The Messenger of the Cross

Part Two

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By Watchman Nee

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The Cross and it's Messenger

Personal Experience

After we read 2 Corinthians 4 (please read it), we will realize the inner experience of this servant of the Lord. The secret of all his work was "death operates in us, but life in you" (v. 12). He passed through death daily. Every day he allowed the cross to do a deeper work in his heart so that others could gain life. If one does not have the death of the cross in himself, others cannot gain the life of the cross. Paul was willing to be put to death that others could gain life. Only those who have died can give others life. Still, how difficult this is!

What does death mean here? The death here is not only a death to sin, self, and the world. The death here has a deeper significance than this. This death is the spirit that is manifested by the Lord Jesus' crucifixion. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not die for His own sin. His cross was a manifestation of His holiness. His crucifixion was altogether on behalf of others. He died in obedience to God's will. This is the meaning of death here. It is not only for our own sake that we are crucified to sin and the world, but it is for the sake of our obedience to the Lord Jesus that we are daily opposed by sinners and are put to death. We should allow the death of the Lord Jesus to work in us to the point that we truly have the experience of death to our self and are sanctified. Furthermore, we should allow the Holy Spirit, through the cross, to do a deeper work in us so that we can live out the cross. We should not only have the death of the cross, but even more we should have the life of the cross. When we have the death of the cross, we are dead to sin and the Adamic life. When we have the life of the cross, we go one step further and take the spirit of the cross as the very life in our daily living. This means that we manifest in our daily living the spirit of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb, who suffered silently and who "being reviled did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten but kept committing all to Him who judges righteously" (1 Pet. 2:23). This is a step deeper than being crucified to sin, self, and the world. May the cross become our life so that we can be a living cross and manifest the cross in everything.

Paul was able to give others life because for him to live was the cross. He not only passively applied the death of the cross to terminate everything from old Adam, but he actively took the cross as his life and daily lived out the cross. Day by day, he apprehended the significance of the Lord's cross. At the same time, day by day, he expressed the life of the Lord as the Lamb (the cross). He was "always bearing about in the body the putting  to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in [his] body" (2 Cor. 4:10). He was willing to be "always...delivered unto death for Jesus' sake that the life of Jesus also [the cross] may be manifested in...mortal flesh" (v. 11). Therefore, he could be "pressed on every side but not constricted; unable to find a way out but not utterly without a way out; persecuted but not abandoned; cast down but not destroyed" (vv. 8-9). He allowed the death of the Lord Jesus to "operate" in him (v. 12). A death that can operate is a "living death." It is the life of death, the life of the cross. He was willing to be always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake. He was willing to endure ear-grating words, high-handed methods, cruel persecutions, and unreasonable misunderstandings for the Lord's sake. He was willing to be delivered unto death without saying one word. Under such circumstances, he was like his Lord who, though having the power to ask the Father to send twelve legions of angels to His rescue and to evade the circumstances by human method, would not choose to do it. He would rather let the "living death" of Jesus--the life and spirit of the cross--work in him to the extent that he acted and behaved in the spirit of the cross. He realized that with the cross there was the power, a power which enabled him to yield to death for Jesus' sake and to suffer persecution and tribulations under man's hand. How deeply had the cross worked in Paul!  How good it would be if we could also bear "about in the body the putting to death of Jesus"! Who can say to the Lord that he is willing to die and not resist in the midst of all opposing and suffering circumstances? If we want others to gain the cross, the cross must first take hold of us in our lives. It is only after the cross has been wrought into our lives through the fiery sufferings and oppositions that we can duplicate this cross in others' lives. In other words, the life of the cross is the life that puts into practice the Lord's Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7, see 5:38, 44).

The passage here in 2 Corinthians clearly tells us that we are not just for preaching, but we are for the manifestation of the life of the Lord Jesus, and we are to flow out the life of the Lord Jesus from our body. We can flow out His life only when we always bear about in the body the putting to death of Jesus, when we suffer loss in our reputation, mind, and body for His sake, and when we express the way of the Lamb of Golgotha in the midst of all such sufferings (vv. 10-11). Unfortunately, we often like to take the shortcuts! Little do we realize that there is no shortcut in manifesting the life of the Lord Jesus!

"Death operates in us, but life in you" (v. 12). "You" refers to the Corinthians and all the saints (1:1); they are Paul's audience. Because the death of the Lord Jesus was able to work in Paul, he was able to have the life of the Lord Jesus work in his audience and to have them receive the spiritual life. The word "life" in this verse is zoe, which in the original language means the spiritual life, the highest life. What Paul was able to lift up and give to others was not just his speech, thoughts, and a wooded cross. Paul desired that they gain the spiritual life of the Lord. This spiritual life operated in their hearts and enabled them to reach the goal of Paul's message. This was not a vain preaching, but one that entered the dried-up hearts of his audience with extraordinary life and power so that they actually received the life of the cross which he preached. Our preaching of the cross should produce such a result. We should not be satisfied if our preaching does not have a result like Paul's. In summary, one who does not live the cross as Paul did cannot expect to have a result as Paul had. If we are not crucified persons, it will surely be hard for us to preach the cross and to give others life.

The Method of Preaching

We know that Paul not only preached the cross as a crucified person, but he preached the cross in the spirit of the cross. In his daily life he was a crucified person; in his preaching he was also a crucified person. He announced the cross by living the cross. Paul was a person who was crucified with Christ. This was his experience in life. When he announced the cross, he did not exercise his "excellence of speech or wisdom," or "persuasive words of wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:1, 4) which he was good at. He knew that these would not serve as proper outlets for God's channel of life. Instead, he relied on the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (v. 4). Such preaching is one in which the word of the cross is preached with the attitude of the cross. With his genius and experience, Paul could surely have articulated the truth of the cross in persuasive words and clever theories, capturing his audience's attention and making them understand what he had to say. He could have made the cruel cross sound very interesting. He could have used many suitable illustrations and simple proverbs to expound the mystery of the cross. He could have quoted the Scripture and expounded on the philosophy of the cross, clarifying to others the substitutional death and the co-crucifixion of the cross. Paul was capable of doing these things, but he would not do them. His heart did not rely on these things because he knew that these things could not give life to others. He knew that for him to do this would be to preach the great truth of the cross with ways that are contrary to the cross. To the world, the cross is humble, low, foolish, and ugly. This is what the cross is anyway. To announce it with worldly excellence of speech and wisdom would be contrary to the spirit of the cross and would not be of any profit. Paul was willing to abandon his natural intellect and to announce the cross with the attitude and spirit of the cross. This was why God used Paul greatly.

Every one of us has our own natural gifts. Some may have more while others may have less. After we have gone through the experience of the cross, we tend to rely on or draw upon our natural gift to announce the cross which we have newly experienced. How our heart desires that our audience could see what we have seen, or would desire to acquire the same experience as we have! Yet, how cold and indifferent is our audience! How they disappoint us! Little do we realize that our experience of the cross is still immature, that our natural, excellent gifts need to be crucified with the Lord, and that the cross should work in us. We should manifest the cross not only in our lives but in our work as well. Before we reach the place of maturity, we tend to consider that our talent is not harmful but profitable. We wonder why we cannot draw upon our natural strength. It is not until we see that the work done by drawing upon our natural genius only elicits temporary acceptance from others and that it does not bring about a solid work of the Holy Spirit in  others' spirits. It is then that we begin to understand that our natural gift is insufficient and that we ought to seek for greater power. How numerous are the ones who preach the cross with their own self strength!

I am not saying that these do not have the experience of the cross. It is possible that they do have the experience of the cross. While they are working, they do not declare that they are trusting in their own gifts or power. On the contrary, they pray diligently and seek after God's blessing and the help of the Holy Spirit. To a certain extent, they know that they are not trustworthy.Yet, all these realizations do not help them, because in the deepest part of their hearts they still trust in themselves, thinking that their eloquence, logic, thoughts, or parables will move others! The meaning of crucifixion is to be helpless, in weakness, and in trembling and fear. It means to die. This is what happens when a person is crucified. Hence, if we are manifesting the life of the cross in our daily lives, we should also manifest the spirit of the cross in the Lord's work. We should reckon ourselves helpless and should always consider ourselves untrustworthy, being in fear and trembling for ourselves. If we do this, we will gain fruit through trusting in the Holy Spirit.

Only those who are crucified are willing and able to trust in the Holy Spirit and His power. Whenever we have a little trust in ourselves, we will not trust in the Spirit. Paul himself was one who had been crucified with the Lord. When he worked, he manifested the spirit of the cross. He was not at all self-assured. Because he preached the Savior of the cross with the way of the cross, he had the demonstration of the Spirit and of power (v. 4). We ought to be able to say with Paul that "our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance" (1 Thes. 1:5). If the Spirit and His power are not working behind our speaking, our words are useless even if they are enticing. May we despise our natural abilities, and may we be willing to lose all to gain the power of the Holy Spirit of God!

Herein lies the key to the difference between fruitfulness and fruitlessness in an evangelist. Sometimes, we see two evangelists having the same utterance and expressions. Yet God is able to use one to gain much fruit. The other may be spiritual and scriptural in his speaking, and his audience may also pay much attention to him, but nothing results from his speaking; there is no fruit. It is not difficult to discover the reason behind this difference. According to my observation, I can see that one is a genuinely crucified person; he has the experience. The other only remains in his imagination. Those who have nothing but imaginations surely cannot preach the cross with the way of the cross. If those who have the life of the cross proclaim their experience from their spirit, the Holy Spirit will surely be with them. Even if some have better eloquence than others and are able to analyze and illustrate well, the Holy Spirit will not be working with them unless the cross has done a solid work in their hearts already. What we lack is the deep work of the cross in us, which results in the Holy Spirit working with us in our gospel preaching and in His life flowing out through us. Although the Lord may at times use our natural gifts, this is not the source of fruitfulness. Those works done through the natural life are mainly vain works. Only those works done through the supernatural life can produce much fruit.

Here we can consider another passage of the Scripture. This will explain to us the difference between trusting in the natural life and trusting in the supernatural life. The Lord Jesus said, "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his soul-life loses it; and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life" (John 12:24-25).

Here the Lord spelled out the principle of fruit bearing. The grain of wheat must first die before it will bear much fruit. Death is the necessary pathway to fruit bearing. Death is the unique way to fruit bearing. We usually pray for the Lord to grant us greater power so that we can bear more fruit. However, the Lord told us that we must first die and must first have the experience of the cross before we can have the authority of the Holy Spirit. Often we try to skip over Golgotha to reach Pentecost. Little do we realize that without the cross crucifying us and stripping us of everything natural, the Holy Spirit cannot work with us to gain others. Only through death can there be fruit bearing.

The nature of the fruit here also proves what we have said before, that the purpose of our work is to give life to others. When it dies, it dispenses life to many other grains. All these other grains contain life in them. The life that they possess originates from the one dead grain. If we truly die, we can become God's channel of life and can dispense life to others. This life is not an empty term; with it there is the genuine power of God. When this power is released from us, it gives life to others.

Here, the fruit resulting from this grain of wheat is manifold; it is "much fruit." When we are confined to our own life, the most that we can gain through our work is one or two persons. This does not mean that we will not save anyone. However, when we die like the grain of wheat, we will gain "much fruit." Whatever we do, even if we are negligent in a few words, will still cause others to be saved or be edified. May we bear much fruit.

But what exactly does it mean to fall into the ground and die? We will understand it when we read the following word of the Lord: "He who loves his soul-life loses it; and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life." Here soul-life is mentioned a few times. In the original text, different words are used for "life." One denotes the soul-life and the natural life. The other denotes the spiritual life and the extraordinary life. Therefore, what the Lord Jesus is saying here is, "He who loves his soul-life shall lose the spiritual life, and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep his spiritual life unto eternity." Simply put, this verse tells us that we should put our soul-life to death in the same way that a grain of wheat is put into the ground. Afterwards, we will bear much fruit in our spiritual life, which will remain forever. We want to have much fruit. However, we do not know how to put to death the soul-life and how to make alive the spiritual life.

The soul-life is just our natural life. Our flesh is able to live because of our soul-life. The soul-life is the organ by which we live. Everything that a person possesses by nature, such as his will, power, emotion, and thought, are all part of the soul. Everything that the natural life possesses is the by-product of our soul-life. Our intellect, thought, eloquence, emotion, and abilities all belong to our soul-life. The spiritual life is God's life. This life does not evolve from any part of the soul-life but is specifically given to us by God when we believe in the Lord's cross and are regenerated. What God is doing in us now is developing this spiritual life and causing it to grow. All our good works and the power to work issue from the spiritual life. His intention is to bring our soul-life to death. (The death here is different from the death in 2 Corinthians 4. The death there is another aspect of death.)

Many times the power of our work comes from our natural ability or our soul-life. We find that frequently we need to use our eloquence, wisdom, knowledge, and abilities. One of the most awesome things is the power we employ in our preaching; it comes from our soul-life. We are exercising our natural power.   This greatly diminishes our fruit. In our work, we do not know how to apply the power of the spiritual life. Many times, we take the soul-life as the spiritual life. As a result, we end up drawing upon our natural power. Often, we have to wait until all natural power of our body is depleted before we begin to rely upon the power of the spiritual life. Many people do not even come up to this standard. Whenever they feel weak in their physical strength, they concede that they can no longer work. Others who are more advanced would continue on in their weakness and would go on working by trying to trust in the Lord's strength. However, if we truly realize the way to die to our natural (soulish) strength, and if we trust in the power of the spiritual life which God put within us, we will not depend on the natural strength for our work when we are without strength as well as when we are full of strength. I feel sad that many believers' work remains in the soul, despite the fact that these believers are very zealous and sincere. Such work never touches the spiritual realm. The difference between the use of spiritual power and soulish power is something that words cannot explain. We can only comprehend it in our spirit and in our heart. Yet when the Holy Spirit enlightens us, we will come to the full realization of it in our experience.

For the sake of taking care of the weakness among many of God's children, we will discuss this question in detail. However, we can only look to the Holy Spirit of God to personally show us the real significance of this truth and the way to practice it in our experience. There are mainly three characteristics of the work of the soul. First is the natural ability, second is the emotion, and third is the mind.

Natural Ability

We have mentioned earlier the matter of our natural abilities. Some people are more intelligent; they are naturally sharper than others. Some people are very eloquent; when they speak, their arguments are always very reasonable. Some people are very analytical; they can analyze a problem logically. Some people are very strong physically; they can labor day and night without any rest. Some people are very capable; they are very good at managing affairs. We know that God does use man's natural abilities, but man often takes occasion in God's use of his abilities to trust in all his natural abilities. For example, here may be one person who is slow in communication but capable in managing affairs, and another person may be very eloquent but incapable in managing affairs. If the Lord asks both to give a message, the first one will surely feel that he is slow in utterance and that he must therefore fully trust in the Lord. The second one will consider himself very eloquent. Although he also will pray, he will not be as desperate as the first one. On the other hand, if the Lord asks both of them to manage an affair, the first one will not trust in the Lord as desperately as the second one! Our natural ability is the power of our soul-life. We do not realize how much we are confident in ourselves and how much we depend on the power of the soul when we work! In God's view, too many of our works are done through the power of the soul.

Emotion

Some emotions originate from ourselves. Others originate from other people. Sometimes our loved ones are not saved, or they have not come up to our expectation. As a result we are stirred up. We try our best to save them or to edify them. This kind of work is usually ineffective, for the motive of such work originates from our emotion. Sometimes we receive special grace from God; our hearts are filled with light and joy. It seems that a fire is burning within which gives us unspeakable joy. At such times, the presence of God becomes very real. When our soul is stirred up this way, emotional feelings run high. At such times, it is easy to work for the Lord. Our hearts feel as if they are ready to overflow. We can hardly hold ourselves back from speaking to others about the Lord. Ordinarily, we may be conscious that we ought to be careful in our words. However, at such times when the heart is filled with special light, we babble unceasingly about the things of God. Such works are fully of the emotion. Some think that they can only work when they sense this kind of fire in their hearts and when they themselves are carried away as if in the third heavens. When the Lord takes away this "noticeable" joy, such ones will feel that tons of weight have come on their shoulders and that they cannot go one step further. Sometimes their hearts are cold as ice; there are no emotional feelings at all. At such times, they feel that they can no longer preach. They feel dry and cold within. As a result, they are unable to work. Even when they force themselves to work, they have absolutely no taste for it. Their labors are absolutely controlled by their inward feelings. When the right feelings are present, they soar like eagles. When the right feelings are gone, they wobble and refuse to go forward. Feelings, stimulations, and emotions are all parts of the soul-life. Hence, those saints who are dominated by their feelings, stimulations, and emotions are working by the power of their soul-life. They are not yet capable of putting these things to death and still are not able to work in the spirit.

The Mind

Our work is often influenced or controlled by our mind. Because we do not know how to seek after God's will, many times we take the thoughts of the mind as God's will and are led astray. To go along with the mind and to base one's conduct on the mind is a very dangerous thing. Sometimes when we prepare a sermon, we try hard to exercise our mind to come up with outlines, sections, expositions, significances, and examples. Such sermons are very dead. They may stir up others' attention and may generate some interest, but they cannot dispense life to others.

There is another work of the mind. I believe many of God's workers often find themselves falling into such ill. It is the memory. We often preach to others from our memory! We memorize the messages that we have heard, and we speak to others from what we remember. Sometimes we speak to others from the Scriptures that we have memorized or from our old sermons, old commentaries. These are all works of the mind. This does not mean that we have never experienced what we preach. Perhaps what we know and what we remember are things taught by God. Perhaps we have indeed experienced the things we know and remember. However, this does not take away the fact that they are still works of the mind. We may have experienced a truth, which at the time of our experience may have been life to us. However, after a while the knowledge of the truth remains only in our head. We begin to preach from our memory the truth that we formerly experienced, but this has become merely a work of the mind. Our mind and memory are both organs of the soul. For us to trust in our mind and memory is for us to trust in the power of the soul-life. We are still under the control of the natural life.

These three things are the chief items in the work of the soul. This type of soulish work is not sin or absolutely incapable of saving people. However, the fruit will be rare. We should overcome this work of the soul by trusting in the cross. The Lord Jesus told us that the soul-life should fall into the ground and die like a grain of wheat. According to our experience, we love our natural abilities very much. We love our feelings, and we trust in our mind. However, our Lord told us that we should hate our soul-life. If we do not hate it but instead love it, we will lose the power of the extraordinary spiritual life. In this matter, the death of the cross should perform a deep work. We should hand over to the cross the soul-life which we cherish. We should be willing to die with the Lord here and remove our dependence on the natural abilities, the feelings, and the mind. We are not removing these works with reluctance. Rather, we hate these works from our heart. In our work, we should not only be unconcerned about having or not having natural abilities and we should not only be unconcerned about having or not having emotions and thoughts, but we should go further to nurture a direct hatred for such power of the natural life and be willing to hand them over to the crucifixion of the cross.

If we take the constant attitude of hating our soul-life on the negative side and if we will not compromise at all, we will learn in experience how to trust in the power of the spiritual life and bear fruit unto God.

The Way for a Crucified Person to Preach the Cross

In our practice, every time and anywhere the Lord burdens us to testify for Him, we should drive away afresh any desire that is in us to rely upon our natural abilities. We should set aside our emotions and pay no attention to our own feelings. Even at times when we have no feelings at all, or when our emotions are as cold as ice, we need to kneel down before the Lord and ask Him to do a deeper work of the cross in us so that we can be able to direct our emotions and can act according to the Lord's command, regardless of whether our emotions are cold or hot. We can ask the Lord to strengthen our spirit and apply a fatal blow to our soul on the cross. If we do this, the Lord will be gracious to us and will defeat our cold emotions. Even though we already know what we are going to preach, we do not try to dig out such teachings from our head or our mind. Rather, we humble ourselves before God and ask Him to freshly enlighten us with the teachings that we have known before and to freshly impress such teachings upon our spirits so that what we preach does not become merely a recollection of our old experience but a fresh encounter in our life. In this way, the Holy Spirit will confirm what we preach with power. It is best for us to spend a long time before the Lord prior to our preaching to allow His word (some of which we have been familiar with for a long time already) to be impressed upon our spirit afresh. Sometimes it does not take a long time. The Lord can impress His message upon our spirit within a few minutes. In order to do this, our spirit must be very open to the Lord and be intimately connected to Him at ordinary times.

We must pay attention to this point. It has much to do with our success or failure. One can ask a backslidden saint to deliver a message. He can speak of his former experience by exercising his memory. He may even speak persuasively. However, we know that the Holy Spirit cannot possibly work with him. All the works done by us through the exercise of our memory are more or less equivalent to the preaching of backslidden believers. We have to realize that many times the work we accomplish through our mind is a waste of energy. The mind can only reach others' minds; it can never move their spirit or give life to them. Old experiences can never equip us for fresh works. We must let God renew in our spirit the old experiences.

The same is more true in the matter of preaching the salvation of the cross to sinners. We may have been saved many decades ago. If we work from our memory, is not our message too old and tasteless? Only when we realize afresh in our spirit the evil of sin, taste afresh the love of the cross, and sympathize with Christ in His intense desire for sinners to come to Him, will we be able to portray the cross vividly before men (Gal. 3:1) and cause men to believe. Otherwise, if we try to persuade others by our love and zeal, we may end up being hardened and cold ourselves! It is possible that while we are preaching the suffering of the cross, our hearts are not at all touched by the sufferings and are not melted by them!

We should open up our spirit before the Lord and should allow the Holy Spirit to pour out His words and His message through our spirit, so that we may first be infused in our spirit by the Lord's word and by the message we preach. We should not depend on our feelings, natural abilities, and thoughts, but should trust solely in the power of the Holy Spirit and should allow His message to be impressed upon our spirit as well as the spirit of the audience. Every time we preach, we should be like Isaiah, who received first a burden for prophecy and then uttered his prophecy. In Isaiah 13-23, the phrase "the burden concerning such and such which such and such saw" is very meaningful. Every time before we preach God's word, we should first receive God's burden in our spirit. Every time we preach, we should bear the burden of the message we preach in our spirit and should not consider this burden relieved until our work is done. We should pray that the Lord would give us this burden so that our work would not be of the emotions, the natural abilities, and the mind. We should also have the experience of Jeremiah, who said, "If I say, I will not mention Him / Or speak anymore in His name, / Then it is in my heart like a burning fire, / shut up in my bones, / And I am weary of holding it in, / Nor can I" (20:9). We should not preach His words carelessly or foolishly. Rather, we should first let His words burn in our spirit to the extent that we are compelled to speak. However, if we are not willing to put our soul-life and its strength to death, we will never be able to receive the word of the Lord afresh in our spirit.

Therefore, brothers, if we want to be used by the Lord to save sinners, to revive the saints, and to announce the word of the cross, we should let this cross work in us. Through this working, on the one hand, we become willing to be put to death for the Lord's sake, and on the other hand, we become willing to put our soul-life to death. At the same time, we no longer rely on ourselves or on anything that issues from us. Instead, we hate all our natural strength. In this way we will see the life of God and His power flowing into others' spirits through our speaking.

However, although as the preacher of the gospel we are ready on our side, we may still fail. Of course we may not fail completely, but why do we fail? It is because there is:

Oppression and Attack From Satan

Satan does not like our preaching of the cross at all. When we are faithful in speaking about the cross of the Lord, he surely will raise up many oppositions. He can frequently initiate the following attacks against the messengers of the cross.

Satan attacks the messengers of the cross by causing them to be ill or to lose their voice in the course of giving a message. He may put them in dangers, cause them to be depressed in their spirit and to lose their freedom, and suffocate them. He can also work in the environment to stir up misunderstandings, oppositions, and sometimes even persecutions. He can bring in bad weather to discourage people from coming to the meetings. He can cause a sudden disturbance or confusion in the meetings. He can bring in animal noises and baby cries. Sometimes he works in the meeting atmosphere, making it heavy and suffocating and bringing in drowsiness and darkness. All these are works of the enemy. The preacher of the cross should be well aware of these things.

Since we have such an adversary and such oppositions, it becomes necessary for us to know the victory of the cross. The Lord's accomplishment on the cross not only solved the problem of the sinners, it also pronounced the judgment on Satan. The Lord has defeated Satan on the cross already. Hebrews 2:14-15 says, "That through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil, and might release those who because of the fear of death through all their life were held in slavery." Colossians 2:15 says, "Stripping off the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The cross is the place where Satan is overcome. Satan received his death wound on the cross. We know that "the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8), but where were the works of the devil undone? The obvious answer is, "at the cross." We also know that the Lord Jesus came to bind "the strong man" (Matt. 12:29), but where did He do this? Naturally, it was also at the cross of Golgotha. We need to know that the Lord Jesus has won the victory on the cross.

The Victory of the Cross

We should know that Satan is already a defeated enemy. For this reason, we should not be defeated anymore. The enemy should not be able to claim victory over us anymore. He can have no claim to anything except total defeat. Hence, both before we see Satan's work and after we see his work, we should lift up the victory of the cross. We should praise the victory of Christ with our voice. Before we begin our work, we should say before the Lord, "Praise the Lord, for He is victorious! Christ is the Victor! Satan has been defeated! The enemy has been destroyed! Golgotha means victory! The cross means victory!" We can declare this continually until we are assured in our spirit that the Lord will win the victory this time. We should stand on the ground of the cross and pray for God's victory. We should ask God to defeat all the works of the devil. Both for ourselves as well as for those coming to the meeting, we should beseech God to cover us with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus so that we will not come under the attack of Satan but will overcome him instead. "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 12:11). This time while I was working in south Fukien province, Satan came to oppress and attack me many times. What the Lord showed me was that I should stand on the ground of the cross and should praise Him. Sometimes my spirit felt a great oppression; I could not be free. It was as if a thousand tons of weight were on my heart. A few times when I entered the meeting hall I could feel the atmosphere polluted; the devil was busily working. Under such circumstances I prayed much, but to no avail. However, the minute I began praising Christ's victory of the cross, boasted in the cross, and scorned the enemy, telling him that he could no longer work and that he was doomed for failure, I felt a genuine release, and the atmosphere of the meeting hall was changed. Praise the Lord! The cross is victorious! Praise the Lord! Satan is defeated! We should learn to apply the manifold victory of the cross through our prayer to oppose the wiles, the power, and the attacks of the enemy. Should oppositions and confusion arise, we can call upon the victory of the cross at Golgotha. Although we may not feel anything, we should believe that as soon as we invoke the victory of the cross, the enemy is defeated.

If we are truly identified with the cross in this way, if we allow the cross to do a deeper work in our lives and our work, and if we fully trust in the victory of the cross, God will grant us the victory everywhere we go. May God make us, the useless servants, His blameless workers.

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