Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to God’s economy revealed in the New Testament, the goal of the Christian life is to live Christ. When I was young, I was taught that the central thought of the Bible is related to Christ. Now I realize that the central thought of the Bible is not only Christ, but also to live Christ.
Simply to say that Christ is the central thought of the Bible is rather objective. In our experience, Christ should be very subjective to us. For instance, the Lord Jesus says, “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). This expression is simple, but the meaning is profound. How can we abide in another person and have that person abide in us? With human beings it is impossible for people to abide in one another. But it is possible for the human life to abide in the divine life, and the divine life to abide in the human life. This means that God can abide in us, and we can abide in God.
Some may wonder how we, little human beings, can abide in God, and how the great, almighty God can abide in us. Recently, some tried to tell us that because God is unlimited in His greatness and man is so small, it is impossible for Him to abide in us. They asked how such a small container could hold such a vast content. Their word indicates that they do not believe what was spoken by the Lord Jesus in John 15. They charge us with heresy and claim that, on the one hand, we reduce God to our scale and that, on the other hand, we teach evolution into God and believe that human beings can actually become God Himself. When we asked them the meaning of the Lord’s word, “Abide in Me and I in you,” they answered that this refers merely to intimate relationship or fellowship. Their reply shows that, according to the natural human mentality, it is impossible to believe that we can actually abide in Christ and have Him abide in us. Nevertheless, we must believe the Lord’s word, “Abide in Me and I in you,” and say “amen” to it.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” To say that Christ lives in us is even stronger than to say that He abides in us. When I visit another locality, I may abide in a brother’s home. However, I cannot say that I live there. I only abide there temporarily with certain limitations. But when I return to my home, I can live there. To live in a certain place is to have full liberty. Do you abide in your home or do you live there? Of course you would answer that you live at home. But you would not say that you live in a motel. To say that Christ lives in us means that He has the full liberty to speak, act, and behave. He is able to do in us whatever He desires, for He has redeemed us and made us His dwelling place.
According to Ephesians 3, Paul prayed that the Father would strengthen us through the Spirit in our inner man that Christ may make His home in our hearts. First Christ abides in us, then He lives in us, and then He settles down in us, making His home in our whole inner being. On the one hand, Christ may live in our spirit. But on the other hand, we may not give Him much room to live in our mind, will, or emotion. From experience we know that sometimes we restrict Christ to our spirit. When He tries to spread from our spirit into our emotion, we may not allow Him to do so. For example, in the morning a brother may pray to the Lord, enjoy Him, and declare, “Hallelujah, the Lord Jesus is living in my spirit!” But, later that day he is tempted to do a certain thing. Even though the Lord who lives in his spirit does not agree, the brother, living according to his emotion, insists on doing that thing. He reasons with the Lord, trying to persuade Him to stay in his spirit and give him the freedom to live according to his emotion. He even promises that the next day he will give the Lord the freedom to spread into his emotion. But when the next day comes, he does not keep his promise. Thus, the Lord is not given the liberty to settle down in this brother’s emotion.
Because we do not easily give the Lord the opportunity to make His home in our hearts, it was necessary for Paul to pray that the Father would strengthen us in our inner man through the Spirit that Christ may make His home in our hearts. According to the Bible, the heart is composed of the mind, will, emotion, and conscience. The heart surrounds the spirit and is larger than the spirit. When we received the Lord Jesus, He came into our spirit, and now He lives here. At first, we might not even have given the Lord the freedom to live in our spirit. We simply allowed Him to abide there. Gradually, however, we gave Him opportunity to live in our spirit. But still we were not willing to give Him full access to our inner being. This is why we need our inner man, our regenerated spirit, to be strengthened. Then Christ will be able to make His home in our hearts. He will not only abide in us and live in us, but spread into every part of our inner being and settle down there.
Although I have experienced the Lord a great deal throughout the years, I do not have the confidence to say that Christ is fully settled in my inner being. Perhaps I have given Him the full freedom to occupy my mind or emotion, but I still may reserve a part of my will for myself.
It is important for us to see that Christ should be subjective to us in our experience. He abides in us, He lives in us, and He desires to make His home, to settle Himself, throughout our inner being.
In Galatians 4:19 Paul says, “My children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you.” For Christ to be formed in us means that He abides in us, lives in us, settles down in us, and then saturates every part of our being.
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