[Back] To Excerpts
Nee's book "The
Spiritual Man" is very long (my copy is around 700 pages consisting of 3
volumes). It is filled
with useful information throughout. The excerpts and quotes I've
recorded here could probably make up a small book in
themselves. After reading a story on Watchman Nee's life
the Tide"), I decided to pick up this book. It covers many subjects including the cross of
Christ, denying ourselves, looking to
our Savior, disregarding our feelings, praying in the Spirit, spiritual
warfare, etc... the book is filled with useful information to help
God while always looking to Him to walk a solid, unwavering Christian
life (unlike the up and down kind of existence many of God's children
possess today). Read through the quotes here and then decide if
you want to
read the whole book for yourself.
- Watchman Nee
The amount of quotes and excerpts I found useful in this
book is enough to warrant a table of contents for them (laid out in the
same order as the book)
PART 1 INTRODUCTION ON
1 Spirit, Soul and Body / 2
Spirit and Soul / 3 The
Fall of Man / 4 Salvation
PART TWO: THE FLESH
5 The Flesh and Salvation / 6 The
Fleshly or Carnal Believer / 7 The
Cross and the Holy Spirit / 8 The
Boastings of the Flesh / 9 The
Believer's Ultimate Attitude Toward The Flesh
PART THREE: THE SOUL
10 Deliverance from Sin and the
Soul Life / 11 The Experience of
Soulish Believers / 12 The Dangers of
Soulish Life / 13 The Cross and the Soul
/ 14 Spiritual Believers and the
1The Holy Spirit and the
/ 2 A
/ 3 Spiritual
/ 4 Prayer and Warfare
PART FIVE: AN ANALYSIS OF THE SPIRIT
1 Intuition / 2 Communion
/ 3 Conscience
PART SIX: WALKING AFTER THE SPIRIT
1 The Dangers of
Spiritual Life / 2 The Laws
of the Spirit / 3 The
Principle of Mind Aiding the Spirit / 4 The Normalcy of the Spirit
PART SEVEN: THE ANALYSIS OF THE
1 The Believer and
Emotion / 2 Affection / 3 Desire / 4
A Life of Feeling / 5
The Life of Faith
PART EIGHT: THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL - THE MIND
1 The Mind a Battlefield / 2
Phenomena of a Passive Mind / 3 The Way of Deliverance / 4
The Laws of
THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL - THE WILL
Believer's Will / 2 Passivity and Its Dangers / 3
Mistake / 4 The Path to Freedom
Believer and His Body / 2 Sickness / 3 God as the Life of the
Body / 4 Overcoming Death
and Body / Spirit and Soul / The Fall of Man
Our rest lies in looking to the Lord, not to ourselves.
True spiritual life depends not
on probing our feelings and thoughts
from dawn to dusk but on "looking off" to the Savior!
How dangerous a master human emotion is!
When one tries to increase his knowledge by doing mental gymnastics
over books without waiting upon God and looking to the guidance of the
Holy Spirit, his soul is plainly in full swing. This will deplete
his spiritual life. Because the fall of man was occasioned by
seeking knowledge, God uses the foolishness of the cross to "destroy
the wisdom of the wise."
How pitiful that his mind was overruled by his emotion; his
reasoning, overcome by his affection. Why is it that men "did not
believe the truth?" Because they "had pleasure in
unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:12). It is not that the truth is
unreasonable but that it is not loved. Hence when one truly turns
to the Lord he "believes with his heart (not mind) and so is justified"
All satanic works are performed from the outside inward; all divine
works from the inside outward.
Death of the spirit is the cessation of its communication with
God. Death of the body is the cutting off of communication
between spirit and body.
Man may think human intellect
and reasoning are almighty, that the
brain is able to comprehend all truths of the world; but the verdict of
God's Word is, "vanity of vanities."
How true it is that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit intellect
not only is undependable but also extremely dangerous, because it often
confuses the issue of right and wrong.
It is imperative that
receive God's life. The way of
salvation cannot be in human reform, for "death" is irreparable.
Sin must be judged before there can be rescue out of death.
Exactly this is what has been provided by the salvation of the Lord
When Abraham offered the tithe and received a blessing, Levi was not
yet born, nor even were his father and grandfather. Yet the Bible
considers Abraham's tithe and blessing as Levi's.
Confession, decision, and many other religious acts can never be and
are not to be construed as new birth. Rational judgment,
intelligent understanding, mental acceptance, or the pursuit of the
good, the beautiful, and the true are merely soulical activities if the
spirit is not reached and stirred.
If one believes in the death of the Lord Jesus as his substitute he
already has been united with the Lord Jesus in His death (Rom
6:2). For me to believe that in the substitutionary work of the
Lord Jesus is to believe that I already have been punished in the Lord
Jesus. The penalty of my sin is death; yet the Lord Jesus
suffered death for me; therefore I have died in Him.
Though he may not yet fully experience the meaning of the death of the
Lord Jesus, God nevertheless has made him alive together with Christ
and he has obtained a new life in the resurrection power of the Lord
Jesus. This is new birth.
Since this life is God's and cannot die, it follows that everyone born
anew into possessing this life is said to have eternal life.
In saving the world, therefore, He does not try to alter man's flesh;
He instead gives man a new life in order to help put it to death.
The flesh must die. This is salvation.
With regard to the question of sin, man is not required to do
anything. He need only consider this an accomplished fact (Rom
6:11) and he will reap the effectiveness of the death of Jesus in being
wholly delivered from the power of sin (Rom 6:14).
And it is through conflict that God induces the believer to seek and to
grasp total triumph in Christ.
This strife increases as the days go by. If the believers will
proceed faithfully without giving in to despair, they will incur
fiercer conflict until such time as they are delivered.
and salvation / The fleshly or carnal believer
All regenerated ones should covet spiritual development...
Genuine spiritual knowledge lies not in wonderful and mysterious
thoughts but in actual spiritual experience through union of the
believer's life with truth.
All else is merely the transmission of knowledge from one mind to
What he needs is not increased spiritual teaching but an obedient heart
which is willing to yield his life to the Holy Spirit and go the way of
the cross according to the Spirit's command. Increased spiritual
teaching will only strengthen his carnality and serve to deceive him
into conceiving himself as spiritual.
However sweet the word may
sound, any sectarian boasting is but the
babbling of a babe. The divisions in the church are due to no
other cause than to lack of love and walking after the flesh.
Now is the hour we should humbly prostrate ourselves before God,
willing to be convicted afresh of our sins by the Holy Spirit.
cross and the Holy Spirit
We should realize that the Bible never tells us to have
crucified; it informs us only that we "were crucified."
If we are well established in this point of acknowledging the flesh as
already crucified, then we shall be able to proceed in dealing with the
According to the Bible the works
of the "flesh" are of two kinds
(though both are of the flesh): the unrighteous and the
The flesh makes self the center and elevates self-will above God's
will. It may serve God, but always according to its idea, not
according to God's. It will do what is good in its own
eyes. Self is the principle behind every action.
boastings of the flesh
The Apostle is hence telling us that inasmuch as sinners cannot be
saved through their efforts, so we who have been regenerated likewise
cannot be perfected through any righteous acts of our flesh. How
vain do such righteous deeds continue to be!
He is unaware of the fact that the righteousness of the flesh belongs
as much to the flesh as its evil.
The difference between the good
which proceeds from the flesh and the
good which flows from the new life is that the flesh always has self at
Obviously such deeds do not
bring people to God; instead they puff up
But how much self-reliance obtains in Christian service. More
effort is exerted in planning and arranging than in waiting upon the
Lord. Double is the time expended on preparing the division and
conclusion of a sermon than on receiving the power from on high...
because there is so much trust in the flesh.
Even in a time of desperation the flesh continues to scheme and to
search for a loophole. It never has the sense of utter
dependency. This alone can be a test whereby a believer may know
whether or not a work is of the flesh
Now the things done may not be evil or improper; they in fact may be
good and godly (such as reading the Bible, praying, worshiping,
preaching); but if they are not undertaken in a spirit of complete
reliance upon the Holy Spirit, then the flesh is the source of
all. The old creation is willing to do anything-even to submit to
God - if only it is permitted to live and to be active!
The greatest blunder Christians commit upon experiencing victory over
sin lies in not using the way of victory to sustain it; instead they
try to perpetuate the victory by their works and determination.
believer's ultimate attitude towards the flesh
God's pleasure or displeasure is not founded upon the principle of good
and evil. Rather, God traces the source of all things. An
action may be quite correct, yet God inquires, what is its origin?
The Christian dare not entertain the slightest self-confidence,
self-satisfaction or self-joy, as though he could trust his flesh.
The self-confidence of a Christian is nothing but trusting in his
wisdom, thinking he knows every teaching of the Scriptures and how to
2 Corinthians 2:12 mentions the "wisdom" of the flesh. It is
highly dangerous to receive the truths of the Bible with human wisdom,
for this is a hidden and subtle method which invariably causes a
believer to perfect with his flesh the work of the Holy Spirit.
A characteristic of the flesh is its fickleness: it alternates between
Yes and No and vice versa. But the will of God is: "Walk not
according to the flesh (not even for a moment) but according to the
Spirit" (Rom 8:4).
Without this heart attitude it is exceedingly difficult for us to
accept the circumcision of the flesh. Every affection, desire,
thought, knowledge, intent, worship, and work of the flesh must go to
The believer needs to acknowledge that his flesh deserves nothing else
than the curse of death... Let us pray that we may know what the
flesh exactly is and how it must be crucified... What is lacking today
is not a better living but a better dying!
Take this as the secret of Christ's life in you: His Spirit dwells in
your innermost spirit. Meditate on it, believe in it, and
remember it until this glorious truth produces within you a holy fear
and wonderment that the Holy Spirit indeed abides in you!
Do not be impatient for impatience is of the flesh. Do not try
different methods because they are useful solely in helping the
flesh. We must distrust the flesh entirely...
Do not grow overconfident following a few victories... Should you not
rely upon the Holy Spirit you will soon be thrown once more into a
distressing experience. With holy diligence you must cultivate an
attitude of dependency...
We may love to say many things, but if these are not uttered in the
Holy Spirit it is better to say nothing. The flesh can conjure up
many plans and methods and be full of expectations... The righteousness
of the flesh is as abhorrent as its sin... we must always maintain
God's view of the flesh.
from sin and the soul life
Mere mental assimilation of these truths cannot withstand temptation,
however. The revelation of God is positively essential. The
Spirit of God must reveal how we are in Christ and how we are united
with Him in one.
When a truth is unfolded by God it most naturally becomes a power in
man, who then finds himself able to believe.
Therefore, brethren, pray until
God gives us revelation so that
"knowing this" in our spirit we may truly confess "that our old man has
been crucified with him."
If we persist in holding on to something which God wants us to
relinquish, sin shall have dominion over us, and our reckoning shall be
Now we may infer from any defeat of ours that it is due either to lack
of faith or failure to obey. No other reason can suffice.
For God no cost is too high. Anything can be sacrificed if only
we may please Him. Let us daily learn to be obedient children.
And how often pursuit after
spiritual growth originates in the natural
self perhaps only because we cannot bear the thought of falling behind
or because we seek some personal gain. Bluntly state, the doing
of good is not sin but the manner, methods, or motive in such
good-doing may be surfeited with our self.
A spiritual Christian therefore
is one whose spirit is led by God's
...overcoming sin, blessed though it surely is, is but the bare minimum
of a believers experience. There is nothing astonishing in
it. Not to overcome sin
is what ought to astonish us.
To be freed from sin is not a difficult task when viewed in the light
of the finished, perfect and complete salvation of God. A
believer must proceed to learn the more advanced and perhaps more
formidable and deeper lesson of abhorring his life.
(speaking of soulish believers)... These follow their desires and ideas
and seek sensual pleasure and mental wisdom. While they may be
spiritual in knowledge, in point of fact they are soulish.
A born-again person ought to possess unspeakable peace in the spirit.
Sometimes the joy which floods the soul overflows into the spirit,
inducing the believer to think he is the happiest person in the
world; at other times sorrow pervades and he becomes the most
unhappy person. A soulish Christian frequently encounters such
Before a saint arrives at
the stage of
spirituality he is sure to be dwelling in a mixed condition. Not
content with a quietude in his spirit, he will seek a joyous feeling.
experience of soulish believers
Soulish believers are
inordinately curious. For example, simply
for the sake of knowing what the future holds do they try to satisfy
their curiosity by studying thoroughly the prophecies of the Bible.
Carnal Christians tend to show off their differences and superiorities
in clothing, speech or deeds. They desire to shock people into a
recognition of all their undertakings.
Unlike spiritual Christians, who
seek not so much the explanation as
the experience of being one with God, these believers look diligently
for an understanding in their mind.
Most soulish believers assume an attitude of self-righteousness,
though often it is scarcely detectable. They hold tenaciously
to their minute opinions... we ought to lay aside the small differences
and pursue the common objective.
Carnal believers are moved easily. On one occasion they may be
extremely excited an happy, on another occasion, very despondent and
sad. In the happy moment they judge the world too small to
contain them, and so they soar on wings to the heavens; but in the
moment of sadness they conclude that the world has had enough of them
and will be glad to be rid of them... their lives are susceptible to
constant changes for they are governed by their emotions.
Over-sensitivity is another trait at which generally marks the
soulish. Very difficult are they to live with because they
interpret every move around them as aimed at them. When neglected
they become angry. When they suspect changing attitudes towards
them, they are hurt. They easily become intimate with people, for
they literally thrive on such affection. They exhibit the
sentiment of inseparability. A slight change in such a
relationship will give their soul unutterable pains. And thus
these people are deceived into thinking they are suffering for the Lord.
Not by feeling but by faith do
the spiritual live.
Oftentimes a carnal Christian is
troubled by outside matters.
Persons or affairs or things in the world around readily invade his
inward man and disturb the peace in his spirit.
The intellectuals among who live by the soul tend to view themselves as
"Bohemians"...They frequently bemoan their lives, shedding many tears
of self-pity... They visit mountains, lakes and streams since these
bring them closer to nature. Upon seeing the declining course of
this world they begin to entertain thoughts of leading a detached
existence. How ascendant, how pure they are! Not like other
believers who seem to be so materialistic, so pedestrian, so
enmeshed... Of greatest hazard to them are an unawareness of their
dangerous position and an utter self-content.
With tingling warmth they can
run a thousand miles; without it, they
will not move a tiny step.
Carnal Christians crave works; yet amid many labors they are unable to
maintain calm in their spirit. They cannot fulfill God's orders
quietly as can the spiritual believers... their hearts are governed by
outward matters. Being "distracted with much serving" (Luke
10:40) is the characteristic of the work of any soulish believer...
They have not yet entered the rest of God.
Even in God's work, these Christians are so propelled by their zeal and
passion that they simply cannot stay for God to make clear His will and
They spend more time in
analyzing, in collecting materials, and in hard
thinking than on prayer, on seeking God's mind, and on waiting for the
power from above.
Perhaps their speech does convey truth, but without the quickening of
the Holy Spirit even truth is of small advantage.
Soulish believers relish using
spectacular words and phrases.
It varies with different
personalities... Some will keep quiet... They
have not yet attained freedom from natural shyness and fear. They
may sit next to those talkative believers and criticize them in heart,
but their silence does not make them any less soulish... Because
are not rooted in God and have not therefore learned how to be hidden
in Him, carnal people long to be seen... They experience unspeakable
joy whenever recognized and respected.
They have not been lost in God,
else they would be able to take in
their stride all things as nothing.
Their words and deeds do not follow fixed maxims. They live
instead according to their emotion and mind. They act as they
feel or think, sometimes quite contrary to their usual pattern.
This change can be seen most vividly after preaching. They change
to what they recently have preached. If for instance they speak
on patience, then for a day or two afterwards they are unusually
patient. If they exhort people to praise God, then they will begin to
praise and praise. This will not last long, however... once the
emotion has passed, all is over and done with.
Because the carnal are greatly talented - active in thought, rich in
emotion - they readily arouse people's interest and stir the latter's
hearts. Consequently, soulish Christians usually possess magnetic
personalities. They can quickly win the acclamation of the common
people. Yet the fact remains that they actually are lacking in
spiritual power. They do not contain the living flow of the power
of the Holy Spirit.
The believer's experience is consequently a rather complex
matter. It is imperative that we determine for ourselves whether
we have been delivered from the base and the ignoble.
The dangers of soulish life
Emotion is what believers
mistake most for spirituality. Carnal
Christians whose tendency is emotional in character habitually crave
sensation in their lives. They desire to sense the presence of
God in their hearts or their sensory organs; they yearn to feel a
love-fire burning. They want to feel elated, to be uplifted in
spiritual life, to be prosperous in work. True, spiritual
believers sometimes do have such sensations, yet their progress and joy
are not contingent upon these. The soulish are quite different in
this respect: with such sensations, they can serve the Lord; without
them, they can scarcely move a step.
They simply do what as as they feel like doing.
Their quest for the presence of
God, for the consciousness of His mercy
and nearness, is not for God's sake but for their happiness.
so doing they are not loving the Lord; rather, they are loving the
feeling which refreshes them and affords them the glory of the third
heaven. Their total life and labor elevate self as the
center. They wish to enjoy themselves.
How imperfect is our willingness and how fickle is our condition!
Christians ought to eliminate their folly. They ought to adopt
God's view of the absolute impossibility for their natural walk to
please Him. They must dare to allow the Holy Spirit to point out
to them every corruption of the soul life. They must exercise
faith in believing God's estimation of their natural life and must wait
patiently for the Holy Spirit to reveal in them what the Bible says of
them. Only in this manner will they be led in the way of
lack of advance means sure drift backward
The fall of man was due to the love of knowledge and of wisdom.
Satan is employing the same tactic today in order to retain the
believer's soul as his operative center.
God's people must not love their soul life even to the point of
death. Unless self-love or
self-pity is committed to the cross
they shall surely be defeated by the adversary.
cross and the soul
On at least four separate occasions and recorded in the four Gospels
the Lord Jesus called His disciples to deny their soul life, deliver it
to death, and then to follow Him.
He does not want our heart to be attached anywhere because He wants us
to serve Him freely.
In so obeying Christ as to
disregard his natural affection, a believer's natural love suffers intensely. Such sorrow and pain
becomes a practical cross to him. Deep are the heart wounds and
many are the tears when one has to forfeit the one he loves.
God wants us to love Him more
than our Isaac.
It is true that this soul life is given by the Creator; nevertheless,
He desires us not to be governed by it.
God wills for us to be attached to nothing aside from Him, whether it
be man or a thing or even something conferred on us by Himself.
Human feelings change as the
world changes. Their easy excitement
can occasion a saint to lose his spiritual balance. Their
constant disturbance can affect a believer's peace in his spirit.
If we verily bear the cross we shall be neither controlled nor
influenced by soulical affection but shall be fit to love in the power
of the Holy Spirit. Even so did the Lord Jesus love His family
while on earth.
Peter told the Lord: "You must
pity Yourself!" The Lord came back
with: "You must deny yourself."
His heart is alright and his intention is good, but it is founded upon
human consideration derived from the soul life. All such
considerations the Lord must reject. Even to desire after the
Lord is not permitted if done by the flesh. Does this not
demonstrate beyond doubt that we can indeed be soulish in serving and
desiring the Lord?
Self-pity, self-love, fear of suffering, withdrawal from the cross:
these are some of the manifestations of the soul life, for its prime
motivation is the self-preservation. It is exceedingly reluctant
to endure any loss.
We need to follow our Lord's admonition to remember Lot's wife, for she
was one who did not forget her possessions even in a time of the
greatest peril. She was not guilty of having retraced a single
step towards Sodom. All she did
was look back. But how
revealing was that backward glance! Does it not speak volumes
concerning the condition of her heart?
If he but casts one longing glance it is sufficient to disclose to us
that he does not truly recognize where the world stands in relation to
the cross... Only after one is actually willing to offer his soul life
to death will he be fit to follow the "Sermon on the Mount" without
Gaining spiritual life is conditional on suffering loss. We
cannot measure our lives in terms of "gain"; they must be measured in
terms of "loss." Our real capacity lies not in how much we retain
but in how much has been poured out... The power of love is attested by
love's sacrifice. If our hearts are not separated from the love
of the world, our soul life has yet to go through the cross.
The attitude of saints toward
their possessions most assuredly
signifies whether they continue to preserve their self life or whether
they have consigned it to death.
At times it seems we require more grace to lose our wealth than to lose
All the energies generated in the soul including talent, gift,
knowledge and wisdom, cannot enable believers to bear spiritual
It cannot therefore imply that henceforth we become wood and stone
without feeling, thought or will because we must not or cannot use any
of the parts of the soul... only now they are being renewed, revived
and restrained by the Holy Spirit... Moreover, the Scriptures often
record that our Lord Jesus "loved," "rejoiced," "was sorrowful"; it is
even recorded that "Jesus wept," that He "offered up prayers and
supplications with loud cries and tears" in Gethsemane's Garden.
Were His soul faculties annihilated? And do we become cold and
believers and the soul
Do we not realize that the basic condition for a spiritual walk is to
fear our self and its wisdom and to rely absolutely upon the Spirit?
Before the self is touched God's children live by very changeable
stimulations and sensations. That is why they exhibit a wavy
The mind, if overly active, may
affect and disturb the quietness of the
Open though the word is to deliverance, it nevertheless is not without
its difficulties. Believers must persevere in prayer that they
may see clearly their own pitiful state and understand the indwelling,
working, and demands of the Holy Spirit.
Human nerves are rather sensitive and are easily stirred by outside
stimuli. Words, manners, environments and feelings greatly affect
us. Our mind engages in so many thoughts, plans and imaginations
that it is a world of confusion... The Lord Jesus implores us: "Take my
yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29). If we are
favorably inclined to yield to the Lord, to take up His yoke, and to
follow Him, our soul shall not be aroused inordinately.
The reason for our hurt feelings
lies in the fact that we are not
amenable to being treated as our Lord was and are loathe to
ourselves to the will and ordering of God. Were we to deliver our
natural energies to death and capitulate entirely to the Lord, our
soul, though so nervously sensitive, would rest in the Lord and not
misunderstand Him. The soul which comes under the Holy Spirit's
authority is a restful one. Once we busily planned, today we
calmly trust in the Lord. Once we were flushed with anxieties,
today we are like a child quieted at its mother's breast. Once we
entertained many thoughts and ambitions, today we consider God's will
best and rest ourselves in Him.
The cares of this life emerge as very small items indeed along our
What we henceforth hate is our life; what we wholly love is the Lord...
Such persons cannot but utter the cry of Mary: "My soul magnifies the
Lord" (Luke 1:46). No longer is there self importance, either in
public or in private.
Unless self love is abandoned the believer shall forever shrink back
when called actually to take up the cross for Christ.
Love flows from the denial of the self life. Blood shedding is
the source of blessing.
Let us gaze upon our Lord Jesus Who "endured the cross, despising the
shame" : "Consider him..., that ye wax not weary, fainting in your
souls" (Heb. 12:2-3 ASV). The race set before us is none other
than that of His despising the shame and enduring the cross.
The Holy Spirit and the believer's
It is imperative that believers recognize a spirit exists within them,
something extra to thought, knowledge and imagination of the mind,
something beyond affection, sensation and pleasure of the emotion,
something additional to desire, decision and action of the will.
This component is far more profound than these faculties.
Because of their ignorance concerning the spirit's operation, those who
honestly desire deeper experience upon having overcome sin may all too
easily be led astray into seeking so called "spiritual" Bible knowledge
with their minds, or a burning sensation of the Lord's presence in
their physical members, or a life and labor emanating from their will
power. They are deceived into overly esteeming their soul
experiences and thus fall into conceiving themselves as ever so
spiritual... For this reason God's children must be very humble before
Him and seek to know the teaching of the Bible and the functioning of
the spirit through the Holy Spirit in order that they may walk by the
Satan's fall came before man's; we therefore can learn about our fallen
state from Satan's plunge. Satan was created as a spirit that he
might have direct communion with God. But he fell away and became
the head of the powers of darkness. He now is separated from God
and from every godly virtue... Man's spirit still exists but is
separated from God, powerless to commune with Him and incapable of
ruling. Spiritually speaking, man's spirit is dead.
Nonetheless, as the spirit of the sinful archangel exists forever so
the spirit of sinful man continues too. Because he has a body his
fall rendered him a man of the flesh (Gen 6:3). No religion of
this world, no ethics, culture or law can improve this fallen human
spirit. Man has degenerated into a fleshly position; nothing from
himself can return him to a spiritual state. Wherefore
regeneration or regeneration of the spirit is absolutely
necessary. The Son of God alone can restore us to God, for He
shed His blood to cleanse our sins and give us a new life.
God aims first to renew man's darkened spirit by imparting life to it,
because it is this spirit which God originally designed to receive His
life and to commune with Him. God's intent after that is to work
out from the spirit to permeate man's soul and body.
(speaking of eternal life) This is what every Christian receives
at his regeneration. What is the function of that life?
"This is eternal life," prayed Jesus to His Father, "that they know
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John
17:3). Eternal life means more
than mere future blessing to be enjoyed by believers; it
is equally a kind of spiritual ability.
The cross grants us position,
the Holy Spirit gives us experience.
If whatever men know comes through their brain without the Holy Spirit
regenerating their spirit, then their knowledge will help them not one
whit. If their belief rests in man's wisdom and not in God's
power, they are merely excited in their soul.
Frequently many children of God turn within themselves, that is, they
look into their soul to determine whether they have peace, grace or
spiritual progress. This is most harmful and is not of
diverts them from gazing upon Christ to looking at themselves.
A spiritual man
The God Who can change a sinner into a Christian by giving him His life
equally transform the fleshly Christian into a spiritual one by giving
His life more abundantly.
Faith in Christ makes one a
regenerated believer; obedience to the Holy
Spirit makes him a spiritual
Just as the right relationship with Christ generates a Christian, so
proper relationship with the Holy Spirit breeds a spiritual man.
A spiritual Christian must experimentally know the Holy Spirit in his
The union is one of spirits with no place for the natural. Should
mixed in with the spirit it will cause impurity to the union of
Any action taken according to our thought, opinion or feeling can
experimental side of this union.
By accepting His death as our death we enter into this union with the
Henceforth we are dead to everything pertaining to ourselves and alive
His Spirit alone. This requires our exercising faith.
Our inner being is in ascendancy, far above any obstacle or
Yes, it is continually free and fresh and discerns everything with the
transparent sight of heaven. How radically different this life of
earth is from one that is swayed by emotion.
Only as they cease to seek anything by themselves and only as they take
position of the teachable shall they be taught by the Spirit truth
they are able to digest.
Christians should not be content merely with knowing mentally the
of the Holy Spirit as given in the Bible; they also need to know Him
The Apostle put to those at Corinth this question: "Do you not know
God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). Paul seemed to be
their ignorance of such a sure fact. He viewed the indwelling of
Spirit as the foremost consequence of salvation, so how could they miss
Often the children of God cannot rise up to answer the Lord's call to
service simply because, though their physical condition is good, their
feelings are low, cold, and reluctant. Or even when their
quite high, passionate, and willing, they find themselves unable to
the Lord because now the body reacts lazily... The disciples found
themselves in precisely that situation in the Garden of Gethsemane:
spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41)
Were our spirits hardy we would be able to meet the most disturbing
situation with peace and rest.
Prayer is the acid test of the inner man's strength. A strong
capable of praying much and praying with all perseverance until the
comes. A weak one grows weary and fainthearted in the maintenance
In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the
Spirit, the children of God must discharge their responsibility.
to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in
life, be willing to obey fully God's will, and believe through prayer
He will flood their spirit with His power.
Furthermore, through the believer's spirit the Holy Spirit is able to
God's life to thirsty and dying men. However, this filling of the
Spirit differs from the baptism with the Holy Spirit, because the
for the purpose of service while the former solves the problem of life
(naturally it will affect service too).
In thus following the spirit they invariably shall "set their minds on
things of the spirit." And the result shall be "life and peace."
With fear and trembling we must rely upon God for guidance in the inner
depths. This is the sole way to walk according to the spirit.
To walk in this fashion requires faith of the believer.
The opposite of sight and feeling is faith. Now it is the soulish
who gains assurance by grasping the things which can be seen and felt;
the person who follows the spirit lives by faith, not by sight.
He will not
be troubled by the lack of human assistance, nor will he be moved by
opposition. He can trust God even in utter darkness for he has
God. Because he does not depend upon himself, he can trust the
more than his own visible power.
Those who follow the Lord must be brought to the place of no confidence
the flesh. They must confess they can originate no good idea and
they possess no power to fulfill the Holy Spirit's work. All
cleverness, knowledge, talent and gift-which the world superstitiously
worships-must be set aside in order to enable one to trust the Lord
The Lord's people should persistently acknowledge their own
Hence the emotion, mind and will remain in a spiritual man but are
entirely to the guidance of the intuition... The emotion now rejoices
in what the spirit likes, loves only what the spirit directs, feels
what the spirit permits. It has become its life: when the spirit
The mind of the spiritual man likewise cooperates with the spirit,
no more as in the past. It does not object to the spirit's
raising its reason and argument, neither does it disturb the peace of
spirit with many confused thoughts.
To seek the filling of the Holy Spirit in order to be a powerful
person is solely to please himself, to make himself happy. For were he
live purely for God and His work this believer would not consider his
personal happiness or feeling.
To seek the filling of the Holy Spirit in order to be a powerful
spiritual person is solely to please himself, to make himself
happy. For were he to live purely for God and His work this
believer would not consider his personal happiness or feeling.
Spiritual food of a believer is nothing more nor less than
accomplishing God's work (John 4:34). The kingdom of God suffers
greatly at the hands of "spiritual believers" who busy themselves with
prayer and Bible study and attend only to their spiritual need.
Spiritual food is simply to do His will. Preoccupation with one's
own supply causes lack, whereas concern with God's kingdom brings
The child of God should not be overanxious to make new gains; what he
essentially requires is to keep what he already has, for not losing is
itself a gain. The way to retain what he possesses is to engage
One gains by losing self for others and not by hoarding for oneself.
A Christian ought to recognize the limits of his gift and to labor
within those bounds.
One sure means of losing life, as we have seen, is to try to keep
spiritual life to oneself...
How many covet that they may boast? How many desire more glory
for their flesh?
Historically, Pentecost followed Calvary; experientially, being filled
with the power of the Holy Spirit follows the bearing of the cross.
The flesh is condemned forever before God and by God is sentenced to
death. Are we not attempting the impossible if we desire not its
death but rather seek to adorn the flesh with the Holy Spirit that it
may be more powerful in service? What is our intention after
all? Personal attraction? Fame? Popularity? The
admiration of spiritual believers? Success? Being pleasing
to man? Self-edification? People with mixed motives, those
of double mind, shall not be able to receive the baptism in the Holy
Not until the work in hand has failed and we are despised and rejected
shall we begin to discern the intent of our heart.
Do not be taken in or flattered by your own success or fame. Take
not only as to whether or not the old creation, including everything
which comes by birth, has gone through the cross.
Whatever is produced by the mind lacks spiritual power.
To inaugurate a work is no small matter. Christians should never
initiate anything presumptuously on the basis of need, profit, or
merit. These may not indicate God's will in the slightest.
The book of Acts is the best aid in approaching our work. We do
not find there anyone consecrating himself as a preacher nor anyone
deciding to do the Lord's work by making himself a missionary or a
pastor. What we do see is the Holy Spirit Himself appointing and
sending men out to do the work.
When God selects, not even a
Saul of Tarsus can withstand; when God does not select, even a Simon
cannot buy it.
Spiritual service consequently must be inaugurated by the Lord Himself
calling us. It should not be initiated through the persuasion of
preachers, the encouragement of friends, or the bent of our natural
Despite a great revival in Samaria, Philip was not responsible for the
follow-up labor of strengthening. He must leave immediately for
the desert in order that a "heathen" eunuch might be saved.
Ananias had not heard of Saul's conversion, but he could not refuse to
go to pray for Saul when sent, though by standards of human judgment
he was casting his life away by walking directly into the persecutor's
hand... How then dare we follow our mind, emotion or will if even the
Apostles did not move on that basis?... How people today have seized
upon reason, thought, idea, feeling, wish and desire as the governing
factors in work!
If we allow natural affection and human admiration or the lack of these
to govern our efforts we will surely fail in our work and our lives
shall be ruined. To obtain genuine fruitfulness we frequently
need to disregard fleshly relationships... Our thoughts and desires
must be offered completely to the Lord.
Not all deeds done for God are His deeds. Doing for Him is not
enough; the question is, who is doing the doing?
What a sinner needs is life, not some sublime thought. A believer
needs whatever can nourish his spiritual life, not mere Bible
knowledge. If all we communicate are excellent sermonic
divisions, wonderful parables, transcendent abstractions, clever words,
or logical arguments, we are but supplying additional thoughts to the
people's minds, arousing their emotions once again, or activating their
will to make one more decision... A sinner needs to have his spirit
resurrected, not to be able to argue better, shed profuse tears, or
make a firmer resolve.
Many confuse understanding with
To court apparent success by merely whipping up people's enthusiasm
results in a work without God.
If we understand how much His work requires His great power, we shall
be ashamed of our ideas and abashed by our self-reliance. We
shall see that all our efforts are but "dead works."
If we labor by the revelation of
the Holy Spirit and in His strength, our audience shall be convinced
and have their spirits enlivened by God. Else what we give them
simply becomes a masterful idea which may stimulate temporarily but
leaves no lasting result.
Unfortunately, many of God's servants frequently are pressed by
environment or other factors into working mechanically. As soon
as the individual is aware of it, he ought to inquire whether such
"mechanical work" is desired by the Spirit or whether God would call
him away to other service.
Many cases can be cited to illustrate how the Lord's people are
entangled in "organization," to the detriment of their life.
Nowadays Christians appear to treat prayer as a means to accomplish
their aims and ideas. If they
possessed just a little deeper understanding, they would recognize that
prayer is but man uttering to God what is God's will.
God does not will He should follow what man has initiated. Other
than following God's direction, we have no right to direct Him.
We have no ability to offer save to obey God's guidance.
We should not open our mouths too hastily upon approaching God.
On the contrary, we first must ask God to show us what and how to pray
before we make our request known to Him. Have we not consumed a
great deal of time in the past asking for what we wanted? Why not now ask
for what God wants?
All spiritual prayers have their source in God. God makes known
to us what we ought to pray by unfolding to us the need and by giving
that need as a burden in our intuitive spirit. Only an intuitive
burden can constitute our call to pray. Yet how we have
overlooked many delicate registrations in the intuition through
carelessness. Our prayer should never exceed the burden in our
intuition. Prayers which are not initiated or responded to in the
spirit originate instead with the believer himself. They are
therefore of the flesh.... the child of God ought to confess his
weakness that he does not know how to pray (Rom 8:26), and petition the
Holy Spirit to teach him.
Negligence in prayer withers the inner man. Nothing can be a
substitute for it, not even Christian work. Many are so
preoccupied with work that they allow little time for prayer.
Hence they cannot cast out demons. Prayer enables us first
inwardly to overcome the enemy and then outwardly to deal with him.
Prayer is work. The experiences of many children of God
demonstrate that it accomplishes far more than does any other form of
work. It is also warfare, for it is one of the weapons in
fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:18). However, only prayer in the
spirit is genuinely effectual.
... He now senses the reality of the things and beings in the spiritual
domain. With such knowledge (and let us call to mind that the
knowledge of a spiritual man does not accrue to him all at once; some
if it may, and usually does, come through many trials), he encounters
Satan. Only those who are spiritual perceive the reality of the
spiritual foe and hence engage in battle (Eph. 6:12). Such
warfare is not fought with arms of the flesh (2 Cor. 10:4).
Because the conflict is spiritual so must the weapons.
Satan frequently either unsettles the emotions of the physical bodies
of spiritual believers, or he blocks the works of the spiritual ones,
or he may disturb their environments.
Unless believers appreciate their own weakness, that is, know how
incompetent they are in themselves to encounter the supernatural, they
shall be deceived.
If the Lord's people will humble themselves by admitting that deception
is quite possible to them, they will be the less deceived.
Now should the Christian be deceived already, then he fights to regain
his freedom. If not, then he strives to rescue others and to
prevent the foe from attacking.
... if he walks by the spirit he learns how to pray incessantly therein
against the wicked powers.
If the child of God has come to appreciate the wiles of his assailant,
he will not surrender at any point but will instead resist; and his
emotional soul is thereby protected. Resistance in the inner man
forces the enemy to go on the defensive.
Resistance is one of the indispensable elements in spiritual
combat. The best defense is a continuous offense. Oppose
with the will as well as with the strength in the spirit... How shall
we resist? With the Word of God which is the Sword of the Holy
The need today is for a company of overcoming saints who know how to
wage war for the release of those under the enemy's deception.
Each stage of the believer's walk possesses its particular
hazard. The new life within us wages a constant war against
all which opposes its growth. During the physical stage, it is a
war against sins; in the soulish phase, it is a battle against the
natural life; and lastly, on the spiritual level, it is an onslaught
against the supernatural enemy.
A Christian life is an unending engagement on the battlefield.
Since the enemy focuses particular attention on the spirit, how
necessary for spiritual believers to keep their own spirit in its
normal state and frequently exercise it as well... Their mind
must be kept perfectly calm without any disturbance; their physical
senses too must be maintained in a quiet balance without agitation.
Oh, how we should guard against whatever is extreme and guard against
misunderstanding in spiritual doctrine. We need not fear being
radical in obeying the Lord, that is for sure; nor do we need to guard
against being extreme in denying the works of the flesh. But most
vigilant must we be that we do not be led to any extremes through
It is a fact that God wants to destroy every work of our flesh, but He
never desires to destroy our personality.
He takes no pleasure in transforming us into automata; rather does He
delight in having us cooperate with Him.
The Holy Spirit moves people themselves to work, never setting aside
man's personality; the evil spirit demands men to be entirely inactive
so that he may work in their place, reducing man's spirit to a robot.
As conscience grows more passive and the evil spirit supplies his
guidance, some Christians begin to lower their moral standard -
thinking they henceforth live according to a higher life principle, and
therefore treat immoral matters as not quite so immoral any more.
When a believer has crossed into the domain of the spiritual he daily
ought to maintain a combat attitude in his spirit, praying therewith
for the overthrow of all the works of Satan done through the evil
To remove warfare from a spiritual life is to render it
unspiritual. Life in the spirit is a suffering way, filled with
watching and laboring, burdened by weariness and trial, punctuated by
heartbreak and conflict. It is a life utterly outpoured for the
kingdom of God and lived in complete disregard for one's personal
Mention has been made previously that the functions of the spirit could
be classified as intuition, communion, and conscience.
The spirit like the soul has its thoughts, feelings, and desires.
But how we must learn to distinguish the spiritual from the soulical!
The spiritual sensing is called "intuition."
Satan can only attack us from the outside in. He may work through
the lust and sensations of the body or through the mind and emotion of
the soul, for those two belong to the outward man.
(1 John 2:20, 27). This portion of Scripture informs us quite
lucidly where and how the anointing of the Holy Spirit teaches
us. ... the spirit "knows" while the mind "understands."
The Apostle John speaks of the operation of intuition when he asserts
that the anointing of the Lord, Who dwells in the believer, shall
instruct him in all things and enable him to know all so that he has no
need for anyone to teach him... He does not work thunderously from
heaven nor does He cast the believer to the ground by an irresistible
force. Rather does He work very quietly in one's spirit to
impress something upon our intuition. In the same way that a
man's body feels soothed when ointment is applied, so our spirit gently
senses the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When intuition is aware
of something, the spirit is apprehending what He is saying.
The Anointing functions independently; He does not require our
help. He expresses His mind independently of our mind's searching
or our emotion's agitating.
The indwelling Spirit shall teach him what is of God and what is
not. This is why sometimes we can conjure up no logical reason
for opposing a certain teaching, yet in the very depth of our being
arises a resistance.
We should follow still the small voice that comes from our intuition
instead of being over-awed by people's knowledge... Otherwise we shall
fall into heresy or become fanatical. If we quietly follow the
teaching of the Anointing we shall be delivered from the compulsion of
a noisy emotion and a confused mind.
Let us observe our Lord Jesus. "and immediately Jesus, perceiving
in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to
them" (Mark 2:8). Do we not see there the working of intuition?
There is but one kind of knowledge concerning either the bible or God
which is valuable, and that is the truth revealed to our spirit by
God's Spirit. God does not explain Himself via man's reasoning;
never does man come to known God through rationalization.
Everyone who believes in God must have His revelation in his spirit, or
else what he believes is not God but mere human wisdom, ideals or
words. Such faith cannot endure the test.
How many denominate themselves Christians, though the Christianity they
embrace is simply a kind of philosophy of life or of ethics, a few
articles of truth, or some supernatural manifestations.
Now if instead of seeking His purpose in the spirit a Christian should
daily search his mind, he will be confused, since thoughts often
change. He who follows his mind is not capable of saying at any
moment, "I truly know this is
the will of God." Such deep faith and assurance emerges only when
one has received revelation in his spirit.
The difference between knowing intuitively and knowing mentally is
immeasurable. Upon this very distinction hangs the outcome of
spiritual success or defeat.
We should be careful not to confuse intuition with emotion.
People shall never enter the kingdom of God through our encouragement,
persuasion, argument, inducement, excitement, or attraction; entrance
can be gained only by new birth, by nothing less than the resurrection
of the spirit.
Paul stresses most emphatically in his letters that the gospel he
preaches does not originate with man: it is not acquired wholesale from
one man's mind and retailed to the mind of others but is discovered
God communes with us entirely in the spirit... When we say man's spirit
is dead, we are indicating his intuition is insensitive to God and His
His spirit shall remain forever dead unless he confesses that
everything pertaining to man is useless and unless he stands in the
place of death with the Lord Jesus and accepts His life.
Countless are those saints who daily walk by their head and
heart. In service we still attempt to move people's mind, emotion
and will by our intellect, zeal and effort.
The "heart of man" includes among other facets man's understanding,
mind and intellect.
However eloquent our natural utterance, it remains powerless to truly
communicate the things of God. We may view ourselves as having
spoken quite well; yet we have not succeeded in expressing the thought
of the Spirit.
Now we are not trying to disparage the use of the soul's
faculties. They are
useful, but there they must play a secondary
role. They should be under control and not be the controller.
Were these soulical faculties kept in secondary position the believer
would make tremendous strides in his spiritual walk.
Not all terms which articulate the deep mystery of God are spiritual
terms; only those which are taught in the spirit by the Holy Spirit
are. And they are not necessarily profound words: they may in
fact be very common and ordinary: yet these
words are taught by the Holy Spirit...
Though all Christians possess a regenerated spirit, not all Christians
are spiritual. Many are still fleshly... Their carnal mind is
still full of wandering thoughts, reasons and plans; their emotion runs
wild with many carnal interests, desires and tendencies; and their will
formulates many worldly judgements, arguments and opinions. They
are so occupied in following the flesh that they have neither time nor
inclination to listen to the voice of intuition. Since the voice
of the spirit is usually very soft, it cannot be heard unless it is
listened to attentively with everything else quieted.
The Bible compares a newly regenerated believer to a baby. The
life in his spirit which he newly possesses is as tiny and weak as a
baby naturally born. There is nothing wrong with his being a baby
as long as he does not remain too great a time in that stage.
Every adult must being as a child. But should he persist as such
very long, his spirit never progressing beyond what it was when he was
first regenerated some years before, then something is
Why is it that the increase in speech, knowledge and gifts was not
considered growth? This uncovers an intensely significant fact,
which is that though the saints at Corinth grew in these outward
endowments they failed to grow in their spirit.
How many of the Lord's people today are developing in the wrong
direction! Many assume that upon being saved they must seek
higher Bible knowledge, better utterance in preaching, and more
spiritual gifts. They forget it is their spirit that must
advance. Speech, knowledge and gift are purely outwards matters...
Unfortunately the increase of our mind does not and cannot substitute
the maturing in our intuition.
Milk is pre-digested food. What this denotes is that the soulish
believer cannot maintain clear fellowship with God in the spirit's
intuition and hence must depend upon other more advanced Christians for
the things of God.
Many of the Lord's people currently commit the same error as did the
saints at Corinth. The words of the Lord are spirit and life, but
these people do not accept the words accordingly. They
investigate theological problems with a very cold mind and search the
hidden meaning of the bible with the design of presenting the best
interpretation. They satisfy their lust for knowledge.
An impulsive thought is not to be interpreted as belonging to the
spirit of revelation.
When however a believer has received revelation from God concerning His
holiness, he sees himself corrupted to the core and void of any
cleanliness before the light of God's dwelling in unapproachable light
where no sinful, natural man can draw nigh.
Spiritual wisdom, though, may be realized through believing prayer
Do not assume that after regeneration the wise have advantage over the
foolish in making spiritual progress. Unless they are more
faithful and submissive, their better mental comprehension adds nothing
to their intuitive knowledge.
Spiritual advancement is measured by faithful obedience.
God is pleased with nothing but His Own will. Nothing else can
satisfy His heart.
Besides the function of intuition and communion, our spirit performs
still another important task - that of correcting and reprimanding so
as to render us u
neasy when we fall short of the glory of God.
If we were more disposed today to mind the voice of
conscience we would not be as defeated as we are.
If one's conscience is willing to confess whatever sins have been
committed, including the sin of unbelief, it will be sorrowful in a
godly way, earnestly desiring the mercy of God.
What ground is left for accusation since sin's penalty has been fully
paid? The blood of the Lord has atoned for all the sins of a
believer; hence there is no more condemnation in the conscience.
We must stress the precious blood and the conscience
proportionally. Some strongly insist on the latter but overlook
the former; consequently sinners try hard to repent and to do good,
hoping in this way to propitiate God's wrath with their own
merits. Others emphasize the precious blood but neglect
If our inward monitor judges us to be wrong we must in fact be
wrong. When it condemns, let us repent immediately. We must
never attempt to cover our sin or bribe our conscience.
Whatever conscience condemns is condemned by God. Can the
holiness of God pursue a lower standard than our conscience?
Christians today do not follow these rules. Immediately after the
reproof of their inner voice, they lay plans to quench its
protest. They usually employ two methods. One is to argue
with it, trying to marshal reasons for their action... The other method
is to ease conscience with many other works.
He looks neither at the aggregate
of fat nor at the number of burnt
offerings but solely at the sum of
obedience to Him.
Doubling the consecration will not silence
the accusing monitor; its voice must be followed; that and nothing
else can ever please God. Conscience simply demands our
obedience; it does not require us to serve God in any spectacular
Let us therefore not deceive ourselves. In walking
according to the spirit we shall hear the direction of
Do not try to escape any inward reproach; rather, be attentive to its
Children of God should not make a general confession by
acknowledging their innumerable sins in a vague manner, because such
confession does not provide conscience opportunity to do its perfect
work. They ought to allow the Holy Spirit through their
conscience to point out their sins one by one... Christians must
accept its reproach and be willing, according to the mind of the
Spirit, to eliminate everything which is contrary to God.
an unconditional and unrestricted acceptance of the reproach of
conscience with a corresponding willingness to do what is
revealed can show how perfect is our consecration, how truly we hate
sin how sincerely we desire to do God's will.
A believer can
make no genuine spiritual progress if he is reluctant to have his
evil conscience judged in God's light and clearly dealt with.
must be treated progressively one by one until all have been
Whenever a believer is therefore reproved by his
conscience his immediate response should be: "Lord, I am willing
1 John 3:21-22
Believers simply do not
realize how very significant their conscience is.
We can serve
God only with a clear conscience (2 Tim. 1:3). An opaque one
shall surely cause us to shrink back intuitively from God.
times men criticize us when we actually are following the Lord...
outside praise or criticism is inconsequential; but the testimony of
our quickened conscience is momentous.
Enoch was a man of good
conscience for he knew God was pleased with him.
must be very careful here, however, lest we exalt our "self"
as though we have pleased God. All glory belongs to
Confessing our sin and trusting in the precious blood are
Naturally there are many reasons for not
possessing greater faith, but the gravest of these is probably an
evil conscience. A good conscience is inseparable from a great
In the matter of fellowship God looks not at how much
we apprehend of His will but rather at what our attitude towards His
will is. If we honestly seek and wholeheartedly obey His
desires, our fellowship remains unbroken, even though there should be
many unknown sins in us. Should fellowship be determined by the
holiness of God, who among all the most holy saints in the past and
the present would be qualified to hold a moment's perfect communion
On the other hand, were we to permit to remain even
the tiniest little sin which we know our conscience has condemned, we
instantly would lose that perfect fellowship with God.
having fully obeyed the dictates of conscience, we must not visualize
ourselves as now "perfect."
Conscience is a
God-given current standard of holiness.
Hence, let us
not judge one another.
In fact, in helping other people we
should not coerce obedience from them in small details but only
advice them to follow faithfully the dictate of their own
Just as a limited knowledge fails to judge what
ought to be judged, so it may also judge what should not be
Does it mean that conscience is faulty in its guidance? No, the
leading of conscience is correct and must be heeded by believers.
But there are different degrees of knowledge among the saints.
Many things which can be done with knowledge are condemned as sins by
the conscience of those who lack knowledge... It just shows, however,
that the standard of good and evil is bound up with individual
They felt uneasy when eating it. Because their
conscience was weak while eating the food, they were defiled (1 Cor.
If at any time we discover that it has become cold and
hard as though nothing can move us, let us recognize by this that we
have fallen deeply into the flesh.
those Christians who have disregarded their conscience in the past
and are now unlively, merely holding some dead knowledge in their
The Dangers of Spiritual Life
are countless Christians who consider the occasional working of the
Holy Spirit in their spirit to be the most sublime of their life
experiences... Were they to live by the spirit according to its law,
however, they would discover that these are everyday
One thing is unmistakable: the soul is affected
by outside influences, but not the spirit. For example, when
the soul is provided with beautiful scenery, serene nature, inspiring
music, or many other phenomena pertaining to the external world, it
can be moved instantly and respond strongly. Not so the
spirit... Hence those that are genuinely spiritual can be active
whether or not their soul has feeling or their body has strength.
In walking after the spirit we must avoid all haste.
Christians generally bend to certain directions. Most of them
lean either towards emotion or towards reason.
Some seek the
gifts of the Holy Spirit with genuine earnestness. Yet often
what they crave is but some joy, for the "I" is hidden
behind their quest.
What is really valuable before God is not
how we emotionally feel the presence of the Lord or how we even feel
love towards Him; rather is it how we follow the Holy Spirit and live
according to what He has revealed to our spirit... Not emotion but
communion with the Lord in the spirit is what is valuable before
Man's soul naturally would suggest amassing more
information, especially the opinions of those who had more preaching
experience. But Paul followed the spirit alone. He cared
not what men, not even the most spiritual apostles, would say.
gospel we preach must not be just something we hear from men or read
from books or even conceived through our meditation. Unless it
is delivered to us by God, it can serve no spiritual
Nothing should be done which is propelled by excited
feeling or abrupt thought,; everything must be carefully and quietly
examined before it is executed.
The enemy utilizes this desire
of keeping the conscience void of offense by accusing us of various
things. In mistaking such accusations as being from our own
consciences we often lose our peace, tire of trying to keep pace with
false accusations, and thus cease to advance spiritually with
Thus in addition to their willingness to yield to
conscience's reproof, spiritual believers should also learn how to
discern the accusation of the enemy.
The purpose of Satan is
to engineer our fall through accusations: "Since we cannot be
perfect," sighs the believer resignedly, "then what is the
To confirm whether or not we are moved by, and walk
in, the Holy Spirit, we must see if any given thing harmonizes with
the teaching of the Bible... The revelation of the Holy Spirit sensed
by our spirit must coincide with the revelation of the Holy Spirit in
A little carelessness brings in defeat.
laws of the Spirit
A Christian should know more
about the operation of his spirit than about the activity of his
A Christian ought to realize what the weights laid on
his spirit are... If he encounters it in the morning and does not
deal with it at once, he experiences defeat the whole day
Never adopt an attitude of indifference, for if you do
you will suffer for it. The weight will grow heavier and
The adversary is familiar with the requirements of
the spirit; therefore he frequently acts against he believer's soul
and body... one's mind may be confused, his emotions disturbed, his
will weary and impotent to actively govern the whole being, or his
body overly tired and temporarily lazy. He must resist these
symptoms at one or else his spirit will be blocked in...
must wholeheartedly oppose the work of the adversary in both his soul
The best thing for the saint to do is to claim the
victorious name of the Lord Jesus over every onslaught of the
Sometimes Satan provokes us to harden our spirit.
It can become stiff, unyielding, narrow and selfish. Such a
spirit cannot work with God nor can it do His will.
the enemy entices Christians to harbor an unforgiving spirit - a very
common symptom indeed among God's children... Such bitterness and
fault-finding and enmity inflict a severe blow upon spiritual
The spiritual person, however, doe s not consider the
things of God as his own but loves the whole church in his
Often Satan injects pride into the believer's spirit,
evoking in him an attitude of self-importance and of
He causes him to esteem himself a very outstanding person, one who is
indispensable in God's work. Such a spirit constitutes one of
the major reasons for the fall of believers: "Pride goes before
destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov.
To assure victory we need to watch even the sound of
our speech. Immediately the evil spirit touches our spirit, our
voice loses its softness. A harsh, hard, and shrill utterance
does not spring from the Holy Spirit; it simply exhibits the fact
that the one who speaks has been poisoned already by Satan.
moment we notice our voice has turned harsh, we must stop
instantly... If we are reluctant to say to our brethren, "I am
wrong," then our spirit remains engulfed in its sin.
therefore which is capable of impairing spiritual consciousness must
be denied. We must shun wild laughter, bitter crying, and every
other extreme outburst of physical emotion. The body should be
kept in perfect calm... Never allow anything to hinder us from
understanding the small still throb of the spirit.
of the spirit differ from the weights on the spirit... A burden of
the spirit, on the other hand, is given by God to His child for the
purpose of calling him to work, to pray, or to preach. It is a
burden with purpose, with reason, and for spiritual profit.
burden imparted by God is lifted once we have prayed, but the
heaviness from the enemy cannot be raised unless we fight and resist
Frequently the burden or concern in the spirit is
for prayer (Col. 4:12).
We should try our best to pour out all
the burdens in our spirit by prayer until all of them have left
A believer should never regard spiritual labor as altogether
joyous and jubilant...
He who is willing to suffer for God
and men does not live for himself; but those who daily seek sensuous
pleasures and become apprehensive about bearing burdens for God and
the church are living only for themselves.
work is aggressive towards Satan and travails in birth for
believers. These in no wise can be termed joyous
To enjoy sensuous pleasures daily is no evidence
of spirituality. On the contrary, those who go on with God and
disregard their own feelings are the truly spiritual ones.
spiritual Christian should welcome any burden which the Lord brings
God's life and power in our spirit can recede like a
tide. We recognize that anyone soulish usually deems his
spiritual life to be at high tide when he feels the presence
of God; but if he feels low and dry, he is at ebb
These are of course but feelings; they do no represent the reality of
The principle of the mind
aiding the spirit
Whenever the spirit senses
anything, we are equipped by the knowledge of these laws to fulfill
the requirement called for; if the condition is normal, we walk
accordingly; and if abnormal, we can correct it. But a problem
arises here; which is, that we do not always enjoy such spiritual
stirrings. The spirit simply may not speak. Many have
experienced an utter silence for quite a few days. It appears
as though it is sleeping. Is this to say that during those days
when our spirit is inactive we should do nothing? Must we
quietly sit for a number of days, neither praying nor reading the
Bible nor performing any work?... Now this is just the moment when we
should apply the principle of the mind supporting the spirit.
But how? When the spirit is sleeping, our mind must come in to
do the work of the spirit. And before long we shall see the
latter itself joining the work.
According to the knowledge
you have received from God, you realize you should pray and petition
Him for supply. But at the time you see the need your spirit
does not feel at all like praying. What should you do?
You should pray with your mind instead of waiting for your spirit to
move. Every need is a call to prayer. Although at the
start you pray despite the silence in your spirit, as you pray on you
will soon be conscious of something arising within you. It
signifies your spirit has joined in at last in this work of prayer...
What we must do is pray with what the mind remembers to be the truth
we once received and in that prayer resist the power of
You should accordingly exercise your mind to
remember your friends, relatives, and fellow-workers to
determine if they are in need. As you remember each one so
shall you in turn intercede for them. If in interceding on
their behalf your spirit remains cold and dry, then you know you are
not to pray for them.
...we may be forced to consume
considerable time before the spirit cooperates. For example,
God would like to enlarge the scope of our prayer to include the
nations in order to defeat all the behind-the-scene works of
Or He may want us to intercede for all sinners worldwide for the
On the other hand we should not too
highly esteem the work of the mind. By this time we ought to
know that unless our action comes from the spirit it serves no useful
purpose. We must not walk after the mind. Why then do we
engage the mind? We exercise it not for its sake but for the
sake of inducing the spirit to work.
To walk after the
spirit a believer must inhibit his mind from revolving endlessly.
If it turns too long around one topic, worries or grieves too much
over matters, and ponders too intensively to know God's will, it may
become unbearable and hamper its normal operation. The mind
needs to be kept in a steady and secure state.
normalcy of the spirit
(Ps 34:18), (Is. 57:15)...
God's people often erroneously think that they need a contrite spirit
only at the time they repent and believe in the Lord or whenever they
subsequently fall into sin. We should know, however, that God
wishes us to keep our spirit in a state of contrition at all times...
We ought never sin; yet we always should have sorrow for sin.
The presence of God is felt in such a spirit.
God takes no
pleasure in our repenting over and over again as though this were
sufficient; rather does He wish us to live in perpetual
Only a spirit of this kind can equip us to detect and mourn
immediately all disharmony with the Holy Spirit present in our
conduct and deeds. It also helps us to acknowledge our faults
when told of them.
People who cover their faults and excuse
themselves do not have a repentant spirit...
But when the
cross is working deeply a believer comes to know himself. He
realizes how undependable are his ideas, feelings and
Lowliness is not looking down on one's self; rather
is it a not looking at one's self at all.
spirit is demonstrated when one associates with the poor. It is
this spirit alone which does not despise any who are created by
God's presence and glory is manifested in the life of the spiritually
A lowly person is a teachable person, easily entreated
and open to explanation. Many of our spirits are too arrogant:
they can teach others but can never themselves be taught. Many
possess a stubborn spirit: they stick to their opinions even if
they realize they are wrong.
(Matt. 5:3)... The poor in spirit
views himself as possessing nothing.
Only the poor in
spirit can be humble. How often the experience, growth, and
progress of a Christian become such precious matters to him that he
loses his lowliness.
The one who can boast such a spirit as
this lives righteously himself but never demands righteousness from
others. He is full of love and mercy; wherefore he can melt the
heart of those around him.
For a time the flesh may be fervent
when it is emotionally excited, but this fervency does not endure...
"Fervent in spirit" is a permanent feature; he therefore
who possesses this spirit is qualified to serve the Lord
We should avoid all fervency of the flesh but allow the Holy Spirit
to so fill our inner man that He may keep it perpetually fervent.
Then our spirit will not turn cold when our emotion becomes chilled,
nor will the work of the Lord collapse into a seemingly immovable
We should not be overwhelmed by our icy and indifferent
feeling; instead we should permit our fervent spirit to control
everything, even where our emotion is extremely unconcerned.
The sign of a fervent spirit is serving the Lord always.
moment the spirit loses its composure the mind is excited; when the
mind becomes heated the conduct of the believer grows abnormal and
goes out of control. Consequently it is always profitable to
keep the inner man calm and collected. By disregarding the
ardor of the emotion, the increase of desire, or the confusion of
thought and by measuring every problem with a cool spirit instead, we
shall maintain our feet on the pathway of the Lord. Any action
taken when our spirit is excited is likely to be against the will of
However chaotic may be the outside situation he does not
lose the calm and peace inside.
Such composure is not achieved
through self-improvement but is secured through the revelation of the
Spirit Who discloses the reality of all things...
himself a Christian should have a broken spirit (Ps. 51:17), but
towards God it should be one of rejoicing always in Him. He
rejoices not for its own sake nor because of any joyful experience,
work, blessing or circumstance, but exclusively because God is his
The note of hallelujah must never be in short supply
in the spirit of the believer.
Timidity is not humility.
While humility is self-forgetfulness completely- a forgetting both
its weakness and strength-timidity recalls all the weakness and hence
is self-remembering. God does not delight in our cowardice and
We must have a spirit of power towards the enemy,
a spirit of love towards men, and a spirit of self-control towards
"To aspire to live quietly" (1 Thess.
4:11). This is the duty of every Christian. Modern
Christians talk far too much.
Before one can display a quiet
mouth he must first possess a quiet spirit, for out of the abundance
of the spirit does the mouth speak.
"Ye stand fast in one
spirit" (Phil 1:27 ASV)... Only when mind and emotion are
subject to the spirit's rule can he disregard or restrain differences
in though and feeling and so be one in the spirit with all children
May the things of this world so lose their power over
us that we do not in the slightest wish to be "worldly";
nay, we even delight in not remaining "in the world."
we henceforth praying spirit and with understanding, "Come, Lord
Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)
Our Lord's aim is to destroy
absolutely the believer's craving for, anything besides Himself.
The believer and
Feeling comprises such a vast area of our
existence that most carnal Christians belong to the emotional
Man's sensational life is most comprehensive, hence
highly complicated; to help believers understand it, we can gather
all its various expressions into the three groups of (1) affection,
(2) desire, and (3) feeling.
Should we take the trouble
to observe ourselves we will easily perceive how changeful are our
feelings. Few matters in the world are as changeable as
emotion. We can be one way one minute and feel quite opposite
the next... He therefore who lives by emotion lives without
For example, unspeakable sorrow usually follows
upon hilarious joy, great depression after high excitement, deep
withdrawal after burning fervor. Even in the matter of love,
it may commence as such but due to some emotional alteration it may
end up with a hatred whose intensity far exceeds the earlier
The more one probes the workings of an emotional life
the more he will be convinced of its vacillation and
undependability. No one should wonder that a child of God who
walks by emotion rather than by spirit usually comports himself in a
wavelike fashion. He bemoans his existence because it is so
If, however, by the power of the Holy Spirit he has
his emotional life crucified and accepts the Holy Spirit as the Lord
over all things, he most assuredly can avoid this kind of alternating
Many saints cannot distinguish inspiration from
emotion. Actually these two can be defined readily.
Emotion always enters from man's outside, whereas inspiration
originates with the Holy Spirit in man's spirit.
people should be cautious, however, lest they view coldness and
absense of constraint to be barometers of spirituality. Such an
assumption is far from the truth.
Deeds done under excitement
often induce pangs of regret and remorse in retrospect.
who acts from emotion cares neither for principle nor for reason but
only for his feeling.
What an enemy emotion can be to
Never decide on anything or start to do
anything while emotion is agitating like a roaring sea... Again,
during that time even our conscience is rendered
Similarly, one should refrain from doing anything
which might stir up his emotion unnecessarily.
should understand that his emotion is wholly natural; it is not the
source of God's life. If he in fact acknowledges that no life of God
resides in his emotion, he will never attempt to secure the salvation
of people by means of his power of emotion through tears, mournful
faces, cries, or other emotional devices. No efforts of his
emotion can affect in the slightest the darkened human spirit. Except
the Holy Spirit gives life, man can have no life.
If we do not rely on the Spirit and use emotion instead, our work
will yield no real fruit.
Frequently what we say is rest is
merely laziness. Our body requires respite and so does our mind
and spirit. But a person should never rest because of a
laziness which arises from the evil nature in his emotion. How
often laziness and emotional distaste for work join to employ
physical fatigue as a cover-up.
Spiritual sensing is usually
made known through the feeling of a quiet and pliable emotion.
If emotion is pliably subject to the spirit the latter, through the
emotion, will love or hate exactly as God wishes.
We do not
say that, in order to be spiritual, a Christian must become
exceedingly hard and void of affection like inanimate objects - as
through the term spiritual man means for him to be emptied of
feeling. Quite the contrary. The most tender,
merciful, loving and sympathetic of persons is a spiritual
In committing our soul to the cross we must remember that
what is lost is the soul life, not its function.
how many dearly beloved ones have their claim on the believer's
affections besides God! Perhaps an Isaac, a Jonathan, or a
Rachel. Wherefore God insists we lay our beloved ones on the
altar. He cannot tolerate any competition.
How much the
work of God has suffered because of our failure to let the Lord be
the Lord of our affections. Many parents cling to their
children for themselves and permit the kingdom of God to incur
We persist in living in the soul if we cannot say with
Asaph: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is
nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee" (P.
God's children have never fully understood how their
loved ones could hinder their spiritual growth. As we begin to
have other loves besides a love for God, however, we do discover that
He gradually loses significance for us.
we are inclined towards someone we can hardly preserve our heart in
quietness; usually we will be stirred by our emotion to seek
feverishly to please the other one...
Outwardly nothing seems
changed: inwardly though his heart is entangled with his dear
Actually, only God can satisfy a Christian's heart; man
If we genuinely have undergone death we will not be attached to
anyone but will be guided solely by the
God will then direct us how in Him to renew our love for
In order to substantiate, for the believer's own profit,
his consecration to God, God often "strips" him of that
which he holds dear. God endeavors either to secure our love
towards Him or to strip us of our love.
Once the believer has
passed through a purifying process he will observe how unalloyed his
affection towards men now is: no longer is self mixed in with his
love: all is for God and all is in God.
A mistaken thought may
be corrected easily, but an errant affection is nearly
Not so with spiritual love. Here the
things of the world just naturally fade away before it... Henceforth
he appears to be unable to see the world because the glory of God has
blinded his physical eyes.
The nature of God's love is
unchangeable. Ours alternates all to readily. If it is
our habit to love God with our own affection we shall turn cold
towards Him whenever we are unhappy.
The Lord frequently leads
the saint through painful experiences in order that he may not love
the Lord for his own sake.
A believer should always notice in
his spirit what person or thing easily activates his affection.
Should Satan be impotent to overcome a believer in any other respect,
he will tempt him through this particular point involving his
Nothing activates our affection more than friends,
and among friends the opposite sex stirs us the most.
It is an
established fact that the opposite sex can easily stimulate
In our association with people, especially in the
matters of love, if we treat the same sex in one way and the opposite
sex in another we know we are already under the operation of the
A worker in his work and while at work needs to watch
lest the thought of the opposite sex makes its intrusion.
affection which is not inspired by the Lord will soon be transformed
into lust. Samson is not alone in the history of man in failing
in this regard. Delilah is still cutting the hair of man
How transcendent is a spiritual man! He walks far
above human natural affection.
a Christian remains carnal he is ruled vigorously by his desire. All
natural or soulish desires and ambitions are linked with self life.
They are for self, by self, or after self. While carnal, one’s will
is not yielded fully to the Lord, and so he holds many ideas of his
Pride springs from desire. Man aspires to obtain a place
for himself that he may feel honoured before men... He loves to hear
praising voices and considers them just and true. He also attempts to
elevate himself in his work, whether in preaching or in writing, for
his secret self motive goads him on. In a word, this one has not yet
died to his desire of vainglory. He is still seeking what he desires
and what can inflate him.
How we live and work for
The more a person is spiritual the more real he
becomes, for he has been united with God and is at rest.
many Christians, for example, are able to engage in prayer warfare
for a whole day without
reserving some period for recreation, for
refreshing their emotion? It is difficult for us to live in the
spirit for an entire day. We always set aside for ourselves some time
to converse with people in order to relieve our emotion. Only when we
are shut in by God - seeing neither man nor sky, living in the spirit
and serving Him before the throne - do we begin to appreciate how
much emotion demands of us, how imperfectly we have died to it, and
how much we yet live by it.
As God’s child advances
spiritually be shall discover that the Lord’s time is as important
as the Lord’s will. Do not rashly beget an Ishmael lest he become
the greatest enemy to Isaac.
Due to his self-desiring, an
emotional believer can not wait on God. Whatever he undertakes he
does in himself, for he can not trust God nor allow God to work for
him. He does not know how to commit a matter completely into
God’s hand and refrain from employing his own strength. Trust is
beyond him because this requires self-denial. Until his desire
is restrained, his self will be very active. How he is eager to help
God! For God seems to work too slowly, so help Him along he
The spirit life commences with God and finds in Him its all
sufficiency. The power to welcome and endure solitude is the
Despite the fact our desires occasionally agree with His will, God is
not delighted with them because they are nonetheless of ourselves.
We should gladly accept man's contradicting, despising, discounting,
misunderstanding, and harsh criticism and permit these matters which
are so antagonistic to natural desire to deal with our soul life. We
should learn how to, receive suffering, pain, or a lowly place as
apportioned us by God. However much our self life feels pained or our
natural feeling is hurt, we must bear them patiently.
For anyone to pursue the Lord he must oppose his own desire.
Since this is God's purpose He therefore arranges to have His children
experience many fiery trials so that all these offscourings of desire
may be consumed in the fire of suffering. A Christian may aspire to
high position, but the Lord brings him low: be may cherish many hopes,
yet the Lord allows him no success in anything: he may entertain many
delights, but the Lord gradually takes away each of them till none
remains: he yearns for glory, yet the Lord inflicts upon him
Once he loses his heart for "self" the believer can be wholly God's.
His life has now become quite simple: he has no expectations, no
requests, no ambitions other than to be willingly obedient to the
Lord's will. A life of obedience to His intent is the simplest kind on
earth, because he who so lives seeks nothing but to quietly follow God.
After a person has forsaken his natural longings he obtains a genuinely
restful life. Formerly he had many desires. To satisfy them he planned,
plotted and contrived, exhausting every ounce of his wisdom and power.
His heart was in constant turmoil... But that child of God who purely
follows the spirit and seeks not his own pleasure is satisfied with
what God gives to him: and his restlessness immediately ceases.
he Lord knows that His Own people must pass through many trials, that
the heavenly Father is going to arrange for them to be lonely and
misunderstood. As no one understands Him except the Father, so no one
will understand His disciples (Matthew 11:27).
The ambitious are hurt, angry, and restless when they can not obtain
He says for us to bear His yoke as a restraint upon ourselves. He bears
a yoke too, even the yoke of God.
This is none other than a satisfied
life. The Christian cherishes nothing but God; henceforth he is
satisfied with His will.
A life of
According to the believer's interpretation, he
is at his spiritual peak when in possession of the wonderful feeling:
he is at his lowest when deprived of it... Such is the common notion
among Christians. Is it accurate? It is totally inaccurate. Unless we
understand how it is wrong we shall suffer defeat to the very end.
A real spiritual life is never dominated by, nor lived in, feeling.
Rather does it regulate feeling. Nowadays Christians mistake a life of
feeling for spiritual experience. This is because many have never
entered into genuine spirituality and hence interpret happy sensation
to be spiritual experience.
He thinks he possesses the Lord whenever he is conscious of His
presence, yet he believes he has lost the Lord whenever he can not
sense Him; once more he knows not that this is but the way he feels. He
thinks he is truly loving the Lord as he senses a warmth in his heart;
but should there be no burning sensation then he concludes that he has
veritably lost his love for Him; yet again he is ignorant of the truth
that such are only his feelings.
Let the question be asked instead: is a person actually loving the Lord
when he is full of exultation? Or is it that he loves the exultant
feeling? Granted, this joy is given us by God; but is it not God Who
also takes it away? If we genuinely loved Him we should fervently love
Him in whatever circumstances He may put us. If our love is present
merely when we feel, then perhaps what we love is not God but our
Why is joyous sensation so sought after? For the sake of self. Why is
barrenness so abhorred? Again for self's sake. Why seek bodily
feelings? For self. Why crave supernatural experiences. Also for self.
Oh, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes to behold how full of self is a
so-called "spiritual" life of feeling!
The life of
The life of faith is not only totally different from, but also
diametrically opposite to, a life of feeling.
Faith looks not at what happens to him but at Him Whom he believes.
Faith follows the One believed while feeling turns on how one feels...
God does not change: He is the same God in either the cloudy day or the
sunny day. Hence he who lives by faith is as unchanging as is God; he
expresses the same kind of life through darkness or through light. But
one who dwells by feeling must pursue an up and down existence because
his feeling is ever changing.
Frequently their feeling appears to rebel against this continuation:
they grow exceedingly sorrowful, melancholic, despondent, as though
their emotions were pleading with them to halt every spiritual
activity. They nonetheless go on as usual, entirely ignoring their
adverse feeling; for they realise work must be done. This is the
pathway of faith, one which pays no heed to one's emotion but
exclusively to the purpose of God.
The Christian experience, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.
He who is able to accept everything gladly from the Lord - including
darkness, dryness, flatness - and completely disregard self is he who
lives for Him.
We should inquire once again as
to what the life of faith is. It is one lived by believing God under any circumstance: "If he slay
me," says Job, "yet would I trust in Him" (Job 13:15 Darby). That is faith.
Who is there who dares to renounce this consolation of heart for the
sake of believing God? Who is there who can accept God's will joyfully
and continuously commit himself to Him even though he feels that God
hates him and desires to slay him? That is the highest life. Of course
God would never treat us like that. Nevertheless in the walk of the
most advanced Christians they seem to experience something of this
apparent desertion by God. Would we be able to remain unmoved in our
faith in God if we felt thus? Observe
what John Bunyan, author of Pilgrims Progress, proclaimed when men
sought to hang him: "If God does not intervene I shall leap into
eternity with blind faith come heaven, come hell!" There was a hero of
faith! In the hour of despair can we too say, "O God, though You
desert me yet will I believe You"? Emotion begins to doubt when it
senses blackness, whereas faith holds on to God even in the face of
Were they to exercise the courage to sacrifice themselves to God's
fiery furnace, showing no pity or love for self, they would make great
strides on their spiritual pathway.
To walk after the spirit a Christian must deny every scintilla of his
life of feeling... When he is following the spirit he neither fears if
he receives no help from feeling nor if feeling opposes him.
The distinction between the spiritual and the soulish Christian lies
precisely there: the soulish primarily considers himself and therefore
only obeys God when he feels his desire is satisfied; the spiritual has
a will fully co-operating with God and hence accepts His arrangement
without wavering even though he has no outside help or stimulus.
How many saints are there who serve purely because it is God's command?
Or how many work just to produce fruits? Since God's work is eternal in
nature, He demands men with faith to labour for Him.
He indulges no personal interest, desire or
longing. He has offered himself to death already and then lives
exclusively for God.
The sighing, mourning and grieving which arose out of his former
anticipation, seeking and struggling have today entirely disappeared.
He realises that
the loftiest life is one lived for God and one obedient to His will.
His walk is steady, firm, restful. His former situation of ups and
downs has vanished. Even so, we must not now rush to the conclusion
that henceforth he shall never again be ruled by emotion, for before we
enter heaven itself such sinless perfection is not possible.
Nonetheless, in comparing his present state with his former condition,
this one can indeed be described as experiencing rest, being
established, and continuing firm.
The reason why God at the beginning had led him through many sorrows
was because his soul life lay behind everything, seeking and asking too
much for himself, desiring even things which were outside God's will.
Such independent action had to be circumscribed by God.
The present aim of existence becomes single: to do the will of God: so
long as He is pleased, nothing else really counts: to obey Him becomes
the sole objective of life. It does not matter how he feels; what
matters is obeying God. This is a pure walk.
The mind a
Man's mind occupies a large place in his life because his
thought easily influences his action.
It is difficult to estimate how much of the world's philosophy, ethics,
knowledge, research, and science flow from the powers of darkness. But
of one point we are certain: all arguments and proud obstacles against
the knowledge of God are the fortresses of the enemy.
It is true that Satan often uses the flesh to secure the consent of
man, yet in each instance of enticement the enemy creates some kind of
thought by which to induce the man. We cannot separate temptation and
thought. All temptations are offered us in the form of thoughts. Since
the latter are so exposed to the power of darkness, we need to learn
how to guard them.
This is a work which must occur at the hour of new birth-and it does
happen then in the form of repentance. The original definition of
repentance is none else than "a change of mind."
Because it has been so united with the devil it is vital for man to
receive from God a change of mind before he can receive a new heart
The mind suffers the onslaughts
of the powers of darkness more than any other organ of the whole man.
Eve's heart was sinless and yet she received Satan's suggested
thoughts. She was thus beguiled through his deception into forfeiting
her reasoning and tumbling into the snare of the enemy.
How often the intents of the heart are utterly pure and yet the
thoughts in the head are confused.
Countless saints genuinely love all children of God, but unfortunately
their brain is stuffed with a hodgepodge of theories, opinions and
objectives. Quite a number of God's best and most faithful children are
the most narrow-minded and prejudice filled. Already have they decided
what is the truth and what truth they shall accept.
History is strewn with innumerable cases of sanctified saints who
propagated heresies! The simple explanation is that their hearts were
renewed but their minds remained old. We will undeniably acknowledge
that life is more important than knowledge. Indeed, the former is a
thousand times more consequential than the latter. Nonetheless, after
some growth in life it is essential to seek the knowledge which
proceeds from a renewed mind. We should see how urgent it is for both
heart and head to be renewed.
God wishes to restore our thought life to the excellent state it bad
when He created it so that we may not only glorify God in our walk but
may glorify Him in our thinking as well. Who can estimate the
multiplied number of God's children who, due to neglecting their mind,
grow narrow, stubborn and obstinate, and even sometimes defiled.
The Bible declares emphatically that we must "be transformed by the
renewal of our mind" (Rom. 12:2).
A Christian ought to inquire of himself: Are these my thoughts? Is it I
who am thinking? If it is not I thinking, it must then be the evil
spirit who is able to work in man's mind. Since I will not to think
(and my mind usually follows my will) then the thoughts which presently
arise in my head cannot be mine but rather are those which emanate from
another "Person" who uses the ability of my mind against my own will.
The person should know that in case he has not intended to think and
yet there are thoughts arising in his head, he must conclude that these
are not of him but of the evil spirit.
If he has not originated the idea but on the contrary opposes it, and
yet it abides in his bead, he then can assume that that idea issues
from the enemy.
The believer may shake his head repeatedly, yet he cannot shake off the
thoughts in his mind. They come to him in waves, rolling unceasingly
day and night. There is no way to terminate them. He is not aware that
this is but the activity of the evil spirit.
The Bible distinctly indicates that the powers of darkness are able
both to impart ideas to man and to steal them from him. "The devil had
already put it into the heart Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray
him" (John 13:2). is shows that Satan can put his thought into man's
mind. "Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts"
Why is the Christian's mental life so beset by evil spirits? This can
be answered in one sentence: believers afford the evil spirits (or the
devil) the opportunity to attack.
Unless man voluntarily delivers (knowingly or unknowingly) his mind to
the evil spirits they have no right to encroach on man's freedom. This
does not imply that these malevolent forces shall never tempt us in our
thought (that is unavoidable in this life), but it does signify that
upon exercising our will to oppose the tempting thought, it shall be
If a child of God cherishes sin in his heart he is lending his mind to
satanic spirits for their use.
When a Christian does not repel the thoughts which originate with evil
spirits he affords them a base for working.
Should anyone allow his head to cease thinking, searching, and deciding
and to no longer check his experience and action against the Bible, he
is practically inviting Satan to invade his mind and deceive him.
phenomena of a passive mind
After one's mind has sunk into passivity he will receive many thoughts
injected from without, notions which are unclean, blasphemous or
His mind is like a perpetual motion machine: once begun, it cannot be
Not aware of the possibility of accepting the teaching of evil spirits
in their minds, Christians assume that anything which has suddenly
burst upon them while in meditation is their own new discovery of
faith. They write and preach these ideas as the fruits of their
research. Upon hearing or reading these teachings, people marvel at the
cleverness of these Christians. But do they perceive that many of these
doctrines in reality emanate from the bottomless pit?... We should not
be impressed with how excellent such sudden enlightenment may be;
rather should we ask whence this light came.
Should one's mind be passive, it will
be easy for the enemy to inject nonsensical notions into him, for
instance telling him: "You are God's special vessel" or "Your work will
shake the whole world" or "You are much more spiritual than the rest"
or "You should take another course" or "God will soon open a wide door
for your preaching" or "You should step out to live by faith" or "Your
spiritual usefulness is unlimited." Heady thoughts like these disarm
all the vigilance of the saint. He thrives day and night on these
ideas-dreaming how great and marvelous he is. Not employing the
rationalism of his mind, he fails to
realize how harmful and how laughable these notions can be in his
He indulges in them by continuously imagining
how glorious his future is going to be.
Among fellow-workers, evil spirits often sow a groundless doubt or
divisive thought in the mind of one worker so as to separate him from
the others... Actually there is no basis for such a thought.
The reason why satanic powers can impart innumerable strange dreams to
the Christian is because his mental life is passive.
At nighttime the brain is not as active as in the day, hence more
passive and more liable to being manipulated by the devil. Such night
dreams cause him to wake up the next morning with a heavy head and a
If he resists their deeds day and night he shall regain his freedom.
Especially during times of prayer, Bible reading, or listening to
messages do Christians discover their thoughts wandering. Although they
will to concentrate, they fail to do so. They may succeed for a short
while in arresting their galloping thoughts by their will, but such an
effect does not last long. Sometimes they lose all control. It is
obviously the enemy who is at work. The reason for the devil's
exertions lies in the fact that the believer has made provision in his
mind for the evil spirits.
They are usually most talkative, however. Since their heads are
bursting with thoughts, how can their mouths not be abounding with
words too? A mind which cannot listen to others but demands that others
listen to it is a sick mind. While it is true that some Christians are
talkative by nature, nevertheless, unknowingly they may in fact be
instruments in the hands of evil spirits. Many Christians are like
talking machines which are run by outside powers.
Inactivity in place of activity, disquietude instead of calm,
restlessness due to overflowing thoughts, inability to concentrate or
distinguish or remember, confusion beyond control, labors without
fruit, work-less-ness during the day and dreams and visions in the
night, insomnia, doubts, unwatchfulness, fear without reason,
disturbance to the point of agony-one and all are nefariously inspired
by the evil spirits.
way of deliverance
Once knowing the truth and acknowledging that his mind has never been
released or, only partially released from the power of darkness, the
child of God naturally will rise up to do battle against the evil
spirits in order that their stronghold in him may be overthrown. Then and there be learns that the weapons
of war must be spiritual, for fleshly ones avail him nothing.
cannot free himself by making resolutions or by adopting measures to
improve his memory or thinking.
Now begins the war for liberation of the mind. Is the Christian content
to remain the stronghold of the evil spirits?
He must choose whether to offer himself wholly to God or allow his
thinking apparatus to remain a concession of Satan's.
He must make the choice, else there can be no possibility of
deliverance. To be sure, any decision for God does not then signify be
has already overcome. It only indicates whether he is really opposing
the attack of the enemy.
"Consider yourselves dead to sin" must be followed by "let not sin
therefore reign in your mortal bodies" (Rom. 6:11-12). Following the
change of mentality there must be the bringing of "every thought
captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). The mind must be renewed
completely, since any residue of its carnality is hostile to God.
If you perform your part, God will fulfill His. And once you put off
specifically, you should just as thoroughly believe that God will renew
your mind, despite the fact you know not how.
Many may boast in the depth of their Bible knowledge and in the
excellency of their theological tenets, but those with spiritual
discernment are aware that it is dead.
Upon recognizing the staleness of his mind and being willing to put it
off by the cross, the Christian now should practice denying all carnal
Patiently and decisively must the Christian examine every one of his
thoughts but in the light of God.
Christians must bring all these thoughts captive to obey Christ.
To secure one's freedom the Christian must experience God's light which
is God's truth.
The devil abhors light and truth because these remove the ground of his
The believer at minimum can declare by his will that he wants the
truth, that he wants to know and obey the truth. By prayer and by
choice of will he ought to resist every satanic lie, whatever form it
may take a thought, an imagination or an argument.
For this reason he must scrutinize every notion lest he unconsciously
furnish new ground to the evil spirits before the old is wholly
recovered... He should not abandon hope if his head is full of
despondent thoughts; neither should he be elated if it is filled with
The believer in addition should assail the lies of the evil spirits.
Every suggestion from the enemy must be met resolutely with the truth
of the Bible. Answer doubts with the texts of faith; respond to despair
with words of hope; reply to fear with words of peace. If he does not
know the appropriate verse, let him pray for direction... Victory is
obtained by wielding the Sword of the Spirit.
During the struggle he must never forget the position of the cross. He
must stand on Romans 6:11, reckoning himself dead to sin but alive to
God in Christ Jesus.
As the believer retrieves the ground inch by inch, the effect gradually
will be manifested. Although at the beginning situations may appear to
turn worse as he attempts to recover, nonetheless if he persists he
shall witness the adversary steadily losing his power.
laws of the mind
If the Christian does not relentlessly oppose his traditional way of
thinking he shall unconsciously turn back to it. As he needs to deny
the work of the flesh and daily follow the spirit, so he must resist
the old mental way and daily think according to the renewed mind.
The Holy Spirit moves in our spirit, producing in us a spiritual sense;
afterwards we exercise our brain to study and to understand the meaning
of this sense. It requires the cooperation of both spirit and mind to
comprehend fully the will of God. The spirit enables our inner man to
know, while the mind causes our outer man to understand.
We consistently ought to refuse to allow the mind to serve as the prime
element for receiving God's will, yet we must not inhibit it from
serving as the secondary apparatus for understanding that will.
Whatever the mind sets
itself on is what the man walks after. If it occupies itself with the flesh, we
walk after that; conversely, if it sets itself upon the spirit, we follow after
it. It is therefore unnecessary to ask whether or not we are walking after the
If our brain is full of prejudice towards the truth or
towards the preacher, truth will not enter it nor will it extend to our life.
No wonder some believers derive no help already have they decided what they
would like to read or hear.
If the mind is open the individual will soon perceive the preciousness
of a truth which initially appeared rather dull to him but now is illumined by
the spirit's light.
Although he may not have at his command the proper words to explain it,
yet inwardly he has understood perfectly.
Every part of the Christian's life needs to be under reins; that
includes the mind even following its renewal. We ought not toss the reins to it
lest the evil spirits take advantage. Let us remember that thought is the seed
of action. Carelessness here invariably leads to sin there. An idea sown will
eventually grow, however prolonged such growth may require. We can trace all
our presumptuous and unconscious sins to those seed thoughts we allowed to be
Hence Peter exhorts us to "gird up (our) minds" (I Peter 1:13), by
which he means to say that we must regulate all our thoughts and never let them
He should not allow his mind to drift off at
random lest he provide opportunity for the evil spirits to work. It must not be
lazy, doing nothing; rather should it always be functioning actively. Even
after the Christian has received revelation in the spirit, he still needs to
exercise his intellect to examine, to test, and to ascertain whether this is of
God or of himself.
An unpeaceful mind cannot
Hence the Apostle teaches us to "have no anxiety about anything" (Phil.
4:6). Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise. Let the peace
of God maintain your heart and mind (v. 7).
The head needs to be kept in a humble state. A proud thought easily
leads one astray. Any self-righteous, self-important or self sufficient notion
can bring in error. Some have a background of extensive knowledge and yet they
fall into self-deceit because they think too much and too highly of themselves.
Any who genuinely desires to serve the Lord must do so "with all lowliness of
mind" (Acts 20:19 ASV).
A believers will
Our emotion merely expresses bow
we feel; our mind simply tells us what we think; but our will communicates what
we want. Hence, it is the most influential component of our entire person.
Many commit the error of treating "religion" as a matter of emotion;
they believe that it merely soothes and gladdens men's emotions.
This is true with respect to salvation. When man lives carnally even his
desire to be saved is not acceptable to God. We read in the Gospel of John that
"to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become
children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor
of the will of man, but of God" (1:12-13). Man is not regenerated because he
wills it so. He must be born of God. Nowadays Christians entertain the
incorrect concept that if anyone wishes to be saved and seeks the way of life
he undoubtedly will be a good disciple of Christ, for nothing can be better
than this desire. God nonetheless affirms that in this matter of regeneration
as well as in all other matters related to Him, the will of man is totally
What is salvation? It is none other than God saving man out of himself
into Himself. Salvation has two facets: a cutting off and a uniting with. What
is cut off is self; the uniting is with God.
Real greatness rests not
on how much we have but on how much we have lost.
A careful reading of the Scriptures will yield the fact that a common
denominator underlies all our sins: the principle of disobedience. Through
Adam's disobedience we perish; through the obedience of Christ we are saved.
Formerly we were sons of disobedience; today God wants us to be sons of
obedience. Disobedience means to follow one's own will; obedience means to
follow God's will. The purpose of divine salvation is to encourage us to deny
our will and be united with Him. Right there lies a big mistake among modern
Christians. They envisage spirituality to be joyous feeling or profound
Except for a believer's
unconditional surrender to God with the believer disposed to accept His will
entirely, all else which is labelled spirituality-such as holy and happy
feelings or prize-winning thoughts-is but an outward show.
He wishes His own to know that He
saves them not for their enjoyment but for His Own will.
After he has been taught in God, however, he knows that he has
come to believe in Him solely for the sake of His will. Even if, by believing,
he were to end up in hell, be would still believe in God. He is no longer
mindful of his own gain or loss. If his going to hell would glorify God, he is
ready for that. Obviously this is but a hypothetical case. Yet Christians must
understand that they live on earth not for themselves but for His will.
The departure from Sodom of the wife of
Lot, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and the blessing of Israel by
Balaam can all be regarded as obeying the will of God. All these were men and
women subdued by the Lord, not following their own opinions; even so, their
inward tendencies were not harmonious with Him; hence every one of them ended
in failure. How frequently the direction of our footsteps is correct but our
secret heart differs with God. And so we ultimately fall.
Passivity and its dangers
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos. 4-6) is certainly
applicable to our day. Christians nowadays generally are lacking in two kinds
of knowledge: (I) a knowledge of the conditions by which evil spirits work; and
(2) a knowledge of the principle of spiritual life. Ignorance here is
furnishing Satan and his evil spirits an incredible advantage and is inflicting
enormous harm on the church of God. What grieves our hearts is that, even as
folly is prevailing, Christians continue to boast of their familiarity with the
Bible and of the abundance of their experience. They do not realise that their
much so-called knowledge is mere human reasoning, quite devoid of usefulness.
Humility before the Lord and eagerness in seeking the revelation of God's
truths are almost unknown.
sin of omission which gives ground to the evil spirits is the believer's
Furthermore, God wants His own to exercise their wills
actively to co-operate with Him. This is what is implied in such Scriptures
verses as: "if any man's will is to do his will, he shall know. . ." (John
7:17) and "ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7).
God never disregards our volition.
(speaking of a passive person) He
fails to discern the lies of the evil spirits and allows himself to be further
deceived. He dare not undertake any task nor do any work because he is so
afraid, so nervous, so inarticulate, so dull in mind, or so weak in body.
Let the Christian mark this well that once he has
perceived the will of God in his spirit's intuition his whole being needs to
be employed actively in executing God's will. He should not be passive.
The believers mistake
Should the believer neglect
the teaching of the Bible, failing to watch and pray even though trusting his
pure motive to keep him from deception, he shall be deceived.
Ignorance accounts for today's
tragic plight among the saints.
A Christian requires knowledge in order to distinguish God's working
from that of Satan's. He should know the principle of divine operation as well
as the condition for satanic operation. He who possesses such knowledge guards
himself from the powers of darkness. Since Satan assails the believer with
lies, he must be met with the truth. Because he intends to keep the believer in
darkness, he must be countered with light.
The right attitude is this: that I have my own will, yet I will the will of
Christian should not follow his own thought, feeling or preference
nevertheless after he has received revelation in his spirit he ought to execute
with his mind, emotion and will this charge which has come to his spirit.
True humility is able to look at God and proceed on.
Knowing the truth concerning the
deep workings of the evil spirit helps the individual not only to overcome sins
but to eliminate unnecessary afflictions as well.
The path to freedom
God can perform wonders, but so
can evil spirits imitate! How crucial for us to distinguish what is of God from
what is not of God. If one has not died to his emotional life but earnestly
seeks sensational events, he will be easily duped.
One encounters no difficulty in accepting that truth which is agreeable;
but it is not easy at all to take in a truth which blasts one's ego.
The child of God
must be willing to know all the truth concerning himself. This requires
humility and sincerity.
Thus one's experience here is to (a)
acknowledge that a believer is open to deception; (b) admit that he too is
subject to duplicity; (c) confess that he is deceived; and next (d) further
inquire as to why he was beguiled.
Generally speaking, whatever the believer fears to hear will probably
pertain to the ground given the enemy. What he is afraid to deal with is the
very item he should dispense with, for nine out of ten times the enemy has
established his footing right there.
During the battle it is positively essential that the believer stand on
Romans 6:11, acknowledging himself as one with the Lord: the Lord's death is
his death. Such faith releases him from the authority of the evil spirits since
they can have no power over the dead.
If the Christian patiently endures temporary discomforts and
courageously exercises his volition to recapture surrendered territory, he
shall find himself progressively being freed. Little by little as the ground is
refused to the enemy and restored to the believer the degree of penetration
will correspondingly decrease.
The obedience of the Christian to God ought to be unconditional.
in the practice of obedience the believer goes through the following steps: (a)
willingness to do God's will (John 7:17); (b) revelation of that will to his
intuition by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:17); (c) strengthening by God to will His
will (Phil. 2:13); and (d) strengthening by God to do His will (Phil. 2:13).
God first works in us to will and then works in us to work for His good
pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
If we know that the aim of the Holy Spirit is to
lead man to the place of self-control, we shall not fall into passivity but
shall make good progress in spiritual life.
"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).
"take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).
And "set your minds on things that are above" (Col. 3:2).
Believer and His Body / Sickness / God as the Life of the
Body / Overcoming Death
Formerly both the spirit and the body were dead; now the spirit is
quickened, leaving only the body dead. The estate common to every believer is
that his body is dead but his spirit is alive.
This is because our physical
frame is still the "body of sin": no matter how advanced a Christian's
spiritual walk is, his flesh is nonetheless the "body of sin." We have yet to
possess a resurrected, glorious, spiritual frame; " the redemption of our
bodies" (Rom. 8:23) awaits us in the future.
"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your
mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you" (v:11). Verse 10
explains how God quickens our spirit; this verse tells us how God gives life to
Are there not many whose spiritual life is
endangered by their physical condition-many who fall because of their physical
weakness-many who cannot work actively for God because of the bondage of
True, we should eat when hungry, drink when thirsty,
rest when weary, clothe ourselves when cold. Yet we must not permit these
affairs to penetrate so deeply into our hearts that we make them partial or
total objectives in our life. We must not love these necessaries. They should
come and go according to need: they should not stay ill us and become desires
love of sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane and the Lord's endurance of hunger by
the well of Sychar present a contrasting picture of defeat and victory over the
legitimate requirement of the body.
If the Holy Spirit were to
grant health and strength to us who have not offered ourselves wholeheartedly
to God, would that not bolster us to live more energetically for ourselves?
Innumerable Christians seeking the Holy Spirit as life for their mortal frames
should now see that they do not have this experience because they have
neglected this essential point.
Numerous Christians do not know how to glorify God in their eating and
drinking. They do not eat and drink simply to keep their body fit for the
Lord's use but indulge to satisfy their personal desires. We should understand
that the body is for the Lord and not for ourselves; hence we should refrain
from using it for our pleasure. Food ought not hinder our fellowship with God
since it is to be taken purely to preserve the body in health.
The Apostle mentions the subject of immorality too. This
is a sin which defiles the body: it directly contravenes the principle that
"the body is for the Lord." Immorality here includes not just looseness outside
the marriage relationship but overindulgence within marriage as well. The body
is for the Lord, wholly for the Lord, not for oneself.
Many saints today are stricken with sickness, weakness and
suffering; God is chastening them that they may present their bodies to Him a
God gives His Own Self totally to us
that we may offer ourselves completely to Him.
Irrespective of how we physiologically are made,
even possessing special weaknesses, we can overcome our sins through the Lord.
It is impossible to experience the Lord for the
body if we use our bodies according to our wants and for our pleasure instead
of presenting them for living entirely unto the Lord.
"Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is
outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body" (1 Cor. 6:18). The
Bible considers immorality or fornication as more serious than other sins
because it has a special relationship to our bodies which are the members of
"You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So
glorify God in your body" (v.19-20).