The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, by Watchman Nee


Let us consider a few practical matters. First, in the matter of preaching, we often preach earnestly, persuasively, and logically. Yet within us we are ice cold. We try to convince others, but we cannot even convince ourselves. The outer man is working, but the inner man does not join in. The outer man and the inner man do not match; they are not in unison. The outer man is excited, but the inner man remains ice cold. We tell others how great the Lord’s love is, but we do not have the slightest feeling within us. We can tell others of the pain of the cross, but when we return to our room, we have no problem laughing. It is a hopeless situation when the outer man and the inner man are not in union. The outer man may be working, but the inner man is not moving at all. This is the first condition: The mind and emotions are working, but the spirit is not. The outer man acts, but the inner man does not respond. It is as if the inner man is a spectator of the outer man’s performance. The outer man remains the outer man, and the inner man remains the inner man. The two are not in harmony.

At other times, the inner man can be very desperate; it wants to cry out, but it cannot utter anything. Whatever is said just beats around the bush. The more desperate the inner man becomes, the colder the outer man is. The person may want to speak, but nothing comes out. He sees a sinner and wants to cry, but no tears come out. He has an earnestness to shout on the platform, but the outer man is nowhere to be found. This is a great suffering. This frustration is the result of the outer man not being broken. As a result, the inner man is not released. When the outer shell remains, the outer man does not take orders from the inner man. When the inner man weeps, the outer man does not weep. When the inner man grieves, the outer man does not grieve. The inner man may have much to say, but the outer man does not direct its thoughts to convey them. The inner man may have many feelings, but they cannot be expressed. The spirit cannot break the outer shell.

The above descriptions fit the condition of those whose outer man is not broken. Either their spirit does not move and the outer man acts alone, or their spirit moves but the outer man blocks its passage. Therefore, the breaking of the outer man is the first lesson confronting everyone who desires to enter the service of the Lord. The fundamental training for every servant of God is to allow his inner man to come out of his outer man. Every true servant of God does not allow his outer thoughts and emotions to act independently. When his inner man needs to be released, the outer man affords a channel; the spirit can break out of the outer man to reach others. If we have not learned this lesson, our effectiveness in the work is very limited. May the Lord bring us to the place where our outer man is broken. May God show us the way to become broken before the Lord.

Once we are broken, all performances and acts will cease. We will no longer be excited outwardly and indifferent inwardly. When we have proper feelings and utterances inwardly, we will act accordingly outwardly. Nor will we experience the embarrassment of the inner man trying to weep while the outer man is unable to shed any tears. We will not complain of having things to say inwardly yet going around in circles and not being able to say them outwardly. Poverty of thoughts will not occur, and we will not need to use twenty words to utter what can be said in two words. Our mind will aid the spirit instead of frustrating it. Our emotions can be a very strong shell as well. Many people want to rejoice but cannot rejoice. They want to weep but cannot weep. The outer man will not respond. But if the Lord renders a heavy blow to the outer man through the discipline or enlightening of the Holy Spirit, they will be able to rejoice when they need to rejoice and grieve when they need to grieve. Their spirit will be released liberally and freely.

The breaking of the outer man leads to the free release of the spirit. The free release of the spirit is not only necessary to our work; it is profitable to our personal walk as well. If the spirit is released, we can constantly abide in God’s presence. If the spirit is released, we spontaneously touch the spirit of inspiration that lies behind the Bible. We spontaneously receive revelation through the exercise of our spirit. If the spirit is released, we spontaneously will have power in our testimony when we deliver God’s word with our spirit. We will also experience this in our preaching of God’s word, that is, in ministering God’s word to others as a minister of the word. Moreover, if our spirit is released, we will touch others’ spirits with our spirit. When a person comes and speaks to us, we will be able to "measure him" with our spirit. We will know the kind of person he is, the kind of attitude he has, the kind of Christian life he lives, and the kind of needs he has. Our spirit will be able to touch his spirit. If our spirit is free and released, it will be easy for others to touch our spirit; our spirit will become very touchable. With some people, we can only touch their thoughts, emotions, or will; we cannot touch their spirit. They are Christians, and we are Christians, but after we sit down and talk for two or three hours, we still cannot touch them. Their outer shell is very hard, and no one can touch their inward condition. When the outer man is broken, the spirit will be open and free to flow to others, and when the spirit is open and free, others can easily touch it.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)