|THE NEW COVENANT - Characteristics of the Content of the New
Covenant: III. INWARD KNOWLEDGE
Watchman Nee and Witness Lee
HIS GLORY REIGNS
May 30 2008
Regarding the characteristics of the content of the new covenant, we have already mentioned two main aspects. It is
true that God is propitious to our unrighteousness and no longer remembers our sins. This is the grace of God given
to us in the new covenant. But this is merely a procedure by which God achieves His eternal purpose. It is also true
that God becomes our God and we become His people in the law of life. The new covenant, however, does not stop
there, but continues with, "They shall by no means teach each one his fellow citizen and each one his brother, saying,
Know the Lord, for all shall know Me from the little one to the great among them" (Hebrews 8:11). This is the deeper
knowledge of God. This is knowing God Himself. Through the Spirit, God is bringing His redeemed ones to the highest
point, that is, to know Himself. God imparts His laws into our mind and inscribes them upon our hearts. This is merely a
procedure by which God achieves His deeper purpose, which is to know God Himself. While it is true that to have
fellowship with God is purposeful in itself, at the same time the fellowship we have with God is His procedure to obtain a
deeper purpose, which is to know God Himself. We know that God's purpose is to constitute us with Himself that He
may become completely blended with us. Thus the characteristic of the new covenant is that man may know God
Himself in the law of life, and in this way fulfill God's purpose.
Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." The lack of knowledge in this verse is the lack of
knowing God Himself. The children of Israel were disobedient to the extent that they were destroyed. This was mainly
due to the fact that they did not know God. But, praise God, the new covenant has this characteristic - that anyone who
has eternal life also knows God (John 17:3). Today, eternal life has the function of knowing God. The characteristic of
the new covenant is that God gives us revelation and guidance in the law of life. He enables us to worship Him, to
serve Him, and to have fellowship with Him, so that we may go on step by step and get to know Him more and more.
Now we need to see how in this law of life we can know God without anyone's teaching at all.
THE TEACHING OF THE ANOINTING
Hebrews 8:11 reads: "And they shall by no means teach each one his fellow citizen and each one his brother, saying,
Know the Lord, for all shall know Me from the little one to the great among them." The phrase "by no means" is a very
strong word in the original text. What is mentioned here coincides with I John 2:27: "The anointing which ye received of
him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as his anointing teaches you concerning all things,
and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him."
The reason why one who has the life of God does not need the teaching of others at all is because he has the Lord's
anointing abiding in him, and it teaches him concerning all things. This is a very practical matter. When God's Word
says "by no means," It means just that - "by no means." The Lord's anointing always abides in us. It seems the
greater the grace is, the more difficult it is for us to believe; therefore, the Word of God says that this anointing "is true"
and then follows with the phrase "and is no lie." We should not doubt God's Word simply because our spiritual
condition is abnormal. What God says is consistent with what He accomplishes. We need to believe God's Word, and
we also need to thank and praise Him.
To properly understand the teaching of the anointing we need to consider the three functions of the human spirit. We
have said previously that man's spirit is composed of three parts or functions: intuition, fellowship, and conscience. Let
us consider them separately.
The Spirit Has the Function of Fellowship
It is a fact that when we were regenerated, our spirit became alive. To have our spirit made alive is the first step in the
fellowship between God and man. We know further that when we were regenerated the Holy Spirit came to dwell in us.
We also know that God is Spirit, and that for this reason he who worships Him must worship in spirit and in reality. The
Holy Spirit guides man in his spirit to worship God and to have fellowship with God. This shows the function of the
fellowship of our human spirit.
The Spirit Has the Function of Conscience
When we were regenerated, our conscience was made alive. The blood of the Lord Jesus purifies the conscience,
making it clean and causing its sense to be keen. The Holy Spirit testifies in our conscience concerning our behavior
and walk. Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit." Romans 9:1 says, "My conscience bearing
witness with me in the Holy Spirit." First Corinthians 5:3 reveals that the spirit judges, and II Corinthians 1:12 says that
our conscience testifies. These all indicate that the spirit has the function of conscience.
If we are wrong, the Holy Spirit will condemn us in our conscience. We must pay attention to the fact that what the
conscience condemns, God will also condemn. It cannot be that the conscience has condemned something, yet God
justifies it. If our conscience says we are wrong, then we must be wrong. Since we are wrong, we must repent, confess,
and be cleansed by the Lord's precious blood (I John 1:9). If our conscience is pure and void of offence (II Timothy 1:3;
Acts 24:16), then we can serve God with boldness and without fear.
The Spirit Has the Function of Intuition
Just as man's body has its senses, man's spirit also has its senses. The sense of the human spirit is in the innermost
part of man's being. Matthew 26:41 says, "the spirit indeed is ready." Mark 2:8 says, "perceiving in his spirit." Mark
8:12 says He "sighed deeply in his spirit." John 11:33 reads, "He groaned in His spirit." In Acts 17:16 we read, "his
spirit was provoked"; in Acts 18:25, "being fervent in spirit"; in Acts 19:21, "purposed in the spirit"; and in Acts 20:22,
"bound in the spirit." Then I Corinthians 16:18 says, "they refreshed my spirit," and II Corinthians 7:13 says, "his spirit
hath been refreshed." These are all functions of the intuition of the spirit. (It would be right to say that the senses of
the spirit are almost as many as those of the soul. For this reason we need to learn to discern what is of the spirit and
what is of the soul. Not until we have gone through the deeper work of the cross and of the Holy Spirit can we know
what is of the spirit and what is of the soul.)
We call the sense of the spirit "intuition" because it comes directly from the spirit. Normally, a person's feeling is
aroused by some external factors such as persons, things, or events. If it is something which should cause rejoicing,
we rejoice; if it is something which should cause sorrow, we feel sorrowful. Such feelings have their causes; therefore,
we do not call these intuition. The intuition we are speaking of is the sense which comes directly from inside man
without any apparent cause. For instance, we may feel like doing something because there is a valid reason for it. We
like to do it, and so we decide to do it. Yet, for some unknown reason there is an inexplainable feeling within us which
seems to be very heavy and very depressed. It seems that something inside us is opposing what we are thinking in our
mind, feeling in our emotion, or have decided in our will. Something inside, it seems, is telling us that we should not do
it. This is the forbidding of the intuition.
Here is another illustration. Perhaps there is a sense to do something for which there is no reason at all. Besides
having no reason, it is contrary to what we desire, and we are not willing to do it. Yet at the same time, for a reason
unknown to us, there is a certain kind of urging, moving, and encouraging, wanting us to do it. If we go ahead and do it
we will feel comfortable. This is the urging of the intuition.
The Anointing Is in the Intuition of the Spirit
The intuition is the place where the anointing teaches us. The Apostle John says, "The anointing which ye received of
him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you; but as His anointing teacheth you concerning all things,
and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye abide in him" (I John 2:27). This verse clearly shows how the
anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches us. The Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit, and the anointing is in the intuition of the
The Lord's anointing teaches us all things. This means that the Holy Spirit teaches us in the intuition of the spirit,
causing us to have some feeling in our spirit, just as when ointment is applied to man's body, causing him to have some
sensation. When our spirit has such a feeling, we know what the Holy Spirit says. We need to differentiate between
knowing and understanding. We know in our spirit, but we understand with our mind. We know a certain thing through
the intuition of the spirit; then the mind is enlightened to understand what the intuition knows. It is in the intuition of the
spirit that we know the intention of the Holy Spirit, but it is in the mind of the soul that we understand the guidance of the
The work of the anointing is independent and does not need any human help. Independently it expresses its own
intention. It works by itself in the spirit, enabling man to know its intention in the intuition. The Bible calls such knowing
in the intuition of the spirit revelation. Revelation means that the Holy Spirit shows the true picture of a thing in
our spirit so that we clearly know. This kind of knowing is deeper than the understanding of the mind. The Lord's
anointing abides in us and teaches us concerning all things. For this reason we do not need the teaching of others at
all. This anointing teaches us in all things through the function of the intuition.
The Holy Spirit expresses Himself through the intuition of the spirit. The intuition is an innate ability to know what the
moving of the Holy Spirit means. For this reason, if we want to do God's will, it is not necessary to ask others, nor is it
necessary to ask ourselves. We need only to follow the guidance of the intuition. The Lord's anointing teaches us in
all things. There is not one instance or one thing concerning which it does not teach us. Therefore, our only
responsibility is to receive the teaching of the anointing.
A servant of God said that a brother came to see him one time, asking whether he should do a certain thing. The
servant of God asked, "Do you know inside?" When asked this question he immediately answered, "I know." A few
days later he came asking about something else. Again he was asked, "Do you know inside?" To this he replied, "Oh, I
know, I know." The third time he came, and the third time he was asked the same question. He immediately said he
knew. Although at that time the servant of God did not say so with his mouth, he said in his heart, "Why do you need to
take the roundabout way? There is something inside of you which teaches you in all things, and is true and is no lie."
This something is the law of life. It will teach us what we should do and what we should not do.
The problem, therefore, lies in whether we are willing to follow this law within us. The question is whether or not our
heart is fully turned toward God. If our heart is fully turned toward God, then we do not need others to teach us, for
then there is in us something living and real which will teach us. Every child of God has this kind of experience. With
some it may be more, with others less, but at least we all have some experience that there is this law of life within us.
This law is definitely moving and speaking, and it does not need man's teaching.
Let us give one more example. A certain Christian liked to show hospitality to believers and especially to ministers. If
he came across one, he would invite him over for dinner or give him some gift. On one occasion he was listening to a
minister preaching in a certain place. What this man was preaching was not in accordance with the Scripture, for he did
not confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. While this brother listened, on the one hand he felt uncomfortable,
but on the other hand, according to his habit, he wanted to go shake hands with the minister and say a few words.
When he was about to shake hands with him, he sensed something inside forbidding him. He hesitated for a minute.
Finally he gave up and went home. This Christian did not realize that II John 7-10 says that some call themselves
ministers of Christ and yet do not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This brother did not know that such a
person should not be greeted nor received into one's house, and yet the life inside of him spoke exactly this same
thing. This means that while there is absolutely no need for others to teach us, still we can know. This is the
characteristic of the new covenant.
Then Why Do the Scriptures Speak of Teaching?
No doubt some one will raise the question, Why then do the Scriptures speak in many places of teaching? For
instance, Paul said, "For this cause have I sent unto you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who
shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church" (I
Corinthians 4:17). He also said, "Howbeit in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I
might instruct others also:" (I Corinthians 14:19). Many other places also speak of teaching such as Colossians 1:28;
2:22; 3:16; I Timothy 2:7; 3:2; 4:11, 13; 5:17; II Timothy 2:2, 24; 3:16. How are such passages to be explained? In
order to answer this question we must start from our experience and then see what the Scriptures say.
The Speaking has been First Going on Inwardly
The Lord's anointing truly is teaching us inwardly. The difficulty is that we cannot hear. Brothers and sisters, we must
realize how weak we are. We are so weak that even though God has spoken once, twice, five times, ten times, or even
twenty times, we still have not heard. Sometimes we hear but we pretend that we do not. We understand, yet pretend
that we have not understood. Our greatest weakness before God is in the matter of hearing. The Lord said, "He who
has an ear, let him hear" (Revelation 2:7a). In each of the seven epistles in Revelation it is repeated, "He who has an
ear, let him hear." The Scriptures consider hearing to be a very important matter.
When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus why, in speaking to people, He used parables He answered, "Therefore I
speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand"
(Matthew 13:13). The Lord Jesus also quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 by saying, "Hearing you shall hear and shall by no means
perceive; for the heart of this people has grown fat, and with their ears they have heard heavily, and their eyes they
have closed; lest at any time they should perceive with the eyes and hear with the ears and understand with the heart
and turn around, and I will heal them" (Matthew 13:14-15). These verses show us that the problem is not that there is
no teaching within or that there is not the speaking within, but that man purposely would not hear.
Therefore, many times the problem is not that God has not spoken or that man does not have the speaking within, but
that man refuses to hear. God has spoken one, twice, five times, or even ten times, yet we still would not hear.
Because we would not hear, we could not hear. Because we do not hear, we simply give up hearing. Job 33:14 says,
"For God speaketh once, yea twice, though man regardeth it not." This is the very situation of some of God's children.
Those who have problems in the mind, who are subjective, who are stubborn in their own ways, and who are
conservative, are people who do not easily hear. Therefore, whenever we do not hear God's voice and do not have
the teaching of the anointing, we need to realize that something must be wrong with us. We must have some problem.
The difficulty is never on God's side, it is always on our side. But praise Him, He is patient and continues to speak to
man. Job 33:15-16 says, "In a dream, in a vision of the night, and when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings
upon the bed; then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction." If we do not hear Him, He will still use
visions and dreams to instruct us. Therefore, it is not that God has said nothing; God has spoken a great deal. The
difficulty is that man is very short in hearing.
When we read the Epistles in the New Testament, we realize that many teachings are repetitions. They were repeated
because of some difficulties in the church. In the Epistles of the New Testament we often find the phrase, "Know ye
not?" Such a phrase appears in Romans 6:3, 16; I Corinthians 3:16; 5:6 6:2-3, 9, 15-16, 19; and James 4:4. "Know ye
not" means that though we have heard something and we had known something inside, we had ignored it. We had
simply let it go. Therefore through scriptures God says, "Know ye not?" The Scriptures do not speak in place of the
anointing within, but simply repeat what the anointing has already said. Because we are spiritually sick and abnormal,
and because we have neglected the inner teaching, the Lord through His servant uses the words of the Scriptures,
repeating outwardly what the anointing has spoken inwardly. The Lord's anointing has taught us inwardly, so we must
start listening from within. We must see that the inward teaching and the outward teaching are mutually helpful. The
outward teaching, however, must not replace that which is inward. The inward speaking is living and of life. This is the
characteristic of the new covenant. Everyone who belongs to God must pay attention to this matter.
Here we must say a few words by way of reminder to the brothers and sisters. When we help others we should never
give them the "Ten Commandments." Neither should we subjectively teach them to do this or to refrain from that. We
should not speak of God's will to individuals as the prophets in the Old Testament did. The reason for this is that in the
New Testament the prophets are only for the church and not for individuals. A prophet in the New Testament time can
only point out God's ordained will in principle. He should not point out God's will for an individual. All of us who belong
to God must learn to receive the teaching of the anointing within, otherwise it is not the new covenant. We can only
confirm what God has already taught within. To go further is to go beyond the new covenant. On the other hand we
should humbly receive the teaching of those who teach us in the Lord. However, the teaching which we receive must
also be the teaching of the anointing within us. Otherwise, it is not the new covenant. We must remember that the
letter kills; only the Spirit gives life (II Corinthians 3:6).
The Mind Must Be Renewed
The Lord's anointing is in the intuition of our spirit and it teaches us concerning all things, but sometimes our mind
cannot understand the sense in the spirit. For this reason our mind must be renewed. Only then can we understand
what the anointing is teaching us. Romans 12:2 shows us that first the mind must be renewed and transformed; then
we can prove what is God's good, well pleasing, and perfect will.
Colossians 1:9 shows us that we must first have the spiritual understanding; then we will be filled with the full knowledge
of God's will. Therefore, the renewing of the mind is essential. If our mind is not renewed, we can neither know nor
understand the teaching of the anointing. On the other hand, if our mind is not renewed we will consider the sudden
thoughts, those shot into our mind like lightning, as if they were the Lord's guidance in us. We will also consider the
groundless ideas and the vain theories as if they were the Lord's will. We will consider the senseless and worthless
visions and dreams as if they were words which the Lord has spoken to us and as revelation from Him. These are
harmful and of no benefit.
We admit and believe that the Lord sometimes opens ears through visions and dreams like that mentioned in Job
33:15-16, but we do not accept nor believe that confusing thoughts, or senseless and worthless visions and dreams are
of the Lord. Therefore, the renewing of the mind is very crucial in understanding the teaching of the anointing. Now
the question is: How can the mind be renewed? Titus 3:5 speaks of the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12:1-2
makes it clear that first we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice; then we may be transformed by the renewing of
the mind. We see from this that the renewing of the mind is based upon consecration. Ephesians 4:22-23 shows us
that for the renewing of the spirit of the mind we must, in our experience, put off the old man regarding our former
manner of life. This shows that the renewing of the mind is something which is done through the cross. Ephesians 4:23
says, "And are renewed in the spirit of your mind." It is clear, therefore, that the renewing starts from the spirit and then
spreads into the mind. We have said before that the work of the Holy Spirit starts from the center and spreads to the
circumference. If there is a problem in man's heart, that is, in the deepest part of him, and it is not dealt with, then it is
impossible to have the mind renewed. Therefore, the Holy Spirit first renews the spirit of the mind and then renews the
In summary, because of God's constraining we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Following that, the Holy Spirit
through the cross causes us in our experience to exercise our will to put off the old man concerning his former manner
of life, so that through His life entering more fully into us, our spirit may be renewed and our mind may also be
renewed. This renewing is a prolonged and continuous work of the Holy Spirit. When we come to this point, we need to
thank and praise God that everything is the work of His grace. We have nothing else to do except to receive His grace.
We say again that the Lord's anointing is in us, teaching us in all things. This is a true and definite matter. The law of
life in us does not need any man's teaching at all. This is not an overstatement. The Scripture has indeed said so. But
on the other hand we need to prevent ourselves from being deceived and from going to extremes. We need to check
our inner feelings by the words in the Scriptures.
Checking Our Inner Feeling by the Scriptures
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17). He guides us into all the truth (John 16:13). Therefore, if our inner
sense is of the Holy Spirit, this sense must correspond with what the Scriptures say. If the inner sense does not match
the words of the Scriptures, this sense is inaccurate. We know that the inner sense is living, and we also know that the
Scriptures without are accurate. If we merely have the words of the Scripture, there is accuracy and security, but no
life. On the other hand, having merely the inner sense may be living, but not accurate; or it may be living, but not
secure. Our experience needs to be like a train which has power inside the locomotive and rails outside. If there are
only rails without but no power within the locomotive, the train will run without control and have an accident. The
Scriptures show us that when the Israelites came out of Egypt, they had before them the pillar of cloud as their guide in
the day and the pillar of fire as their guide in the night. When our spiritual condition is normal, we are walking in the
bright daylight. But our spiritual condition is not always like this. The Scriptures also say that God's Word is a lamp
unto our feet and light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). Without the night there is no need for the lamp and the light.
When we are bright within, our inner sense is clear and sure. When we are dark within, our inner sense is blurry and
uncertain. Then we must use the words of the Scriptures to verify our inner sense.
Life plus truth equals real power. Life and truth result in secure strength. We need to walk upon the secure path of life
and truth. Every action, every thought, and every decision needs to be checked against the words in the Scriptures, so
that we may go on without being sidetracked.
Two Ways of Knowing God
Let us read Hebrews 8:11 again: "And they shall by no means teach each one his fellow citizen and each one his
brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know Me from the little one to the great among them." This verse tells us
that we who are God's people in the law of life can know God without any man's teaching This verse twice uses the
word "know." The first time it speaks of men teaching each other to know the Lord. The second time it mentions that
from the little one to the great all shall know the Lord. The first knowing signifies the ordinary knowledge; the second
knowing refers to knowledge in the intuition. The ordinary knowledge is the objective, outward knowledge, while the
intuitive knowledge is the subjective, inward knowledge.
We can illustrate the difference between ordinary knowledge and intuitive knowledge in the following way. Suppose
sugar and salt are put before us. They both appear about the same. Both are white and fine, but when they are put
into our mouth we know which is sugar and which is salt. The sugar has the taste of sugar, and the salt has the taste of
salt. Although we may use our eyes to know the sugar and the salt from without, it is not as accurate as tasting them
with our tongue.
Our knowledge of God is the same. The outward knowledge is only an ordinary knowledge, but the inward knowledge
is the accurate knowledge. When God gives us a taste of Himself in us, we experience unspeakable joy. Psalm 34:8
says, " Oh taste and see that Jehovah is good." It is wonderful! We can taste God! Hebrews 6:4-5 mentions: "...those
who were once enlightened, and who have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the good word of God, and the works of power of the coming age." This shows us that the spiritual
things need to be tasted. Thank God that the characteristic of the new covenant not only enables us to taste spiritual
things; it even enables us to taste God Himself. What a great blessing and what a great glory this is!
Three Steps in Knowing God
According to the Scriptures, man's knowing God can be divided into three steps. Psalm 103:7 says, "He made known
his ways unto Moses, His doings unto the children of Israel." The word "ways" in this verse is the same word used in
Isaiah 55:8. The Israelites only knew God's doings, but Moses knew God's ways. It is clear that Moses' knowing of God
was more advanced than that of the children of Israel. But the knowing in the intuition, mentioned in Hebrews 8:11, is
more advanced than knowing God's ways. The knowing in the intuition is to know God's nature, to know God Himself. If
we read these last two verses of Scripture together, we can see that our knowing God can be divided into three steps.
The first step is to know God's doings; the second step is to know God's ways; and the third step is to know God
Himself. To know God's doings and ways are only outward knowing, but the inward knowing of God's nature and
knowing God Himself is the deeper knowing. This is the most precious. Now let us look at these three steps separately.
Knowing God's Doings
To know God's doings means to know the miracles and wonders which He performs. The children of Israel in the land
of Egypt, for instance, saw the ten plagues which God sent (Exodus 7-11). Another example is when God sent the
great east wind, causing the water of the Red Sea to recede in one night, so that the water was divided and the sea
became dry ground (Exodus 14:21). Two other examples are: the children of Israel obtaining living water from the
smitten rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6) and the daily manna sent down from heaven (Exodus 16:35). All of these
were God's doings. Likewise, the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes (John 6:9-12), the blind
receiving sight, the lame walking, the lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing, and the dead being raised (Matthew
11:5) were all God's doings. Today some people have been healed of their illness by God, or have been protected by
God from danger on a journey. These are all God's doings. But if we only know God's doings, we cannot be
considered as knowing God. This kind of knowing is shallow and outward.
Knowing God's Ways
To know God's ways means to know the principle by which God does things. For example, when Abraham prayed for
Sodom, he prayed by standing on the side of God's righteousness. He knew that because God is a righteous God, He
could not act contrary to His righteousness. This means that Abraham knew God's way of doing things. Another
example can be seen in the incident where Moses saw the glory of Jehovah manifested, and told Aaron, "Take thy
censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and lay incense thereon, and carry it quickly unto the congregation, and
make atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from Jehovah; the plague is begun" (Numbers 16:46). This
means that Moses knew God's ways. He knew that if man would act in a certain way, then God would respond in a
Samuel told Saul: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (I Samuel 15:22). This
refers to knowing God's ways. A further example is when David refused to offer burnt offerings which cost him nothing
(II Samuel 24:24). This also refers to knowing God's ways.
Knowing God Himself
To know God's nature means to know God Himself. It has been mentioned before that every kind of life has its own
characteristics. Fish have the characteristics of fish and birds have the characteristics of birds. God's life also has its
characteristic. This characteristic is His nature. His nature is goodness, uprightness (Psalm 25:8; 86:5; Matthew 19:17)
and holiness (Acts 3:14; II Corinthians 1:12). This nature will express God Himself through light. When we are born
again we obtain God's life and receive God's nature. When we touch His nature in us, we also touch God Himself in us.
This is knowing God Himself. For instance, if there is some sin, our conscience feels that it must be dealt with, and only
if it is dealt with can there be peace. Yet, inside of us there is a holy sense, a sense which is even deeper than the
conscience. Deep within there is a disgust and a hatred for the sin itself. This kind of hatred comes from God's holy
nature. When man touches God Himself, his knowledge of God's holiness is beyond human description. Sometimes
our sensation is the same as Job's: "I had heard of thee by he hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee:
wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6).
Under the bright sunlight even the dust will be revealed. Likewise, in God's holiness, our filthiness is always revealed.
No wonder that when Peter met the Lord Himself, he fell down at the Lord's knees and said, "Depart from me; for I am a
sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Many times, both in our words and in our actions, although our conscience may not
condemn us, there is still within a sense of discomfort, a sense which does not say "amen." This is the sense of the
nature of God's life, and it exceeds the feeling of the conscience. If we have learned and are willing to obey, it is at
such times that we touch God Himself. On these occasions we will know God Himself.
Paul told the Corinthian believers, "We toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we
endure; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now" (I
Corinthians 4:12-13). This shows that not only is God's life such, but it also shows that the nature of this life is such.
When Paul was so touching God's nature he was touching God Himself. It was then that he knew God Himself.
The following is a true story. Two brothers who were farmers and also Christians planted rice fields. The fields were in
the middle of a hill. Every day the brothers pumped the water into the fields with their feet. But every day they found
that the farmer whose field was below them always used subtle ways to let the water out of their fields into his field
below. For seven or eight days they endured this without saying a word, but inside there was not the joy. Later, they
went to have fellowship with a brother who was a servant of the Lord. He told them, "It is not enough for you to endure.
You should go and also water for your own fields." The two brothers went back to their fields and did as he had
spoken. It was strange - the more they did this, the more they felt happy. The result was that the one who stole the
water was touched. Not only did he no longer come to steal their water, but he came to apologize to them. Here we see
that the reason they could do this, and do it spontaneously, was because they did it according to God's nature.
Otherwise, if they did it only in an outward way, inwardly they would still have the feeling they were being wronged.
Later they would still feel distressed within. Only the things which are done according to God's nature make us feel
comfortable inside. The more we do things this way, the more we will praise God, and the more we will know God
Knowing God in Our Intuition
To know God Himself is the greatest blessing and the greatest glory in the new covenant. God Himself cannot be
known by the flesh, but only by the intuition. Let us see what the Scriptures say about knowing God in our intuition.
John 17:3 says: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent,
Jesus Christ." This verse tells us that every one who has eternal life knows God and the Lord Jesus. In other words,
when a man receives eternal life he receives a knowing of God in the intuition which he did not possess before. This
eternal life has a function which enables man to know God. We know God, the One who has been made known to us,
by the life within. We are not like the people of Athens who, by reasoning and inference, worshipped an unknown God
(Acts 17:23). Therefore, if someone says that he has eternal life and yet has never known God, then his claim to have
eternal life is doubtful - it is only in the letter. To put it even stronger, this kind of person does not have eternal life. If
we want to know God we must first have eternal life.
First Corinthians 2:11-12 says, "For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in
him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but
the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. " This verse tells us that
it is the Holy Spirit, who is in our spirit, who enables us to know the things of God. The things of God cannot be known
by man's mind; man cannot figure them out by his own thoughts, nor can he comprehend them by his own wisdom.
Therefore, the Scriptures say, "Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are
foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them" (I Corinthians 2:14).
Ephesians 1:17-18 says, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom
and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that you may know..."
These verses tell us that the Apostle prayed for the believers at Ephesus who had been regenerated, that they might
receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation, and that they might have the full knowledge of God in their intuition.
Whether this spirit of wisdom and revelation is a function which has been hidden in the spirit of the believer and which
will be uncovered by God through prayer, or whether it is through prayer that the Holy Spirit causes the believer to
receive anew the wisdom and revelation in his spirit, is difficult to say; in any case, this spirit of wisdom and revelation
enables the believer to have the full knowledge of God. Our intuition needs wisdom and revelation. We need wisdom
to know what is of God and what is of ourselves. We need wisdom to know the false apostles and the false angels of
light (II Corinthians 11:13-14). When God gives us wisdom, He does not give it to our mind, but He gives it to our spirit.
God wants us to have wisdom in our intuition. He wants to lead us to the path of wisdom through intuition. We need
revelation to truly know Him. The spirit of revelation means that God moves in our spirit and enables our intuition to
know the intent of God and to know God's movement. It is only by receiving revelation in the spirit that we can have the
full knowledge of God.
When God gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation He not only causes us to have the full knowledge of Him in our
intuition, but He also enlightens the eyes of our heart. The eyes of our heart here refers to our understanding, the
dianoia, found in Ephesians 4:18. This is simply the faculty of perception and understanding. The first one is the
knowing of the intuition, while the second is the knowing or the understanding of the mind. The spirit of revelation is in
the deepest part of our being. God reveals Himself in our spirit so that we may have a full knowledge of Him through
the intuition. This knowing, however, is only the knowing in the intuition - only the inner man knows; the outer man still
does not know. Our spirit still needs to enlighten our mind with light so that our mind can understand the intent of the
spirit, bringing the outer man to know as well. Therefore, revelation begins in the spirit, and then it arrives at the mind.
Revelation is in the intuition of the spirit, while enlightenment is in the mind of the soul. In the intuition we know by
sensing, while in the mind we understand by seeing. Thus, God gives us the spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we
may truly know Him and truly understand Him.
Colossians 1:9-10 says, "...That you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and
understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full
knowledge of God." This passage shows us that we need to have spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to know
God's will, to do the things which are pleasing to Him, and to have the full knowledge of Him. We have seen that it is
God who gives us spiritual wisdom in our spirit, but at the same time we must also have the spiritual understanding to
understand the revelation which God has given to us in the intuition of our spirit. On the one hand, the intuition of the
spirit enables us to know God's movement, while on the other hand, spiritual understanding enables us to know the
meaning of the movement in our spirit. If in all things we seek God's will in our spirit, the result will be that more and
more we will know God Himself. We will grow by the full knowledge of God.
Matthew 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Here again we see the matter of the heart. If
our heart is pure and not doubleminded, as mentioned in James 4:8, we shall see God. If our heart desires and covets
things other than God Himself, there will be a veil inside. Thus our perception of God will be blurred. Therefore,
whenever we feel blurry inside, the most important thing to do is to ask God to show us whether or not our heart is pure.
The Lord Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him
and make an abode with him" (John 14:23). This verse tells us that if we love and obey the Lord, God will make an
abode with us. God will give us the sense of His presence. This corresponds with I John 2:27 where we are told to
abide in the Lord according to the teaching of the anointing. This means that when we walk according to the teaching
of the anointing, we keep the Lord's word. Then we will abide in the Lord and God will make an abode with us. This
kind of obedience issues forth out of our love toward God and not out of coercion by others.
Love is surely the most proper outlet of sentiments. Love is not reluctant. We love God because He first loved us (I
John 4:19). The more we love Him, the more we will draw close to Him. The more we draw close to Him, the more we
will know Him. The more we know Him, the more we will love Him, and the more we will long after Him.
The saints of old wrote in the Psalms: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O
God" (Psalm 42:1). This is the longing of those who have tasted God. One of the Lord's children has said that God
gave us a heart which is so great that only He can fill it. We perhaps thought that our heart was small, but those who
have tasted God will testify that the heart is so big that it cannot be filled by anything less than God Himself. Only God
can fill our heart. Brothers and sisters, how much does your heart long after God.
The Outward Expression of God
Our outward expression of God cannot exceed our inward knowledge. The degree of our inward knowledge of God
determines the extent of our outward expression of Him. In other words, the outward expression is the result of inward
knowledge. Now let us consider some different aspects of this matter.
Expression in Boldness and Discernment
The Apostle Paul said, "But when it pleased God, Who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me through His
grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations, immediately I did not confer with flesh and
blood, neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me" (Galatians 1:15-17). This shows that the
reason Paul had the boldness to preach the gospel to the nations was because his knowledge of the Son of God was
by revelation. This kind of knowledge cannot be obtained through the flesh.
When a person knows Christ in himself, he will also know Christ in others. This is what Paul had in mind when he said,
"We henceforth know no man after the flesh" (II Corinthians 5:16). Those who know men according to the flesh find it
rather difficult to receive the life supply from men. They are easily affected by the shortcomings in men's appearance.
If there is any flaw in others, it becomes material for them to criticize and judge, and it also becomes the element for
them to nourish their own pride. Therefore, whether a person can know Christ in others depends upon whether he
knows Christ in himself. Paul continued, "Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no
more" (II Corinthians 5:16). The Apostle John said, "And every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is
the spirit of the antichrist...Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in
you than he that is in the world" (I John 4:3-4). Those who truly know God can discern the false apostles (II Corinthians
11:13; Revelation 2:2), the false prophets (Matthew 24:11), the false brethren (II Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4), and
the false angels of light (II Corinthians 11:13-15). Whenever we are deceived it must be because we do not know men
by Christ, who is in us. Those who truly know God have the boldness to declare, "Greater is He who dwells in us than
the spirit of antichrist!"
Expression in the Fear of God
One who truly knows God, not only has the boldness to testify, and is not afraid of the spirit of antichrist, but he
especially fears God. For example, the steps Paul took in his work were, many times, forbidden by God (Acts 16:6-7).
He feared God. Another example of his fear of God is given in Acts 23:3-5, when being reminded that he rebuked the
high priest, he became softened. This means that he feared God.
Those who truly know God gird up the loins of their mind (I Peter 1:13). There is nothing loose in their words, attitude,
and actions. The reason they are so girded up is not because they have some strength of their own, but because the
life in them is restraining them and forbidding them. They are such not only before others, but even when they are by
themselves they are girded up. Whenever their words and actions do not match the life in them, those words and
actions are forbidden. Also, whenever they touch God they become softened.
Those who are loose outwardly must first be loose inwardly. Those who are loose and without restraint, who remain the
same after being saved, who are careless in what they say and in what they do, are Christians who do not fear God.
Those who act one way in front of people and another way behind their backs, who are one way in the pulpit and
another way in daily living, are those who do not fear God.
To fear God means that anywhere, at any time, in any activity, we dare not be loose. Within there is the attitude of
fearing God. Therefore, if someone claims to belong to God, and yet his words and his actions do not indicate that he
fears God in the least, we will have a genuine concern for such a person. We fear for him because the day will come
when he will see God's face, though today he does not know God in his consciousness. Brothers and sisters, if this is
your case, then you need to hear God's word: "And now, my little children, abide in him; that, if he shall be manifested,
we may have boldness, and not be ashamed before him at his coming" (I John 2:28).
Whenever we think of the fact that one day we shall see the Lord's face, do we feel confident within? In the future,
when everything shall be opened before the Lord, will there be anything which will cause us to be ashamed?
Expression in Worship
There is no one who truly knows God, yet does not worship God. Brother Lawrence said, "To worship God in truth is to
acknowledge Him to be what He is, and ourselves as what in fact we are. To worship Him in truth is to acknowledge with
heartfelt sincerity what God in truth is - that is to say, infinitely perfect, worthy of infinite adornation, infinitely removed
from sin, and so of all the Divine attributes. That man is little guided by reason, who does not employ all his powers to
render to this great God the worship that is His due."
This indicates that only the person who truly knows God can worship God in truth. For example, though Jacob's
knowledge of God at Bethel caused him to fear God, it was only an outward kind of knowledge. For this reason his vow
was conditional and was concerned with his own interests (Genesis 28:16-22). But when he came to Peniel (Genesis
32:24-32), Jacob's knowledge of God was much different.
Brothers and sisters, we often say that we need to worship God. But how deeply have we ourselves known God? Has
our self really fallen to the ground?
Expression in Godliness
Those who truly know God will express God. This is the life of godliness. Godliness itself is a great mystery. From the
time God was manifested in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16), this great mystery has been revealed. Oh, Jesus the Nazarene
was God being manifested in the flesh! This glorious One who is both God and man has manifested God's holy and
glorious life. Today, this life is in us and it will also be manifested through us. The purpose of the law of God's life
moving in us is to fulfill this requirement. We know that godliness is not some kind of mortification but rather a sense of
life. Godliness is the nature of God's life. Therefore, when the Apostle Paul said that those who belong to the Lord
should pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and meekness, he included godliness (I Timothy 6:11).
When we were regenerated, God, according to His divine power, gave to us all things that pertain to life and godliness
(II Peter 1:3). Also, this godliness has the promise of the present life and of the life which is coming (I Timothy 4:8). We
know that what the Lord promises us is eternal life (I John 2:25; Titus 1:2). When we believe in the Son of God, we
receive this eternal life (I John 5:13). However, to live out this eternal life today, to express this eternal life in our
thoughts, words, attitude, and actions, depends upon the power of the moving of this life within us. Therefore, the
Apostle Paul said: "We have set our hope on the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who
believe" (I Timothy 4:10).
Within us we already have the godly life of God, but to manifest the nature of this life, we need to exercise ourselves
unto godliness (I Timothy 4:7). We know that fear of God is a matter of attitude. This means that we are afraid of
having our self in anything we do. We are afraid to sin against God. On the other hand, godliness means that we let
God come forth in everything we do. To exercise ourselves unto godliness, on the negative side, means to deny all
ungodliness (Titus 2:12), things which do not conform to God. On the positive side, we need to let God come forth in
everything. This kind of godliness is not some kind of mortification. It is not a matter of closing doors and ignoring
everything, but it is a matter of abiding in the Lord according to the teaching of the anointing, and learning to let the law
of life manifest the nature of God's life in our daily life (I Timothy 2:2). This kind of exercising unto godliness is more
profitable than bodily exercise.
Although today we cannot experience this external life completely, if we experience it day by day, one day we will be
completely like Him when our body has been redeemed, and we will fully enjoy this eternal life. This is God's eternal
purpose. This is the glory of the new covenant. We need to praise the Lord with a heart full of expectation.
We also need to realize that there is one thing which is unavoidable to all that would live godly in Christ Jesus. Paul told
Timothy, "But you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, endurance,
persecutions, sufferings, which happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra; what persecutions, but Paul continued,
"And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (verse 12).
Not only can an apostle not avoid persecution, but, without exception, any one who is determined to live godly in Christ
Jesus will also be persecuted. If in our daily life we will be just a little accommodating, a little complacent, a little clever
and tactful, wise to protect ourselves, go along with the worldly customs, mingle with others, give in concerning the
truths, and compromise with those who are not willing to pay the price; if we would just please others at the cost of truth,
not seeking the inner voice, and not obeying the inner sense, then we may be a Christian, but we will be a Christian
without persecution. For who would persecute us if we are the same as everyone else?
We should not think that those Christians who have suffered much persecutions are those who have the ill fortune to be
born at the wrong time and who have been destined to encounter oppositions. On the contrary, the fact is that those
Christians who do not suffer persecution are the ones who would not live godly in Christ Jesus; otherwise, persecution
would be unavoidable. For this reason a believer once said, "The most spiritual believers are seamed with scars;
martyrs have put on their crown glittering with fire." But we need not be fearful, for either the Lord will empower us,
making us able to endure, or He will deliver us from all the sufferings (I Corinthians 10:13; II Corinthians 1:8-10; II
Here also we need to mention that exercising unto godliness, or living godly in Christ Jesus, is a spiritual pursuit and an
overflow of life. Some manifestations of such exercise are normal and need not be mentioned here. But we will mention
certain manifestations which may be considered sick conditions and which are defects.
Some Christians, it seems, are born lazy. They neither like to labor nor to work. They use prayer and spiritual words
as a shelter for their laziness. A brother told us of a certain sister who did not like to do things. Either she would have
the excuse of not knowing how to do it or she would have the excuse of not having the strength to do it. At one point
someone arranged for her to pick some flowers from the garden every day and arrange them in a vase. After a few
days she stopped doing it, saying that it was not spiritual. This is a sick condition. This is not godliness,
Some Christians think that godliness means to be rigid. Such rigidness makes them appear artificial. One brother met
a certain one who, whenever he would say a few words, would bow down his head, or raise up his head to look up into
the heavens. This person was pretending to be godly. The brother who related this incident said he felt like shouting
to him, "Brother, stop this nonsense!" We know what life is; it is spontaneous. It is hard for the spirit of a rigid person to
come forth, and so God cannot come forth either. Therefore, whenever we exercise ourselves unto godliness, we
should be living and fresh. It must be God who comes forth in our words and in our attitude.
We mentioned previously, that if we live godly in Christ Jesus we will be persecuted. This means that those who will not
sin against God in order to please men will encounter persecutions. This is not to say, however, that we may be
negligent in love and in courtesy toward others.
A certain sister was taking a walk in the mountains. There can another sister who greeted her and asked where she
was going. She looked up into the heavens and coldly answered, "I am going to see God." Let us not think that such a
self-assumed godliness and such a cold, hardhearted attitude will ever attract others to long after God.
Some Christians who admire Mademe Guyon and Brother Lawrence (who practiced the presence of God) seek to
practice godliness as they did. This is something to be respected. It is even desirable. However, unfortunately, there
are others who imitate them and become passive. Why do we say that they learn yet fall into passivity? Because they
often cannot hear what others say. It is right to ignore people's gossip, but to ignore the important things said by others
is an insult to them. Those who practice godliness and become passive also cannot understand what others say, nor
show any concern for the affairs of others. Yet they think they are enjoying the presence of God. If this were normal,
then how could Brother Lawrence handle the affairs in the midst of the noise and clatter of his busy environment? If
someone asked him for a plate and he gave them a spoon, if he could not hear their first request nor understand their
repeated request, would it not be a hardship for others? Therefore, we must say that it is not normal to practice
godliness by being passive.
Brothers and sisters, our Lord is the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and reality (John
1:14). This is a great revelation of godliness. Paul, who told Timothy that only godliness is profitable for all things (I
Timothy 4:8), is the one who said, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not?" (II
Corinthians 11:29). He also worked with his own hands ( I Corinthians 4:12), and he labored more abundantly than all
the apostles (I Corinthians 15:10). Oh brothers and sisters, this is our example. We should respect Paul and learn of
The Need for God's Continual Forgiveness and Cleansing
The power of God's life will fulfill God's eternal purpose in us. Today, upon the earth, we have the promise of God's life
which is godliness. This does not mean that we are complete to such an extent that we no longer need confession, no
longer need God's forgiveness, and no longer need the cleansing of the precious blood. No! We must read Hebrews
8:12 again: "For I will be propitious to their unrighteousness, and their sins I will by no means remember anymore."
Earlier, we pointed out that we must pay attention to the word "for" in this verse. It is very important, for it shows that
God being propitious toward our unrighteousness and by no means remembering our sins anymore is the cause; but
that God has imparted His laws into our mind and has inscribed them upon our hearts and has become our God in the
law of life and has made us His people in the law of life for this purpose: that we might have a deeper knowledge of
Him. To know God is the purpose, so it is mentioned first; but the forgiveness of sins is the procedure, so it is
A similar instance can be found in Ephesians 1. First, in verse 5, we are told that God "predestinated us unto sonship
through Jesus Christ to Himself," because this is the purpose. Later, in verse 7, it is mentioned that "we have
redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of offenses," because this is the procedure.
Before God can give us His life, He must forgive us and cleanse us of our sins. This also indicates that after we have
God's life, if we have sin and do not deal with it, it will hinder the growth of this life. Therefore, in order for God's life to
move within us without hindrance, we must not tolerate sin. We must be confessed to God and forgiveness must be
obtained. We may also need to confess to others and ask for their forgiveness.
We should not think that we can exercise unto godliness to such an extent that we no longer need God's forgiveness or
the cleansing of the precious blood. On the contrary, the more one knows God, the more he feels the poverty of his
condition and the more he will confess before God, seeking forgiveness, and the more he will experience the cleansing
of the blood. Often those Christians whom we consider to be most holy are ones who have shed many tears before
God. For it is in God's light that we see light (Psalm 36:9), and in God's light we will see our real condition. Our hidden
flesh and our hidden self will be exposed in God's light. At such a time we will truly say to God: "I will declare mine
iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin" (Psalm 38:18). We will also say to God: "Clear thou me from hidden faults. Keep back
thy servant also from presumptuous sins...Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in
thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:12-14).
A servant of God once gave a word based upon I John 1 in which he pointed out that life requires fellowship and also
brings in fellowship; fellowship brings in light; and light requires the blood. Here we notice a series of experiences. If a
person has life he will seek fellowship; when there is fellowship he will see light; and when he sees light he will seek the
blood. These four things not only constitute a series, they also are causally related to each other. Life causes us to
have fellowship, and fellowship imparts life to us. Fellowship causes us to see light, and light brings a deeper
fellowship. Light prompts us to seek the cleansing of the blood, and the cleansing of the blood allows us to see the light
more clearly. These four items not only are causally related to each other, but they are also in a cycle, with life bringing
us to fellowship; fellowship causing us to see light; light causing us to receive the cleansing of the blood; and following
the cleansing of the blood the receiving of more life. When we receive more life, we will have more fellowship, and when
we have more fellowship we will see more light; then having seen more light we will receive more cleansing of the blood.
These four items recur thus in a cycle. The experience of this cycle will cause us to move ahead in life.
As a car moves by the continuous turning of the wheels, so the experience of these four matters is just like the turning
of the wheels. Whenever a cycle is completed, we move on a certain distance in life. When another cycle is completed,
it carries us on further. As we pass through one cycle after another, we will continue to move on in God's life. If at
some point our experience of the cycle stops, we also come to a stop in God's life. These are the words of one who
really knew God and who knew the Word of God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, it is in the law of life and in the intuition, that we know God. This is very practical. This
knowing does not need the teaching of others at all. This is the climax of the new covenant. This is also the glory of
the new covenant. Hallelujah! We must praise and worship Him.
The New Covenant, by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, Copyright 1981, Living Stream Ministry.
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