The final chapter of this book, which was skillfully woven together from a number of separate messages given by Watchman Nee in his ministry, deals specifically with the "field of finance" in the world, and how Christians must deal with that to defeat Satan's purposes in the world system. Here are some of Nee's points from this chapter.
1. Nee starts this chapter with a sort of apology, that he does not minimize the important of winning souls to Jesus Christ, and that soul-winning should be the main goal when our focus is on man. But in this book the focus is on the world, so he looks now instead on how we can rob Satan of his spoils and dominion through the "field of finance."
2. The author makes his case that money always is opposed to God, that the basic character of money is unrighteous and evil, citing Jesus' term of "unrighteous mammon" in Luke 16:9. That's why there's a choice of service to only one master: God or money. "Mammon is always set over against God," and ready to lead us astray.
3. "The essence of the world is money." In touching money, one always touches the world. How do we handle money and not belong to the world? Nee answers by giving the example of the widow giving her two mites, which won Jesus' approval. She gave her whole life in her two coins. To be useful to God, money must be severed from all of its connections to the world. In the Old Testament, material goods to be sacrificed to God were destroyed by killing and/or burning. So money for God must be destroyed to the world. Like the widow's mites, our money must be devoted to God with our lives. Nee states, "You cannot keep your self back and contribute anything significant to God. You cannot send your money out of the world at all; you can only bring it out of the world!"
4. Transfer of money from the world to God is very difficult, and requires work. Nee states that such a transfer is more difficult than winning souls. The latter is accomplished by God's grace, independent of our degree of devotion to Him. But the money transfer can only be done by our "utter devotion" of our lives to God. Can we honestly say that none of our money exists in Satan's accounts? That none of it belongs to the world?
In this next-to-the-last chapter of Love Not The World, Watchman Nee presents his ideas about what the Christian should be able to accomplish in his/her work against the world and the enemy who controls it. Here are some of the points which Nee appears to make (this was a somewhat more difficult chapter to summarize):
1. Nee starts with citing Hebrews 6:5, that those in Christ have "tasted . . . the powers of the age to come." What are those? Nee reminds Christians of the future of glory to come, when the Kingdom of God and Christ, here now only through the workings of the Holy Spirit, will become the only Kingdom, replacing the kingdom of the world. What "powers" of that time have we been given a small experience in?
2. Things of the future to look forward to include: salvation; eternal life; removal of all stumbling blocks against those things; every person knowing the Lord; and the whole earth being filled with "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord." In Christ we have experienced some of these things, but not in all their fullness. Yet Jesus told His disciples they had authority over the power of the enemy, and that He had seen Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:18-19). In Revelation, that is in the future, but was also a present fact for Jesus.
3. If we Christians know now that we have salvation and eternal life, then we should be able to experience the other factors above as part of the fruits of Jesus' Cross and Resurrection.
4. Nee makes this very interesting statement, that redemption was not in God's plan for man, only man's dominion over all the earth. Satan acquired man's dominion through Adam's sinful fall. Since then natural human life on earth is Satan's foothold in his territory. But now God has redeemed man by removing him from the world's influence through the Cross of Christ, and through the Resurrection, death was also defeated. Satan "no longer has rights in us."
The title of this chapter gives the reader a clue as to what this chapter is about. "My Laws In Their Hearts" is a fairly close quote from Jeremiah 31, in which God promised a "new covenant" for His people (see v. 33 for the origins of this chapter's title). But Watchman Nee does not cite that passage from Jeremiah. Instead he discusses how the Christian can be in and touch the world without being taken by it. Here are some of Nee's points from this chapter:
1. Nee begins by defining the world as "a spiritual system at the head of which is God's enemy." Satan has increased his efforts now to take over human hearts. That distresses God's people, who might try to physically separate themselves from the world.
2. But such separation is not of the Lord's will; Christians are to be in the world, protected by God from the evil one. But if we touch the world, how do we limit ourselves to remain safe?
3. Nee uses the analogy of opiate therapy in medicine. For the pain of illness, morphine works perfectly in limited and controlled amounts, and has great value. But if it is overused, then an unhealthy, dangerous addiction takes over, and the user may be lost. Such is the way of the Christian in the world; some use of its things is legitimate and safe, staying in the Lord's authority. But excessive use puts one directly into the hands of Satan.
4. How do we know when the safe limits have been reached? There are no proclaimed or formal guidelines. Nee states that the answer is to abide in the Lord Himself; if we stay in fellowship with Him, then the Holy Spirit in our hearts tells us when our limits in safely touching the world have been reached. Anointing from the Holy Spirit teaches the Christian all things if we abide in Him. The Holy Spirit knows God's safe limits for us in the world, and we must trust Him to inform us, as Jesus promised.
Chapter 8 is a wonderful chapter in which Watchman Nee goes to John 13 for the episode in which Jesus washes His disciples feet, and instructs them to do the same for one another. Nee then develops his ideas of what that really means. He makes the following points:
1. "Washing of the feet" is about refreshment, not cleansing from sin. It is meant by Jesus to be symbolic of mutual refreshment of our spirits, of my brother's by me, and of mine by him.
2. As we walk in the world we are left covered with its "dust," which then drags us down and makes it more difficult to be fresh before God, making prayer or reading the Word unavailable for a time. This is particularly true at the end of a day in the world. (Again, this is not about 'sin.') But then just a look, a handshake, a word or a prayer from a fellow Christian can "wash our feet" and refresh us before the Lord. That is the feet-washing desired for us by the Lord.
3. Such refreshment of one another is a ministry for Christians, one that we desire to have daily. We may not even know when such "washing" occurs, or how the Lord uses us to do that. And it is a ministry that every Christian can fulfill.
4. However, to do that we must be "untarnished" and filled with peace and joy. If there is any hindrance between us and the Lord, then no such "washing" can occur. In fact, we will have the opposite effect on Christians, dragging them down instead of refreshing them.
5. By washing His disciples feet, Jesus demonstrated what an important ministry this is to Him. There is always a need to restore the dusty, to bring them "afresh to what . . . is of God." Nee states, "That is power." We all need that power of being fresh from God in the world.
Watchman Nee continues with his moving from the largely theoretical arguments into advice for practical living for the Christian in the world. This chapter deals mostly with how the Christian handles the physical and material "things of the world" in his touching of that world. It is a powerful chapter which draws conclusions that may be hard for some of us Christians to hear. Here are some of Nee's points:
1. While the Church has always been a "thorn in Satan's side," the 'kosmos' also has been, and is, a constant source of "grief" to the Church. Nee feels that as the end times approach, new forces are being released in the world which go against the Church, and which are much more subtly, spiritually evil than the earlier persecutions and assaults.
2. Those forces involve the "appeal of far more everyday things." Christians are paying much more attention to physical issues, such as food and clothing. The New Testament tells us not to worry about those things, but to seek instead the Kingdom of God; we act as if we don't believe those teachings. Nee specifically mentions the attention to a "level of luxury" by Christians, an attention that is "far from normal - it is supernatural," meaning that is being driven by the dark forces at play in the world. Many Christians are thus being drawn into the world system, and must awaken to what is happening.
3. Jesus taught that in the end times life would be like it was in the days of Noah, including marrying, planting and building, buying and selling. Nee states that people might ask, "What can be wrong with doing those things?" But they are clearly activities of the world. Commerce and finance are particularly dealt with, including the dark, worldly aspects of financial troubles, the amassing of wealth and the "feverish" making of business deals. The new Satanic forces which have been released seem to be driving men to these activities. In them Christians are being "ensnared" into the world.
4. Jesus also taught that we are not to get caught up in the cares of this biological life in the world. Our hearts are to be "detached in spirit" from the goods and needs of the world.
In Chapter 6 Watchman Nee makes a compelling case for the Christian life and purpose of God to be in the 'kosmos', not living in avoidance of it. Here are what seem to be some of Nee's points:
1. Jesus not only claimed Himself to be "the light of the world" (John 8:12) but He also told His disciples, as a statement of fact, that they, too, were "the light of the world" (Matt 5:14). Such divine light is "foreign" to the world and is in stark contrast to the world's darkness. Our light is to "shine before men . . . to glorify God" (Matt 5:16). If we remove ourselves from the world, then the world is deprived of light and God receives no such glory.
2. The Christian is guided by Paul's Kingdom of God internal features - righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17) - and not by worldly standards. Jesus said that in the world is "tribulation" but in Him there is peace (John 16:33), peace He freely gave to us (John 14:27). Nee then states that if our life is that of those of the world, then the world impacts on us, while if we have the life of the Spirit, we remain unmoved by the world's "tribulation." Jesus had that peace through all He went through, and Christian martyrs through history have tolerated atrocities calmly by His peace. God's peace in Jesus Christ guards our hearts and minds.
3. Therefore there is no need for Christians to withdraw from the world. We overcome the world by having those otherworldly gifts from the Kingdom, and showing those features to the people of the world, who are missing and in need of that love, peace and joy.
4. The Church then is a "colony of heaven" which intrudes into Satan's territory. Its light from above shows the 'kosmos' for what it is: God-hostile and dark. The Church also is to proclaim the gospel that if people turn to that divine light, God, through Jesus Christ, will set those of the world free from the world's bondage. Such a Church is a "thorn in the side" of Satan, so why should it try to leave the world?
In this chapter Watchman Nee goes even further with his ideas about the separation to God of the Christian, and begins to tie together the incredible gift of God in Jesus Christ to accomplish that separation. Here are some of the major points in this chapter:
1. In John's Gospel, Jesus contrasted the "religious" Jews with His disciples. To the Jews He said, "You are of this world; I am not of this world" (8:23), but to His disciples, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (15:19). Christians are not of the world because they have been chosen out of the world by Jesus.
2. The Greek 'ek' means 'out of'; the term for Christ's Church - 'ekklesia' - means 'called out ones.' Nee states, "From the midst of the great kosmos God calls one here and one there, and all whom He calls He calls out." Those so called out must live in spirit outside the world system.
3. As those chosen out of the world, we have a new life that is from above; our origin then also becomes of heaven, not the world. We are "otherworldly"; God's gift is a new life that never was of the world. That life is uneasy mingling with the world.
4. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, Paul made two statements related to this new life: 1) God Himself placed us in Christ; since Christ is not of this world, then neither are we; 2) Christ has been made to us redemption; as Israel was redeemed by God out of Egypt through Moses, so we become redeemed out of the world through Christ, who then becomes our barrier to resist the world.
Chapter 4 was a slightly shorter chapter in which Watchman Nee has one major topic - the separation of the Christian to God, away from the world. Here are some of the points he made in this chapter:
1. "Separation to God, separation from the world, is the first principle of Christian living." The rest of the chapter seems to amplify and explain this idea.
2. In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John had a divine revelation of two contrasting cities of destination for man: Babylon, the "great city" of immorality and sins (Rev. 18), and Jerusalem, the "holy city" as a bride for her husband (Rev. 21). These two cities are of "irreconcilable extremes"; John saw them by revelation; once we see that Jerusalem, "we shall never be the same."
3. The New Jerusalem had, to John, noticeable tall walls. They are for separation, so as to guard what is holy of God and having His glory, and keep out any aspect of Babylon. Similarly, holiness in us is what is of God, set apart for Christ; the second we let go of that holiness we go to Babylon.
4. We must have walls to keep out Satan (but never to keep away fellow Christians). Eden had no walls, so Satan entered; now in Christ we have our own Eden with walls which exclude Satan.
5. In 1 John 2:16 John identified all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but of the world. Pride from what the world acclaims, even small successes, is of the Satanic system, and must be acknowledged as sinful. Pride always erodes our relationship with God since it is the pride of life and not praise of God.
6. We cannot escape the world by running away in supposed abstinence from worldly things. But deliverance from the world begins with seeing its ultimate death sentence, under judgment from the Lord. Nee used the understandable example of a bank that is going to be closed losing all of its deposits and customers; we should view the world as that bank is viewed.
In the third chapter of this book, Nee develops his ideas about baptism, its symbolic meaning and its importance in salvation in Jesus Christ. Here are some of the prominent points in this chapter:
1. Nee points out that at the end of Mark's Gospel, Jesus sequences faith, then baptism, then salvation. Nee believes this sequence is important, and that there is "baptismal salvation."
2. God's gifts to man seem to be given to overcome contrasting evils; for example, justification is given for condemnation, eternal life for death, forgiveness for sinfulness. So the gift of salvation must also be for some opposing evil, but what?
3. The author proposes that there is a triad of "dark forces" which oppose the three divine Persons: flesh vs. the Holy Spirit, Satan vs. Christ, and the "kosmos" (world) vs. God the Creator.
Thus Satan's system "usurped" God's creation, leaving man to face two opposing systems: the order of Christ's dominion, or the order of Satan's.
4. Salvation then is the overcoming of, the exiting from, the whole, God-defiant "kosmos." That "kosmos" includes not only fleshly sins, but the entire system of human activity, even the very best cultural, social and political standards, ways and "ideologies." That also means religions and the worldly Christian "church." These are referred to as powered by natural man at Satan's inspiration.
5. The role of baptism then can never be considered to be "of small concern." Nee refers to 1 Peter 3:20-22 in showing the symbolic role of baptism in moving a believer from the "kosmos" into the domain of Christ.
The second chapter of Love Not The World had a little different writing style than the first, without quite as many succinct points. But here is my summary of some of the contents:
1. While openly sinful activities and topics are readily ascribed to Satanic influence, other arenas of the "world," such as the sciences and the arts, may seem in man's mind to be free of that influence. That is part of Satan's contrived, more subtle (and more powerful) enticement. "He opposes God by means of every worldly thing" (p. 23). Can we accept that?
2. But Jesus said that all of the "world" was under judgment, and John wrote that "the whole 'world' lies in the evil one" (1 John 5:19). None of the "world" is any less condemned than the other.
3. As an example of things of the "world" versus things of the Spirit, Nee points out that in the "world" human parents produce human children of like kind, but Christian parents cannot produce Christian children in the "world". The latter act requires the ongoing and active work of God.
4. The "world" is that "which can continue apart from divine activity." In its nature the "world" "moves in a direction contrary to the will of God" (p. 24).
5. Most of the rest of the chapter deals with specific examples of the trend for all activities in the "world" to move away from God, such as the government of Old Testament Israel, altruistic endeavors like charities, church-initiated businesses and medicine, and industries like agriculture, engineering and publishing. Away from God these may still provide value to man in the "world."
6. To stay as living entities, churches must have constant "impartation" from God, or die.
7. Man is delivered from Satanic influence in the "world" only by God's work of mercy, redemption and salvation, not by man's own attempts at consecration of self to things of God.
8. So the natural tendency of all things in the "world" is to move toward Satan and away from God. We must be on guard constantly to avoid getting caught up in Satan's snares and "lose the liberty that is yours as a child of God" (p.31). We must also ask ourselves as we touch things of the "world," are we inadvertently helping Satan construct his kingdom, a kingdom he thinks will own everything at the end of the world?
Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world.
Love Not The World
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