Perfecting Trainingby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to my experience, nothing pleases the Lord so much as for us to realize that He does not want us to do anything. He only wants us to love Him, to open ourselves up to Him, and to let Him live from within us. This may sound quite familiar to you, but if you look into such a sentence, you will realize that it is not so common. It is not so familiar to you. From the very beginning when God created man, God had no intention to ask man to do anything for Him. God’s intention was to create a vessel to contain Him and to express Him, so God only wants an opening of the vessel. If the vessel is open, God can fulfill His purpose, but if the vessel is closed, God’s purpose is frustrated.
What is the real significance of man’s fall and the real nature of man’s fall? It is that first, man wants to know, and second, man wants to do. It is to know something and to do something. These two aspects are the genuine significance of man’s fall. The enemy’s temptation was that man must be something. For man to be something, man needs to know something and to do something. This is the real meaning of man’s fall. Once man became fallen, the evil nature of knowing and doing entered into man. This is the most abominable thing in the eyes of God. We would think according to our natural religious concepts that the worship of idols or witchcraft, these demonic things, are abominable. But the most subtle and the most abominable thing is man’s attempt to know things and to do things. This is the very evil thing that entered into man’s nature by the enemy’s temptation.
We all have to realize that in our fallen nature there is a substance so evil that likes to know and likes to do. I am sorry to say that religion mostly cares for these two things. Religion helps people to know, and religion helps people to do. Even today Christianity has become such an active religion of knowing and doing. Seminaries just educate people to know and to do. They train people and stir them up to know and to do. This is altogether a kind of education against God’s eternal purpose. It is no wonder that among thousands of Christians you can hardly find one who knows that God does not want us either to know or to do; God wants us only to love Him and to keep ourselves open to Him. “Lord, I love You. I fully realize that I am just an empty vessel, yet You treasure this earthen vessel because this earthen vessel was created by You according to Your eternal plan to fulfill Your heart’s desire. Lord, I just love You. I like to contain You. I like to be filled up with You. I like to be saturated and permeated with You. Have mercy upon me that I may keep myself open to You all the time.”
We all have to confess that many times in our prayer we are not open to Him. Even in our prayer we still keep ourselves closed. Basically speaking, we all have the same kind of experience. Since the day we were saved, we never opened ourselves in an absolute way. We always opened ourselves with some amount of reservation. Even you yourself probably do not realize that the reservation is there. It is hidden. You think that you are open to the Lord. Actually, you are not entirely open. You are open but only partially. You are open superficially and in a shallow way. In the depths of your being you are not open, so the Lord cannot do anything.
Even when you were stirred up by a so-called revival, you became active to do things and to know things. Then your doing and your knowing became a problem to you. Either we are not open to Him, we are indifferent to Him, or we are too hot in our knowing and in our doing. We are too hot in our activity. Before we were stirred up, we were indifferent. We just came to the church meetings mostly on Sunday mornings. But one day we got revived. We loved the church more than ever. If you do not love the church, the church will not have that many problems. But once you become hot to love the church, the church will be troubled because you know too much. Once you love the church, the first thing you pick up is the knowledge, and then your eyes are opened just like Eve’s eyes were opened after eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When many lovers and seekers of the Lord became hot, their eyes were opened. Formerly, they did not see so many things of the church life, but now they are so clear, questioning the elders and other things of the church life. Once their eyes are “open,” they would consider, and they would not let things go on in the church life in a certain way. Thus the church gets the trouble due to their knowing. Then following their knowing, surely they would do something.
I do not mean that we all need to be foolish, but we all have to realize that God does not want us to do anything; He wants us only to be a living vessel. If you were an inanimate vessel, a vessel without life like a jar, you would be easy for the Master to use because you would not have a will or a mind or an emotion. As an inanimate jar, the Master could keep you open and could fill you up. But God created a living thing. God created something so bothering to Him. He created a living jar full of emotions, with a strong will, and with a mind. After the fall this living jar became a problem to God. This problem has been among the Christians all these centuries. Either the Christians are indifferent, or they are too hot in knowing and in doing. On either side the Lord could not get the vessel.
This point is clear in the New Testament, especially in the Epistles of the apostle Paul. Paul’s fourteen Epistles may be divided into two groups of seven each. The first set of seven is from Romans to Colossians. The second set is from Thessalonians through Hebrews. If you look into these two groups, you may say that the summary of these fourteen Epistles may be expressed in just two words: open vessel. God wants an open vessel. In Romans 9:23 Paul tells us that God created us as vessels of mercy unto glory. Then in 2 Corinthians 4:7 he says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” These two verses may be considered as a basic secret to our experience of Christ and the church. You may hear a lot of messages on Christ and the church, yet if you do not realize that you have to be an open vessel, Christ and the church still have no way. What is the meaning of an open vessel? An open vessel is doing nothing but keeping itself open to the filling up. The processed God—the Triune God, the all-inclusive Spirit, the compound Spirit—is here waiting for an opening to get into you. How much He would enter into you depends upon how much opening you would give Him.
You may say that you have consecrated everything to the Lord. You have consecrated your wife, your children, your eyes, your ears, and your hands. I, too, have made this kind of detailed consecration many times. I even consecrated every single hair and every cell in my body to the Lord. Yet, have you realized that even after such a thorough and detailed consecration you still are not open to the Lord? Seemingly you have consecrated yourself to God, but actually you have consecrated to yourself. Your consecration did not keep yourself open to Him. Your consecration still kept you under your knowing and under your doing. This is the real problem. This is also the real burden of this Perfecting Training. The real burden is to pin your situation down, pointing out to you what your real trouble is. You love the Lord, you love the church, and you can declare strongly that you have seen the vision. Even you may say that you are open. But you are not open to the Lord. You are open to your knowing; you are open to your doing. It is really hard to have a person on the one hand absolutely open to the Lord and on the other hand doing nothing. If you can love the Lord and yet do nothing, that would be a miracle. When you love someone, surely you want to do something for him. Today’s Christian philosophy and logic tell you to do something for people to show them that you love them. But the Bible logic says to love the Lord but do not do anything for Him by yourself. Love the Lord to the uttermost; do not do anything for Him by yourself. It is not so easy. Sometimes even those who do not love the Lord want to do something for Him. This is to be religious. Our problem is that we are too active. Then you would consider to stop, to go back home and sleep because Brother Lee says that you do not need to do anything. This, too, is wrong. What shall you do? We have to go back to this word—active-passive. You have to be active-passive. Hardly any Christians understand what it means to be active-passive. To love the Lord to the uttermost is to be active. To not do anything is to be passive. You need to be saved, to be empowered, to be sanctified. For this you need to love the Lord and yet do nothing. You need to let the Lord do everything. What is in our fallen nature is just to know and to do. What the Lord wants is that we love Him, that we keep ourselves open. Do not do anything. Let Him in. Yet you always like to do something and keep yourself closed, causing the Lord to have no way to enter into you.
Read once again the seven epistles in the book of Revelation. In the first, to Ephesus, the Lord said that they did so many things for Him, and yet they had lost their first love. They had a lot of activities. The activities were right; nothing was evil, yet the Lord did not treasure all those activities. They lost the one thing the Lord treasured—their first love. In the fourth letter, to Thyatira, the Lord also indicated that He knew their works and love and faith and service and endurance. They had too much doing. You have to realize that when you have too much doing, the idols may be there. Among all the seven churches, Thyatira had the most idols because she had the most doing. This is today’s Catholic Church. No religion and no church group is so active as today’s Catholic Church. They are full of energy and activities. Among all the activities are the idols. In the last epistle, to Laodicea, the Lord said that they were lukewarm. The New Testament shows us that God wants a vessel loving Him and keeping itself open to Him. Here is our rescue, and here is the secret.
You have to realize that if you love the church but do not open yourself up absolutely, you will still love to do something for the Lord. This is of the fallen nature. This is the natural life with the fallen nature. The proper situation is that I do not need to do anything, yet I need to love the Lord to the uttermost, keeping myself wide open all the time to Him. This is what is fully revealed in the New Testament, especially in the fourteen Epistles written by the apostle Paul. If you take this as a key and read once again the Epistles written by Paul, you will see that this is the genuine substance in his Epistles.
God wants His redeemed people loving Him to the uttermost yet not trying to do anything for the Lord. This temptation is with us every day. You do not know how much we are under the temptation. Too many times we have this temptation right after our prayer. You thought that through the prayer you got the energy and the motivation to do something. It seems that you were motivated by God through the prayer. Even you may give people the impression that you need to go and pray so that after prayer you will know what God wants you to do. So many people use prayer as a kind of motivation. Actually, this motivation is absolutely of the self. I know that many Christians might rise up against this kind of word, thinking that this is a heretical teaching. They would ask how so many thousands of missionaries could go to the foreign field without this kind of motivating prayer. They would ask what is wrong with such a motivating prayer. I do not like to argue, but I do know what I am talking about. You have to realize that the deeper prayer, the more genuine prayer, always calms you down and kills every bit of your activity. The most prevailing nailing of people to the cross is the genuine deeper prayer. The genuine and deeper prayer always crucifies you. Have you ever experienced such a thing? I can testify many times that when I got into the deeper and genuine prayer, not only did my whole being get nailed down, but even this kind of doing and that kind of doing all got crucified. The genuine prayer is a real crossing out.
This kind of message might bother the leading ones. While they are promoting the service and encouraging all the saints to come to the service, they might be afraid that after this message all the promoting would be fully killed. This would not be terrible; this would be wonderful! If some could motivate you to serve, and I could tell you to get into the deeper and genuine prayer that will kill every activity by nailing it to the cross, that would be wonderful. If these two things could happen, the Lord would have a way. The problem among today’s Christians is that either there is no motivation, or there is a lot of motivation with no nailing to the cross. The proper way is to have a lot of motivation but with every motivation nailed on the cross.
Do not worry that your work may be nailed to the cross. When you enter into the experience of my fellowship, you will kneel down and worship the Lord. You would say, “Lord, now I know. I must love You. I must serve You to the uttermost. I must have an open heart with an open being to You. O Lord, by Your mercy and Your speaking, You do not want me to do anything. Lord, I am here.” This would be wonderful. This is what the Lord wants today. The Lord’s testimony is just here at this point. A vessel can only contain something, and the lampstand can only keep itself open for the refilling of the oil. When the opening is shut, there is no more refilling. That means there will be no continuation of the oil. The lampstand does not do anything. It just opens itself to receive the oil and to shine. It receives the filling oil, and then it expresses something; it shines. Actually, a lampstand is a real vessel containing oil.
Now you can understand the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. That is just the vessel with an extra portion of oil. There the vessel contains the oil for shining and burning. This is a virgin. A virgin in the eyes of the Lord is not one who is so busy and so active in doing but one who keeps himself open to receive the oil. Then the oil may burn from within to shine out. You surely have to see this basic thing. Let us come back to the matter of prayer. Too many times it was not the Lord who answered your prayer. Actually, you prayed yourself up. Your prayer motivated you. It was not the Lord answering your prayer to stir you up. Your prayer motivated you.
The most genuine prayer is the most killing one. The more you pray, the more you would get killed. The more you pray, the more your boiling self would be cooled down. Many prayers do not cool anything down; rather, they boil everything. Many Christian ministers know this kind of psychology. They use prayer as a means to motivate people. If they want someone to go to South Africa, they would ask him to pray for seven days to see whether he has the burden to consecrate himself to the mission field. Surely after seven days of prayer, he would be burdened to do this. Many Christian workers travel through certain churches to stir people up either to go to the mission field or to open their pocketbook. They always encourage people to go and pray concerning going to the mission field and pray concerning opening their pocketbook. Actually, it is not the Lord who opens his pocketbook; it is his prayer. So the ministers know the psychology to use the prayer as a key. Do you believe that everyone who has gone to the mission field was led by the Lord? I do not believe so. Many times you say that you were led by the Lord, and you received the leading of the Lord. No. You were not led by the Lord. You were motivated by your prayer. You had a kind of superstitious prayer that did not nail you on the cross. If you get into a genuine prayer, you will be fully nailed on the cross. Not only are people superstitious concerning the Bible but also concerning prayer.
We must come back to the Lord to enter into the genuine fellowship with Him and to have some genuine prayer. This genuine prayer will kill your natural love. It will kill your natural activities for the Lord in His name. It may even kill your church service. Anything that can be killed should be killed. Anything that can be killed must be natural. Whatever can be killed by genuine prayer should be killed. That thing should not remain. Every Christian activity has to pass such a test, such a killing. We always encourage you to function in the meetings. But if your function is natural and not really out of the resurrection life, your genuine prayer will kill your function.
Many seeking saints through the centuries were first very active and eventually became very calm through their genuine prayers. Their genuine prayers calmed them down and killed so many activities in the Christian field. Then they began to experience the Lord Himself doing things directly from within them. This is what the Lord wants to do today. We should not expect that among us too many would be like this, but we must expect that a number of the seeking ones in the Lord’s recovery would be brought into this kind of experience.
From these meetings I believe many of you fully realize now that the Lord wants you to be active-passive. This means that He wants you to love Him and keep yourself all the time open to Him but to stop doing. Then you would see that you are saved, you are empowered, you are sanctified. You will become one who really enjoys the Lord’s doing. When you pray, you will all the time be full of thanks: “Lord, how I thank You! I do not have much to pray for. I do not have much to ask for, because my whole being is filled with thanks. I am so grateful to You because all the time You do everything within me and for me.” You do not need to pray that the Lord will help you to win the victory and to overcome sin and to be patient. When you pray in this way, asking the Lord to help you, eventually it is not the Lord who helps you. You simply help yourself. Eventually, you are not so grateful, because you realize that you did everything. You just need to love Him and to keep yourself open to Him, giving Him every opportunity to do everything He wants to do. You become the enjoyer, enjoying Him and enjoying His doing. So whenever you would pray, thanks would come out of your mouth because you are so grateful to the Lord. You would experience that the Lord is your victory, your sanctification, everything to you. You will be the enjoyer of what the Lord is and of what the Lord does.
This is the active-passive voice. Actually, the Christian life must be in this voice. It does not mean that you are lazy or indifferent or dumb or sleepy. No. You are on the alert, and you are so sober. You love the Lord, and you keep yourself open to Him all the time. Yet you would not do anything, but He would do everything. Not only is this possible, but this is also required by the Lord. The Lord requires you to stop your doing. But He does not want you to be sleepy or indifferent; He wants you to be very alert. Love Him and keep yourself open to Him. Tell Him every day, “Lord, I love You. Lord, I am here open to You. Lord, have mercy upon me, and by Your grace I do not like to have any part of my being closed to You. I like to keep myself entirely and thoroughly open to You.” If you try this, you will see what will happen. You will not need to worry about your victory; you will not need to care for the losing of your temper.
Do not read the Bible in a superficial way like many of today’s Christians. If you really get into the Bible to see what is revealed as an underlying line, it is this: you are a vessel created by God. As a vessel full of life, you need to exercise your emotion to love Him. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (Matt. 22:37). As a vessel, you do not need to do anything, but you need to keep yourself open. We all know the principle of the free will. If you do not love Him, the Lord would not force you to love Him. If you do not keep yourself open, the Lord would never force you to keep yourself open. So you must exercise your free will to love the Lord and to keep yourself open. But stay away from doing. Forget about your bad temper. Forget about your besetting sins. Forget about your weak points. Love the Lord and keep yourself open and stop doing.
What is the way to get rid of your peculiarity? We have already concluded that everybody is a peculiarity. You yourself are just a peculiarity. Without the Lord filling you as a vessel to work out something from within you, your whole being is a peculiarity. The only solution to our problems is the filling up of the Lord within us. And this depends upon our loving Him and keeping ourselves open to Him all the time. The proper prayer, the deeper prayer, the genuine prayer, is just to keep yourself loving Him and open to Him. This may sound quite simple. In word it is simple, but in practice it is not so easy. It is not so simple to stop your doing. But by His mercy through the genuine prayer your doing will be stopped. The genuine prayer is always the killing prayer. It kills your every doing. The more you pray yourself into this genuine prayer, the more you are killed. Actually, it is not you who are killed but your activity. It is not you in yourself but you in your activity that will be killed. Your genuine prayer will one by one kill all your activities, and it will calm you down. Sometimes it will even kill your burden. Then you will be a clean, empty, and open vessel. You will be a living vessel absolutely calmed down so that your Master has the absolute free course to fill you up. When He fills you up, He does everything for you. Then you simply enjoy His doing. This is the proper, genuine Christian life. A genuine Christian life is one that loves the Lord and keeps itself open to the Lord and stops its doing. Then the Lord comes in and the Lord does everything and this vessel just contains the Lord and enjoys the Lord’s filling up and enjoys the Lord’s doing. This is the proper and genuine Christian life.
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