Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
For a better understanding of the ministry of the Spirit in 2 Corinthians 3, we need to consider some key verses in Romans 8.
In Romans 8:2 Paul says that the law of the Spirit of life frees us from the law of sin and death. The key phrase in this verse is “the Spirit of life.” In Romans 8:4 Paul goes on to speak concerning walking according to the spirit. This involves walking according to the Spirit of life mentioned in verse 2. We must walk according to the Spirit of life so that the righteous requirements of the law may be fulfilled in us. This does not mean that we endeavor to keep the law; it means that the law is spontaneously and unconsciously fulfilled in us when we walk according to the Spirit.
If we do not live in the Spirit of life and do not walk according to this Spirit and yet try to keep the law, we shall not succeed. Even if we are successful in keeping the law in an outward way, we still shall not have righteousness. But when we live in the Spirit of life and walk according to the Spirit of life, we shall keep the law automatically, even though we may not have the intention to do so. Spontaneously, all the requirements of the law will be fulfilled in us.
Let us now consider in more detail how the law of God, the Ten Commandments, is fulfilled in us when we walk according to the Spirit of life. When we live and walk in the Spirit, we certainly will have only one God. We shall never have any other God than our God. This means that we spontaneously fulfill the first commandment.
Furthermore, we would never make an image to worship as an idol. We would make neither visible images nor invisible ones. Sometimes we make invisible images in our imagination or in our daydreams. For example, someone may think that in the future he will become a very wealthy doctor, a millionaire who owns vast properties. This daydreaming causes him to make an invisible idol, an invisible image. Then he may try his best to fulfill this dream. This is the worshipping of an invisible image.
It is easy for young people especially to make idols in their imagination. A brother may dream about the wonderful young woman he will marry someday. Then he may search for someone to be the fulfillment of his dream. When he comes to the church meetings, he may be seeking the perfect wife he has in mind. This dream is this brother’s invisible idol. If we walk according to the Spirit, we shall condemn any such dreams. However, those who do not walk according to the Spirit may spend much time lingering in their dreams and enjoying them. By walking according to the Spirit, we spontaneously fulfill the second commandment.
The same is true regarding the third commandment, the commandment about not taking the name of the Lord in vain. If we live and walk in the Spirit of life, we would never mention the divine name, the holy name, in vain. On the contrary, we would always name the Lord in reality and with a definite purpose. Also we would spontaneously keep the memorial day of the Lord and thereby fulfill the fourth commandment. Thus, when we walk according to the Spirit of life, the first four commandments are fulfilled in us.
What is true of the first four commandments is also true of the last six commandments. When we live and walk according to the Spirit, the last six commandments, which concern our relationships with others, are fulfilled spontaneously. The fifth commandment requires that we honor our parents. If we walk according to the Spirit, we shall honor our parents automatically. There will be no need for us to make up our minds to honor them or to endeavor to do this. There will be no need for a young person to say to himself, “In the past I did not have a proper attitude toward my mother and father. Now that I am a Christian I shall have the right attitude, I shall behave properly, and I shall become a good example for my younger brothers and sisters.” Anyone who makes up his mind to honor his parents in this way will not be successful. This can be compared to a cat trying to fly in the air like a bird. A cat is a cat, and it cannot fly. It simply does not have the capacity, the ability, to fly. The same is true of anyone who tries in his natural life to fulfill the fifth commandment. But if we live Christ, if we live and walk in the Spirit of life, spontaneously and unconsciously we shall honor our parents. When our parents see this, they may be greatly surprised and wonder what has happened to us.
In 2 Corinthians 3:3 Paul says that the Corinthians were a letter of Christ ministered by the apostles. By having Christ inscribed into us, we also become living letters of Christ which can be read by others. I know of many cases of young people who have been read by their parents. At first, their parents opposed them because they had turned to the Lord or had come into the church life. But even while the parents were opposing them, they were reading what had been inscribed of Christ into them. As a result, after a period of time, many of these opposing parents turned to the Lord’s way. I have heard many wonderful testimonies concerning this.
Even if your parents are opposing you, they are still watching you, reading you as a letter of Christ. Eventually, if you live and walk in the Spirit of life in your relationship with your parents, they will be convinced. Although you may not intentionally try to honor your parents, spontaneously you render them the most excellent and wonderful respect because you walk according to the Spirit. Your parents will notice this, appreciate it, and eventually may be convinced and subdued by it.
During more than fifty years in the church life, I have seen many cases like this. At first, certain saints were opposed by their parents. In some cases the parents were Buddhists; in other cases, they were Christians. Because the way of the Lord’s recovery was new to them and strange to their understanding, they opposed their children. Some said, “Other Christians attend church just once a week. Why must you go to meetings several times a week? What attracts you to go to church so often? Formerly you loved many things, but now you don’t seem to care about them anymore. What has happened to you? Have you lost your mind? What kind of influence does this church have on you?” When their children loved worldly things, their parents were happy with them. But when they stopped loving those things, their parents were troubled. Wondering what was happening to their children, they decided to oppose the church and to do everything possible to keep them away from the church life. This kind of thing happened hundreds of times in China and also in the United States. But before the Lord I can testify that in the vast majority of cases, the parents eventually turned to the Lord and to His way. Some turned after a few years; others turned after more than thirty years. In some instances the parents came to the church meeting, and, with tears, stood up to give testimony of how they had opposed the church by opposing their children. Then they went on to say that they were convinced by the lives of their children and had repented.
Why has the Lord gained the victory in so many cases? He has been victorious simply because the saints have lived in the Spirit of life and walked according to the Spirit. Automatically, they respected and honored their parents in such a way that their parents were convinced that the way their children had taken was of the Lord.
If we walk according to the Spirit, we shall also fulfill the commandments forbidding murder, fornication, stealing, giving false testimony, and coveting. If we make up our mind to keep these commandments, we shall not be fully successful. In Romans 7 Paul tells us that he tried to overcome coveting, but he was not able to do so. Rather, he was killed by this commandment. Then he condemned himself and cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me?” (Rom. 7:24). Then in Romans 8 he could declare, “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death” (vv. 1-2). Paul also came to realize that the righteous requirements of the law were fulfilled in him automatically when he walked according to the Spirit of life. This also can be our experience today. There is no need for us to purpose to fulfill the Ten Commandments. Once again I say that if we walk according to the Spirit of life, every commandment will be fulfilled in us unconsciously and spontaneously. Each commandment will be thoroughly fulfilled in us.
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