As believers in Christ, we need to see the pathway of life – which is narrow and constricted, allow the discipline of the Holy Spirit to work in us, and see a vision of how the life of God can be lived out of us.
Even though God’s life came into us at the time of our regeneration, there are many obstacles to this life in us. Virtually everything related to us – even our very being, our person – is a hindrance to God’s life in us.
Our entire soul with all its components – mind, emotion, and will – is a subjective obstacle encountered by God’s life in us.
It should be normal for us as Christians to have our mind, will, and emotion cooperating with and under the control of our spirit, where Christ dwell; however, our real situation is that many times our mind, emotion, and will don’t cooperate with our spirit but rather contradict it.
Our unrenewed mind, unsubdued will, and wild emotions are great hindrances to God’s life in us. Many times we behave and do things according to our thoughts and concepts, instead of paying attention to the living Christ within us.
Yes, we do have God’s life in us, but we don’t cooperate with this life in our thoughts and actions, and so this life can’t be lived out from us.
But when we set our mind on the spirit, our outward actions are in agreement with our inner man, and there’s no discrepancy between us and God; we feel peace within, and we live according to the sense of life and peace in us.
Many times we understand what God wants from us, and our mind comprehends what His will is, but we are unwilling to submit and obey. Because we disobey the Lord’s presence within, our will is a hindrance to God’s life, and we lose the Lord’s presence. What the Lord needs in us is both a strong and a pliable will – a will in resurrection, a will that can cooperate with God.
Finally, our emotions are all over the place, and many times we love what God doesn’t love, and we hate what He loves.
Our entire person is truly an obstacle for the living out of God’s life; this is why we need to be broken and why we daily need to be strengthened into our inner man so that Christ can make His home in our heart and be lived out in us.
Seeing the Pathway of Life to have the Cross Applied to us by the Discipline of the Spirit
Many see the broad way, the wide way that leads to destruction, but few are those who find the way that leads to life, the pathway of life, which is narrow and constricted (Matt. 7:13-14).
A part of God’s work in His salvation is to pave a clear way for His life in us; as we realize that our entire unrenewed, unbroken, and undealt with person is an obstacle to God’s life, we need to see that the pathway of life is through the death of the cross (Phil. 3:10).
God’s salvation and life have been concealed in death; in John 12:24 the Lord said that, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Death is the way for life to be released; if there’s no death, no operation of the death of Christ in us, there’s no outlet for life. The pathway of life is the way of death; wherever the death of Christ operates, the life of Christ is manifested and flows out.
Paul testified of this when he said that he bears about in the body the putting to death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in his body (2 Cor. 4:10). The extent to which the death of Christ has worked in us the extent to which the Lord’s life has a way to come out of us.
The way the cross of Christ is applied to us is by the Spirit; the Spirit issues from the cross of Christ, the cross of Christ is an element in the Spirit, and the cross of Christ is applied to us by the Spirit. It is by the Spirit that we put to death the practices of the body (Rom. 8:13).
The Spirit always leads us to the cross; the Spirit leads us to live a crucified life, conforming us to the death of Christ (1 Cor. 15:31; Gal. 5:22-24). The experience of the cross issues in more abundance of the Spirit; the more we experience the cross, the more abundance of the Spirit we receive, and the more Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
When we experience the death of Christ, the issue is the multiplication of life (John 12:24), just as the grain of wheat, when it dies, it grows and is multiplied, for the life in that grain is released.
The stronger the Holy Spirit’s work in us is, the stronger our experience of the cross will be; wherever the Holy Spirit works, there is a putting to death by the Spirit, and resurrection life can be manifested in us and through us (2 Cor. 4:11-12).
It is the Spirit who applies the cross to our being, and the discipline of the Holy Spirit carries out the work of the cross in our being.
On the one hand, we need to know the Holy Spirit and enjoy the Spirit’s work within us, but on the other hand, we need to know the “all things” (Rom. 8:28) in our circumstances that work together for good to work out what God desires in us.
A Christian who is spiritual and lives before God needs to “read” and understand three things: first we need to read the Bible, then we need to read the inward sense of the spirit, and third we need to read our environment and circumstances, which are the persons, matters and things around us.
We need to realize that God arranges our environment and circumstances to cause all persons, matters, and things to work together for good, that is, for transforming and conforming us to the image of God’s firstborn Son (Rom. 8:28-29).
The environment that the Lord has created for us causes us to know the Lord’s grace and experience His power (2 Cor. 12:9). What we are by nature means nothing; only what the Spirit constitutes in our being counts.
Whether we are good or bad, useful or not useful, all is natural, and all that is in our natural being is a hindrance to the Holy Spirit in constituting the divine life in our being.
The pathway of life is the cross operating in us to put us to death so that the life of Christ would be manifested in us. Our natural strength, wisdom, cleverness, disposition, shortcomings, virtues, and attributes, plus our character and habits, all must be torn down, so that the Holy Spirit may form in us a new disposition, a new character, new habits, new virtues, and new attributes.
The Spirit therefore moves within us to enlighten, inspire, lead, and saturate us with the divine life. Also, the Spirit works in our environment to arrange every detail, person, matter, and thing in our situation, to tear down what we are naturally.
He arranges all things to tear down our natural being and reconstitute us with the divine life.
It’s not about the improvement of our character or the perfecting of our behaviour; the discipline of the Holy Spirit works both inwardly and outwardly to tear down anything natural and reconstitute us with the divine life. We don’t need to pray for more discipline but open to the Lord and tell Him,
Lord Jesus, make us those who find the constricted way and who walk on the pathway of life. Shine on us, enlighten us, inspire us, convict us, and lead us to realize that everything that we are in our natural being is a hindrance to God’s life, and therefore we need the work of the cross applied to us by the discipline of the Spirit. Lord Jesus, we love You. May all things, persons, situations, and circumstances work together for good, that is, for manifestation of the divine life in us for us to be conformed to the image of Christ, God’s firstborn Son
Seeing a Vision of how the Life of God can be Lived out of us
As believers in Christ, we need to realize that God’s life is in us; Christ is our life and the life of God is in our spirit (Col. 3:4; Rom. 8:10). It is a great thing to realize that God’s life is in us.
However, we further need God to open our eyes to see that our natural man, our very person, is a hindrance to the life of God.
When we see that it is not merely something outside of us such as our behaviour, our environment, or the people around us that are a hindrance to God’s life – but we are, our very person, we will realize that we need to experience the cross, the death of Christ, so that the life of God within us would be manifested and lived out.
We need to see that we have been crucified on the cross; our old man has been crucified with Christ, and we must hate our self; the more we see God, the more we love Him – and the more we hate, deny, and abhor ourselves (Col. 3:3; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6; Job 42:5-6; Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23; 14:26).
The more we see God, know God, and love God, the more we hate ourselves, the more we deny the self, and the more we cooperate with the discipline of the Holy Spirit applying the cross of Christ to our being.
What every church today needs most is the things of life. All our work and activity must come out of life…Unless it comes out of life, our work and service will neither last nor bear much weight. If we want our work to bear abundant and lasting fruit, we must have a foundation in life…Our work should just be the releasing of the life of the Lord, the imparting and supplying of the Lord’s life to others. May the Lord have mercy upon us and open our eyes to see that the central work of God in this age is that man may gain His life and grow and mature in His life. Only the work which comes out of His life can reach His eternal standard and be accepted by Him. (Witness Lee, The Knowledge of Life, pp. 57-58)
How can God’s life be lived out of us? We need to come before the Lord personally and pray much before Him that He would open our eyes to see that our very person – our natural man – is a hindrance to the life of God.
When we see this, we will realize that, in God’s eyes, our old man has been crucified with Christ, and we simply need to deny the self and let the cross operate in us.
The way God’s life can be manifested in us and through us – the pathway of life – is through the work of the cross in our being, so that God’s life may flow out.
Just as with the Lord Jesus, when He was put to death, life was released and manifested, so it is with us: when we see that our old man has been crucified with Him and remain on the cross by being in spirit, everything that comes out of us will be the issue of life, the result of the divine life operating in us.
May the Lord have mercy on us that we may be persons of life who work as a result of the life within them so that we may reach God’s eternal standard and be accepted by Him.
Lord Jesus, show us a vision of how the life of God can be lived out of us. Cause us to realize that Your life is in us, and that our natural man – our very person – is a hindrance to the life of God. Lord, keep us turning to You in spirit so that our self may be put on the cross and denied, and Your life may be expressed and manifested in us. May all our work and activity come out of life, and not out of the self or the natural man. Have mercy on us, Lord, that we may see the central work of God in this age that we may gain Your life and grow and mature in this life!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ed Marks for this week, and portions from, Knowing Life and the Church, chs. 5-7 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 2 (week 2), The Knowledge of Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# If I’d know Christ’s risen power. / I must ever love the Cross; / Life from death alone arises; / There’s no gain except by loss. / If no death, no life, / If no death, no life; / Life from death alone arises; / If no death, no life. (Hymns #631)
# What a wondrous fact, I’m crucified with Christ; / Of my flesh and passion I’m relieved; / What a glorious fact, with Christ, the Lord, I live, / Resurrection life in Him received. / On the Cross of Calvary the Lord and I / Were crucified, were crucified; / Now in resurrection life with Him I live / And in Him e’er abide. (Hymns #487)
# Let’s keep practicing the application / Of this life by minding just the Son. / Praise Him for the way to live by Him today! / Lord, on You our minds will ever stay. (Hymns #1193)
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