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Watchman 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 ("Against 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 glorify 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.




"The Spiritual Man"
                   - Watchman Nee

Excerpts/Quotes


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)


Volume 1

PART 1 INTRODUCTION ON SPIRIT,SOUL,AND BODY

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 Soul


Volume 2

1The Holy Spirit and the Believer's Spirit / 2 A Spiritual Man / 3 Spiritual Work / 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 SOUL-EMOTION

1 The Believer and Emotion / 2 Affection / 3 Desire / 4 A Life of Feeling / 5 The Life of Faith


Volume 3

PART EIGHT: THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL - THE MIND

1 The Mind a Battlefield / 2 The Phenomena of a Passive Mind / 3 The Way of Deliverance / 4 The Laws of the Mind

PART NINE: THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL - THE WILL

1 A Believer's Will / 2 Passivity and Its Dangers / 3 The Believer's Mistake / 4 The Path to Freedom

PART TEN: THE BODY

1 The Believer and His Body / 2 Sickness / 3 God as the Life of the Body  / 4 Overcoming Death






Spirit, Soul 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" (Rom. 10:10).

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.



Salvation

It is imperative that man 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 Jesus.

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.


The flesh 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 another.

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.


The cross and the Holy Spirit

We should realize that the Bible never tells us to have ourselves 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 flesh experimentally.

According to the Bible the works of the "flesh" are of two kinds (though both are of the flesh): the unrighteous and the self-righteous. 

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.


The 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 its center.

Obviously such deeds do not bring people to God; instead they puff up the self.

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. 


The 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 serve God.

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 cross.

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.


Deliverance 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 futile.

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 Spirit.

...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 experiences.

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.


The 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 way.

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 high-sounding 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 they 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.  By 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 deliverance.

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.


The 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 flinching.

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 our life!

All the energies generated in the soul including talent, gift, knowledge and wisdom, cannot enable believers to bear spiritual fruit. 

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 dead persons? 



Spiritual 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 up-and-down existence.

The mind, if overly active, may affect and disturb the quietness of the spirit.

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 submit 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 daily path.

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 spirit

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 spirit.

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 faith.  It 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 can
equally transform the fleshly Christian into a spiritual one by giving him
His life more abundantly.

Faith in Christ makes one a regenerated believer; obedience to the Holy
Spirit makes him a spiritual believer.

Just as the right relationship with Christ generates a Christian, so the
proper relationship with the Holy Spirit breeds a spiritual man.

A spiritual Christian must experimentally know the Holy Spirit in his
spirit.

The union is one of spirits with no place for the natural.  Should it be
mixed in with the spirit it will cause impurity to the union of spirits. 
Any action taken according to our thought, opinion or feeling can weaken the
experimental side of this union.

By accepting His death as our death we enter into this union with the Lord.

Henceforth we are dead to everything pertaining to ourselves and alive to
His Spirit alone.  This requires our exercising faith.

Our inner being is in ascendancy, far above any obstacle or disturbance. 
Yes, it is continually free and fresh and discerns everything with the
transparent sight of heaven.  How radically different this life of heaven on
earth is from one that is swayed by emotion.

Only as they cease to seek anything by themselves and only as they take the
position of the teachable shall they be taught by the Spirit truth which
they are able to digest.

Christians should not be content merely with knowing mentally the doctrine
of the Holy Spirit as given in the Bible; they also need to know Him
experimentally.

The Apostle put to those at Corinth this question: "Do you not know that
God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).  Paul seemed to be surprised at
their ignorance of such a sure fact.  He viewed the indwelling of the Holy
Spirit as the foremost consequence of salvation, so how could they miss it?

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 emotions are
quite high, passionate, and willing, they find themselves unable to serve
the Lord because now the body reacts lazily... The disciples found
themselves in precisely that situation in the Garden of Gethsemane: "the
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 spirit is
capable of praying much and praying with all perseverance until the answer
comes.  A weak one grows weary and fainthearted in the maintenance of
praying.

In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the Holy
Spirit, the children of God must discharge their responsibility.  They need
to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in their
life, be willing to obey fully God's will, and believe through prayer that
He will flood their spirit with His power.

Furthermore, through the believer's spirit the Holy Spirit is able to impart
God's life to thirsty and dying men.  However, this filling of the Holy
Spirit differs from the baptism with the Holy Spirit, because the latter is
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 the
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 person
who gains assurance by grasping the things which can be seen and felt; but
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 human
opposition.  He can trust God even in utter darkness for he has faith in
God.  Because he does not depend upon himself, he can trust the unseen power
more than his own visible power.

Those who follow the Lord must be brought to the place of no confidence in
the flesh.  They must confess they can originate no good idea and must admit
they possess no power to fulfill the Holy Spirit's work.  All thought,
cleverness, knowledge, talent and gift-which the world superstitiously
worships-must be set aside in order to enable one to trust the Lord wholly. 
The Lord's people should persistently acknowledge their own unworthiness and
incompetency.

Hence the emotion, mind and will remain in a spiritual man but are subject
entirely to the guidance of the intuition... The emotion now rejoices solely
in what the spirit likes, loves only what the spirit directs, feels merely
what the spirit permits.  It has become its life: when the spirit stirs,
emotion responds.

The mind of the spiritual man likewise cooperates with the spirit, wandering
no more as in the past.  It does not object to the spirit's revelation by
raising its reason and argument, neither does it disturb the peace of the
spirit with many confused thoughts.


Spiritual Work

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.

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 satisfaction.

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 it.

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 Spirit.

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 temperament.

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 believing.

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.


Prayer and warfare

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 Spirit.

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 misconception.

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 powers.

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 happiness. 


Intuition

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 through revelation.

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 realities. 

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.


Communion

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 drastically wrong.

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 (James 1:5).

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.


Conscience

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 conscience.

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 way.

Let us therefore not deceive ourselves.  In walking according to the spirit we shall hear the direction of conscience.  Do not try to escape any inward reproach; rather, be attentive to its voice.

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.

Only 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.

Sins must be treated progressively one by one until all have been eliminated.

Whenever a believer is therefore reproved by his conscience his immediate response should be: "Lord, I am willing to obey."

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.

Many 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.  

We must be very careful here, however, lest we exalt our "self" as though we have pleased God.  All glory belongs to Him.

Confessing our sin and trusting in the precious blood are unavoidable.

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 faith.

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 with Him?

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.

Yet, 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 conscience.

Just as a limited knowledge fails to judge what ought to be judged, so it may also judge what should not be judged.  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 position.

They felt uneasy when eating it.  Because their conscience was weak while eating the food, they were defiled (1 Cor. 8:7).

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. 

Countless are those Christians who have disregarded their conscience in the past and are now unlively, merely holding some dead knowledge in their brain.


The Dangers of Spiritual Life

There 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 occurrences.

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.

Soulish 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 God.

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.

The gospel we preach must not be just something we hear from men or read from books or even conceive
d through our meditation.  Unless it is delivered to us by God, it can serve no spiritual utility.

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 confidence.

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 use?"

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 Scripture.

A little carelessness brings in defeat.


The laws of the Spirit

A Christian should know more about the operation of his spirit than about the activity of his mind.

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 long.

Never adopt an attitude of indifference, for if you do you will suffer for it.  The weight will grow heavier and heavier.

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...

He must wholeheartedly oppose the work of the adversary in both his soul and body.

The best thing for the saint to do is to claim the victorious name of the Lord Jesus over every onslaught of the enemy.

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.

Frequently 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 life.

The spiritual person, however, doe s not consider the things of God as his own but loves the whole church in his heart.

Often Satan injects pride into the believer's spirit, evoking in him an attitude of self-importance and of self-conceit..  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. 16:18).

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.

The 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.

Everything 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.

The burdens 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.

The burden imparted by God is lifted once we have prayed, but the heaviness from the enemy cannot be raised unless we fight and resist in prayer.

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 us. 

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.

Genuine spiritual work is aggressive towards Satan and travails in birth for believers.  These in no wise can be termed joyous undertakings.

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.

A spiritual Christian should welcome any burden which the Lord brings his way.

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 tide.   These are of course but feelings; they do no represent the reality of spiritual life.


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 darkness.

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 Satan.  Or He may want us to intercede for all sinners worldwide for the entire church. 

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.


The 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 contrition.  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 desires.

Lowliness is not looking down on one's self; rather is it a not looking at one's self at all. 

A lowly spirit is demonstrated when one associates with the poor.  It is this spirit alone which does not despise any who are created by God.  God's presence and glory is manifested in the life of the spiritually humble.

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 endlessly.  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 state.

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.

The 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 God.

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...

Towards 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 center.

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 withdrawal.

We must have a spirit of power towards the enemy, a spirit of love towards men, and a spirit of self-control towards ourselves.

"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 of God.

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."

May we henceforth praying spirit and with understanding, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)


The believer and emotion

Feeling comprises such a vast area of our existence that most carnal Christians belong to the emotional type.

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 principle.

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 love.

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 unstable.

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 existence.

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.

The Lord's 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.

Anyone who acts from emotion cares neither for principle nor for reason but only for his feeling.

What an enemy emotion can be to spiritual life!

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 unreliable.

Similarly, one should refrain from doing anything which might stir up his emotion unnecessarily.

A Christian 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 man.

In committing our soul to the cross we must remember that what is lost is the soul life, not its function.


Affection

Yet 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 loss.

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. 73:25).

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. 

Moreover, when 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 one.

Actually, only God can satisfy a Christian's heart; man cannot.

If we genuinely have undergone death we will not be attached to anyone but will be guided solely by the command of God.

God will then direct us how in Him to renew our love for men.

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 unmanageable.

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 affection.

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 affection.

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 soul.

A worker in his work and while at work needs to watch lest the thought of the opposite sex makes its intrusion.

An 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 today!

How transcendent is a spiritual man!  He walks far above human natural affection.


Desire

When 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 own.

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 ourselves!

The more a person is spiritual the more real he becomes, for he has been united with God and is at rest.

How 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 must!

The spirit life commences with God and finds in Him its all sufficiency.  The power to welcome and endure solitude is the spirit’s power.

Our Lord's aim is to destroy absolutely the believer's craving for, anything besides Himself.

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 humiliation.

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 their wishes.

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 Feeling

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 feeling.

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 Faith

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 death.


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 battlefield


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 (Acts 11:18).

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" (Luke 8:12).

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 stopped immediately.

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.


The 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 confused.

His mind is like a perpetual motion machine: once begun, it cannot be halted.

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 spiritual walk. 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 despondent spirit.

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.



The 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. He 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 thoughts daily.

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 working.

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 exalted ideas.

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.


The 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 spirit.

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 planted before.

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 run wild.

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 operate normally. 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 non-efficacious.

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 knowledge.

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.

The particular sin of omission which gives ground to the evil spirits is the believer's passivity.

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 God.

While a 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.

Wherefore 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).


Hence 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).



The 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 our body.

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 illness?

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 within.

The Disciples' 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 living sacrifice.

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 Christ.

"You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (v.19-20).