Friday, July 18, 2008

How To Be Invisible

The following excerpt from an old favorite book (The Normal Christian Life) reminded me of a vital and practical Biblical truth in my life—“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:3,4)

Watchman Nee writes:
The object of temptation is always to get us to do something. During the first three months of the Japanese war in China we lost a great many tanks, and so were unable to deal with the Japanese armor, until the following scheme was devised. A single shot would be fired at a Japanese tank by one of our snipers in ambush. After a considerable lapse of time the first shot would be followed by a second; then after a further silence, by another shot; until the tank driver, eager to locate the source of the disturbance, would pop his head out to look around. The next shot, carefully aimed, would put an end to him.

As long as he remained under cover he was perfectly safe. The whole scheme was devised to bring him out into the open. In just the same way, Satan’s temptations are not designed primarily to make us do something particularly sinful, but merely to cause us to act in our own energy; and as soon as we step out of our hiding place to do something on that basis, he has gained the victory over us. But if we do not move, if we do not come out of the cover of Christ into the realm of the flesh, then he cannot get us.

The divine way of victory does not therefore permit our doing anything at all—anything, that is to say, outside of Christ. This is because as soon as we move we run into danger, for our natural inclinations carry us in the wrong direction. Where, then, are we to look for help? Turn now to Galatians 5:17: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” This tells us where the real tussle takes place. The fight with the flesh is not ours but the Holy Spirit’s, “for these are contrary the one to the other,” and it is he, not we, who meets and deals with it. What is the result? “That ye may not do the things that ye would.”

I think we have often failed to grasp the full import of that last clause. Let us consider it for a moment. What “would we do” naturally? We would move off on some course of action dictated by our own instincts and apart from the will of God. The effect, therefore of our refusal to come out of cover and act out from ourselves is that the Holy Spirit is free to do his work—free, that is, to meet and deal with the flesh in us, so that in fact we do not do what we naturally would do. Instead of going off on a plan and course of our own, we find our satisfaction in his perfect plan. Hence the command is a positive one: “Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). If we live in the Spirit, if we walk by faith in the risen Christ, we can truly “stand aside” while the Spirit gains new victories over the flesh every day. He has been given to us to take charge of this business. Our victory lies in hiding in Christ, and in counting in simple trust upon his Holy Spirit within us to overcome our fleshly lusts with his own new desires. The cross has been given to procure salvation for us; the Spirit has been given to produce salvation in us. Christ risen and ascended is the basis of our salvation; Christ in our hearts by the Spirit is its power.

(Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life; Tyndale)


  1. Anonymous5:34 PM

    What a gift--Watchman Nee.

    Thanks, Ralph!

  2. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Ralph, thank you so much for your encouragement to us in these teachings. God uses you to give me great hope for each day. This morning has started out "sucky!" but as I read what God wants to tell me this moment - through your words - I am pointed back to the Holy Spirit and given new energy for the day! Many, many thanks to you and your family!