Thursday, December 30, 2010

Normal Christian?

The first book I decided to read on my Kindle is The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. So far I love the book.  He has helped me to understand and see things in a way I had never though of before.  For instance he writes:
We shall see that the Blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what we are.  The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin.
I had never before read or heard anyone make a distinction between the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ.  But why this distinction?  What is Nee getting at?
The heart, God says, is “desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9), and He must do something more fundamental than cleanse it:  He must give us a new one. We do not wash and iron clothing that we are going to throw away.  As we shall shortly see, the ‘flesh’ is too bad to be cleansed; it must be crucified.  The work of God within us must be something wholly new.  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). No, I do not find it stated that the Blood cleanses our hearts. 
Yes, we need a new heart, the old one won't do.  But then he said what?  The blood doesn't cleanse our hearts?  What on earth is he talking about?
We need the Blood for forgiveness; we need also the Cross for deliverance. 
and here we go again with this blood/cross distinction.  So what is the difference between forgiveness and deliverance...why the distinction between the two?
The Blood can wash away my sins, but it cannot wash away my ‘old man’.  It needs the Cross to crucify me.  The Blood deals with the sins, but the Cross must deal with the sinner....We shall see that the Blood deals with what we have done, whereas the Cross deals with what we are.  The Blood disposes of our sins, while the Cross strikes at the root of our capacity for sin
So then the blood is for God to see.  God is satisfied with the blood to cover our sin.  But what about the sin factory that is our heart?  It is crucified with Christ!  When was our flesh, our old man, ourself who was a slave to sin crucified?  With Christ!  We died with Him!
Let me tell you, You have died!  You are done with!  You are ruled out!  The self you loathe is on the Cross in Christ.  And “he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7, A.V.).  This is the Gospel for Christians.This is a remarkable revelation for every one who is in Christ!
This is what he calls the normal Christian life?  It doesn't seem normal to me.  My entire life I understood a normal Christian to be someone who regularly "examines themselves to make sure of their election", becoming ever-increasingly aware of our capacity for sin.  Yet, according to Romans 6 there is no room for examining the flesh of the dead man.  That man is dead.  The normal Christian, according to Nee, does not look upon himself and see a forgiven sinner who needs to improve, he sees himself as a forgiven sinner that has died already with Christ.  Now (to the normal Christian according to Nee) were are alive in Christ as we abide in Him.

What does this do to all the believers who focus on self improvement and the most effective methods of fighting against the flesh?  It is as absurd as dressing up a dead man just to beat him up.

This is all new for me and that means I must check it all out like a good  Berean would.

What do you think?


  1. Bobby,

    Here is my initial thought, drawing from two passages

    Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
    (Hebrews 9:22)

    I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
    (Galatians 2:20)

    Of course a further study of the application of the blood of Christ and the implications of the cross of Christ would be helpful here, but as I think of these two passages side by side it appears that the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ each have their own significant roles. This train of thought by Nee certainly emphasizes the importance of the cross as we are crucified with Christ. This makes me think of the differences between the old heart and new heart, the natural man and the spiritual man, the rebrobate and the regenerate. It certainly follows that without the deliverance from our old self, we cannot live in the newness of life that God has called us to, and so the flesh must die, it must be crucified with Christ. I'm right there with you brother with Romans 6 coming to mind. We should walk in newness of life (6:4). Why? Because our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin! It sounds to me that Nee is right on in his comments here. Amen brother, we need the Gospel everyday!

  2. Micah,

    right on brother. It seems to fly in the face of teaching one another to examine ourselves. Yet still there is Paul in 2 Cor 13:5

    Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

    Now I'm really examine ourselves is to take our minds off of Christ's finished work on the cross and put it back on our own flesh.

    Unless...(I'm doing word searches in BLB while I write this)

    Examine (greek: peirazō) yourselves isn't speaking of introspection (ESV test your faith) but rather a trying or attempting to prove yourself (KJV).

    If "examine" is a bad English translation of peirazō that gives us the impression that we should look to ourselves for proof that we are in Christ and rather what Paul is saying is to prove ourselves that we are of the faith by realizing that we are in Christ!

    Then the focus is on being in Christ, on Him and His work and not on ourselves.

    I'm still digging...


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