TitleThe Economy of God - Chapter 4 THE KEY TO THE INDWELLING SPIRIT2022-03-05 02:45
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In more than twenty translations of the New Testament there is a difference in the way the word spirit is treated. In some translations the word is capitalized in certain instances, and in the same instances in other translations it is not. What is the reason for such conflicting translations? In many passages it is difficult for any translator to decide whether spirit refers to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit. Since our spirit has been mingled together with the Holy Spirit, the two spirits are mingled as one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). Therefore, one may assert that this mingled spirit is the human spirit, but another may say that this Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Of course, the context of some passages makes it clear that the reference is to the Holy Spirit, but in other passages the reference is to the human spirit.


Romans 8:10 says, “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The context of this verse clearly indicates that the spirit here is not the Holy Spirit, because it is compared with the body. The Holy Spirit should not be compared with our body. It is our human spirit that the apostle was comparing with our body. What is the meaning of this verse? Originally our body was dead because of sin. Now Christ is in us, and though our sinful body is still dead because of sin, our spirit is alive and full of life because of righteousness. Therefore, the spirit mentioned in this verse is not the Holy Spirit but the human spirit, which is compared with the human body.

In another verse, Romans 8:11, it is obvious that reference is made to the Spirit of God. What follows the phrase the Spirit of the One defines whose Spirit it is: “If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” Verse 10 tells us that though Christ is in us, our body is still dead because of sin. However, verse 11 declares that because of the Spirit’s indwelling, our weak, mortal body will also be enlivened, revived, and strengthened. Because Christ as the Spirit is living in us, even our mortal bodies, which are dead because of sin, can be enlivened and revived by the divine Spirit, who is dwelling within our spirit. The indwelling Spirit makes us alive not only in our spirit but eventually also in our body.



Why are we emphasizing the difference between the Holy Spirit and the human spirit? It is because our greatest problem is that we do not know the indwelling Spirit or realize that the human spirit is the very dwelling place of the Holy Spirit; neither do we know that these two spirits have been mingled together as one spirit. What a pity this is! These two things are the mark of God’s economy, and many Christians are missing this mark. A house is inaccessible when the key is missing. Only the key will open the house to us that we may enjoy everything in it. For centuries the enemy has covered the key to God’s economy. This key is the fact that our human spirit is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and our human spirit is one with the wonderful Holy Spirit.


The Word of God is living and sharp, even sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit. The book of Hebrews encourages us to press on from the wilderness into the good land, from the stage of wandering to the stage of resting in the all-inclusive Christ. At that time the Hebrew Christians were in danger of drifting away from Christ into Judaism, which is like the children of Israel returning to the land of Egypt (Num. 14:3-4). The Hebrew believers had been delivered out of Judaism and intended to enter into the good land of rest, but they were wandering midway between Judaism and Christ. The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to encourage them to press beyond the wandering stage by taking Christ as their all-inclusive life and rest.


Hebrews also refers to the Holy of Holies. Today our human spirit is the Holy of Holies. The three parts of the temple correspond to the three parts of man—body, soul, and spirit. The innermost part of the temple, the Holy of Holies, indicates the innermost part of our being, the human spirit. Just as the Ark, a type of Christ, was in the Holy of Holies, so Christ is in our spirit today. Our human spirit, therefore, is the Holy of Holies, the place where we can contact God. If we cannot discern our spirit, we cannot locate the Holy of Holies.


Furthermore, we must be very clear that today the Triune God has completed everything. He has accomplished creation, incarnation, and Christ’s human living with its sufferings on earth. He has entered into death and passed through death, and He has resurrected, ascended into heaven, and been enthroned. Everything has been attained by the wonderful Triune God, and all these realities are in the Holy Spirit, who has come into us. The point is that this Holy Spirit has been dispensed into our human spirit, which is now the residence of God. Our spirit is the organ to receive God and to contain Him. Hebrews 4:12 was written to encourage us to press on into the Holy of Holies, which is our spirit. If we do not know how to discern our spirit, we will not be able to locate the Holy of Holies, the place where the Lord dwells today. God’s economy is to dispense Himself into us, and the very place where He dispenses Himself is our spirit. When we are able to discern our spirit and to exercise our spirit to contact the Lord, we can then be permeated and saturated with the Lord and be transformed into His image.




The enemy tries to frustrate us from discerning our spirit, and soon after we are saved, he does this by helping us make a decision to do good. No one is exempt from this subtle suggestion. Even this morning some have prayed, “Lord, I want to do Your will; I want to please You; I will try my best to do the things that satisfy You.” This sounds like a good prayer, but it is not from the Lord. Rather, it comes from the enemy. Whenever we have such good intentions, we must jump up and tell Satan to depart from us.

Now you can understand the Lord’s words, “Abide in Me and I in you...He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit” (John 15:4-5). Here there is nothing of self-effort; there is only abiding in the indwelling One and allowing Him to abide in us. If we will practice this abiding, all the riches of Christ will overflow from us. Fruit-bearing is simply the overflow of the indwelling Christ. We should say, “I do not know this, and I do not know that. I only know one thing: I am a branch, and He is the vine; I must abide in Him and let Him abide in me.” If this is our experience, spontaneously we will bear fruit. This is the missing key. Trying to do good is a real temptation and a great distraction from experiencing Christ.



Doctrines form another device used by the enemy to distract the seeking ones from Christ. Through the centuries doctrines, such as eternal security, dispensations, predestination, absolute grace, etc., have been greatly used by the enemy to distract Christians from the living Christ. To possess the knowledge of the Scriptures is one thing, but to know the living One revealed by the Scriptures is quite another. Christ must be contacted through the Scriptures. But it is regrettable that many Christians have the Scriptures only in their hand and in their memory, with very little of Christ in their spirit. The Mosaic law was given to conduct people to Christ and guard them for Christ (Gal. 3:23-24). It was to help people to know Christ, but many merely kept the law and ignored Christ. Therefore, the law was misused. Today the problem remains unchanged. The same principle applies to all the teachings and doctrines of the Scriptures. Doctrines are the means to experience Christ, but Christians use doctrines and knowledge to replace Him.



Another thing that the enemy utilizes is the matter of spiritual gifts. A proper understanding of the gifts is necessary in order to see how they are related to God’s economy. This applies to all gifts. Many gifted persons give too much attention to their gifts and, more or less, neglect the indwelling Christ. The indwelling Christ is the mark of God’s economy, and all the gifts are for this. Many know how to speak in tongues and how to experience healing, but they do not know how to discern the spirit and contact Christ.


The book of Romans allots very little ground to the gifts. Romans is a general sketch of the Christian life and walk, and in such a sketch not much reference is made to gifts. Of sixteen chapters, only chapter 12 speaks something concerning gifts, and if we read the whole chapter, we will see that not only the gift of prophecy is mentioned, but even the gifts of showing mercy and of giving material things are listed (vv. 5-8). The gifts mentioned here result from the living Christ experienced as grace in each believer (v. 6). Not all Christians have the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 12:29). It is only one of many gifts. We do not oppose any gift, but we must give a proper proportion to every gift; otherwise, we will be unbalanced.


Gifts are also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. The Corinthian believers had all the gifts and did not lack in any of them (1:7). Yet, though the Corinthians had all the gifts, their spiritual condition is described as fleshly and immature (3:1). We may have the gifts yet remain childish and fleshly. There is no doubt that we can receive help from the gifts, but we need to learn something more. Signs and wisdom are gifts (1:22), but the apostle preached “Christ crucified” and “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (vv. 23-24). The apostle’s only intention was to minister Christ as power and wisdom. He had no intention to minister the manifestations of the gifts and signs. The gifts are a help, but they are not the goal and the mark. The mark is the indwelling Christ. The gifts should only help us to realize this mark.


First Corinthians 12 mentions spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, but at the end of the chapter Paul mentions “a most excellent way” (v. 31). What is the most excellent way? Chapter 13 is the continuation of this verse, telling us that if we speak in all the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, we become merely sounding brass or a clanging symbol; that is, we hear only a sound without life. Love is the expression of life. This proves that, strictly, tongue-speaking is not a matter of life. To speak in tongues with no consideration of life is to become like sounding brass. Many people who speak frequently in tongues are very shallow and immature in their Christian life.


In chapter 14 the apostle encourages us rather to exercise our spirit for the spiritual profit of the church. This is the conclusion of the whole chapter. Even though Paul exceeded others in tongue-speaking, he said that he would rather speak five intelligible words in the church meetings than ten thousand words in a tongue (vv. 18-19). In these chapters the apostle manifests a somewhat negative attitude toward speaking in tongues. Rather than encouraging the practice of the gifts, he adjusts the Corinthians with some corrective instruction. Therefore, we must conclude that all the gifts are for the experience of Christ and must be used in proper proportion.


The key to God’s economy is Christ as everything wrought into our spirit. Of course, we need certain teachings and certain gifts to help us to realize the mark of God’s economy. But we must not allow doctrines and gifts to replace this mark. The mark of God’s economy is neither teachings nor gifts but Christ, who is the living Spirit indwelling our spirit. With some, a gift may be needed to help them to realize this mark. Not all need the same gift. While some may need the gift of prophecy, others may need the gift of speaking in tongues. Some may need the gift of healing, and others may need certain doctrines. Many people are drawn to Christ through certain teachings. But let us be clear that the indwelling Christ in our spirit is the key to God’s economy. We must give our full attention to this key. Actually, there is no need to give special attention to any kind of teaching or gift if the indwelling Christ is already realized in our spirit.


The old servant of Abraham was sent with a number of gifts to obtain a wife for Isaac. All these gifts helped Rebekah to realize that she had to go to meet Isaac (Gen. 24:10, 22, 53, 58). This is the true place of the gifts. But after Rebekah received the gifts, she seemed to forget all about them and say, “I will go to Isaac. I will not be satisfied to remain here enjoying these gifts yet forget about Isaac. I will go on to meet my bridegroom.” After Rebekah married Isaac, there is no further mention of these gifts. Day by day Rebekah simply enjoyed living with Isaac. Christ is much better than speaking in tongues, much better than prophecy, much better than everything else.


Some may require certain teachings and gifts in order to find the key, but praise the Lord, as long as the key is in our hand to realize Christ, let us forget the teachings and gifts. Let us give our full attention to discerning our spirit, contacting the living Christ, and fellowshipping with Him. In order for us to obtain the key, God has apportioned certain gifts and teachings. We can praise the Lord for this mercy, but we must be careful. We must not give so much attention to the locksmith that we go to him every day. As long as we obtain the key, we can thank the locksmith and leave him. We can then use the key to come into the building and discover its riches. Day by day we need to learn to know this wonderful Triune God, the unsearchable Christ, the all-inclusive Holy Spirit, who is now in our spirit. We have the key when we discern our spirit. We have the key! Whatever we need of Christ, we have by exercising our spirit to contact Him. This is the mark of God’s economy. Although the Lord grants us teachings and gifts, He Himself, the complete and all-inclusive One, is the goal. Let us not settle for anything less than Himself. The aim of God’s economy is for the all-inclusive Christ to indwell our spirit. Throughout the day we must seek to return into our spirit, discern our spirit, and contact Christ as everything. Then we have the key to the proper and normal Christian life.