Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
It is easy to see that material things may be substitutes for Christ in our lives or may frustrate us from enjoying Him. But it is not easy to see that things that are not material, such as religion, philosophy, and culture, may also be substitutes for Christ. Throughout the years, I have met a good number of spiritual people from different nationalities who were genuine seekers of the Lord. However, although they were progressing spiritually to a certain extent, hardly any lived outside their national culture. For example, among all the true seekers of Christ in China, very few lived outside their Chinese ethical philosophy. This philosophy had been wrought into them. For this reason, not even the best Christians were free from its influence. This is not to say that these ethical teachings are wrong. They were used to preserve people for centuries. The point is that such ethical teachings are something other than Christ Himself. It is not God’s desire that we live according to certain ethical teachings. Ethics is not part of the new creation. It is not something of Christ, of the Spirit, or of resurrection life. Anything that is of Christ must be in resurrection, in the new creation, and of the Spirit.
Brother Nee was one who could discern between ethics and Christ. I have never met a person who knew more clearly than he the difference between Christ and ethics. One time he had a thorough fellowship with me concerning the difference between Christ and the ethics developed according to the teaching of Confucius. However, many seeking Christians among the Chinese cannot discern this difference. The problem is not simply that they do not live outside their Chinese ethical philosophy. A more serious problem is that they do not know the difference between Chinese philosophical ethics and Christ.
Regarding this, I am concerned about many of the saints in the Lord’s recovery. Although they have been under this ministry for years, they still have not acquired the proper discernment between philosophical ethics and Christ. Furthermore, even those who have some measure of discernment may still unconsciously and subconsciously live more in the realm of ethics than in Christ. Our ethics may be very good, but such an ethical living is not a living in resurrection. It has nothing to do with Christ, the Spirit, or the new creation.
I can testify that by the Lord’s mercy I can discern between Christ and ethics. Christ is altogether apart from Chinese ethics. Christ has nothing to do with ethics, and ethics has nothing to do with Christ. But although I have this discernment, I do not have the assurance that in my daily living I am altogether outside the realm of ethics and wholly in Christ. It is very possible that at least to some extent I am still under the influence of ethical teachings. Only when I have been fully brought into resurrection and raptured will I have the assurance that I am altogether in Christ. At present, I can testify only that I have the discernment, not that I live apart from the sphere of ethics and fully in Christ. No doubt, ethical teachings are very good, but these teachings are not Christ. A first step toward living apart from ethics and in Christ Himself is to develop the discernment between ethics and Christ.
What is true of Chinese Christians concerning ethics is also true of Christians of different nationalities concerning their cultures. Years ago I was invited to stay as an honored guest in a place in England known for the spirituality of the Christians there. While I was there, I noticed that the saints in that place lived very much according to British diplomacy. This was especially true of the elders. The elders were obedient to the leading elder. When they were with him, they were kind and polite. But on occasion they spoke negative things concerning him. Although this place was the source of many books about spiritual things, the believers there actually did not express much genuine spirituality. Instead, they lived according to their type of diplomacy. There can be no doubt that they loved the Lord. But in their daily life they practiced diplomacy instead of living in Christ. Just as the Chinese philosophical ethics has been wrought into the very fiber of the Chinese people, so British diplomacy had been wrought into the being of those saints in England.
I use these illustrations to point out the fact that no matter how earnestly the believers may seek the Lord, they are still under the influence of their national characteristics. In their daily living, they are influenced more by their culture than by Christ. When Paul said that he counted all things loss, he meant not only material things, but also things such as religion, philosophy, and culture. We may be willing to count material things as loss for Christ, but we may not count as loss our culture or our national characteristics. But religion, culture, and national characteristics were among the things Paul counted to be trash, refuse, in order to gain Christ and be found in Him. These things may be very good, but they are not in resurrection and they are not in the new creation. Moreover, they are not of Christ or of the Spirit.
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