Because the self is the soul declaring independence from God, the self is the greatest problem and frustration to the building up of the Body; we need to be those are dependent on God and on the Body, rejecting ourselves and denying the self for the building up of the church.
The origin of the self is Satan injecting himself into man’s soul; back in the garden of Eden, before Eve took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Satan injected his thought into her mind, poisoning her being.
Now all human beings are born in sin, and we sin spontaneously; furthermore, in our soul we have Satan embodied in the self, and in our body we have Satan living out in the flesh.
God didn’t create the self or the flesh: He created a perfect body for man and He breathed the breath of life into man’s nostrils, thus making man a living soul. But due to the fall of man, the body was transmuted to become the flesh full of passions, lusts, and sins; the soul was corrupted and perverted to become the self, the embodiment of Satan, the soul declaring independence from God; and the spirit was deadened, rendered functionless.
We need to see that even our good intentions, opinions, and feelings for others may have Satan behind them, if we do not set our mind on the spirit. Whenever we do something or say something from ourselves, without being one with the Lord, we open the gates of Hades for Satan to bring in death into the church.
For the building up of the church we need to exercise to use the key of denying the self so that the gates of Hades may be shut and the Body of Christ may be built up.
If you look today at Christianity, what you see is the expression of the self – mixed with things in the Bible – all over the place; there are many “churches”, ministries, denominations, local sects, independent groups, mega-churches, and divisions, and everywhere the self is expressed.
The reason the church was not sufficiently built up for the Lord to return yet is because the self – the embodiment of Satan, the soul declaring independence from God – has not been denied, therefore opening a gate of Hades into the church for death to come in.
May the Lord have mercy on us in the church life today that we may see the self for what it really is and cooperate with the Lord to deny the self for the building up of the church as the kingdom of God.
The Lord has Regard for our Dependence on Him and not how much we Do for Him
The top definition of the self is that the self is the soul declaring independence from God. Whenever we do things independent from God, we live in the self.
We may say that we never declared independence from God but we rather read the Bible and pray every day, asking God for help with what we need to do; but do we depend on God or do we merely ask Him to help us achieve what we want to achieve?
To depend on God is to ask Him, Lord, what do You want me to do? What do You want to do and say?
From our human birth and throughout our growing up in the human life we learn to live an independent life; we go to school, high school, and university and are educated to stand up for ourselves and speak for ourselves, that is, we learn how to live as independent human beings in the satanic kingdom.
When we are regenerated, we receive the life of God, and we are exposed by the Lord in His word and in the meetings how much we live independent from Him. The Lord doesn’t have regard for what we do; rather, He has regard for our dependence on Him (Matt. 7:21-23; Josh. 9:14).
We may do many great works in the name of God, but the Lord may tell us at His judgment seat, I never knew you – I never approved you – because you were not one with Me and didn’t depend on Me when doing those things.
Whenever our soul is not dependent on God but is independent of Him, the soul immediately becomes the self. No matter what we are and what we do, as long as we are independent of God, we are in the self.
God created us with a soul to be always dependent on Him; just as a wife should depend on her husband and take him as her covering, so we should depend on the Lord in everything.
However, many times we do things independent from the Lord, without checking with Him and without being one with Him; no matter what we do apart from the Lord, as long as it is independent of God, we are in the self.
If we see and realize that the self is the soul declaring independence from God, and if we see how much the self damages the church, we will repent and desire to live a life dependent on the Lord.
May the Lord be merciful to us to show us how many times we do things apart from Him and how much we live in independence of Him. May we realize how much we live independent of the Lord and independent of the Body. May we repent, be before the Lord, and learn to deny the self by learning to depend on the Lord in everything – in both big and small things.
Lord Jesus, we want to depend on You all the time. Whatever we do, we must depend on God, and whatever we are, we must depend on God. Save us from living in independence from God. Save us from living in the self, the soul declaring independence from God. Lord, shine on us and expose us in our living apart from You, independent from You. Bring us into a sweet and close dependence on You in all things. Oh Lord, You are our everything. We depend on You for our life, our peace, our joy, our life supply, and our very breath!
Denying the Self by being Dependent on God and on the Body of Christ in Experience
Because the self is something independent, the self is the greatest problem to the building up of the Body. We should be dependent not only on God but also on the Body, on the brothers and sisters. Whenever we are independent of the brothers and sisters, we are in the self, in the independent soul. For us today, being independent of the Body is equal to being independent of God. This is a matter not of doctrine but of experience. If you check with your experience, you will realize that when you were independent of the brothers and sisters, you had the sense that you were also independent of God. Likewise, when you were isolated from the brothers and sisters, you had the sense that you were also isolated from God. Witness Lee, The Heavenly Vision, p. 195
The enemy of the Body is the self; the self is the soul declaring independence from God and from the Body of Christ, and therefore the self is the greatest problem, the greatest frustration and opposition, to the building up of the Body.
If we genuinely know the Body, we will live a dependent life, because we need the Lord and we need the saints, the brothers and the sisters in the Body of Christ. This is not a “teaching” or a doctrine to be reminded of from time to time: this is a reality in our daily living, having an inner feeling and conviction that we can’t live without the Lord and without the saints.
We need to depend on the Lord and depend on one another, for the self is in opposition to the Body of Christ. The way to deny the self is to learn to depend on the Lord and depend on the Body of Christ in experience.
We should depend not only on God but also on the Body – on the brothers and sisters the Lord put us with.
In Exo. 17:11-13, while Joshua was fighting in the valley against Amalek, Moses was praying on the mountain, and Hur and Aaron were holding his hands up to pray. Moses needed Aaron and Hur to support his hands, and Joshua needed Moses’ prayer. Similarly, in the church life we need one another.
The Lord Jesus and the Body are one; if we are dependent on the Body, we are also dependent on the Lord, and if we are independent of the Body, we are spontaneously independent of the Lord. When we are dependent, the self is gone; instead of the self, we have the Lord’s presence and are full of peace.
In a very real sense, in our experience today we cannot have the Lord’s presence unless we are dependent on Him and on the Body. If we say that “we depend on God” yet we don’t depend on the Body, we don’t really depend on the Lord.
We need to let our self go, and the Body will be here, and we will enjoy the Lord’s presence. The self is the most subtle enemy to the building up of the Body, and it has to be denied. We cannot have the Lord’s presence if we are isolated and not dependent on the Body.
But if we are rightly related to the Body, no matter where we are, we will have the Lord’s presence. We need to endeavor to be built up and to be right with the Body; if we are properly related to the saints in the Body and depend on the saints, we will have a sense of the Lord’s presence in our daily life.
Only when the self has been utterly dealt with by the cross are we able to touch the reality of the Body of Christ and come to know the Body.
Lord Jesus, we need You and we need the Body! We depend on You, Lord, and we depend on the brothers and sisters You put us with in Your Body! Make this reality in our experience, Lord, that we would deny the self by being dependent on God and on the Body of Christ in our daily life. Save us from living in isolation from the Body. Save us from not being properly related to the saints in the Body. Lord, may our self be utterly dealt with by the cross so that we may be able to touch the reality of the Body of Christ and come to know the Body!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1965, vol. 1, “The Heavenly Vision,” pp. 194-196, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Direction of the Lord’s Move (2016 Thanksgiving Conference), msg. 6 (week 6), To Bring In the Kingdom of God (2) – The Exercise of the Kingdom for the Building Up of the Church.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Yes, all our strength of independence died, / For we with Christ were fully crucified. / Now we’re so glad to be His proper wife, / Dependently enjoying Him as life / Forevermore. (Hymns #1140)
# As in a team we’d never / Act independently, / But in coordination, / Each would dependent be; / Not acting by our choosing / But following the flow, / Distraction never bringing, / The Spirit’s way we’d know. (Hymns #867)
# Oh, what a sweet church life have we! / Built up in Him, His bride to be! / In Him steadfast, you help me be; / Encouraged by Christ whom I see. / Your faith in Christ helps me pursue; / My progress depends upon you! / As I seek Christ, with you in view, / My heart, full of prayers, is for you. (Song on depending on the Body)