What to Make of the Blood of Christ?

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Rev. 12:11 ESV

The blood of Christ is clear confirmation that Christ died a sacrificial death to pay for our release from the captivity of sin and bondage to Satan’s schemes. In other words, we owe our salvation to the death of Christ. His blood removes our guilt before God (1 Pet. 1:18-19), cleanses ours stricken consciences (Heb. 9:14), gives us bold access to the Father (Heb. 10:19), on-going cleansing from our sin (1 John 1:7) and conquers all of Satan’s accusations (Rev. 12:10-11). Jesus’ blood condemns death and in that death, the penalty of our sin was paid.

The Blood is for atonement and has to do first with our standing before God. We need forgiveness for the sins we have committed, lest we come under judgment; and they are forgiven, not because God overlooks what we have done but because He sees the Blood. The Blood is therefore not primarily for us but for God.

If I want to understand the value of the Blood I must accept God’s valuation of it, and if I do not know something of the value set upon the Blood by God I shall never know what its value is for me. It is only as the estimate that God puts upon the Blood of Christ is made known to me by His Holy Spirit that I come into the good of it myself and find how precious indeed the Blood is to me. But the first aspect of it is Godward.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, PA: CLC, 1985), 17.

Extravagant Love

Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

John 12:3

Christian devotion is the spontaneous act of extravagant love which ignores all social conventions and practical logic in order to pour out on Jesus all adoration, praise, and honor.

In our attitude . . .

Extravagant love is unreserved: no cultural norms or personal inhibitions will stop us from adoring our Lord.

Extravagant love is unashamed: no fear of embarrassment will prevent us from displaying our love for Christ.

Extravagant love is unexpected: we love Christ passionately because he loved us graciously.

Extravagant love is unrehearsed: our gratitude to him flows spontaneously out of thankful hearts.

Extravagant love is unreal: our love is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

 

In our actions . . . extravagant love is a passionate burning heart on fire for Christ.

Passionate love is expressive: our love for Christ involves our whole being.

Passionate love is excessive: we are over-the-top in our adoration of Christ.

Passionate love is external: no hiding our devotion to the one who died and rose again.

Passionate love is extensive: our love for Christ involves every area of our lives.

Passionate love is extraordinary: the world cannot understand our convictions, loyalty, and love for Christ.

Maintaining a passionate, extravagant love for Christ fulfills the command to love the Lord, your God, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37).

“And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment” (John 12:3).By the breaking of that flask and the anointing of the Lord Jesus, the house was pervaded with the sweetest fragrance. Everyone could smell it and none could be unaware of it. What is the significance of this?

Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered — someone who has gone through experiences with the Lord that have brought limitation, and who, instead of trying to break free in order to be ‘used’, has been willing to be imprisoned by Him and has thus learned to find satisfaction in the Lord and nowhere else — then immediately you become aware of something.

Immediately your spiritual senses detect a sweet savour of Christ. Something has been crushed, something has been broken in that life, and so you smell the odor. The odor that filled the house that day in Bethany still fills the Church today; Mary’s fragrance never passes. It needed but one stroke to break the flask for the Lord, but that breaking and the fragrance of that anointing abides.

We are speaking here of what we are; not of what we do or what we preach. Perhaps you may have been asking the Lord for a long time that He will be pleased to use you in such a way as to impart impressions of Himself to others. That prayer is not exactly for the gift of preaching or teaching.

It is rather that you might be able, in your touch with others, to impart God, the presence of God, the sense of God. Dear friends, you cannot produce such impressions of God upon others without the breaking of everything, even your most precious possessions, at the feet of the Lord Jesus.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington , PA: CLC, 1985), 281.

 

The Holy Spirit on a Person

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

John 20:22

As a pastor, I rarely feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit when preaching to my own congregation. I trust that the Spirit is working irrespective of my mood, the listening audience’s engagement, or the excitement level of the listeners. The prophet Isaiah said that God’s Word never returns void (Isa. 55:11), thus I trust that the Holy Spirit is affecting hearts as I preach. The Holy Spirit is upon the audience encouraging them to trust God entirely, love Christ throughly, and hunger for holiness completely.

I always believe that the Holy Spirit is upon a person when I preach to that person. I do not mean that the Spirit is within the hearts of unbelievers, but that He is outside. What is He doing? He is waiting, waiting to bring Christ into their hearts. He is like the light. Open the window-shutters even a little, and it will flood in and illuminate the interior. Let there be a cry from the heart to God, and at that moment the Spirit will enter and begin His transforming work of conviction and repentance and faith.

Watchman Nee, What Shall This Man Do? 

One Answer to Every Human Need

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Heb. 1:1-2 ESV

Often our problems are complex, our lives frustrating, and our lifestyles lonely. We look for answers, we long for solutions, and we struggle for meaning. Yet, Christ calls, “come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden” (Matt. 10: 28-32) and, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Christ is still the solution to our problems, the answer to our need, and the lover of our souls who fills our lives with meaning.

God makes it quite clear in His Word that He has only one answer to every human need — His Son, Jesus Christ. In all His dealings with us He works by taking us out of the way and substituting Christ in our place. The Son of God died instead of us for our forgiveness: He lives instead of us for our deliverance.

So we can speak of two substitutions — a Substitute on the Cross who secures our forgiveness and a Substitute within who secures our victory. It will help us greatly, and save us from much confusion, if we keep constantly before us this fact, that God will answer all our questions in one way only, namely, by showing us more of His Son.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, PA: CLC, 1985), 12.

Walking in the Spirit

Keep in Step with the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Gal. 5:16 NASB

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Gal. 5:16 NLT

Walking in the Spirit is finding Christ more beautiful and desirable than any worldly attraction, fleshly indulgence, or sinful desire.  Walking in the Spirit is enjoying the constant, conscious presence of Christ day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. Walking in the Spirit imbibes the grace of God as the power of God to overcome the world, flesh, and devil.

“To keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25 NIV) means being so satisfied in God’s great grace and unfathomable love that we are freed from the idols of self. Walking in the Spirit is preferring God’s will over and against the fleeting, false promises of this life. Eternity is valued higher than the passing pleasures of this life as we are led by the Spirit.

When we walk in the Spirit . . .

The Holy Spirit changes our motivation: we yearn for holiness instead of demanding our wants and desires to be met now.

The Holy Spirit frees our hearts from the fear of retribution for our sins.  In its place, the Spirit gives us hearts that yearn to please our heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit renews our hearts to prefer and refer everything in our lives to the power of God and his holiness.

Living in the Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to Him to do in me what He requires of me. It is not a case of trying but of trusting; not of struggling but of resting in Him.

If I have a hasty temper, impure thoughts, a quick tongue or a critical spirit, I shall not set out with a determined effort to change myself, but, reckoning myself dead in Christ to these things, I shall look to the Spirit of God to produce in me the needed purity or humility or meekness. This is what it means to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you” (Exod. 14:13).

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1957), 176.

 

Sweet Fragrance

Sweetness Poured Forth

The house was filled with the fragrance.

John 12:3 NLT

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.

2 Cor. 2:15 NLT

You meet a Christian with a sweet spirit. You wonder when and where that godly nature was nurtured and developed. You compliment them and ask about their background. In the telling, they describe multiple trials and setbacks. Yet, they did not grow bitter, but better. They walked through their circumstances trusting God’s loving and gracious providence. They refused to believe that God was being unjust to them. They only could see God’s hand glorifying Christ in their midst. They found in their suffering their heart’s desire: more of Jesus. As a result, their character was transformed and a sweet spirit was developed. Their kindness, optimism, and faith rise up as a sweet fragrance of worship to God and an aroma of life to others.

By the breaking of that flask and the anointing of the Lord Jesus, the house was pervaded with the sweetest fragrance (John 12:1). Everyone could smell it and none could be unaware of it. What is the significance of this?

Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered — someone who has gone through experiences with the Lord that have brought limitation, and who, instead of trying to break free in order to be ‘used,’ has been willing to be imprisoned by Him and has thus learned to find satisfaction in the Lord and nowhere else — then immediately you become aware of something.

Immediately your spiritual senses detect a sweet savour of Christ. Something has been crushed, something has been broken in that life, and so you smell the odor. The odor that filled the house that day in Bethany still fills the Church today; Mary’s fragrance never passes. It needed but one stroke to break the flask for the Lord, but that breaking and the fragrance of that anointing abides.

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (CLC, 1977).

His Spontaneous Working (Part Two)

The Spontaneous Working of Christ Living in Us

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Col. 1:29

Life, spontaneous life, in us is Jesus Christ. He is “the law of the Spirit of life” who has set us free “from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:3). As we love Christ, as we draw near to him, as we abide in him, Jesus’ life overflows in and through us (1 John 4:9). That life, Christ’s life, spontaneously overflows as we trust him to live in and through us.

As Christ overflows, we become amazed that Jesus would work through our failings, struggles, and weaknesses. The overflow of the life of Christ in us is the life and life more abundant that Jesus offers (John 10:10). This life, Christ’s life, is the peace that passes all understanding, the rest that calms all anxiety and fear, the love that unselfishly serves, and the wisdom that makes godly choices.

This is what makes Christianity so special. We have a life within us, and this life is just Christ Himself. There is no need for us to use our own strength. This life will spontaneously express itself in meekness, goodness, humility, and patience. Christ in us becomes our meekness, our goodness, our humility, and our patience. God has put His Son within us so that Christ Himself will live spontaneously out of us in all circumstances.

When we are tempted by anxiety, this life will manifest itself as patience. When we are tempted by pride, this life will manifest itself as humility. When we are tempted by defilement, this life will manifest itself as holiness. Christ will express His patience, His humility, His meekness, and His holiness from within us. Christ becomes our patience, our humility, and our holiness.

It is not a matter of our doing, but a matter of Christ living. We do not need to fulfill God’s goal by living by ourselves or even by the power of the Lord. The spontaneous manifestation of Christ Himself fulfills God’s goal. When the Lord is expressed through us, we become what we are spontaneously.

Watchman Nee, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Anaheim, CA: Living Stream MInistry, 1993), 109.

His Spontaneousness Working (Part One)

The Spontaneous Working of Christ Living in Us

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.

Eph. 3:20

Christ lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in the gospels, all that Christ is as the second person of the Trinity, and all that Christ is as Lord now lives in us. Since Christ lives in us, we are never alone. Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live holy lives. Since Christ lives in us, we can respond (not react) to every life situation according to the will of God. Since Christ lives in us, we can daily experience Him intimately and powerfully by faith. Therefore, we desire all of Him in all of us all the time.

What is the Christian life? The Christian life is just Christ. What does it mean for Christ to live within us? Christ living within us means that Christ is our life and that He is living instead of us. We do not live by the power of Christ. Rather, Christ lives within us and on our behalf. This is an inheritance that we can enjoy.

God has given Christ to us to be our life. This life is a law, and it is spontaneous. There is no need for us to do anything. The law of the Spirit of life is in us. When this law operates, it spontaneously does things for us. If it were not a law, there would be the need for self-effort, and we would have to do something. But since it is a law, there is no need for self-effort . . . .

Watchman Nee, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Anaheim, CA: Living Stream MInistry, 1993), 109.

Slay me

Trusting God Even When Heart and Body Suffer

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Job 13:15 NIV

Faith sees our circumstances from God’s perspective, believes what God says about that circumstance, and obeys all that God is commanding for us to do in that situation. Faith is a gift from God and a choice of our hearts enabling us to believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are faithful, sufficient, and present for every life circumstance. Faith’s result is the peace that passes all understanding and a heart content in God’s sovereign grace. Maintaining faith is a battle of the heart: it is a spiritual challenge to stay fixed on the goodness and faithfulness of God in the midst of turmoil and bodily affliction.

We should inquire once again as to what the life of faith is. It is one lived by believing in God under any circumstance: “If he slay me,” says Job, “yet would I trust in Him.” That is faith. Because I once believed, loved and trusted God I shall believe, love and trust Him wherever He may put me and however my heart and body may suffer . . . Emotion begins to doubt when it senses blackness, whereas faith holds on to God even in the face of death . . . God asks for men (and women) who are totally broken and who will follow Him even to death to work for Him . . . .

Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man

Living the Normal Christian Life

Living the Normal Christian Life Begins at the Cross

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Rom. 7:24-25

The Christian life is lived at the foot of the Cross; there, forgiveness is found, grace received, and victory gained. In Christ’s death, we died to sin. In his burial, our sin is put away. In his resurrection, sin’s bondage is broken. We are saved at the foot of the Cross and we are transformed into Christlikeness at the foot of the Cross. At the foot of the Cross is where normal Christian living begins.

No one can really live the normal Christian life until he has begun to recognize the fullness of the work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross. We have touched on four aspects of that work: let us mention them again.

(1) OUR SINS. No one can be a Christian whose sins have not been dealt with and cleansed in the Blood.

(2) OURSELVES. Not only have our sins been dealt with by His death, but our old man has been crucified with Him. It is possible to be a Christian without seeing this fact, but it is only possible to be a very miserable Christian!

(3) OUR WILLS. The will has also been dealt with by the Cross, and once we definitely accept this, in an act of unqualified yielding to the Lord, we are no longer governed by self-will, and are ready for Him to work out His will in us.

(4) OUR NATURAL LIFE. When the Cross has delivered us from the law, we see that the Lord has dealt with our carnal powers, and we reach a point where we dare not trust ourselves at all, but acknowledge that of ourselves we can do nothing whatever to please God.

These four points are fundamental and we cannot live the normal Christian life without seeing them, and seeing them experimentally. “Who shall deliver me?” is the cry of Romans 7, but Romans 8 gives us the answer. Paul’s shout of praise is: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). So we learn that the life we live is the life of Jesus Christ alone. The Christian life is not our living a life LIKE Christ, or our TRYING to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving US the power to live a life like His. It is Christ Himself living His own life through us: “no longer I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

Watchman Nee, Twelve Baskets Full, Vol. 3 (Hong Kong: Church Book Room, 1969), 97.