OUR LIFE

Scripture Reading: Col. 3:4; Phil. 1:21; Gal. 2:20

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3:4)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20)

I. CHRIST OUR LIFE

Many Christians have a wrong concept about the Lord Jesus. They think that the Lord set up a good pattern for us while He was on earth and that we should imitate this pattern. It is true that the Bible charges us to imitate the Lord (Rom. 15:5; 1 Cor. 11:1; etc.). But the Bible does not tell us to do this by ourselves. There is something we must see before we can imitate Him. Many people want to imitate the Lord, but they repeatedly fail. They regard the Lord like they regard good Chinese calligraphy, something to be copied stroke by stroke. They do not realize how frail man is and that no fleshly energy could give man enough strength to imitate Him.

Some Christians think that they can ask the Lord to empower them simply because the Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13). They feel that there are many things that need to be done, many biblical precepts that need to be obeyed, and many examples of the Lord that need to be imitated. They also feel that none of this can be done unless they have more power. Therefore, they ask the Lord for power. They think that if the Lord would only give them the power, they would be able to do all things. Many people just wait and hope daily for the Lord to give them the power to conduct their activities.

It is true that we need to look to the Lord for power. But in addition to asking for power, we need to see something further. Without seeing this one thing, we will not always have the power, even though we may be looking to the Lord. We can pray to the Lord every day for power. But sometimes the Lord answers such prayer, and sometimes He does not. To some people this means that they can do all things when He empowers them and that they can do nothing when He does not empower them. This is precisely the reason so many Christians fail again and again. We have to ask the Lord to empower us. But if we take this as an isolated commandment or as the only way, we will fail.

The fundamental relationship between Christ and us is conveyed in the words Christ our life. We can imitate the Lord only because He has become our life. We can ask Him for strength only because He has become our life. There is no way to imitate Him or be empowered by Him unless we understand the meaning of Christ our life. Hence we must first understand, see, and grasp the secret of Christ our life before we can imitate Him or ask Him for strength.

Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is our life…” Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ.” This shows us that the way to victory is for Christ to be our life. Victory is, “For to me to live is Christ.” If a Christian does not know what is meant by Christ our life, and what is meant by for to me to live is Christ, he will not experience the Lord’s life on earth; he will not be able to follow the Lord, to experience victory in Him, or to proceed on the course before him.

II. FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST

There are many Christians who have greatly misunderstood Philippians 1:21. When Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ,” he was stating a fact. They think for to me to live is Christ is a goal or a hope. But Paul did not say that his goal was to live Christ. Paul was saying, “I live because I have Christ; I cannot live without Him.” This was a fact in him, not a goal he was seeking. It was the secret to his living, not the hope he was cherishing. His living was Christ. For him to live was for Christ to live.

Galatians 2:20 is a very familiar verse to many Christians. But many misunderstand it more than they misunderstand Philippians 1:21. They have made Galatians 2:20 their goal, praying with aspiration and hoping they will reach the state when “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Each time this verse is read, they are full of aspiration. Many people pray, fast, and hope that one day they will be crucified with Christ and reach the state when “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 has become their goal and their hope.

According to our experience, no one with such a hope ever reaches his goal. If you make it your goal and hope to attain such a state, if you aspire to be crucified, that is, to no longer be the one who lives but instead to have Christ living in you, you will wait forever before seeing your aspiration fulfilled, because you are hoping for something that is impossible to achieve.

God has given us a wonderful gift of grace. There is a way. Those who fail can overcome; those who are unclean can be clean; those who are worldly can be holy; those who are earthly can be heavenly; and those who are carnal can be spiritual. This is not a goal, but a way. This way lies in the life of substitution. Just as we found a vicarious death in the Lord’s grace, we also can find a vicarious living in Him. On the cross the Lord bore our sins. Through His death we were spared death. Our sins were forgiven, and we were spared judgment. Similarly, Paul tells us that we are spared of our living through the Lord living in us. The implication is simple: Since He lives in us, we no longer need to live. Just as He died once for us on the cross, today He is living for us and in us. Paul did not say, “I hope that I will not live. I hope that I will allow Him to live.” Instead, he was saying, “I no longer live anymore. He is the One who is living.” “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” This is the secret to victory. This is the way to be victorious.

The day we heard that we did not need to die, we embraced that word as the gospel. Similarly, it should also be a day of the gospel to us when we hear that we do not need to live. I hope that the new believers will pray much for God’s enlightenment and will see that Christ lives in us and that we no longer need to live by ourselves.

Unless we see this, maintaining a testimony or living the Christian life is a great burden. It is a great burden to fight temptation, to bear the cross, or to obey God’s will. Many believers feel that it is very hard to maintain the Christian life. Daily they try, yet daily they sigh. Daily they struggle, yet daily they fail. Every day they try to maintain their testimony, yet every day they bring shame to the Lord. Many people do not have the strength to reject sin, yet they feel guilty when they do not reject it. They feel condemned when they lose their temper, yet they cannot be patient. They feel sorry for hating others, yet they have no strength to love. Many people are exhausted from trying to live the Christian life. They feel that the Christian life is like climbing a hill with a heavy burden on their back; they can never reach the top. Before they were saved, they had the burden of sin on their back. Now that they have believed in the Lord, they have the burden of holiness on their back. They exchange one burden for another, and the new one is just as tiresome and burdensome as the old one.

This experience clearly shows that they are practicing the Christian life in a wrong way. Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” This is the secret of Christian living. It is the Lord in you who is living the Christian life, not you living it by yourself. If you live the Christian life by yourself, endurance will be a suffering to you, as will love, humility, and bearing the cross. But if Christ lives in you, endurance will be a joy; so will love, humility, and bearing the cross.

Brothers and sisters, you may be tired of trying to live the Christian life. You may feel that the Christian life is consuming you and binding you. But if you see that you no longer need to live, you will agree that this is a great gospel to you. Every Christian can be spared such a wearisome living. This is a great gospel! You no longer have to exert so much effort trying to be a Christian. You no longer have to bear such a heavy burden for your Christian life! You can say, “In the past I heard the gospel which told me that I could be spared death. Thank God, I no longer need to die. Today I am tired and weary of living. God says that I can be spared living. Thank God, I no longer need to struggle to live.”

It is, of course, a suffering for us to die. But it is equally a suffering for us to live before God. We have no idea what God’s holiness is all about. We do not know what love is and what the cross is. For men like us to try to live unto God is indeed an unbearable burden. The more we try to live, the more we sigh and suffer. It is a big struggle to labor and strive to live the Christian life. In fact, it is altogether impossible for us to do it. We could never satisfy God’s demands. Some people always have a bad temper. Others can never be humble; they are always proud. For a proud person to try to live in God’s presence and act humbly every day is a very wearisome and tiring task. Paul was a weary and worn-out Christian in Romans 7. He said, “…for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (v. 18). Every day he willed, but every day he failed. This is why he could only sigh, “O wretched man that I am!” (v. 24).  Actually, being a Christian is not an exercise akin to putting a carnal man in heaven and subjecting him to slavery there. Fortunately, no carnal man can enter heaven. Otherwise, as soon as he entered it, he would run away quickly; he would not be able to stand even one day there. His temperament would be too different from God’s temperament, and his thought too far from God’s thought. His ways would be too different from God’s ways, and his views too different from God’s view. How would he ever be able to meet God’s demands? There would be nothing he could do before God except run away.

But this is a gospel for you. God does not want you to do good. He does not want you to make up your mind to do good. God only wants Christ to live in you. God does not care about good or bad; He cares about who is doing the good. God is not satisfied with good alone; He wants to know who is doing the good.

Hence, God’s way is not for us to imitate Christ or to walk like Christ. Neither is it to plead on our knees for strength to walk like Christ. God’s way is for us to experience that it is “no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” Do we see the difference here? This is not a matter of imitating Christ’s life, nor of being empowered to live this life, but a matter of no longer being the ones living at all. God does not allow us to live according to ourselves. We do not come to God by ourselves; we come to God through Christ living in us. It is not a matter of imitating Christ or of receiving some power from Christ, but of Christ living in us.

This is the living of a believer. The living of a believer is one in which it is no longer him who lives, but it is Christ living in him. In the past I was the one who lived, not Christ. But today, it is not I who live, but Christ. Another One has come to live in my place. If a person cannot say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me,” this person does not know what Christianity is; he does not know the life of Christ, nor the life of a believer. He is merely aspiring to be “not I but Christ.” But Paul did not say that he was striving to be this way. He told us that this was how he lived. His way was to stop living by himself and to let Christ live instead.

III. I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST

Perhaps some will ask, “How can we experience it is no longer I who live? How can `I’ be eliminated?” The answer to this question lies in the first part of Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ.” If I am not crucified with Christ, I cannot be eliminated. If I am not crucified with Christ, I am still I. How can I say, “It is no longer I”? Only those who are “crucified with Christ” can say, “It is no longer I.”

In order for our crucifixion with Christ to become experiential, there is the need of cooperation from two sides. It is impossible to experience this crucifixion if there is cooperation on only one side; cooperation on both sides is essential.

Our inner eyes have to be opened. When Christ was crucified on the cross, God put our sins on Christ and crucified them on the cross. This is God’s side of the work. Christ died for us and took our sins away. This occurred more than nineteen hundred years ago, and we believe it. Similarly, when Christ was crucified, God put us into Christ. Just as our sins were settled more than nineteen hundred years ago, our person was also dealt with at the same time. When God laid our sins on Christ, He also put our person in Christ. On the cross our sins were removed. On the cross our person was also dealt with. We must remember Romans 6:6: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed,” We do not have to hope to be crucified with Christ. We have been crucified with Him, forever and unchangeably crucified with Him. God has put us into Christ. When Christ died on the cross, we died on the cross as well.

If you take a piece of paper, write a few letters on it, and then tear the paper apart, you tear the letters apart as well. You are tearing the paper, but as the paper is torn, the letters are torn. The Bible tells us that the veil of the temple was embroidered with cherubim (Exo. 26:1). When the Lord died, the veil was split (Matt. 27:51), and therefore the cherubim were split as well. The veil refers to the body of Christ (Heb. 10:20). The cherubim had the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10; 10:20). This signifies all created beings. When the body of the Lord Jesus was split, all the creation in Him was split as well. He died that He, “by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9). The whole old creation passed away with Him. You have been trying in vain to do good and to be a successful Christian for years. Now God has crucified you with Christ. When Christ was crucified, the whole old creation was split, and you were split as well.

You have to believe in this truth. Your eyes need to be open to see that your sins were upon Christ and your person was also upon Christ. Your sins were on the cross, and your person was also on the cross. Your sins were taken away, and your person was also crucified. All this has been accomplished by Christ. Many people fail because they keep looking at themselves. Those who have faith should look at the cross and see what Christ has accomplished. God placed me in Christ. When Christ died, I also died!

(Note – This is the same teaching as in THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE by Watchman Nee.  Many years ago I was reading about this being dead with Christ.  I had asked God to give me a revelation of this blessed truth.  I was in construction at the time and standing on a street corner waiting for my ride to work.  Right there as a literal BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, I received the words and music to a song that I will give you here:

Thank God I am Dead, I ‘m freed from sin

The Lord Jesus saved me and He cleansed me within.

He searched ‘til He found me and He gave me life anew,

And the life that He gave me, He’ll give to you.

 

So go tell your brothers and sisters alike.

Tell them of Jesus and this wonderful life.

Tell them of Heaven and glory to come,

Of Christ dead and living, God’s only Son.

 

I have never been the same since I accepted my death and resurrection with Christ by faith just like I believed that Jesus saved me and took away my sins by faith.  I had to believe that I had died IN HIM and that I was raised IN HIM and that I am now living IN HIM so that I need not try to live but HE LIVES IN ME.)

But why is this “person” still living today? Since you have been crucified, why are you still living? To solve this problem you must believe and exercise your will to identify yourself with God. If you are looking at your own “self” every day, hoping that it will improve, this self will become more alive; it will not die by itself. What is death? When a person is so weak that he cannot be weakened any further, he has died. Many people do not admit their own weakness. They are still demanding so much from themselves. This means that they are not yet dead.

Romans 6 says that God has crucified us with Christ. But Romans 7 tells us of one person who is still trying to will. Even though God has crucified him, he still wills to do good. He cannot die, yet he cannot do good either. If he would say, “Lord, I cannot make it, and I do not believe I will make it. I cannot do good, and I will not will to do good,” everything would be fine. But Romans 7 tells us that man is not willing to die. God has already crucified our old man, but we are unwilling to die; we still exercise our will to do good. Today many Christians are still trying when they know very well that they cannot make it. Nothing can be done about these Christians. Suppose there is a person who cannot be patient. What can he do? He may try his best to be patient by himself. Whenever he prays he asks for patience. Even while he is working he thinks about patience. But the more he tries to be patient, the less patient he becomes. Instead of trying to be patient, he should say, “Lord, You have already crucified this impatient person. I am impatient. I do not want to be patient and do not intend to be patient.” This is the way to victory.

The Lord has crucified you. You should say simply, “Amen.” He has crucified you, and it is futile for you to try to be patient by yourself. God knows you cannot make it. This is why He crucified you. Even though you still try to be patient, God considers you hopeless. He has even crucified you. It is a great mistake to think you can make it. It is also a great mistake to try to live the Christian life. God already knows that you cannot make it; the only way He has for you is crucifixion. Even though you think that you can make it, God says that you cannot make it and that you should die. How foolish it is to still make resolutions and to struggle! God knows that you cannot make it, and it would be well with you if you agreed with Him. God knows that you deserve to die. If you would say, “Amen, I will die,” everything would be well. The cross is God’s assessment of us. In God’s view we cannot make it. If we could make it, God would not have crucified us. He knows that the only way for us is death. This is why He crucified us. If we saw things the same way God sees them, everything would be settled. Brothers and sisters, God must bring us to the point where we accept His verdict.

Here we see two aspects: First, Christ died, and we were crucified. This is something God has done. Second, we have to acknowledge this fact; we need to say, “Amen.” These two sides must work together before God’s work can take effect on us. If we constantly frustrate Him by trying to do good and be patient and humble, the work of Christ will have no effect on us. Our resolution to be humble or to be patient only makes things worse. Instead, we should bow down our head and say, “Lord, You have said that I am crucified, and I will say the same thing; You have said that I am useless, and I will say the same thing; You have said that I cannot be patient, and I will no longer try to be patient; You have said that I cannot be humble, and I will no longer try to be humble. This is what I am. It is useless for me to try to make any further resolutions. I am only fit to remain on the cross.” If we did this, Christ would live Himself out of us!

We should not think that this is a difficult thing to do. Every brother and sister should learn this lesson after he or she is saved. From the beginning we must learn not to live. Instead, we should let the Lord live. The basic problem is that many Christians have not given up on themselves. They still try to solve their problems themselves. The Lord Jesus has already given up on them, but they are still struggling and trying to come up with ways to live. They stumble again and again, only to rise up to try again and again. They sin again and again, only to make more and more resolutions. They have not given up on themselves. The day will come when God grants mercy to them and opens their eyes. On that day they will see that as God considered them hopeless, they should consider themselves hopeless as well. Since God has pronounced death to be the only way, they also should pronounce death as the only way. Only then will they come to God and confess, “You have crucified me, and I do not want to live anymore. I have been crucified with Christ. From now on, it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

For years we have been so wrong. We have committed so many sins and have been bound by so much weakness, pride, and temper. It is about time that we give up on ourselves. We should come to the Lord and say, “I have done enough; nothing has worked. I give up. You take over! I have been crucified on the cross. From now on live in my place!” This is the meaning of “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”

IV. LIVING BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD

The other part of Galatians 2:20 is also very important: “..and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Christ lives in us. From this point forward, we live by faith in the Son of God. We believe daily that the Son of God lives in us. We say to the Lord, “I believe that You are living for me. You are my life; I believe that You are living in me.” When we believe this way, we live this way. No matter what happens, we will no longer make any move. The fundamental lesson of Romans 7 is that we should not make any resolutions. The basic teaching is that it is better that we not will to do anything, because such a willing is useless. Since it is useless to do anything by ourselves, we should simply stop all our moves.

The purpose of Satan’s temptation is not only for us to sin but also for the old man within us to move. When temptation comes, we must learn to refuse to move and to say to the Lord, “This is not my business. This is Your business. I look to You to live in my place.” Always learn to look to Him. Never try to move on your own. We are saved through faith, not through works. In the same way our life is based on faith, not on works. We were saved through looking to the Lord alone. Today we live through looking to Him as well. Just as salvation is accomplished by the Lord, without the involvement of any of our work, so also our living on earth today is a living of the Lord Himself, without the need for any involvement of ourselves. We must look up to the Lord who saves us and say, “It is You alone, not I.”

After we say this, if we still move on our own, we are saying this in vain. We must stop our own activity before these words can be meaningful in any way. Brothers and sisters, we must remember that failure comes not because we do too little, but because we do too much. As long as man keeps on working, God’s grace will not operate and man’s sins will not be forgiven. In the same way, as long as man is occupied with his own work, trying to do everything by himself, Christ’s life will not be manifested. This is a rule. The cross will not produce any effect on those who trust in their own work. When we insist on our own goodness, we will not be saved. But when we turn away from ourselves to the Lord, we will be saved. The same is true today. If we are working and operating, instead of the cross working in us and the life of Christ operating in us, this speaking will be in vain. We must learn to condemn ourselves. We must confess that we will never overcome by ourselves. Do not will and do not try to do anything. Simply look to the Lord and say, “I look to You as the One who is living in me! Live on my behalf. I look to You for victory! I look to You to express Your life through me.” If we say this, the Lord will accomplish it for us. But if we frustrate our faith by our own work, the Lord can do nothing. We have to settle this question once and for all. We have to believe daily and speak to the Lord daily in a definite way: “Lord, I am useless! I take Your cross. Lord, keep me from moving. Lord, be my Master and live out of me.” If we can believe, hope, and trust in this way, we will be able to testify daily, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives.”

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The very first book I ever read by Watchman Nee was called “The Normal Christian Life.”  It deals with this very issue and it completely changed my life and that of my wife who read it while we were dating.  It was the truths of deliverance that brought us together spiritually and eventually we were married because our marriage was based upon the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.  If you ever bought a book that would change your life it is this.  You should go to a Christian book store and ask them for THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE by Watchman Nee.

 

DELIVERANCE

Scripture Reading: Rom. 7:15—8:2

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that 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 how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:15-25)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  (Romans 8:1-2)

It is possible for a person to be free from sin immediately after he has believed in the Lord. However, this may not be the common experience of all believers. After believing in the Lord, many people fall back into sin instead of being freed from sin. It is true that they are saved. They belong to the Lord and possess eternal life. However, they are still troubled by sin and are unable to serve the Lord as they wish.

It is a very painful experience for a person to be continually troubled by sin after he has believed in the Lord. A person who has been enlightened by God has a sensitive conscience. He is sensitive toward sin and has a life that condemns sin. However, he may still be bothered by sin. This results in much frustration and even discouragement. It is indeed a very painful experience.

Many Christians try to overcome sin. Some think that if they try hard enough to renounce sin, they will eventually be free from sin. As a result, they try their best to reject the temptations of sin. Some realize that sin should be overcome, and they continually wrestle with sin in the hope of overcoming it. Others think that sin has made them a captive and that they must strive hard to free themselves from its bondage. However, all these are man’s thoughts; they are not God’s word or teaching. None of these methods lead to victory. God’s Word does not tell us to struggle with sin by our own efforts. It says that we should be delivered from sin, that is, be released or freed from sin. Sin is a power which enslaves man. The way to deal with this power is not by destroying it ourselves but by allowing the Lord to free us from it. We have sin, and there is no way to separate ourselves from it. The Lord’s way is not to vanquish sin. He is saving us from sin’s power by moving us away from it. New believers should know from the start the right way to be delivered from sin. There is no need to travel a long and tortuous path to find deliverance from sin. We can take the way of freedom as soon as we believe. Now let us try to deal with this matter according to Romans 7 and 8.

I. SIN BEING A LAW

Romans 7:15-25 says, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that 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 how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

In verses 15 through 20, Paul repeatedly uses the word will and the phrase do not will. The emphasis is on willing or not willing, resolving or not resolving. In verses 21 to 25, there is another emphasis on the law. These two things are the keys to this passage of the Word.

First, we need to understand the term law. The common understanding of a law is that it is something that remains the same all the time, something that allows no exceptions. Moreover, there is power in a law. This power is a natural power, not an artificial power. All laws have power. For example, gravity is a law. If you throw something up, it will eventually fall back to the ground. You do not have to pull the object down with your hands; the earth has a force that pulls it down for you. If you throw a stone up, it will fall. If you throw an iron up, it also will fall. If you throw something up in China, it will fall. If you throw the same thing up in other countries, it will fall. An object in the air will fall the same today and tomorrow. Any object in the air, as long as nothing is holding it, will fall regardless of time and space. A law remains the same all the time and allows no exceptions. It is a natural force which requires no human effort for its perpetuation.

Romans 7 shows us that Paul was trying to be victorious. He was trying to free himself from sin. He wanted to please God. He did not want to sin or to fail. However, he eventually admitted that his resolutions were all futile. He said, “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  He did not want to sin, yet he sinned. He wanted to do good and walk according to God’s law, yet he could not do it. In other words, what he willed he could not do, and what he resolved to do, he was unable to accomplish. Paul willed again and again, but the result was only repeated failure. This shows us that the way to victory lies not in the human will or human resolution. Paul willed and resolved again and again, but he still failed and sinned. Obviously, to will is present, but to work out the good is not. The best that a man can do is make resolutions.

The willing is present but not the good, because sin is a law. Following verse 21 Paul showed us that he remained defeated even after he made numerous resolutions. This is because sin is a law. This law of sin was present with him every time he resolved to do good. He was subject to the law of God in his heart, but his flesh yielded to the law of sin. Whenever he willed to obey God’s law, a different law rose up in his members, subjecting him to the law of sin.

Paul was the first person in the Bible to point out that sin is a law. This was a very important discovery! It is a pity that many who have been Christians for years still do not realize that sin is a law. Many people know that gravity is a law and thermal expansion of objects is another law. But they do not know that sin is a law. Paul did not know this at first. After sinning repeatedly, not voluntarily but involuntarily by a potent force in his body, Paul discovered that sin is a law.

Our history of failure tells us that whenever temptations come, we try to resist them. But we are never successful in this resistance. When temptations come again, we again try to resist them, only to end up in another defeat. This experience repeats itself ten times, a hundred times, or a thousand times, and we still find ourselves defeated. This is the story of our failure. We fail again and again. This is not something that happens by chance; it is a law. If a person committed only one sin in a lifetime, he could consider sin as something incidental. However, those who have sinned a hundred or a thousand times will say that sin is a law; it is something that continually drives them on.

II. MAN’S WILL BEING UNABLE
TO OVERCOME THE LAW OF SIN

Paul failed because he exercised his will to make resolutions. After verse 21, Paul’s eyes were opened. He saw that the enemy he was dealing with—sin—was nothing less than a law. When he saw that sin was a law, he could only sigh and say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” He realized that it was impossible for him to prevail over sin by his will.

What is the will? The will is man’s own volition. It is what man wants, determines, and decides to do. It is man’s opinions and judgments. Once a man’s will resolves to do something, he begins to carry it out. Man’s will can produce some power. Therefore, there is power in the will.

But herein lies the problem. When the will comes in conflict with the law of sin, which one prevails? The will usually prevails at the beginning, but ultimately sin prevails. Suppose you hold up a book that weighs one catty [a Chinese measure of weight] with your hand. Gravity is pulling it down while you are trying your best to hold it up. But the unceasing operation of the law of gravity will eventually prevail, and the book will fall to the floor. You may try to hold it up with your hand. You may prevail for an hour, but after two hours you will feel tired, and after another hour your hand will no longer obey you. Eventually, you will let go of it. Gravity never tires out, but your hand does. The law of gravity is pulling the book down continuously, every hour, every minute, and even every second. Your hand cannot fight against the law of gravity forever. The longer you hold the book, the heavier it feels. The book has not become heavier, but the law of gravity has triumphed over the power of your hand, and you feel as if the book has become heavier and heavier. The same principle applies when you try to overcome sin with your will. The will can stand against sin for a while. But the power of sin far exceeds the power of the will. Sin is a law; it is not destroyed by the resistance of man’s will. Whenever the power of the will slackens, the law of sin surfaces. The human will cannot persist forever, but the law of sin is always active. The will may prevail for a little while, but in the end it will always be overcome by the law of sin.

Before we see that sin is a law, we keep trying to overcome it by our own will. When temptation comes, we hold our breath and try to overcome, only to find that it has overcome us instead. When temptation comes again, we make a stronger resolution because we think that our last failure was caused by a faulty resolution. We tell ourselves that we will not sin this time and that we will overcome. But the result is the same—we fail again. We do not know why our resolution cannot bring us victory over sin. We do not realize that overcoming sin by the will never works.

It is easy to see that temper is a sin. When someone says something unkind, you feel hurt and upset. If he continues to speak unpleasant words, you may hit your desk, blow up, exchange words, or do anything. Afterwards, you may feel that as a Christian you should not have lost your temper, and you may resolve to control your temper the next time. You pray and believe that God has forgiven you. You confess your sin to others, and your heart is once again filled with joy. You think that you will never lose your temper again. But a little later, you hear more unkind words and become upset once again. When these words come to you the second time, you begin to murmur within. By the third time, your temper explodes. Afterwards, you realize that you were wrong again, and you ask the Lord for forgiveness, promising Him that you will never lose your temper again. But the same thing happens the next time you hear unkind words; after a while, your temper flares up again. You exercise your will again and again, only to find that you fail again and again. This proves that sin is not an accidental mistake; it is not something that happens only once. It is something that happens repeatedly, something that haunts you all your life. Those who lie continue to lie, and those who lose their temper continue to lose their temper. This is a law; no human power can overcome it. Paul did not learn this lesson at first, so he exercised his will repeatedly to no avail. It is impossible for man to try to overcome the law of sin by his will.

Once the Lord grants you mercy and shows you that sin is a law, you will not be far from victory. If you continue to think that sin is an occasional act and that victory can be secured through additional prayers and struggles against temptations, you are far from victory. Paul’s story shows us that sin is a law. The power of sin is strong; our own power is weak. The power of sin always prevails, while our own power always fails. As soon as Paul realized that sin is a law, he knew that none of his methods would work. His determination was useless; he would never overcome the law of sin by his will. This was a great discovery, a great revelation to him.

Paul saw that a man cannot experience deliverance by the exercise of the will. As long as a man trusts in the power of his own will, he will not turn to God’s way of deliverance. The day will come when you will prostrate yourself before God and acknowledge that you can do nothing and henceforth will do nothing. That will be the day you find deliverance. Only then will you understand Romans 8. Brothers and sisters, please do not belittle Romans 7. We must first have the knowledge of chapter seven before we can have the experience of chapter eight. The problem is not whether you understand the doctrine in Romans 8 but whether or not you have emerged from Romans 7. Many have buried themselves in Romans 7; they are still trying to deal with sin by their will. The result is nothing but failure. If you have not seen that sin is a law and that your will can never overcome this law, you are trapped in Romans 7; you will never arrive at Romans 8. Our newly saved brothers and sisters must accept God’s Word as it is written. If you try to find your own way out, you will end up with nothing but sin. You will sin again and again, and your eyes will continue to be veiled. You will remain in your blindness. Your eyes need to be opened to see that all your willing and struggling is in vain.

Since sin is a law and the will cannot overcome this law, what is the way of victory?

III. THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
FREEING US FROM THE LAW OF SIN

Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” The way to victory is to be freed from the law of sin and of death. This verse does not say, “The Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from sin and death.” (I am afraid that many Christians think this way.) Rather, it says, “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” Many Christians see the Spirit of life setting them free from only sin and death. They do not see the law of the Spirit of life freeing them from the law of sin and of death. It takes many years for some Christians to realize that sin and death are a law in them and that the Holy Spirit is another law in them. When the Lord opens their eyes, they will see that sin and death are a law and that the Holy Spirit is a law as well. The realization of the Holy Spirit as a law is a great discovery. When we realize that the life-giving Spirit is a law, we will jump up and exclaim, “Thank God, Hallelujah!” Man’s will cannot overcome the law of sin, but the law of the Spirit of life has freed us from the law of sin and of death. Only the law of the Spirit of life can free man from the law of sin.

Once we realize that sin is a law, we will no longer try to do anything by our will. When God grants us mercy to see that the Holy Spirit is a law, we will experience a great change. Many people only see the Spirit of life giving us life. They do not see that the Holy Spirit is another law in us, and that we can be freed spontaneously from the law of sin and of death when we trust in this law. There is no effort involved for this law to deliver us from the other law. We do not need to will, to do anything, or to hold on to the Holy Spirit. We do not need to be that busy when the Lord’s Spirit is in us. If we fear that the Lord’s Spirit will not work in us unless we rush in to help Him in times of temptation, we have not seen the Spirit as a law within us yet. May we see that the Holy Spirit is a spontaneous law within us. The way of deliverance from sin is not through the exercise of the will. If we exercise our will, we will end up in failure. God has given us another law which spontaneously frees us from the law of sin and of death. The problem of one law can only be resolved by another law.

There is no effort involved when we try to overcome one law with another law. We have mentioned before that gravity is a law. It pulls every object down to the ground. But helium is a gas which is lighter than air. If we seal it in a tight balloon, the balloon will rise up. It will rise spontaneously; there is no need to fan it or support it by any force. As soon as we let go, the balloon will rise. The rising is a law, and we do not need to do anything about it. In the same way, no effort is involved when we deal with the law of sin and of death by the law of the Spirit of life.

Suppose someone scolds you or strikes you without cause. It is possible for you to overcome the situation even without realizing what has happened. After the whole thing is over, you may wonder how you did not get angry when you were scolded. You should have been very angry at the other person’s word. But surprisingly you overcame the situation without even realizing it! Indeed, all victories are unconscious victories because the law of the Holy Spirit is operating and upholding us, not our own will. This kind of spontaneous victory is genuine victory. Once you experience this, you will realize that only the indwelling Spirit can keep you from sin; you do not have to will not to sin. It is also the indwelling Holy Spirit who is enabling you to overcome; you do not have to will to overcome. Since this law dwells in you, you are delivered from the law of sin and of death. You are in Christ Jesus, and the law of the Spirit of life is in you. Spontaneously, you are free. As long as you do not rely on your own will and effort, the Holy Spirit will bring you into victory.

Hence, victory over sin has nothing to do with our effort. We did not exert any effort when the law of sin directed us to sin. Similarly, we do not need to exert any effort in order for the law of the Holy Spirit to free us from sin. Genuine victory is one that requires no effort on our part. There is nothing for us to do. We can lift up our eyes and say to the Lord, “All is well.” Our past failures were the result of a law and today’s victories are also a result of a law. The former law is powerful, but the present law is more powerful. The former law is indeed potent in bringing us to sin, but the present law is more absolute in saving us from condemnation. When the law of the Spirit of life is expressed through us, its power is far greater than that of the law of sin and of death.

If we see this, we will truly be freed from sin. The Bible does not say that we can overcome sin with our will. It speaks only of freedom from sin: “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” The law of the life-giving Spirit has pulled us out of the realm of the law of sin and of death. The law of sin and of death is still present, but the one on whom it worked is no longer there.

(Note – Remember the illustration in the first lesson with the two circles, one black on the left and the gold on the right?  In this lesson the LAW OF SIN AND DEATH is in the circle on the left and the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS is in the circle on the right.  You who are saved are no longer in the world but IN CHRIST, and because of that you have the victory.)

Every saved person should be clear about the way to deliverance. First, we must see that sin is a law in us. If we do not see this, we cannot go on. Second, we need to see that the will cannot overcome the law of sin. Third, we need to see that the Holy Spirit is a law, and this law frees us from the law of sin.

The sooner a new believer realizes this way of deliverance, the better it is. In fact, no one needs to wait for many years before seeing the way of deliverance. You do not need to suffer many hardships before experiencing freedom. Many brothers and sisters have wasted their time unnecessarily; they have shed many tears of defeat. If you want to experience less pain and tears, you should realize from the start that the way to deliverance lies in these words: “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus.” This law is so perfect and powerful that it will save you to the uttermost; there is no need to do anything to help it. This law frees you from sin completely, sanctifies you wholly, and fills you with life spontaneously.

Brothers and sisters, do not think that the Holy Spirit within us only expresses His life through us occasionally. If we think this way, it proves that we only know the Spirit; we do not know the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit expresses His life continuously. It remains the same at all times and in all places. We do not have to tell this law to behave in a certain way; it behaves the way it does without our guidance. Once the Lord opens our eyes, we will see that the treasure within is not just the Holy Spirit or a life, but a law as well. Then we will be released, and the problem of sin will be over.

May God open our eyes to see this way of deliverance. May He open our eyes to see this secret to victory, and may we have a good start on this straight path.

WANT TO KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY?  CLICK HERE
The very first book I ever read by Watchman Nee was called “The Normal Christian Life.”  It deals with this very issue and it completely changed my life and that of my wife who read it while we were dating.  It was the truths of deliverance that brought us together spiritually and eventually we were married because our marriage was based upon the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.  If you ever bought a book that would change your life it is this.  You should go to a Christian book store and ask them for THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE by Watchman Nee.

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