Life-Study of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 5:2—6:3 the lover of Christ is called more strongly to live within the veil through the cross after resurrection. In the heavenly tabernacle (Heb. 8:2; 9:11-12, 24) a veil separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The veil is a figure of our flesh (10:19-20). For us to enter into the Holy of Holies the veil must be rent. This indicates that no matter how much we are in ascension, in our spirit, we are still in the old creation and we still have our flesh. Thus, even after the experience of living in ascension, we still need the experience of the cross.
We should never think that while we are still in the old creation we can attain such a high degree of spirituality that we are no longer in the flesh. Consider the case of the apostle Paul, who surely was a very spiritual person. After God gave Paul high revelations, there was given to him “a thorn in the flesh” to warn him that he still had the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).
We must never consider that we are a “saint” or an angel. We are proper believers in God’s process of His economy. God’s economy is first to regenerate our spirit and then to transform our soul, but the flesh is still here. We need to be warned that if we are careless with the flesh, we will damage our spiritual life.
Because Christians are often careless concerning the flesh, divisions among believers are common. According to the book of Acts, Barnabas became dissenting with Paul and separated himself from him (15:35-39). This division was caused by Barnabas’s intention to take his cousin John, who was also called Mark, with them on a proposed journey to visit the churches. “Paul did not consider it suitable to take with them this one who withdrew from them in Pamphylia and did not go with them to the work. And there was a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; and Barnabas, taking Mark along, sailed away to Cyprus” (vv. 38-39). Every argument involves something of the flesh. Probably Paul was in the spirit as he was contending, but Barnabas was arguing according to the flesh. This indicates that even with spiritual persons the flesh remains and can cause damage.
We should not think that if we are living in ascension the flesh is no longer with us. No, the flesh is still here. We may be in ascension, but the veil, the flesh, is still present. When Christ was crucified, the veil in the temple was split in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). With Christ the veil was riven, but our veil still remains. Therefore, we need a stronger call, not merely to remain in ascension but to learn the lessons of the cross and live within the veil. In our experience the veil, the flesh, must be riven, and then we need to pass the riven veil to live in the Holy of Holies. For this, we daily need to learn the lesson of the cross.
Let us now begin to consider the stronger calling of the cross after resurrection and after the lover’s failure (S. S. 5:2—6:3).
In 5:2 we have the Beloved’s calling: “I sleep, but my heart is awake. / A sound! My beloved is knocking: / Open to me, my sister, my love, / My dove, my perfect one; / For my head is full of dew, / My locks with the drops of night.” In His calling of the lover, the Beloved regarded her as His sister. This means that she had the same nature as He. Here the lover realized that her old man, the outward man, was crucified and her new man, the inward man, is living. She heard her Beloved knocking and asking her to open to Him, reminding her of His suffering as He suffered at Gethsemane for His crucifixion. His head being “full of dew” and His locks with “the drops of night” refers to Christ’s suffering at night in Gethsemane before His death.
Verse 3 tells us of her refusal: “I have put off my garment; / How can I put it on again? / I have washed my feet; / How can I dirty them again?” The Beloved called, but she refused His call. Since she had put off the former manner of life of her old man through the dealing of the cross, how could she put it on again, for this would need her Beloved to repeat His suffering for crucifixion? Since she had been cleansed by His redeeming blood, how could she defile herself, since this would need her Beloved to repeat His suffering of death? These were her reasons for refusing the Beloved’s call.
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