Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to Colossians 3, Christ is our life and the One who is all and in all (vv. 4, 11). In this message we shall consider how such a Christ is the constituent of the new man.
Before Paul comes to this matter, he speaks of putting off a number of things (vv. 5, 9). In the new man everything other than Christ must be put off. In the church as the new man there is no room for anything other than Christ. In categorizing those things which we must put off, Paul speaks of fleshly things, of psychological things, and eventually of the totality of the old man.
In 3:5 Paul says, “Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and unbridled greedy lust, which is idolatry.” In our sinful members is the law of sin, which makes us captives of sin and causes our corrupted body to become the body of death (Rom. 7:23-24). Hence, our members, which are sinful, are identified with sinful things, such as fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and unbridled greedy lust. In 3:6 Paul points out that because of these things “the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” In verse 7 he goes on to say that the believers once walked in these things when they lived in them.
In verse 5 Paul charges us to put to death our members which are on the earth. This charge is based upon the fact that we have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20a) and that we have been baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3). We execute Christ’s death upon our sinful members by crucifying them, by faith, through the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). This corresponds to Galatians 5:24. Christ has accomplished the all-inclusive crucifixion. Now we apply it to our lustful flesh. This is absolutely different from asceticism.
Christ’s all-inclusive death on the cross is applied to us at the time of baptism. All those who believe in the Lord Jesus should be baptized. In baptism we not only recognize Christ’s death, but we also apply it to ourselves. Therefore, in baptism we are placed into the death of Christ and buried.
According to Romans 8:11 and 13, the putting to death of the practices of the body is an action carried out in the power of the Spirit. It is not accomplished by self-effort. Our attempts to put to death the practices of the body are nothing more than asceticism. Although we are not to practice asceticism, we are to put to death the negative things in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. In order to do this, we need to open to the Spirit and allow the Spirit to flow within us. Through the Spirit’s flowing, we shall experience the effectiveness of Christ’s death. This is not asceticism; it is the operation of the Spirit within us.
A number of saints have read the autobiography of Madame Guyon. This book contains definite traces of asceticism and mysticism, the very things that damaged the church in Colosse. Those who read books written by the mystics must do so with discernment. Although some things in these books are helpful, others are poisonous. Many years ago, we were helped by some of these books. However, we eventually learned that reading such books without discernment can lead seeking Christians into the error of asceticism. Therefore I do not recommend that you read these books without the help of some saints who are more experienced. Even recently, some, especially sisters, have been damaged by them.
We need to be warned concerning asceticism. We should not impose anything on ourselves in an attempt to deal with the lust of the flesh. On the contrary, our practice should be to open ourselves in fellowship with the Lord and allow the Spirit to have a free way to flow within us, and to apply the effectiveness of Christ’s all-inclusive death to the negative things in our being. Asceticism is spiritual suicide; in contrast, what we are speaking of is the application of Christ’s death through the flowing of the Spirit.
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