Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 5:26 and 29 there are four crucial words: sanctify, cleanse, nourish, and cherish. Because the enemy has veiled these matters, not many Christians have a clear understanding of their significance. For this reason, I am very burdened of the Lord to consider them further in this message.
God’s intention in His economy is not to correct us or to improve us. Neither is it to have good people in place of bad people. In the eyes of God, it does not matter whether we are good or bad, for the only thing of value in His economy is Christ Himself. Therefore, God’s desire is to work Christ into us. Whether we are good or bad, we need the element of Christ added into us. This involves Christ’s work in sanctifying us. Sanctification in 5:26 does not mean merely to be separated from what is common, but it means to have the very element of Christ added to us.
Sanctification is not a matter of adjusting ourselves outwardly to fit into the situation of the church life. For example, a young brother may have been rather loose before coming into the church. Now that he is living in a brothers’ house he constantly reminds himself to behave properly. This behavior is not sanctification—it is religion. In the eyes of God, such religious behavior is included in what Paul calls dung (Phil. 3:8). The Lord does not want our self-improvement or self-adjustment; He wants to saturate our whole being with Himself. Hence, sanctification is not behavior, but the addition of the element of Christ to our being.
As one who is familiar with both the Bible and the teachings of Confucius, I have come to realize that in their daily living many Christians live as if they were disciples of Confucius. Under the influence of the religious concept, they regard the Bible as a book of doctrines and ethical teachings. For example, a sister may try desperately to submit to her husband. In doing this, she is actually living like a follower of Confucius, all the while believing that she is being a good Christian. She explains her behavior by saying that, according to the Bible, her husband is the head and she is obligated to submit to him. Such a word sounds very good, but it is religious, for it is not according to God’s economy to work Christ into us. We all know that in 5:22 Paul exhorts the wives to be subject to their own husbands. But do not forget that this follows his word about being filled in spirit (v. 18). This indicates that a wife’s submission should come out of the infilling of the Spirit, not out of an outward, deliberate attempt to be submissive.
Often in Christian weddings a pastor will charge the bride and groom according to Paul’s word in Ephesians 5 regarding husbands and wives. The wife promises to submit to her husband, and the husband vows to love his wife. However, neither the bride nor the groom realizes that submission and love are the issue of being filled in our spirit with the Triune God.
If a sister’s submission is genuine, it will not require deliberate effort. On the contrary, she will submit spontaneously out of her experience of Christ and her enjoyment of Him. She may not even realize that she is submissive, for she submits without purposely trying to do so. Such submission comes out of the element of Christ that has been imparted into that sister. How different this is from submitting because she has been taught to be under the headship of her husband! Such deliberate submission is religious and is not according to God’s economy.
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