Freed from self and Adam's nature
We published all these hymns not only for singing but also to show people what our understanding of theology has been for many years, including matters that are unfamiliar to many people, such as Christ as life, the life-giving Spirit, and the divine life embodied in Christ and realized in the Spirit. I also wrote many hymns concerning the church as the Body of Christ, such as "Freed from self and Adam's nature, / Lord, I would be built by Thee" (Hymns, #840), a masterpiece concerning the practicality of the Body of Christ. Hymns such as these are the ones that are most often sung in our meetings. The saints do not often select the traditional hymns of Christianity.
We need to have a desire to be freed from self and the natural life in order to be built up with others (see Hymns, #840). To be built we need to be adjusted, disciplined, corrected, and transformed. Then we will be able to come together to be built as the house of God in many localities.
If we experience the grace in God's economy, there will be a consummation—the organic Body of Christ. Christ to us is grace: as such, He comes into us to be our life and person. He not only lives in us but also lives with us.. Moreover, He wants us to live along with Him. This is to enjoy grace as our inner supply. Such an enjoyment of grace spontaneously produces a result. This result is not merely that we do good. Rather, it is that Christ lives with us and we with Him. When we live Christ and magnify Christ, we become the living members, organic members, of Christ, and we all are organically joined as an organism, which is the church. This organism grows continually, and ultimately there will be a consummation—the New Jerusalem.
The last stanza of Hymns, #840 says,
...In the Colossians Training we saw that the subtle thing that frustrates us from experiencing Christ is our culture, but you have to realize that culture is too general. Since the Colossians Training we have dealt mainly with two things: culture and opinion. These two things frustrate us from experiencing Christ. Our opinion is more subjective to us than our culture. Now we have to consider another thing which is even more subjective than our opinion. What is this hidden thing that is a great frustration to our experiencing Christ? In Hymns, #840, there is a phrase which says, "from peculiar traits deliver." This hidden matter within us which frustrates us so greatly is our peculiarity. What is peculiarity? It is our biased and warped characteristics. It does not mean crooked or perverted but biased and warped. The New Testament tells us that we have to live Christ. "To me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). While these two verses are in the Bible, we don't realize how much these three things — culture, opinion, and peculiarity — frustrate us from actually living Christ. I have never read a book telling us that culture, opinion, and peculiarity are great frustrations to the experience of Christ. But today we must see this very matter. What is your peculiarity? Brother, please tell us what is your peculiarity.
I do think about this a lot, and this song touches me more than any other song in the hymnal. And the line concerning the peculiar traits I can never forget. I well realize that I'm a peculiar person. I know also that I appear that way to others. Recently I was considering another brother who is very different from myself. I considered how normal this brother is, how mild he is in his temperament, and I was considering that I simply wasn't born that way. Knowing that I have certain peculiarities has given me a kind of longing over the years to be free from the peculiarity. I realize that the way I do things is peculiar and the way I think is peculiar. Even everything I do is peculiar. Everything I am is peculiar. I'm longing to get some help on this.
You have to realize that we all are peculiar. We all are biased and warped. These kinds of things could never be touched by the regular teachings. You may hear message after message but none would touch you...
The year 1952 was a turning point for me in the ministry of the word, and 1962 was another turning point. After that I came to the United States. At that time—may the Lord cover me with His precious blood—I became quite mature in the ministry of the word. Two months ago the church here was getting into the life-study of Hebrews as The Holy Word for Morning Revival. The life-study of Hebrews was given by me in 1975, exactly nineteen years ago. I expounded the book of Hebrews in a high and profound way and not one portion needs to be revised. This is to show you that in 1961 when I came to the United States I was already quite mature in the ministry of the word. For almost fifteen to twenty years all that I ministered was Christ, the Spirit, life, and the church. At that time I also saw the building of the Body of Christ. One of the new hymns I wrote, #840, is on the building of the Body of Christ. This hymn says, "Freed from self and Adam's nature,/Lord, I would be built by Thee." Today when I sing this hymn, I still sense that it is so fresh and so full of light.
We all have to realize that the church as the Body of Christ is an organism, an organic constitution constituted with divinity plus humanity. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, "One Body and one Spirit...one Lord...one God and Father of all." The church is the Body; this is the human frame, on the human side. In this frame there is the Divine Trinity as the divine constituent for the Body's constitution. The Spirit is the essence of the Body, the Lord is the element, and God the Father is the source. From the source the element comes, and within the element is the essence. This essence is the Spirit. The church as an organism is constituted on the human side as a frame and on the divine side as the contents. The divine essence, element, and source are mingled with the human frame. The church is such an organism. This is what God is after today, and this is according to God's desire. God is expecting to have this, but there is not such a thing on this earth today. Yet, we must believe that if we are faithful to all that is revealed in this book, such a thing will take place on this earth as a testimony of God Himself and as a declaration against God's enemy, Satan. May the Lord have mercy on us and grant us the grace we need, so that such a wonderful building can be seen on the earth today.
Hymn #840 (Hymns) is a very practical song concerning the building up of the Body of Christ.
Waco, TX, United States
Just read sister Cosette's commrent this morning from August 4, 2021. Now I must read "Character" by Witness Lee. Thank the Lord for His work in us and on us, that, as Hymn 840 (W. LEE) says, "Ever growing into manhood, that Thy Body Thou may build." He doesn't say, that Thy Body WE may build. Thank you sister for sharing this.
Gainesville, FL, United States
Sorry saints, that’s supposed to say “bearing”, not “beating”. Amen.
Gainesville, FL, United States
In order to be made useful to the Lord, we must first have a love for the Lord and a desire for Him, then we must have a vision of the Lord and an encounter with Him, followed by a vision of the self and a revelation of the cross, and fourth is by beating Christ by our character. (From “Character” by Witness Lee). In our experience, it may be relatively easier to have the first two aspects, but to have a vision of the self needing to be dealt with by the cross is very difficult. I’m encouraged by this hymn “We are freed from self and Adam’s nature”. Hallelujah this has already been accomplished! The Lord dealt with the old man on the cross, and now He’s doing this work in us. Lord, keep us open to your dealing with the self in us each day!
Naivasha, Nakuru, Kenya
Hallelujah we are now free from self Adam nature, now the Body can be built. Self is the greatest impediment to growth of the Body of Christ and by extention the Church.
San Francisco, California, United States
Freed from self and Adam’s nature is the unique way to be builded up into the Body of Christ and to live a genuine Christian life.
Nairobi, Nyandarua, Kenya
How wonderful to be freed from self, it is the main hindrance preventing our growth and oneness.
This song is a prayer, a prayer perhaps foreign to many Christians who have not received a vision of God's desire for a dwelling place on this earth. We may think that God only dwells in heaven and is satisfied to remain there. But the revelation of the Bible, in type in the Old Testament with the tabernacle and the temple, and in reality in the New Testament with Christ and the church, is that God desires to dwell in man on the earth. I was struck recently by Paul's description in 1 Tim. 3:15 of the church as "the house of the living God." Without the church, God is a homeless God. Of course there are great benefits to us to be the house of God ("blessed are they who dwell in Your house"), but far beyond that we should realize and respond to God's need for a home. Wouldn't your heart ache for this?
Once we see this vision, we, as the writer of this hymn does, would yearn and pray that we would be freed from our self and Adam's nature to be the living stones built up with all the other believers to be that universal house of our God on this earth. May we present our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1) that God can realize His glorious economy. Amen.