From The Life That Wins by Watchman Nee
Every born-again believer should live a Life That Is Free from the Power of Sin. "Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities" (Acts 3.26). This is the message Peter delivered at the porch of the temple in Jerusalem. What the Lord Jesus has accomplished is in turning people from their iniquities. The minimum experience of a Christian is to be freed from sin. Whatever he knows to be sin must be overcome. I do not insist we must conquer the sins which we have no knowledge of, but I do declare we ought to overcome through our Lord all sins which we know. We should overcome all those which have entangled us for many years. The Bible says, "even if a man be overtaken in any trespass" (Gal. 6.la); yet too often our experience as believers is that we only overcome occasionally. How abnormal is our experience!
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" (Rom. 6.1-2) We who believe in the Lord Jesus have died to sin. Thus, no Christian should continue in it. How do we know we are dead to sin? Paul provides the answer in the very next verse: "Are ye ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (v.3) In other words, those who have been baptized are dead to sin. For baptism is into the death of Christ Jesus: "We were buried . . . with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (v.4). This is the kind of life a Christian should live daily. All who have been baptized ought to walk in newness of life. These are not special Christians Paul has in view here; rather, they are the newly baptized ones. We have all been baptized, therefore we should walk in newness of life. Such experience is ordained by God for all believers.
"Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6.14). Oh, how I love this verse! Let me ask you: Who is the one in view here who is not under law but under grace? Is it Andrew Murray? or Paul? or Peter or John? Or is it, that all who believe are not under law but under grace? How many of you are under grace today? Praise and thanks be to our God, all of us are under grace, with none of us still under law!
The words which precede this statement we have just discussed are, "sin shall not have dominion over you." Here it declares that sin shall not be our lord! Victory is not the experience of special Christians, it is instead an experience all believers may share; because all who are saved are under grace. When I was first saved, I considered this verse to be most precious. In those days I confessed I had many victories over many sins, and God was truly gracious to me. Yet there was one particular sin which had dominion over me, and a few other sins which frequently returned to trouble me again and again. This can be illustrated by what happened to me one day as I was walking on the street. There I met a certain brother to whom I nodded my head in acknowledgment. Shortly thereafter I came out of a store and met him a second time. And for the second time I acknowledged him by nodding my head. I entered into still another store and when I came out of it, I met him once more. So again I nodded my head. I crossed over to another street, and there to my amazement I encountered him a fourth time! Another street after that and I saw him again. Within one day and I had met him five times, and five times I had nodded my head. This can illustrate, can it not, the way in which we meet up with sin.
We do not know why we always encounter this or that particular sin as though it were following us. Yet it does. Some find ill-temper following them; some, pride following them; some, jealousy; others, laziness; still others, lying; some, misery and self-pity; some, meanness; some, selfishness; others, unclean thoughts; and still others, impure passions. In fact, everybody seems to have a special sin that always follows him or her. I myself found a few sins that followed me most powerfully and tenaciously. I had to concede that sin did have dominion over me. I finally confessed to the Lord, "You say that sin shall not have the rule over me; therefore, I consent that the fault must be in me and not in Your word."
Although you may live a defeated life, you nonetheless know that this is not the life ordained by God. If sin still has the rule over you, you should clearly understand that this is not what God has ordained. For His word plainly says, "sin shall not have dominion over you."
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8.1). In my preaching I have explained the word "condemnation" many times. Some twenty years ago, from an old manuscript excavated from the ground, it was explained that this word in the original Greek language had two usages: one, civil; the other, legal (and thus in this latter sense, the English word "condemnation" is used). According to civil usage, it could be translated as "without strength." Hence we may legitimately retranslate this verse as follows: "There is therefore now no being without strength to them that are in Christ Jesus." How marvelous this is! Let me ask you again, whose verse is this? Only Wesley's? or Martin Luther's? or only Hudson Taylor's? What does the Scripture say here? It says that those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer without strength. Who are these people? They are all Christians since every Christian is in Christ, and no one in Christ is without strength.
"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death" (v.2). I will repeat a hundred times that it is not those special saints who are freed from the law of sin and of death. It is instead true that every Christian is set free from the law of sin and of death. What is meant by being "without strength"? It is what is spoken of in Romans 7: "to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice" (v.l8b-19). In other words, the total thrust of Romans 7 indicates that I am without strength, I cannot do it. The history of many a Christian is marked by a cycle of resolutions and broken promises. Yet we thank and praise God that His word unmistakably declares that no Christian is now without strength.
What is law? It is something which always repeats itself. A law acts the same way and produces the same result at any place and under any circumstance. It is a constant phenomenon, reveals a continuous habit, and always ends with the same effect. There is, for instance, the force of gravity at the center of the earth. Whenever you throw an object, that object is always attracted by this gravitational force and falls downward. This force of gravity is thus a universal law.
For some, then, the losing of one's temper becomes a law. He may endure temptation once or twice, but on the third occasion of being provoked he begins to be agitated, and by the fourth time he completely loses his temper. It does not matter which person or thing he encounters. At first he can endure a provocation, but his temper will always eventually explode later. So that with each occasion he is tempted to lose his temper, and without exception it ends up with the same result.
Pride oftentimes acts the same way. You may remain untouched at the first word with which you are praised, but you will feel your face begin to glow with pride upon hearing the second word of praise. Whatever passes through the same procedure and produces the same result constitutes a law. In short, we sin till sinning becomes a law.
It needs to be said again that it is not those special Christians who are made free from the law of sin. Rather, every Christian hereafter is not to be without strength; every Christian is now set free from the law of sin. The Scripture passages quoted above are facts, not commands. They therefore ought to be the experience of all believers. Yet how sad that our experience does not measure up to God's word.
(6) A Life That Overcomes Environment. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Rom. 8.35, 37). Through the Lord who loves us we are made more than conquerors in all things. This is, in fact, the kind of experience a Christian should have. Yet a slight change in another's countenance not to mention tribulation or sword! will cause us to lose the consciousness of Christ's love. Nevertheless, Paul declared that in all these things we more than conquer.
Victory is to be the Christian's normal experience; defeat is abnormal. For according to God's will, every Christian should more than conquer in all kinds of environment. Whether it be tribulation or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword, we shall not only conquer, but more than conquer! Any increase in difficulty will make no difference. The world may look upon Christians as mad. So what if we are deemed mad! Through the love of Christ, we will not mind these things, because we more than conquer them. And such is to be the Christian's experience as ordained by God. But what is our experience? Sad to say, we have not lived rightly. For with but a little tribulation which comes our way we scream and complain how we have endured and suffered. Yet if we live rightly, we shall more than conquer in all these things.
"Thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place" (2 Cor. 2. 14). The Christian life is not one that sometimes conquers and is sometimes defeated; is not one that is defeated in the morning and is conquering in the afternoon. It is always in triumph. According to the Biblical standard, it is to be deemed strange if you do not overcome and to be reckoned as common if you do overcome!