Please keep in mind that Nee himself wrote only two books: "The Spiritual Man" and "The Normal Christian Life"; both books (in comparison to what I see being published out there today) reveal a marvelous insight and incredible depth of knowledge that is taught with simplicity, so that those who have ears to hear with can hear and will understand, and upon understanding will be 'greatly' blessed. I want to share with you some excerps from Watchman Nee's, 'The Normal Christian Life'....
Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
PAUL gives us his definition of the normal Christian life in Galatians 2:20. It is "NO LONGER I, BUT CHRIST". Here is his summary of the Christian life: 'I live no longer, but Christ lives His life in me'. God has only one answer to every human need - His Son Christ Jesus. He died instead of us for our forgiveness; He lives instead of us for our deliverance. So we have two substitutions: a Substitute on the Cross who secures our forgiveness from sin, and a Substitute within who secures our victory over sin.
Let us take the first eight chapters of Romans as the basis of our study of the normal Christian life. In chapters 1 - 4, though sin is mentioned several times, the subject, speaking generally, is "sins". In chapter 5 - 8 this is reversed, for, while sins are mentioned, the question dealt with is "sin". In the first it is a question of sins I have committed before God; in the second it is a discovery of the principal of sin working in me. I need forgiveness for my sins, yes, but I need deliverance from the power of sin as well.
The teaching of Romans is not that we are sinners because we commit sins, but that we sin because we are sinners. We are sinners by constitution rather than by action. As Romans 5:19 expresses it: "Through the one man's disobedience the many were made (lit. constituted) sinners."
When God's light first shines into my heart, my one cry is for forgiveness, for I realize that I have committed sins before Him; but once I have known forgiveness of sins I make a new discovery - the discovery of sin, and I realize that I have the nature of a sinner. There is an inward inclination to sin. There is a power within that draws me to sin, and when that power breaks out I commit sins.
I may seek and receive forgiveness, but then I sin again: and life goes on in a vicious circle - sinning and being forgiven, but then sinning again. I appreciate God's forgiveness, but I want something more than that - I want deliverance. We need forgiveness for what we have done, but we need deliverance from what we are.
In Romans 1 - 8 two aspects are presented to us. Chapters 1 - 4 of the epistle deal with forgiveness of sins and justification - and the basis of forgiveness is the Blood. The Blood is for atonement, and has to do with our standing before God and our consciousness of sin. It shows a misunderstanding of the sphere in which the Blood operates to pray, 'Lord, cleanse my heart from sin by Thy Blood.'
The Blood is for God and is objective, and cleanses the conscience, not the heart. When we sin our conscience condemns us, but because of the shed Blood conscience is set at ease. God said: "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Ex. 12:13) The Blood was on the outside of the house for God to see; it was not seen by those inside.
Objectively, therefore, the Blood delivers us from the power of the enemy, because of his accusations against us; while subjectively the Cross delivers us by dealing with the flesh, which is the ground of the enemy's activity in us. The Blood can wash away my sins, but it cannot wash away my "old man". I need the Cross to crucify me - the sinner.
What is a sinner? One who commits sin? Yes, but before God men are sinners apart from sinful acts. We think, if only we had not done certain things, all would be well; but the trouble lies far deeper than what we do; it lies in what we are. The root trouble is the sinner himself; he must be dealt with. Our sins are dealt with by the Blood; we ourselves are dealt with by the Cross. The Blood procures our pardon; the Cross procures our deliverance from what we are in Adam.
The terms "in Adam" and "in Christ" are very little understood by Christians. We are all born "in Adam", and Romans 5:12-21 reveals to us what we are "in Adam". We are constituted sinners, not by the sins we commit, but simply by being in Adam. All of us sinned before we were born, because we were "in Adam" when he sinned. If your great grandfather had died when he was three years old, where would you be? You would have died in him! Your experience was bound up with his. We are involved in Adam's sin, and by being born "in Adam" we receive all that is of Adam, that is, the Adam nature which is the nature of a sinner.
The vital question then is, 'How can I get out of Adam?' We came in by birth, therefore we can only get out by death; and it is just this way of escape that God has provided. "All we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death" (Rom.6:3). To be "in Christ" is to have been identified with Him in His death and resurrection. The Cross is the power of God which translates us from Adam into Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45 and 47, the Lord Jesus Christ is called by two names -- "the last Adam, and "the second man". The Scripture does not refer to Him as the second Adam, or as the last Man; as for the last Adam He is the sum total of humanity, and as the second Man He is the Head of a new race of men. As the last Adam He gathers up into Himself all that was in Adam; as the second Man, having by His Cross done away with the first man in whom God's purpose was frustrated, He brings in another Man in whom that purpose is fully realized. "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things are passed away; behold they are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17, A.R.V. mg.)
By the Cross, God wiped out the whole of the old creation, and out of death a new creation is brought in, in Christ, the second Man. If we are "in Adam", all that is "in Adam" necessarily devolves upon us. Likewise if we are "in Christ" all that is in Him comes to us by free grace without effort on our part, on the ground of simple faith.
The Christian life is nothing short of the life of Christ. It is Christ's own life reproduced in us. "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor.1:30). The common conception of sanctification is that every item of our life should be holy; but that is not holiness - it is the fruit of holiness. Holiness is Christ!
When we are conscious of pride, we fancy that humility will meet our need; but the answer to pride is not humility - it is Christ, and Christ is the answer to every need. God will not give you humility or patience or love as separate gifts of His grace; He has given you Christ, and if you simply trust Him to live out His life in you, He will be humble, patient, loving and everything else that you need, in your stead.
God is not a retailer; He does not deal out grace to us in doses. He gives us His Son to be our life, and we only need to be "in Christ" for all that is Christ's to become ours. There is only one 'Christian life' - and that is the life of Christ. I am never asked to imitate that Life, but only to allow Christ to live out His life in me. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20)
How then are we to get out of Adam into Christ? Praise God, He has not left us either to devise a way, or to work it out, for God has already put me "in Christ". "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor. 1:30). We are in; therefore we need not to try to get in! It was a divine act, and it is an accomplished fact.
For instance, I put a treasury note in my Bible. 'Of me' is the note in this Bible. Now I post the Bible to Shanghai. Can the Bible get to Shanghai and the note remain here? No; where the Bible goes the note goes, and whatever the Bible goes through, the note goes through too, for it is in the Bible...
"Of him are ye in Christ Jesus." God has put us in Christ, and in dealing with Christ, God has dealt with the whole race. Our destiny is bound up with His. What He has gone through we have gone through.
Thus, He was crucified. Very well, then; what about us? Must we ask God to crucify us? Never! When Christ was crucified, we were crucified; and His crucifixion is past, therefore ours cannot be future. You cannot find one text in the New Testament showing that crucifixion is in the future. All the references to our crucifixion are in the aorist tense, which is the 'once for all' tense, the 'eternal past' tense - e.g. Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:14.
No man could ever commit crucifixion, for no man could crucify himself. We were crucified when He was crucified, for God put us in Him. That we have died in Christ is not a mere doctrinal position; it is a fact, an eternal fact, and God calls upon us to reckon it so.
Whenever the truth concerning our union with Christ is presented, the emphasis is generally on 'reckoning ourselves to be dead'. But God's word tells us that knowing is to precede reckoning. "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him" (Rom. 6:6). "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead..." (Rom. 6:11). Our reckoning must be based on knowledge, otherwise faith has no foundation on which to rest. Our death with Christ is a fact - a fact as surely established as Christ's death.
Have you ever doubted the fact of His death? Then do you ever question the fact of your own death? I believe in the death of the Lord Jesus, and I believe in my own death just as surely as I believe in His. Why do you believe the Lord Jesus died? Because you feel He has died? No, you believe He has died because God has declared it to be a fact. Now what about your own death? Have you died? How can you know?
You can know for the simple reason that God has said so. Our old man has been crucified once for all, and he can never be uncrucified. This is what we need to know; when we know this, we shall spontaneously reckon ourselves to be dead. God tells us to reckon ourselves dead, not that by the process of reckoning we may become dead, but because we are dead. He could never have told us to count on what was not a fact. If I believe that I am dead, then to count myself dead is no effort - it is spontaneous but if I am persuaded that I have really died, and hope by the mental process of reckoning to produce death, then reckoning is a strenuous job!
Suppose I were to try to pose as someone else - call her 'Miss K.' I should have to keep saying to myself all the time, 'You are Miss K., now be sure and remember, you are Miss K'. Despite much reckoning, the likelihood would be that when I was off my gaurd, and someone called "Mr. N.!", I should answer to my own name. All my reckoning would break down at the crucial moment.
I am Mr.N.; therefore I have no difficulty whatever in reckoning myself to be Mr. N. I can go to sleep and forget all about it, but that does not alter the fact. It is as sure when I forget it as when I think about it; it is not dependent upon my memory or my reckoning. I know I am Mr. N.; therefore I naturally reckon it so.
Romans 6:6 precedes Romans 6:11, not only in the Scriptures, but in Christian experience too. Unless we have a revelation by the Holy Ghost of the fact of our death with Christ, our reckoning will be mere dead works.
For years I sought to reckon myself dead; then one day God revealed to me my death with Christ as an eternally established fact. I longed to go through the streets shouting aloud the news of my glad discovery - 'Do you know that I am dead? - so dead that I could never be more dead!" Unless we know for a fact that we are dead, the more we reckon, the more intense will become the struggle, and the issue will be sure defeat.
Knowing and reckoning is then followed by presenting (or yielding) ourselves to God. Paul says: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:12, 13)
We are dead and are risen; now, on the basis of death and resurrection we must present ourselves to Him. The presenting here referred to is not the consecration of anything belonging to the old creation, but that of which has passed through death into resurrection. Knowing, reckoning, presenting - that is the Divine order.
When I really know I am already crucified, then I spontaneously reckon myself dead, and when I truly reckon myself one with the Lord in death and resurrection, it follows that I will present myself to Him. He is the source of my life - He is my life - so I cannot but yield everything to Him, for all is His, not mine.
Without passing through death I have nothing to consecrate, and there is nothing God can accept, for He has condemned to the Cross ALL that is of the old creation. I have no longer any self-will, and am ready for Him to work out His will in me. I consider my whole life as belonging to the Lord.
Continued In August's newsletter --- newslaug.htm