6. The Factor of Dealing with Our Natural Disposition for Our Growth in Life and Our Usefulness in Service
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  • 05-08,
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Hymns:
Scripture Reading: Matt. 16:22-26; Gal. 2:20;
2 Cor. 1:8-9; 2:15; 3:3-6; 4:5; 5:20; Eph. 6:20
Matt. 16:22   And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be merciful to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!
Matt. 16:23   But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.
Matt. 16:24   Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Matt. 16:25   For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.
Matt. 16:26   For what shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul-life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul-life?
Gal. 2:20       I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
2 Cor. 1:8      For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living.
2 Cor. 1:9      Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead;
2 Cor. 2:15    For we are a fragrance of Christ to God in those who are being saved and in those who are perishing:
2 Cor. 3:3      Since you are being manifested that you are a letter of Christ ministered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone but in tablets of hearts of flesh.
2 Cor. 3:4      And such confidence we have through Christ toward God,
2 Cor. 3:5      Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God,
2 Cor. 3:6      Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Cor. 4:5      For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.
2 Cor. 5:20    On behalf of Christ then we are ambassadors, as God entreats you through us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God.
Eph. 6:20      For which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I would speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
 

I.     We must deal with our natural disposition for our growth in life and our usefulness in service:
A.     Our natural disposition denotes what we are in our makeup by birth, and our character is the outward expression of our natural disposition; natural disposition is what we are within, and character is what we express without.
B.     The inward natural disposition and the outward character are the extract, the essence, of our being; the self within is our natural disposition, and the self expressed is our character.
C.     The thing that most damages our usefulness in the Christian life and church life is our living according to our natural disposition; it is the real enemy of our growth in the divine life and the major factor that spoils our usefulness in the hand of the Lord.
D.     We must learn to take care of the “burl” in our makeup, our natural disposition; if we deal with this “burl,” we will grow quickly without any hindrances to our growth in life, and we will also become more useful to the Lord.
E.      Disposition is implied in the terms used in Matthew 16:23-26—mind, himself, and soul-life; disposition includes all these elements; actually, we may say that our natural disposition is our self.
Matt. 16:23   But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.
Matt. 16:24   Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Matt. 16:25   For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.
Matt. 16:26   For what shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul-life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul-life?
F.      To deal with our natural disposition means to deal with our self, our soul-life (vv. 22-26), our old man (Rom. 6:6), and the “I” (Gal. 2:20); how useful you will be to the Lord or how much trouble you will make to the church depends upon how much your natural disposition is killed; the way to deal with our natural disposition is to realize and remember that we are crucified persons and remain under that realization and reality throughout the day (v. 20; 5:24-25; Rom. 6:6; 8:13b).
Matt. 16:22   And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be merciful to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!
Matt. 16:23   But He turned and said to Peter, Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.
Matt. 16:24   Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Matt. 16:25   For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it.
Matt. 16:26   For what shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul-life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul-life?
Rom. 6:6       Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves;
Gal. 2:20       I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Gal. 5:24       But they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts.
Gal. 5:25       If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Rom. 6:6       Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin as slaves;
Rom. 8:13     For if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.
G.     Our natural disposition is our self; it is in us, and it is us; practically speaking, to deny the self is simply to deny our natural disposition; as Christians, we have to live Christ by continually exercising our spirit to reject our self and live by another life, the crucified and resurrected Christ, signified by the tree of life—Gen. 2:9; Phil. 1:21a; Rev. 2:7; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Tim. 4:7-8.
Gen. 2:9        And out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Phil. 1:21      For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Rev. 2:7        He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
1 Pet. 2:24     Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree, in order that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose bruise you were healed.
1 Tim. 4:7     But the profane and old-womanish myths refuse, and exercise yourself unto godliness.
1 Tim. 4:8     For bodily exercise is profitable for a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the present life and of that which is to come.
II.   We should not be limited by our natural disposition in the Lord’s work; instead, we should learn to live a life of opposing ourselves, our disposition; whatever we have and whatever comes out of us cannot be brought into the Lord’s service—Rom. 1:9; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:3-6; 4:5:
Rom. 1:9       For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,
Rom. 7:6       But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter.
2 Cor. 3:3      Since you are being manifested that you are a letter of Christ ministered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone but in tablets of hearts of flesh.
2 Cor. 3:4      And such confidence we have through Christ toward God,
2 Cor. 3:5      Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God,
2 Cor. 3:6      Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Cor. 4:5      For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.
A.     The natural disposition of some brothers reflects a strong self-confidence; their self-confidence must be overthrown by continually rejecting their self and by relying on the resurrecting Triune God—1:8-9.
2 Cor. 1:8      For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living.
2 Cor. 1:9      Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead;
B.     The less a man is enlightened by God, the more he thinks that he will have no trouble obeying God; the quicker a man makes loud claims, the more it proves that he has never paid any price; those whose words pretend intimacy with God are probably farthest away from Him—Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14; Phil. 3:3.
Matt. 6:1       But take care not to do your righteousness before men in order to be gazed at by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens.
Matt. 6:2       Therefore when you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward in full.
Matt. 6:3       But you, when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Matt. 6:4       So that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Matt. 6:5       And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward in full.
Matt. 6:6       But you, when you pray, enter into your private room, and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Matt. 6:16     And when you fast, do not be like the sullen-faced hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They have their reward in full.
Matt. 6:17     But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
Matt. 6:18     So that you may not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Luke 18:9     And He told this parable also to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised the rest:
Luke 18:10    Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Luke 18:11    The Pharisee stood and prayed these things to himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Luke 18:12    I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all that I get.
Luke 18:13    But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be propitiated to me, the sinner!
Luke 18:14    I tell you, This man went down to his house justified rather than that one; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
Phil. 3:3        For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,
C.     The natural disposition of some brothers is one of refusing to work as long as the circumstances are not perfect or the conditions are not adequate; we must reject the natural disposition that requires a particular environment before we can work—1 Pet. 4:1; 1 Cor. 9:23-27.
1 Pet. 4:1       Since Christ therefore has suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same mind (because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin),
1 Cor. 9:23    And I do all things for the sake of the gospel that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
1 Cor. 9:24    Do you not know that those who run on a racecourse all run, but one receives the prize? Run in this way, that you may lay hold.
1 Cor. 9:25    And everyone who contends exercises self-control in all things; they then, that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we, an incorruptible.
1 Cor. 9:26    I therefore run in this way, not as though without a clear aim; I box in this way, not as though beating the air;
1 Cor. 9:27    But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest perhaps having preached to others, I myself may become disapproved.
D.     We need to work together with God by a life that is able to fit all situations, that is able to endure any kind of treatment, that is able to accept any kind of environment, that is able to work in any kind of condition, and that is able to take any kind of opportunity, for the carrying out of the ministry; we must learn the secret of experiencing Christ in everything and in every place—2 Cor. 6:1-2; Phil. 4:5-9, 11-13.
2 Cor. 6:1      And working together with Him, we also entreat you not to receive the grace of God in vain;
2 Cor. 6:2      For He says, "In an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is the well-acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Phil. 4:5        Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Phil. 4:6        In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Phil. 4:7        And the peace of God, which surpasses every man's understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:8        Finally, brothers, what things are true, what things are dignified, what things are righteous, what things are pure, what things are lovely, what things are well spoken of, if there is any virtue and if any praise, take account of these things.
Phil. 4:9        The things which you have also learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace will be with you.
Phil. 4:11      Not that I speak according to lack, for I have learned, in whatever circumstances I am, to be content.
Phil. 4:12      I know also how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to lack.
Phil. 4:13      I am able to do all things in Him who empowers me.
E.      One type of natural disposition is that of the “hero”; this type must do everything in an impressive, perfect, and complete way; another type of natural disposition is that of the “non-hero”; the non-hero does not do anything in a thorough or complete way.
F.      Some responsible brothers have a strong element in their natural disposition that hinders them from coordinating and cooperating with others; these ones usually are very capable, and they can also easily stir up trouble in the church life; their disposition can even be one with a dominating attitude, a suppressing spirit, critical speaking, and a legalistic and unforgiving spirit.
G.     Other responsible brothers may have a natural disposition that wants everyone to like them and does not want to offend anyone; this limits their effectiveness in the Lord’s work, because when the Lord wants to speak an honest or frank word of admonishment or warning to the saints through them, they will not do it—cf. Col. 1:27-29; 1 Thes. 5:12-13; 1 Cor. 10:5-13; Heb. 3:7-19; 12:25:
Col. 1:27       To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
Col. 1:28       Whom we announce, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man full-grown in Christ;
Col. 1:29       For which also I labor, struggling according to His operation which operates in me in power.
1 Thes. 5:12  Furthermore we ask you, brothers, to acknowledge those who labor among you and take the lead among you in the Lord and admonish you,
1 Thes. 5:13  And to regard them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
1 Cor. 10:5    But with most of them God was not well pleased, for they were strewn along in the wilderness.
1 Cor. 10:6    Now these things occurred as examples to us, that we should not be ones who lust after evil things, even as they also lusted.
1 Cor. 10:7    Neither become idolaters, as some of them did; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play."
1 Cor. 10:8    Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand.
1 Cor. 10:9    Neither let us test Christ, as some of them tested Him and were destroyed by the serpents.
1 Cor. 10:10  Neither murmur, just as some of them murmured and perished by the destroyer.
1 Cor. 10:11  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our admonition, unto whom the ends of the ages have come.
1 Cor. 10:12  So then let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Cor. 10:13  No temptation has taken you except that which is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow that you be tempted beyond what you are able, but will, with the temptation, also make the way out, that you may be able to endure it.
Heb. 3:7        Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear His voice,
Heb. 3:8        Do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Heb. 3:9        Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me and saw My works for forty years.
Heb. 3:10      Therefore I was displeased with this generation, and I said, They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways;
Heb. 3:11      As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest!"
Heb. 3:12      Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God.
Heb. 3:13      But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called "today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin--
Heb. 3:14      For we have become partners of Christ, if indeed we hold fast the beginning of the assurance firm to the end--
Heb. 3:15      While it is said, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation."
Heb. 3:16      For who provoked Him when they heard? Indeed was it not all who came out of Egypt by Moses?
Heb. 3:17      And with whom was He displeased for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?
Heb. 3:18      And to whom did He swear that they should not enter into His rest, except to the disobedient?
Heb. 3:19      And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.
Heb. 12:25    See that you do not refuse Him who speaks, for if those did not escape who refused Him who warned them upon the earth, much more we shall not escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven,
1. Furthermore, those with such a disposition can express the “strange fire” of natural affection toward the saints, even to such a degree that causes them to be lacking the proper discernment and the proper oversight in their care for the church, the saints, and the work—Lev. 2:11; 10:1-2; Num. 6:6-7; Phil. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:2; Heb. 13:17.
Lev. 2:11      No meal offering that you present to Jehovah shall be made with leaven, for you shall not burn any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to Jehovah.
Lev. 10:1      And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire in them and laid incense on it, and they presented strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them.
Lev. 10:2      And fire came out from before Jehovah and consumed them, and they died before Jehovah.
Num. 6:6       All the days that he separates himself to Jehovah he shall not come near a dead person.
Num. 6:7       He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is upon his head.
Phil. 1:9        And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in full knowledge and all discernment,
1 Pet. 2:25     For you were like sheep being led astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Pet. 5:2       Shepherd the flock of God among you, overseeing not under compulsion but willingly, according to God; not by seeking gain through base means but eagerly;
Heb. 13:17    Obey the ones leading you and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who will render an account, that they may do this with joy and not groaning; for this would be unprofitable to you.
2. A major part of the Nazarite vow is to separate ourselves from the deadness that comes through natural affection (Num. 6:6-7); also, the meal offering being without honey means that in Christ there is no natural affection or natural goodness (Lev. 2:11; Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 10:18).
Num. 6:6       All the days that he separates himself to Jehovah he shall not come near a dead person.
Num. 6:7       He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is upon his head.
Lev. 2:11      No meal offering that you present to Jehovah shall be made with leaven, for you shall not burn any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to Jehovah.
Matt. 12:46   While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and His brothers stood outside seeking to speak to Him.
Matt. 12:47   And someone said to Him, Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.
Matt. 12:48   But He answered and said to him who spoke to Him, Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?
Matt. 12:49   And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, Behold, My mother and My brothers!
Matt. 12:50   For whoever does the will of My Father who is in the heavens, he is My brother and sister and mother.
Mark 10:18   And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good except One-God.
H.     The source of any rebellion among us was the natural disposition of the persons involved; ambition for position (which comes from Satan) is the primary element of every fallen person’s natural disposition; the root of dissent is the self, the natural disposition—Isa. 14:12-13; Num. 12:1-2; 16:1-3; 1 Sam. 15:10-12; Matt. 18:1-4; 20:20-28; Luke 22:25-27; 2 Cor. 10:4-5.
Isa. 14:12      How you have fallen from heaven, / O Daystar, son of the dawn! / How you have been hewn down to earth, / You who made nations fall prostrate!
Isa. 14:13      But you, you said in your heart: / I will ascend to heaven; / Above the stars of God / I will exalt my throne. / And I will sit upon the mount of assembly / In the uttermost parts of the north.
Num. 12:1     And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman).
Num. 12:2     And they said, Has Jehovah indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not also spoken through us? And Jehovah heard it.
Num. 16:1     Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, the sons of Reuben, took men
Num. 16:2     And rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred fifty leaders of the assembly, who were summoned to the meeting, well-known men.
Num. 16:3     And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much upon yourselves, for all the assembly are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of Jehovah?
1 Sam. 15:10 And the word of Jehovah came to Samuel, saying,
1 Sam. 15:11 I repent that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not fulfilled My words. And Samuel was angry, and he cried to Jehovah all night long.
1 Sam. 15:12 Then Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, saying, Saul went to Carmel and has now set up a monument for himself, and he has returned and passed on down to Gilgal.
Matt. 18:1     In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?
Matt. 18:2     And He called a little child to Him and stood him in their midst
Matt. 18:3     And said, Truly I say to you, Unless you turn and become like little children, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
Matt. 18:4     He therefore who will humble himself like this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens.
Matt. 20:20   Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, worshipping and asking something of Him.
Matt. 20:21   And He said to her, What do you want? She said to Him, Say that these two sons of mine will sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your kingdom.
Matt. 20:22   But Jesus answered and said to them, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup which I am about to drink? They said to Him, We are able.
Matt. 20:23   He said to them, My cup you shall indeed drink, but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.
Matt. 20:24   And when the ten heard this, they were indignant concerning the two brothers.
Matt. 20:25   But Jesus called them to Him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great exercise authority over them.
Matt. 20:26   It shall not be so among you; but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant,
Matt. 20:27   And whoever wants to be first among you shall be your slave;
Matt. 20:28   Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Luke 22:25    And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called benefactors.
Luke 22:26    But you shall not be so; but let the greatest among you become like the youngest, and the one who leads like the one who serves.
Luke 22:27    For who is greater, the one who reclines at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as the one who serves.
2 Cor. 10:4    For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful before God for the overthrowing of strongholds,
2 Cor. 10:5    As we overthrow reasonings and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought unto the obedience of Christ.
I.       Second Kings 4:8-10 gives the account of the Shunammite woman’s reception of Elisha by providing a meal for him whenever he passed by; he did not give one message or perform one miracle, but the woman identified him as “a holy man of God” by the way he took his meal; this was the impression that Elisha gave to others, so we have to ask ourselves, “What is the impression that we give to others?”—cf. 2 Cor. 2:15; 5:20; Eph. 6:20.
2 Kings 4:8    And one day Elisha was passing through Shunem; and there was a wealthy woman there, who compelled him to have a meal. So whenever he passed through, he would turn aside and have a meal there.
2 Kings 4:9    And she said to her husband, Now I know that this man who continually passes through unto us is a holy man of God.
2 Kings 4:10  Let us make a little walled upper room and put a bed and a table and a chair and a lamp for him; and when he comes to us, he can turn aside there.
2 Cor. 2:15    For we are a fragrance of Christ to God in those who are being saved and in those who are perishing:
2 Cor. 5:20    On behalf of Christ then we are ambassadors, as God entreats you through us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God.
Eph. 6:20      For which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I would speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
J.       If the Lord breaks our outer man with our natural disposition, we will no longer present others with our strong self when we touch them; instead, our spirit will flow out whenever we touch men; it is impossible for us to break through the problems of our natural disposition, but it is possible for the Lord to do it—John 7:37-38; Luke 18:24-27; 19:2.
John 7:37      Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:38      He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.
Luke 18:24    And Jesus, seeing that he became very sorrowful, said, How difficult it is for those who have riches to go into the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:25    For it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:26    And those who heard said, Then who can be saved?
Luke 18:27    But He said, The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.
Luke 19:2     And behold, there was a man whose name was called Zaccheus; and he was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
III.  The Spirit deals with our outer man, our self, our natural disposition, by the killing element of the cross in the compound Spirit, by the discipline of the Spirit, by the shining of Christ as the Spirit, and by the church life, fruit-bearing, and lamb-feeding:
A.     In order to deal with our natural disposition, we must deny the self and apply the killing power of the cross; we need to see and realize in our experience that the compound, all-inclusive Spirit in our spirit includes the precious death of Christ and the sweetness and effectiveness of Christ’s death, which can kill our natural disposition—Exo. 30:23-25; Phil. 1:19; Rom. 8:13:
Exo. 30:23    You also take the finest spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred fifty shekels, and of fragrant calamus two hundred fifty shekels,
Exo. 30:24    And of cassia five hundred shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.
Exo. 30:25    And you shall make it a holy anointing oil, a fragrant ointment compounded according to the work of a compounder; it shall be a holy anointing oil.
Phil. 1:19      For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Rom. 8:13     For if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.
1. Christ as the compound Spirit is our medication to heal us, enliven us, and kill all the negative things within us; when we take Him as our medication, we enjoy “the putting to death of Jesus,” or the killing of Jesus—2 Cor. 4:10-11.
2 Cor. 4:10    Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2 Cor. 4:11    For we who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus' sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2. In the Spirit there is the killing element of the cross; when we reject ourselves in the morning to receive God into us, we have the sense during the day that a killing process is going on within us.
B.     The goal of the discipline of the Holy Spirit is for us to be a broken man; God has to put us in a place of total inability and total helplessness before He can have a way in us; the purpose of the trials through which we pass is so that we can receive the benefit of knowing God for Him to be expressed—1:8-9; 12:9-10; Isa. 40:28-31; Hosea 6:1-3:
2 Cor. 1:8      For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living.
2 Cor. 1:9      Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead;
2 Cor. 12:9    And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my weaknesses that the power of Christ might tabernacle over me.
2 Cor. 12:10  Therefore I am well pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses, on behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am powerful.
Isa. 40:28      Do you not know, / Or have you not heard, / That the eternal God, Jehovah, / The Creator of the ends of the earth, / Does not faint and does not become weary? / There is no searching out of His understanding.
Isa. 40:29      He gives power to the faint, / And to those who have no vigor He multiplies strength.
Isa. 40:30      Although youths will faint and become weary, / And young men will collapse exhausted;
Isa. 40:31      Yet those who wait on Jehovah will renew their strength; / They will mount up with wings like eagles; / They will run and will not faint; / They will walk and will not become weary.
Hosea 6:1      Come and let us return to Jehovah; / For He has torn us, but He will heal us, / And He has stricken us, but He will bind us up.
Hosea 6:2      He will enliven us after two days; / On the third day He will raise us up, / And we will live in His presence.
Hosea 6:3      Therefore let us know, let us pursue knowing Jehovah: / His going forth is as sure as the dawn, / And He will come to us as the rain, / As the late rain which waters the earth.
1. The breaking of the outer man is the breaking of our natural disposition; our natural disposition makes it hard for us to release our spirit; a person who is not broken by God cannot be entrusted with the Lord’s work; what we are originally, including our natural appearance and taste, does not match God and is not compatible with God—Jer. 48:11.
Jer. 48:11      Moab has been at ease from his youth; / And he is settled on his lees / And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel; / Nor has he gone into exile. / Therefore his taste remains in him, / And his scent is not changed.
2. Whatever we are by birth, whether good or bad, whether useful or not, is natural and altogether a hindrance to the Holy Spirit in constituting the divine life into our being; for this reason our natural strength, natural wisdom, natural cleverness, natural disposition, natural shortcomings, natural virtues, plus our character and habits, must all be torn down in order that the Holy Spirit may form in us a new disposition, new character, new habits, new virtues, and new attributes.
3. In order to accomplish the work of reconstitution, the Holy Spirit of God moves within us to enlighten, inspire, lead, and saturate us with the divine life; He also works in our environment to arrange every detail, person, matter, and thing in our situation to tear down all aspects of our natural being in order that He might conform us to the image of Christ as the firstborn Son of God—Rom. 8:28-29.
Rom. 8:28     And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Rom. 8:29     Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers;
4. Everything in our environment has been measured to us by our God; He orders everything around us, the only purpose of which is to break our conspicuous, obtuse, and hard spots—Psa. 39:9; Matt. 10:29-30; Luke 12:6.
Psa. 39:9       I was dumb; I did not open my mouth; / For You have done this.
Matt. 10:29   Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And not one of them will fall to the earth apart from your Father.
Matt. 10:30   But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Luke 12:6     Are not five sparrows sold for two assaria? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
5. If the outer man is not broken, the inner man will not be released; the earthen vessel has to be broken before the treasure can be released (2 Cor. 4:7); as long as the ointment is in the alabaster box, the fragrance will not be released (John 12:3).
2 Cor. 4:7      But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.
John 12:3      Then Mary took a pound of ointment, of very valuable pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.
6. A person who is not broken cannot submit to others; only those who have experienced Christ as their life of submission know the rebelliousness of their natural disposition—Phil. 2:5-8.
Phil. 2:5        Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,
Phil. 2:6        Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped,
Phil. 2:7        But emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men;
Phil. 2:8        And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of a cross.
7. Anyone who is boastful has not been broken, anyone who blames others has not been broken, anyone who thinks he is something when he is nothing has not been broken, and anyone who competes with others has not been broken—3:3; 1 Cor. 6:7; Gal. 5:25-26; 6:3.
Phil. 3:3        For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,
1 Cor. 6:7      Already then it is altogether a defeat to you that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
Gal. 5:25       If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Gal. 5:26       Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.
Gal. 6:3         For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
8. Someone who has never been pressed, mistreated, depreciated, or wronged by others is raw, wild, and useless to God; we should not have the mistaken concept that all the saints will admire and respect us because we have been sent by God, called by God, and entrusted with His work; one who respects us today may deride and trample us under his feet tomorrow; this is the way of one who serves the Lord—John 2:23-25; Acts 14:11-13, 18-21; Mark 11:8-10; cf. 15:9-15.
John 2:23      Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed into His name when they saw the signs which He did.
John 2:24      But Jesus Himself did not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men,
John 2:25      And because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
Acts 14:11    And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in Lycaonian, The gods have become like men and have come down to us.
Acts 14:12    And they called Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, since he was the one who took the lead in the discourse.
Acts 14:13    And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was before the city, brought bulls and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer a sacrifice with the crowds.
Acts 14:18    And saying these things, they restrained the crowds only with difficulty from offering sacrifices to them.
Acts 14:19    But Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, supposing that he was dead.
Acts 14:20    But as the disciples surrounded him, he rose up and entered into the city. And on the next day he went out with Barnabas to Derbe.
Acts 14:21    And when they had announced the gospel to that city and had made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
Mark 11:8     And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread layers of branches full of tender leaves, having cut them out of the fields.
Mark 11:9     And those who went before and those who followed cried out, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Mark 11:10   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!
Mark 15:9     But Pilate answered them, saying, Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?
Mark 15:10   For he knew that it was because of envy that the chief priests had delivered Him up.
Mark 15:11   But the chief priests stirred up the crowd that instead he should release Barabbas to them.
Mark 15:12   And Pilate again answered and said to them, What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?
Mark 15:13   And again they cried out, Crucify Him!
Mark 15:14   But Pilate said to them, Why, what evil has He done? But they cried out the more, Crucify Him!
Mark 15:15   And Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released to them Barabbas and scourged Jesus and delivered Him up to be crucified.
C.     Deliverance from our natural disposition also comes from the inner shining of Christ as a great light; this shining is seeing what God sees—Prov. 4:18; 20:27; Psa. 18:28-29; Matt. 4:16; Luke 11:34-36; Acts 9:3-5; 22:6-10; 26:13-19; Eph. 5:13; Phil. 2:15-16:
Prov. 4:18     But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, / Which shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
Prov. 20:27   The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, / Searching all the innermost parts of the inner being.
Psa. 18:28     For it is You who light my lamp; / Jehovah my God lights up my darkness;
Psa. 18:29     For by You I can run up against a troop; / Indeed by my God I can leap over a wall.
Matt. 4:16     The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and to those sitting in the region and shadow of death, to them light has risen."
Luke 11:34    The lamp of the body is your eye. When your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is dark.
Luke 11:35    Watch out therefore that the light which is in you is not darkness.
Luke 11:36    If therefore your whole body is full of light and does not have any dark part, the whole will be full of light as when the lamp with its rays illuminates you.
Acts 9:3        And as he went, he drew near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
Acts 9:4        And he fell on the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Acts 9:5        And he said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute.
Acts 22:6      And as I journeyed and drew near to Damascus about midday, suddenly a great light flashed out of heaven around me;
Acts 22:7      And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Acts 22:8      And I answered, Who are You, Lord? And He said to me, I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you persecute.
Acts 22:9      And those who were with me beheld the light, but did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
Acts 22:10    And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise up and go into Damascus, and there it will be told to you concerning all the things which have been appointed to you to do.
Acts 26:13    At midday, on the way, I saw, O King, a light from heaven beyond the brightness of the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.
Acts 26:14    And when we all fell to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.
Acts 26:15    And I said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you persecute.
Acts 26:16    But rise up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a minister and a witness both of the things in which you have seen Me and of the things in which I will appear to you;
Acts 26:17    Delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you,
Acts 26:18    To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
Acts 26:19    Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
Eph. 5:13      But all things which are reproved are made manifest by the light; for everything that makes manifest is light.
Phil. 2:15      That you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world,
Phil. 2:16      Holding forth the word of life, so that I may have a boast in the day of Christ that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.
1. The greatest thing in the Christian experience is the killing that comes from the shining of the divine light; the shining is the saving, and the seeing is the deliverance; everyone who truly sees a vision of the Lord in His glory is enlightened in his conscience regarding his uncleanness—Isa. 6:1-8.
Isa. 6:1          In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Isa. 6:2          Seraphim hovered over Him, each having six wings: With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
Isa. 6:3          And one called to the other, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Jehovah of hosts; / The whole earth is filled with His glory.
Isa. 6:4          And the foundations of the threshold shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isa. 6:5          Then I said, Woe is me, for I am finished! / For I am a man of unclean lips, / And in the midst of a people of unclean lips I dwell; / Yet my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.
Isa. 6:6          Then one of the seraphim flew to me with an ember in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
Isa. 6:7          And he touched my mouth with it and said, Now that this has touched your lips, / Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.
Isa. 6:8          Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us? And I said, Here am I; send me.
2. The Lord grants us much light to expose us and to humble us; only this kind of shining will remove our pride, and only this light will stop our fleshly activities and break our outer shell with our natural disposition; the more we see God, know God, and love God, the more we abhor ourselves and the more we deny ourselves—Job 42:5-6; Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23; 14:26.
Job 42:5        I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, / But now my eye has seen You;
Job 42:6        Therefore I abhor myself, and I repent / In dust and ashes.
Matt. 16:24   Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
Luke 9:23     And He said to them all, If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Luke 14:26    If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and moreover, even his own soul-life, he cannot be My disciple.
3. We should not try to be magnanimous or forbearing by the effort of our self, our natural disposition; rather, we should learn to prostrate ourselves in God’s light, receive His breaking, and allow the environment to break us and tear us down.
D.     If we are not useful in the Lord’s hand for taking care of people, it is due to our natural disposition; the church life, fruit-bearing, and lamb-feeding are three matters that kill our natural disposition; to deal with our natural disposition, we must love God by contacting God to be infused with Him as grace, and we must love people by contacting them to infuse them with God as grace—John 21:15-17; Eph. 3:2; 4:29; 1 Pet. 4:10.
John 21:15    Then when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs.
John 21:16    He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.
John 21:17    He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved that He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep.
Eph. 3:2        If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of the grace of God which was given to me for you,
Eph. 4:29      Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, according to the need, that it may give grace to those who hear.
1 Pet. 4:10     Each one, as he has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves as good stewards of the varied grace of God.
IV.  God’s dealing with Jacob is a full picture of the Holy Spirit’s discipline and His transforming work in the New Testament believers to deal with their natural disposition so that Christ may be formed in them, fully grown in them, unto maturity; this is God’s blessing us and making us a blessing to others that they may be supplied with the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity—Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1a; Gen. 12:1-3; Ezek. 34:26; Num. 6:22-27:
Rom. 12:2     And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.
2 Cor. 3:18    But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.
Heb. 6:1        Therefore leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us be brought on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith in God,
Gen. 12:1      Now Jehovah said to Abram, Go from your land / And from your relatives / And from your father's house / To the land that I will show you;
Gen. 12:2      And I will make of you a great nation, / And I will bless you / And make your name great; / And you shall be a blessing.
Gen. 12:3      And I will bless those who bless you, / And him who curses you I will curse; / And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Ezek. 34:26   And I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing, and I will cause the showers to come down in their season; there will be showers of blessing.
Num. 6:22     Then Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying,
Num. 6:23     Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the children of Israel; you shall say to them,
Num. 6:24     Jehovah bless you and keep you;
Num. 6:25     Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
Num. 6:26     Jehovah lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
Num. 6:27     So shall they put My name upon the children of Israel, that I Myself may bless them.
A.     Jacob’s life shows that a natural person must pass through breaking in order to become Israel, a prince of God; what God tears down through our environment is our worthless self, our natural disposition; however, what God builds into us is Himself, the peerless, supereminent, and infinite One—1 Cor. 3:12.
1 Cor. 3:12    But if anyone builds upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, stubble,
B.     God destined Jacob to live a struggling life all his days; He sovereignly arranged every circumstance, situation, and person in Jacob’s life and caused them all to work together for Jacob’s good so that He could transform Jacob, a supplanter and a heel holder, into Israel, a prince of God—Gen. 25:26; 32:24-32.
Gen. 25:26    And after that his brother came forth, and his hand was holding on to Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob. And Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
Gen. 32:24    And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.
Gen. 32:25    And when the man saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him.
Gen. 32:26    And the man said, Let Me go, for the dawn is breaking. But Jacob said, I will not let You go unless You bless me.
Gen. 32:27    And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.
Gen. 32:28    And He said, Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.
Gen. 32:29    And Jacob asked Him and said, Please tell me Your name. But He said, Why is it that you ask My name? And He blessed him there.
Gen. 32:30    And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for, he said, I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been preserved.
Gen. 32:31    And the sun rose upon him as he crossed over Penuel, and he limped because of his hip.
Gen. 32:32    Therefore the children of Israel do not eat the thigh muscle, which is upon the socket of the hip, to this day, because He touched the socket of Jacob's hip at the thigh muscle.
C.     The strongest manifestation of Jacob’s maturity in life (the last stage of transformation) is the fact that Jacob blessed everyone; his supplanting hands became blessing hands; blessing is the overflow of God as life to others through the maturity in life—47:7, 10; 48:14-16; 49:1-28.
Gen. 47:7      And Joseph brought in Jacob his father and set him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Gen. 47:10    And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went forth from Pharaoh's presence.
Gen. 48:14    But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it upon Ephraim's head-although he was the younger-and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands with insight, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
Gen. 48:15    And he blessed Joseph and said, / The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, / The God who has shepherded me all my life to this day,
Gen. 48:16    The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; / And may my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; / And may they be a teeming multitude in the midst of the earth.
Gen. 49:1      And Jacob called to his sons and said, Gather yourselves together that I may tell you what will happen to you in the last days.
Gen. 49:2      Assemble yourselves, and listen, O sons of Jacob; / Yes, listen to Israel your father.
Gen. 49:3      Reuben, you are my firstborn, / My might and the firstfruits of my vigor, / Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
Gen. 49:4      Ebullient as water, you will not have the preeminence, / Because you went up to your father's bed; / Then you defiled it-he went up to my couch.
Gen. 49:5      Simeon and Levi are brothers; / Weapons of violence are their swords.
Gen. 49:6      Come not into their council, O my soul; / Be not united with their assembly, O my glory; / For in their anger they slew men, / And in their self-will they hamstrung oxen.
Gen. 49:7      Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; / And their wrath, for it is cruel: / I will divide them in Jacob, / And scatter them in Israel.
Gen. 49:8      Judah, your brothers will praise you; / Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; / Your father's sons will bow down before you.
Gen. 49:9      Judah is a young lion; / From the prey, my son, you have gone up. / He couches, he stretches out like a lion, / And like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Gen. 49:10    The scepter will not depart from Judah, / Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, / Until Shiloh comes, / And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Gen. 49:11    Binding his foal to the vine, / And his donkey's colt to the choice vine, / He washes his garment in wine, / And his robe in the blood of grapes.
Gen. 49:12    Dark are his eyes with wine, / And white are his teeth with milk.
Gen. 49:13    Zebulun will dwell at the shore of the sea, / And he will be a shore for ships, / And his flank will be toward Sidon.
Gen. 49:14    Issachar is a strong donkey, / Couching between the sheepfolds.
Gen. 49:15    And he saw a resting place that was good / And the land that was pleasant, / And he bowed his shoulder to bear, / And became a task-worker to bring tribute.
Gen. 49:16    Dan will judge his people, / As one of the tribes of Israel.
Gen. 49:17    Dan will be a serpent in the way, / A viper on the path, / That bites the horse's heels, / So that his rider falls backward.
Gen. 49:18    I have waited for Your salvation, O Jehovah.
Gen. 49:19    Gad, raiders will raid him, / But he will raid at their heel.
Gen. 49:20    Asher's food will be rich, / And he will yield royal dainties.
Gen. 49:21    Naphtali is a hind let loose; / He gives beautiful words.
Gen. 49:22    Joseph is a fruitful bough, / A fruitful bough by a fountain; / His branches run over the wall.
Gen. 49:23    The archers bitterly attacked him, / And shot at him and harassed him;
Gen. 49:24    But his bow remained firm, / And the arms of his hands were agile, / By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob- / From there is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel -
Gen. 49:25    From the God of your father, who will help you, / And from the All-sufficient One, who will bless you / With blessings of heaven above, / Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, / Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
Gen. 49:26    The blessings of your father surpass / The blessings of my ancestors / To the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. / They will be on the head of Joseph, / And on the crown of the head of the one who was separate from his / brothers.
Gen. 49:27    Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, / In the morning devouring the prey / And in the evening dividing the spoil.
Gen. 49:28    All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them when he blessed them; he blessed them, each one according to his blessing.
Excerpts from the Ministry:
THE SELF, SOUL-LIFE, AND DISPOSITION IN MATTHEW 16
The words disposition and character are difficult to define even with the best dictionaries. It is also very difficult to illustrate disposition and character. However, several terms used in Matthew 16:21-26 imply the matter of disposition. These terms include mind (v. 23), himself (self) (v. 24), and soul-life (vv. 25-26). Though Matthew 16 does not use the word disposition, the matter of disposition is certainly implied here through the use of these terms. In this short portion Peter’s disposition is exposed.
According to Matthew 16:21-26, when the Lord Jesus told the disciples that He was going to be crucified, Peter reacted and took the Lord aside to rebuke Him. The Lord responded by rebuking Peter. Peter was rebuked by the Lord because Satan had used Peter to oppose the things of the Lord. Peter was used by Satan because there was something in his disposition that gave Satan the ground to use him.
Disposition refers to something within us. Disposition is implied in the terms mind, self, and soul-life. Disposition includes all of these elements; thus, to refer only to the self or soul-life is inadequate.
OTHER KEY WORDS RELATED TO DISPOSITION
There are four terms mentioned in the New Testament that are closely related to the matter of disposition: old man in Romans 6:6, I in Galatians 2:20, soul-life in Matthew 16:25-26, and himself (self) in Matthew 16:24. In addition to these terms, according to our study and experiences of the spiritual things in the New Testament, we have also used the term naturalness in relation to the matter of disposition. The contents of these five terms all imply disposition. A person’s disposition includes all these items.
Our disposition is expressed in many forms. One type is that of the “hero.” Brothers or sisters who have this type of disposition must do everything in an impressive, perfect, and complete way. If they are to speak, they must do it in an outstanding way, or they will not speak. They are also very strong and quick in doing things. Another type of disposition is that of the “non-hero.” The non-hero does not do anything in a thorough or complete way. If he or she locks the door, it is only partially locked; if he or she cleans a room, the corners are left undone.
In chapter 21 we pointed out that our disposition is what we are in our makeup by birth and that our character is the outward expression of our disposition. Disposition is what we are within, and character is what we express without. The reason we are silent or talkative is due to our disposition. At the start of our full-time training, some brothers and sisters spoke very often, but after some weeks passed, perhaps due to some word of correction regarding their speaking, they became very silent. Their outspokenness was related to their disposition, but their self-enforced silence is related to their character.
Slowness is a matter of disposition. We may do everything very slowly. If we are rebuked for our slowness, we may become offended and react by doing everything in an extremely fast manner. What we express in this change of our outward behavior is no longer our disposition but our character. Disposition by itself does not directly involve anything of sin. But once our disposition is expressed with a hurtful intention, that is sin. Thus, our disposition has little to do with sin directly, but our character has a great deal to do with sin.
When you live according to your disposition and are corrected by others, your character is expressed in the way you change your behavior. An illustration of this is when little boys are playing a game with a ball. One of the boys may have the ball, dribbling it very slowly, and a friend may rebuke him for being so slow, asking him to pass the ball. When the first boy passes the ball, he may do it in an excessively fast and rough manner, reacting to the rebuke of the other boy. This way of passing the ball expresses the character of the first boy and is something naughty and sinful.
DEALING WITH DISPOSITION AND CHARACTER
The Scriptural Basis for Dealing with Our Disposition
While there are no verses in the New Testament that directly tell how to deal with the disposition, there are a number of verses that can be used. Since the disposition is implied in the “I,” the old man, the soul, and the self, our dealing with these things includes our dealing with the disposition. In Galatians 2:20 the “I” has been crucified. This “I” implies the disposition. In the same way, when we deny the self (Matt. 16:24) and lose the soul-life (vv. 25-26), the disposition is dealt with, because it is implied in these things.
The Scriptural Basis for Dealing with Our Character
Dealing with our character is seen in Romans 8:13, which says, “If you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.” The practices of the body are actually our character. To deal with the practices of the body is to deal with our character.
Dealing with Our Disposition by Living under the Cross
In order to deal with our disposition, we must realize that we have been crucified (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6). From morning to evening, throughout the entire day, we must remember that we are people who have already been crucified. Because we have been crucified, we should not live according to our disposition. We should not live, act, or walk according to what we are naturally. To live in such a way is simply to live according to our disposition. The way to deal with our disposition is to realize and remember that we are crucified persons and remain under that realization throughout the day.
Dealing with Our Disposition by Opposing Ourselves
Along with the realization that we are crucified, we have to oppose ourselves. To oppose ourselves is to oppose our disposition. If you realize that your disposition is to be quiet, as long as you remain quiet, you are simply living according to your disposition. But if you would oppose your quiet disposition, you must first realize that your natural person has been crucified and then remain under the killing of the cross. Then in the meetings you, opposing yourself, can exercise to speak something of the Lord to the saints.
DISPOSITION AND USEFULNESS
The thing that most damages our usefulness in the Christian life and church life is our living according to our disposition. I have been in the Lord’s work for many years, and I have found that some brothers and sisters have a strong element in their disposition that hinders them from coordinating and cooperating with others. If certain brothers or sisters are assigned a certain work, no one else can be included with them to help in that work; they must do it exclusively. Such brothers or sisters are usually very capable, and they can also easily stir up trouble in the church life.
The Lord’s work is a work of the Body and by the Body; therefore, coordination is desperately needed. The apostle Paul was very capable, but he also needed a number of others to help him and coordinate with him. Even if you are one of the top ones, there is still the need of coordination. Even the Lord Jesus Himself needed to coordinate with others. Actually, most of us do not like to work with others. If we are lazy, careless persons, we may like others to labor for us. But if we are diligent persons, laboring all the time, we may not like others to work with us, because whatever they do interferes with what we are doing.
In our spiritual life, in our Christian life, in our church life, and in the Lord’s work, we must learn to be people who are always opposing ourselves. As a person with a strong disposition, I can testify that I must constantly realize that my disposition is crucified. In the past my confession was almost completely about my failure to live Christ. Today very often my confession to the Lord is concerning my disposition. We must learn to live a life of opposing ourselves. To oppose ourselves is to oppose our disposition.
USEFULNESS AND CAPACITY
Both the good and bad dispositions destroy our usefulness in the spiritual realm. Our usefulness first depends upon our capacity. In Matthew 25:14-15 the master delivered his possessions to his slaves according to their natural ability. Their natural ability equals their capacity. The apostle Paul was a very capable person with perhaps the largest capacity. But if Paul had not opposed his disposition, his disposition would have destroyed his usefulness. How much the Lord can use you depends upon your capacity. But regardless of how much capacity you have, as long as you go along with your disposition, you are finished. Throughout church history there have been many very capable brothers, such as Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, John Nelson Darby, and Watchman Nee. The Lord used these brothers very much. I can testify that Brother Nee was not only a capable person with a large capacity but also a person who learned to always be against himself.
CAPACITY AND AMBITION
The reason for much of the political turmoil in the world and the present turmoil among us is that there are two factors: ambition together with a lack of capacity. Someone may have the ambition to be the president of a country but not have the capacity to hold such an office. When such a person is frustrated from gaining the office of president, he may then cause trouble. On the other hand, a person may be very capable, but if he has ambition, his ambition will destroy his capacity, his usefulness.
Actually, ambition is a large element of our disposition. If a country is going to be a strong country, it must produce a number of capable persons, who have a large capacity. Yet these persons also must be against their dispositions, that is, against their ambition. A person who is capable and who is also against his or her ambition is the most useful person. If a country can produce twenty such persons in a generation, that country will be one of the top countries.
CAPACITY WITHOUT AMBITION RESULTING IN USEFULNESS
Capacity without ambition makes a person very useful. On the contrary, capacity with ambition damages a person’s usefulness. Throughout history the persons who have damaged entire countries the most have been people who were very capable but who were too ambitious. Hitler was an example of such a person. He had a very large capacity, but along with his capacity he had a terrible ambition. His capacity with his damaging ambition is the reason that Hitler damaged mankind so much. Capacity is good, but ambition is terrible.
The principle is the same in the Lord’s work. The most fearful thing in the Lord’s work is a capable person with ambition. On the other hand, one who is capable and without ambition is very useful in the Lord’s work. In my whole life, by His mercy, I met a person who was the best example of someone who was very capable but without ambition. That person was Brother Nee. I can testify from my conscience that he was not ambitious at all. His work was of the highest standard. He did such a work, yet he did not keep anything for himself.
In the church in Shanghai another brother who was also very capable was Brother Yu, who was an eye specialist. He translated the mystical books by authors such as Madame Guyon and Brother Lawrence into Chinese. I can testify concerning him that he was also without any ambition. Brother Yu along with a few other brothers took the lead in the church in Shanghai and in the work, but there was never any problem with ambition among these brothers. As a result, the church was built up, and many saints were edified.
Capacity without ambition means capacity plus the cross. Everyone is ambitious. Ambition is the primary element of every fallen person’s disposition. Even the lowest persons with a very low capacity are ambitious. In the church life some are very capable and ambitious, and others are not very capable, but they also are ambitious. Yet both can cause a great deal of trouble in the church life. How marvelous it would be if everyone in the church life was against ambition. If we all could be helped to live a life against our disposition, our ambition would be killed, and there would be no problems in the church life. Once ambition is killed in the church life, the usefulness of everyone, including those of limited capacity, will come out. But when the disposition of the saints is not dealt with, ambition comes out, resulting in turmoil; the usefulness of the saints is annulled, and a great deal of devastation is brought in.
A WARNING CONCERNING OUR DISPOSITION
If all the saints, especially those who are being trained to serve the Lord full time, kill their disposition, everything will be very good. Otherwise, each trained one becomes a potential problem to the church. If we pick up the training and practice it with our ambition and capacity, trouble will be the result. If each trainee does not kill his or her disposition, each one is a problem and will be a problem. How useful you will be to the Lord or how much trouble you will make to the church depends upon how much your disposition is killed. Therefore, dealing with the disposition is a crucial matter. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1989, vol. 3, “The Experience and Growth in Life,” pp. 143-148)
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