the one hand, he cannot reckon the sinful as sinless simply because the latter might happen to be his brother or close friend. On the other hand, a judge cannot condemn a guiltless person merely because the latter happens to be his enemy. Otherwise, these kinds of judgment would create disorder in society. A judge must therefore support the law. Similarly, we who believe in God and serve Him must support His truth and His law. No personal feeling is to be involved. May we never ever forget this point.

    All of us need to be dealt with by the Lord. Let us say to Him, “Lord, I am nothing, but Your truth is everything.” This being the case, there will be no difficulty in the work. If all fellow-workers can maintain the absoluteness of the truth there will in consequence be a great advantage, in that we can all speak frankly and things can be easily done. A matter that should be done will be done without the fear of incurring blame from other workers. What decides everything is the will of God. Is this His decision? If it is His will and He so desires, then we need not consider anything else. But if we do not see the truth as absolute, we shall find it difficult to move forward; because whenever something arises, all will be thinking what the others will say; with the result that we shall look for a compromise, and in the process the truth shall suffer because of us. Moreover, there shall be many words we will not dare to say and many matters we will not dare decide for fear of offending other people. And thus we shall find ourselves in great trouble.

    Any church fellowship that supports the truth of God and rejects human politics is blessed. The brethren in such a fellowship as this do not play politics nor negotiate for a compromise. Quite the contrary, on the path of absoluteness in truth, all dare to speak and act as required: they look only at the will of God in their decision.

    Now if such in fact be the case there, that fellowship shall truly be blessed of the Lord. Otherwise, personal considerations will come, politics will be played, many compromising changes will occur, and the church local will no longer be the church.

    All this needs to be carefully laid out before God, because this is a great and grave issue. No personal feeling and affection should be brought into the work. Even if you should be aware that your personal affection would be able to effect people’s acceptance of the truth, you should still not bring it into the work. For instance, it would not be right for you to entertain a guest with a view to influencing him as to the truth, for although it might be a good will gesture on your part to give support to the truth in this manner, we believe the truth needs no human hand to support it since God’s truth, being absolute, has a position, authority and power of its own. And therefore the truth does not require our help to advance its cause. We should therefore never be afraid that the truth, being rejected, is accordingly defeated; for in the end it shall prevail—and without any help on our part. Our responsibility is simply this: we must learn to respect God’s truth, walk in the truth, and never compromise the truth. Amen.

    Two

    Another of these final matters is how a worker should take care of his body. We know Paul was a brother greatly gifted, and he often healed the sick through prayer. Still, he mentioned three persons whose sickness was never healed. One was Trophimus, a second was Timothy, and the third was himself.

    When Trophimus was ill, Paul did not pray for his healing, nor did the apostle exercise his healing gift. He instead said, “Trophimus I left at Miletus sick” (2 Tim. 4.20a). Timothy had stomach trouble and was often ill. Again, Paul did not use his gift nor did he pray for healing. We know he healed many sick. So if he healed the others, why could he not heal Timothy? This younger servant of the Lord was to continue the work of Paul and was most useful, but Paul still did not heal the sickness of Timothy. For this thing was in the hand of God, not in Paul’s hand. So what did the apostle say? “Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Tim. 5.23). In other words, Timothy should take more care of himself: he should eat what was profitable to the body, and refrain from eating anything disagreeable: he should drink what would lessen the stomach trouble and not drink what would increase his trouble. These were the recommendations made by Paul to Timothy. And as for Paul himself, he had “a thorn in his flesh” for which he asked the Lord three times that it be removed. Yet the Lord did not see fit to heal him; He only said to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12.9a). Trophimus was left sick; Timothy was left with his stomach ailment and his other frequent infirmities; and Paul’s thorn remained in his flesh.

    It requires ten to twenty years for a person to be so trained by God as to be considerably useful. It really needs such a long period for one to be matured in the way of the Lord. But due to lack of knowledge in caring for the body, some may die before there is sufficient time for training. Or some may die just after they have touched the way of God and become truly useful after years of training before Him. All this is most regrettable.

    In the churches, there should not be all children, or all young people. The churches need fathers. For this reason, all who learn to serve God must consider this matter of the care of the body. How sad if a brother or sister dies before reaching an appointed age after he or she has been trained for some time! We know many are cracked and broken at midway, just as sometimes clay becomes marred in the hands of the potter. As the potter turns his wheel, not all vessels come out to perfection bereft of any flaw. Some of the earthen vessels are marred in the making before they ever go through the fire. That is a loss. The Church loses many members because they cannot pass such testings. They fall as soon as they meet temptations. If by the mercy of God we are not marred or broken, we may still need the working of the cross in our lives to make us even more useful. A trial coming from the Lord may require a long time for us to get through. It may take a year or several years. The number of trials in the life of a child of God is rather limited. We do not have many opportunities to be tested. Many crack or break down at a time of trial and thus no good results from it. Not many of God’s children come through trials triumphantly. Countless are those who collapse on the way! This is regrettable and it is a loss.

    Of the six hundred thousand or so Israelites, only two living and two dead entered Canaan. Few lived on and crossed over. How very tragic it is that one should die just as the trial is nearly over! Now if this should be God’s appointed time for us to die early, we have nothing to say. But if we mistreat our body, the work of God will suffer. For the Church to be truly rich spiritually, it needs to have among its people those of seventy, eighty and ninety years of age. If the Lord takes exception by calling one or two of His workers to himself early, we have nothing to say. But for us to be useful in the work, we should take a little more care of our body. One of the problems in the work of God is that just about the time that a person is almost trained his days on earth come to an end. Before any work is done, the body is already damaged. As soon as one begins to be used, he is gone to be with the Lord. How very sorrowful this is!

    Therefore, let us not think it right to neglect our body. We do indeed need to have the mind to suffer and to buffet our body into obedience. Nevertheless, whenever possible, we must take care of our body. To be careless is easy; to be careful is not so easy. We need to learn to eat healthy food and in other ways take care of our body. There may be times when we must give our all if the Lord should so order and the work so demands. In ordinary days, though, we should learn to take care of the body according to the best way that men know.

    Let us ever be mindful of this, that if we should lose even but one workman, we will lose ten to twenty years of the Lord’s working in that person. There are not many tens or twenties of years in a lifetime. When one first commences to serve the Lord, he may have some gift, but he seldom has much use in ministry. To arrive at such usefulness in ministry, it will take him one or two decades. And this time estimate is only applicable to those who straitly walk in the way of the Lord. For people whose way is not straight, they may not arrive at usefulness even after this lengthy period. It is not a simple thing for God to spend twenty years to train a person. During those many years, he may need to be smitten and chiseled numerous times over by the Lord. It is not a light thing that a person who is to be useful must suffer, bear the cross, be smitten, and be under the disciplining hand of God—and not merely for one or two years, but for ten or twenty long years. If during this period he neglects his body, he will be gone before he reaches the time of greatest usefulness. How very sad and lamentable this is.

    Once an elderly brother was asked: “To the best of your recollection, when would you say you have been the most useful throughout your life up to this point?” He thought for a while and replied: “The years between seventy and eighty.” Truly, spiritual usefulness increases with age. The longer you are in the way of service, the more useful you become. We have noticed, unfortunately, that along this way some have died, some have become marred, some are broken, some have been of little use, while still others have been of no use. Very few reach their usefulness after twenty or thirty years of training, but by that time they are on the verge of departing from the world. This is really very, very sad! Yes, the more days one learns before God, the more useful he becomes. But for such a person to pass away prematurely is truly a regrettable event.

    Now concerning the body more specifically, attention should be paid to preventive care as well as routine care. We readily acknowledge that we must not be lacking in our having the mind to suffer, and many a time we do indeed have to press on under the most difficult situations. Yet under normal conditions we should learn to take care of the body. We cannot afford to be careless in this matter.

    As to the area of rest, we should do so at the time of rest. We are under such strain that sometimes we do not know how to relax in bed. If we are still tense there, we lose the value of sleep. We should learn to rest while sitting. A worker should be able to be tense when tension is required, but be able to relax during a few minutes of leisure. Otherwise, he will be tense all the time, which is certainly not good. We must learn how to relax.

    During your leisure time you should relax your muscles. In sleep loosen your hands and feet. We as servants of God can be tense in time of need—more tense in fact than the strongest, for our body listens to us. But no one can be tense all the time. Our muscles and nerves need to be loosened up and rested. Many times we must make a conscious effort to find opportunity to rest in order that we may recover our equilibrium. Otherwise, we will cross the line of overwork and go to an extreme. Let us not be extremists here.

    As in everything else we should learn to trust God for our body, and at the same time learn to rest as nature demands. We must learn how to relax. Then it will be easy for us to rest and go to sleep. According to the experience of some people, the number of breathings can help us in our sleeping. During sleep our breathing is deep. We cannot control the former, but we may control the latter. We may count our breathings. Let us learn to breathe slowly and long just as we breathe while actually at sleep. Yet let us not think of sleep, but think of breathing. Let us first engage in the sleep-like breathing, and then after a while the sleep will come. Many go to sleep using this very method. We believe God has created this body with a capacity for sleeping. We not only believe in God himself, we also believe in His creative laws. We need sleep, and we are able to sleep.

    So try to loosen up your entire body in order that you may get some rest. If you cannot rest, you cannot help but be tense. And being tense both day and night, it will be impossible for you to do much work. Some may have infirmities, but if you learn to take better care of your body, you can spare it from a great deal of trouble.

    The same is true with eating. In this area of concern, a worker should be on the lookout for nutrition, not for taste. He should eat more of the more nutritious food and eat less, or not eat at all, of the less nutritious food. We should also be careful not to over-eat and to learn to eat everything. Some brothers and sisters only eat those items which happen to fall within a narrow range of food. Such a habit is not good for the body. We need to eat broadly. Many varieties of food give nourishment to our body. If we eat only a few kinds of things, we may not feel any deficiency now, but we will surely discover its effect later in life. The length of one’s life is influenced by the food he takes in.

    Another benefit in eating broadly is the convenience it gives to the worker. Otherwise, when you go out to work, you will create many problems if you refuse to take the food that is offered you. Naturally, of course, sickness is the one exception to this rule. But for ordinary situations, you should learn to eat all kinds of food. As the Lord Jesus himself said: “Eat such things as are set before you” (Luke 10.8). And this is indeed a good principle to follow.

    Once on a ship a believer asked a fellow-believer, “Why did the Lord Jesus multiply the loaves and the fishes?” The answer given was: “The abundance of the sea adds to the abundance of the land.” How well-phrased a statement this was. God’s children should learn to eat the abundance of the sea as well as the abundance of the land. The scope of our food should be as broad as possible.

    Do not deem this area of concern to be insignificant. If you do not deal with this matter, your health is bound to suffer. You should cause your body to listen to you. Though at the beginning there will be distress, for you may not like some foods, you must deal with this issue and learn to eat everything. You need, on the one hand, to have a mind to suffer, but on the other hand, you should learn to take care of your own body. We have no sympathy for those who do not take care of their body. Do not think hygiene to be an easy subject to talk about. To be hygienic is a more difficult task than to not be hygienic, for it requires self-control. Learn to eat nutritious food. Do not let your eating be governed by taste but by your bodily need. How can you neglect your body in the face of the fact that the Lord has spent many years on you? Pay attention to preventive hygiene. As much as the Lord permits you in your circumstances, do your best to comply with the requirements of your health. Take in whatever is profitable, and reject that which is harmful.

    On the one hand, learn to deny self and be faithful unto death; on the other hand, unless the Lord orders differently, always preserve your own body. Wherever you go, try your best to be sanitary, but do not create a burden upon the brethren of that locality. Learn to trust God in the midst of an unsanitary environment. But under normal conditions pay attention to hygiene so that your body will not be damaged unnecessarily.

    Three

    There is yet another area of character-building which a worker for the Lord must consider. He must learn not to be obstinate in his lifestyle. A servant of God should never establish for himself an absolutely subjective standard of living; nor should he insist on having his own way. In order to serve God well, we must “become all things to all men” in accordance with the Biblical principle that is taught of not offending anyone. Paul wrote along this line as follows:

    Though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, not being myself under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak: I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. (1 Cor. 9.19-22)

    For the sake of the gospel, Paul became all things to all men. Whoever serves the Lord should have this character trait.

    In another place, the apostle also wrote this: “I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want” (Phil. 4.12). It is easy for men to be lopsided, that is to say, easy for them to go to extreme. For some, to be a Christian is to live in prosperity and abundance; for others, to live in abasement, hunger and want. Yet Paul said he had learned how to be abased and how to abound, how to be filled and how to be hungry. He had learned the secret in these things, which was: “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me” (v.13). Thus was he able to accept any kind of life condition.

    Unfortunately some brothers and sisters are rather obstinate in their daily life, so that their habits have become absolutely unbreakable and unchangeable. Some must always have warm water to wash the face; others must be able to shave every day. If they go to an environment where they cannot live according to their normal way of life, they find it unbearable. Although these matters may appear to be rather insignificant, they could verily hinder the work of the Lord. People in such a state cannot be God’s servants. A worker should not be so firmly set in his daily habits and routines; he should be able to wash with warm water or cold; he should be able to shave daily or go without shaving for one or two days; he should be able to change his shirt everyday or to wear the same shirt for days if need be; and he should be able to sleep on a hard bed or a soft bed. If a person is truly a servant of God he will be adaptable to all sorts of life conditions.

    Temperament and age too should not become limitations to a workman of God. For example, in some places people are naturally warm and outgoing, whereas in some other places they may be temperamentally cool. A servant of God should be able to work among both these kinds of people. Suppose a worker’s own temperament is rather on the cool side; if he can work only among those with a similar temperament but not work among those of a warm and outgoing sort, then the work of God will certainly suffer. We find, unfortunately, that some can work among the enthusiastic but not among the more quiet type, that some can work with the serious but not with the lighthearted. Such willful inclinations as these will limit the work of God. Then, too, some may be able to communicate well with the older people but have no rapport with young people or children. Such a lopsided disposition can circumscribe God’s work. Let us not forget that our Lord received the elderly and blessed the little children. God wants us to be like Christ—receiving the older ones and blessing the young ones. It is not unlike what Madame Guyon once said when she remarked that a person wholly united with God can be the counsellor of the aged and the friend of little children. This adaptability is what we too need to adopt in our Christian lifestyle as servants of the Lord.

    This all comes back, does it not, to the matter of dealing with our self life. Our self must be so broken that God can place us in any situation. We are to be neither obstinate, nor lopsided. Paul was able to be all things to all men because he had been dealt with by God. May we all receive such dealing so that our disposition and habit are no longer set in concrete or tilted in but one direction. In this way God’s work will not be hindered or limited by us.

    Four

    One who does the Lord’s work should also have a right understanding of, and appropriate solutions for, such matters as virginity, marriage and so forth. These issues are usually left undiscussed, but we feel the need to give some Biblical instruction on them because they are rather important in the life of a workman for God.

    Concerning virginity, Paul gave definite instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:

    Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy. I think therefore that this is good by reason of the distress that is upon us, namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But shouldest thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Yet such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives may be as though they had none; and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use the world, as not using it to the full: for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lard, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. (vv.25-35)

    Here we are shown that the benefit of virginity lies in enabling a person to serve the Lord more diligently and without distraction. In this respect, it does surpass those ones who are with family.

    Nevertheless, such a word is not for everyone. Let us notice what then follows in Paul’s discussion on these issues:

    But if any one think that he behaves unseemly to his virginity, if he be beyond the flower of his age, and so it must be, let him do what he will, he does not sin: let them marry. But he who stands firm in his heart, having no need, but has authority over his own will, and has judged this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he does well. So that he that marries himself does well; and he that does not marry does better. A wife is bound for whatever time her husband lives; but if the husband be fallen asleep, she is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so remain, according to my judgment; but I think that I also have God’s Spirit. (vv.36-40 Darby)

    What is said here is plain enough. If anyone thinks he is not acting properly towards his own virginity, that he is passing the bloom of his youth and there is need for marriage, then let him do what to him seems right. To continue being single or not is a question for him to decide. Nobody else can choose for him. It is to be decided not only according to what he chooses in his heart but also according to his having need or no need. He has full authority over his own will.

    In the Gospel of Matthew we find this passage:

    The disciples say unto him [Jesus], If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry. But he said unto them, Not all men can receive this saying, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (19.10-12)

    Joining the last clause of verse 11 with the last sentence of verse 12, we have this: “but they to whom it is given ... He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” It is quite clear that to whom this word is given, let him receive it.

    For the sake of having adequate time to serve the Lord diligently without distraction, it is best to remain single. Among the disciples of our Lord, John was one who remained single. Paul, who came forth a short time later, was also single. Yet, should there be the need for marriage, let them be married: it is not a sin. The difference between marriage and virginity centers not on the matter of sin but on the consideration of time, diligence and distraction.

    The body has been created by God, and all its needs have also been created by Him. Hence marriage is holy. But any bodily demand that is met outside of marriage is sinful in the eyes of the Lord. Why be married? To avoid any relationship outside of marriage. To be married is not only not a sin; it can serve as a prevention of sin. Marriage is not a moral fall; it prevents a fall.

    Paul also spoke specifically on marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:

    Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency. But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. Yet I would that all men were even as I myself. Howbeit each man hath his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that.

    But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they have not continency, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. . . . (vv.l-9)

    This passage points out that one of the purposes of marriage is to prevent fornication. At the same time it also reveals that some people are given a special gift from God so that they have no need to marry. But for those who have not received such a gift, it is better for them to marry than to burn with passion. Let us not overdraw this matter of virginity. We know Paul was single, but he told Timothy that in the latter times there would be doctrines of demons and of seducing spirits to the effect that marriage would be forbidden (see 1 Tim. 4.1,3). Hence we need to maintain the balance of God’s word: we believe on the one hand that virginity and the single life is good, but on the other hand we also believe that marriage is holy too. Marriage has been instituted by God in His very creation from the beginning; and therefore, to forbid to marry is indisputably a doctrine of the demons.

    He who does the Lord’s work and is already married should so set his family in order that it will be less distracting to his service. Another point to be made here is this: the line between the work and the family must be clear, unless members of one’s family are also one’s fellow-workers. Otherwise, they should not touch the work or be involved in it. Do not carry the work into the family, nor let your family govern your work. A brother once remarked that he had gone to work for the Lord in a certain place because his wife had made the promise for him! How strange! The fact of the matter is that not only his family, but even his fellow-workers, cannot promise for him. The demarcation between one’s family relationship and one’s work for God must be sharply delineated. For example, he who serves the Lord must not carelessly tell his family members the spiritual problems of the brothers and sisters in the churches. Members of the family should come to know about these things at the same time as with all other brothers and sisters. Numerous difficulties in the work are created by God’s workers talking loosely and indiscriminately to their families.

    Still another point to be noticed concerns the proper relationship which must be kept as it pertains to the communication of brothers with sisters and vice versa. If a brother is inclined to work only among the sisters, he should not be allowed to work. Or if a young sister is predisposed to serve primarily among brothers, she should not be permitted to serve. Let us strictly observe the following principle: under normal conditions, brothers should work more among brothers, and sisters more among sisters. The Son of God in the days of His flesh left us with a good example. The line between John 3 and John 4 is very distinctive. In chapter 3 we note that our Lord received Nicodemus at night; in chapter 4 we read that He met the Samaritan woman in broad daylight. According to chapter 3 He most likely received Nicodemus in a house; according to chapter 4 He met the Samaritan woman by a public well. It would have been improper had the environments been reversed so far as the woman was concerned. Our Lord’s speaking to Nicodemus and His speaking with the Samaritan woman were under entirely different surroundings. This sets before us a good example to follow.

    We are not saying here that there should not be any communication or fellowship between brothers and sisters who are in the work. We would only say that if some brothers and sisters have the disposition of moving about almost exclusively among the opposite sex, then such ones must be stopped. It goes without saying that in Christ there is neither male nor female. There has been no wall set up between brothers and sisters. They should have good fellowship. It is simply wise that for those who have such a nearly exclusive habit of communicating and interacting with the other sex there should be such timely dealing. We hope that brothers and sisters would naturally and spontaneously keep themselves within proper bounds in their interaction with one another. Should anyone overstep beyond the proper limits of fellowship, he or she must be strictly dealt with.

    May God be gracious to us that we might bear a good testimony in all these matters. Amen.
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