This week in our morning revival we come to a very serious matter – The Need for All Our Service to Be Initiated by God, and today in particular we want the Lord to shine on us that we may be saved from committing the iniquity of the sanctuary in our service to God.
In His recovery the Lord has brought us to receive and enjoy the rich ministry of the age, and the whole earth is opened to His recovery, as never before.
There’s an observable openness among people for God, His word, and a deeper knowledge of God’s word, and many desire to know something higher concerning God’s purpose.
Our commission is heavier than before – we are here to spread, propagate, and teach the word of God and the ministry everywhere, for there’s a hunger all over the earth for the deeper riches in God’s word. The field of our labor is vast, and much work, labor, and service is required, both in the Lord’s work and in the local churches.
In the process of speaking the high truths, preaching the gospel, and having fellowship both in small group meetings and with fellow believers, the Lord has a way to increase the church, raise up many local churches, gain people, and establish and build up the service.
As we are learning to serve the Lord as priests, we need to some life principles to help us less we go astray or unconsciously commit the iniquity of the sanctuary. We all are priests in the holy and royal priesthood; we all serve and function in the sanctuary of God.
In God’s sanctuary, the church, we touch the most holy things, and it becomes quite probable and even possible to commit the iniquity of the sanctuary and, as a result, we offend God.
This week the Lord wants to touch us and speak to us in a particular way concerning our service to Him in the church, in particular concerning how this service has to be initiated by Him and be according to His desire.
We need to be saved from committing the sin of rebellion, presumption, and being contemptuous; we need to be safeguarded and kept in the Lord’s way and in His desire, being one with Him in what we do for Him.
May the Lord preserve us and keep us so that our work in this age would not be consumed by fire in that day, but that we would stand before Him and receive a reward from Him at His judgment seat.
Not Committing the Iniquity of the Sanctuary but letting God Initiate our Work and Service in the Church
We need to realize that all our work and service in the church must be initiated by God, and it must be according to His desire; otherwise, we will commit the iniquity of the sanctuary in our service to God (Num. 18:1). The source of our service must be God.
The Bible shows us that some sins we commit are before men, while others are before God; some sins are committed against ordinary laws, while others are committed against the sanctuary. We may commit sins in our daily life, but there’s a particular kind of sin called, the iniquity of the sanctuary, which is committed by the priests against God in His work.
Most sins are common sins, but a worker of the Lor can commit some special sins – sins in God’s work. Such sins may not involve pride, jealousy, or lust but rather they may be the exposing of the self-will, the manifestation of the flesh, speaking rashly, and making suggestions rashly in God’s work.
The ones who work for the Lord, which is us all as we all are priests to God, are liable of committing the iniquity of the sanctuary in addition to all the other common sins.
The iniquity of the sanctuary is borne by the priests (Num. 18:1), and it offends God in His holiness, glory, and sovereignty. Everything that is incompatible with God’s will in God’s work is a sin – it is an iniquity of the sanctuary.
The most glaring case of such a sin is in Lev. 10, where we see Nadab and Abihu – the sons of Aaron, the high priest – who took their censers, put incense, and offered God strange fire, fire which He hasn’t commanded them.
They had the fire and the incense, and they did everything for God, and they were priests, but God didn’t command them to do this; therefore, they died before God.
God doesn’t want us to do things for Him; He doesn’t want us to offer Him strange fire, fire that He doesn’t authorize. To do anything or initiate anything without the word of God, without His commandment, is the source of the iniquity of the sanctuary.
We need to realize that everything in our work should be out from Him and through Him and to Him, so that God would gain all the glory in Christ through the church (Rom. 11:36).
Our work for God, our service to Him, and even our prayers must be out from Him, through Him, and unto Him.
There are three very important considerations in God’s work which we should never forget. First, the initiation of God’s work must be according to His will. Second, the advance of God’s work must be according to His power, not our own power. Third, the result of God’s work must be for His glory. If we fail in any of these three points, we have committed an iniquity against the sanctuary. No work can be initiated by ourselves, no work can be carried out by our own strength, and no work should result in our own glory. Watchman Nee
The initiation of the work and service must be of God and not of us; God’s will must be the source and initiation of our work and service for Him. The advance and execution of God’s work must be by God’s power and not by our own strength and ability.
The result of our work must be for God’s glory and not our boast. These three are ironclad principles that must rule and dictate our work, constricting us in our service for God. There’s no bargaining or compromise – there’s only serving the Lord in a pure way.
Only Christ is the Head; only He is worthy to be the Lord of all, and only He can initiate any work for God. We need to let God initiate the work, and not initiate it ourselves. When the work is initiated by God, carried out by His power, and unto His glory, that work is acceptable to Him.
The less we initiate in God’s work, the more spiritual and acceptable it is to God. We simply have to do God’s will and find out if something is according to His will; we shouldn’t worry about the result, but let God initiate, let God operate, and let God gain the glory.
Lord Jesus, shine on us in regards to our work and service to You in the church. We want to let You initiate the work and service, and we simply want to cooperate with You. Lord, save us from committing the iniquity of the sanctuary by initiating a work for You that You have not asked us to do. May all our work and service be initiated by You, carried out by Your power, and be for Your glory and not our boast. May all our work and service be initiated by God and be according to Your desire to gain Your glory!
God comes to us, He Reveals Himself to us, He Initiates the Work, and we take Action
It may come as a shock to all lovers of Christ who desire to serve God, but anything that is initiated or started by man, regardless of how much it is for God, is a religious activity devoid of the presence of Christ.
Much religious activity is taking place on earth today, for many zealous human beings want to do many things for God – yet without allowing God to initiate the work.
Any work started by a human being without God initiating it or being the power for carrying it out, is simply a work without God. It may be a busy work, a fervent and good work, but it is still a religious activity, which may even be a sin before God.
What God wants is not man to work for Him and do things for Him because they love Him and are zealous for Him, or because they want to meet the need and give God all the glory; God wants man to cooperate with Him yet without initiating anything.
If we know God, we realize that there are two kinds of activities in serving God: one is a religious activity, and the other is an action initiated by God.
Often we may have no heart for God to serve Him, but God comes to us, reveals Himself to us, and He prompts us and touches us; then, He gives us a command, a calling, a leading, so that we receive something of God and cannot help but take action.
This is how God’s work should be: not initiated by us according to a plan we put together in our entrepreneurial mind with our zeal to please God, but God coming to us and initiating everything.
Thank the Lord for coming to us, touching us, revealing Himself to us, and giving us a certain calling, a directive; we don’t know why – we didn’t ask for it, but He as the source initiates the work in us.
The great principle of God in His work is the coordination of God and man – God initiating everything and man giving Him his cooperation.
In Jer. 1 we see again and again how God initiated the work with Jeremiah: He knew him before he was born, He sanctified him, He appointed him, He put words in his mouth to speak what God wanted to speak, and He was with him to protect him and cover him.
We don’t enlist or sign up to serve God: He appoints us. We don’t speak our own words or go where we think we should go: He speaks to us, He gives us His words, He sends us, He commands us, He is with us, He covers us, and He protects us.
When the source is God, when He commands us, there should be no fear, for He is with us. We need to know our God, that is, know Him in a subjective way as our God; as He reveals Himself to us, we know Him, His desire, His intention, and His will, and the spontaneous reaction is that we rise up and take action (Dan. 11:32).
When we hear God’s voice and hear His calling, when He is the One initiating something and we don’t initiate anything, then we can’t but rise up and take action.
Lord Jesus, save us from performing religious activities – works initiated by us for God yet devoid of the presence of Christ. Save us from initiating anything in God’s work. We open to You, Lord, and we come to You that we may have Your visitation, Your speaking, Your calling, and Your sending. Appear to us, Lord, reveal Yourself to us, and You be the One who initiate everything in us. We simply want to cooperate with You, following You in Your leading as You initiate everything.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Minoru Chen for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 42, ch. 45 (“The Iniquity of the Sanctuary”), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 3 (week 3), The Need for All Our Service to Be Initiated by God.
Hymns on this topic:
# My soul, be silent, wait upon the Lord! / First let Him speak to thee, then speak to Him; / True prayer in thee the Lord initiates, / Thou but a channel art expressing Him. (Hymns #793)
# Pray to labor with the Lord; / Let the Lord initiate / All the plan and all the work; / Then thru us He’ll operate. (Hymns #786)
# The overflow of life is work, / The work should be our living! / What we experience e’er should be / The message we are giving. / When living and the work are one, / The work will be effectual; / When message and the life are one, / The word will be successful. (Hymns #910)
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