Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), by Watchman Nee


Question: Sometimes in my spirit, because of God’s mercy, I can see His hand working in every way. During these times, even though I have hardships and opposition, my heart is full of praise, thanksgiving, and joy. It is as if I desire no one besides the Lord. Sometimes I lose this kind of vision. Even though I still love the Lord and desire the Lord, my heart feels lost, as if I am in a thick fog. This kind of up-and-down living comes and goes. I hope that you will teach your foolish brother in the Lord how to keep the sight that I have received. (Lee, Anhwei)

Answer: Dear brother, I am really happy because you are now on the way to spiritual life. May God bless you. However, you should remain humble. What we need is death. If we are dead, all is well. Brother, I cannot teach you "how to keep this sight you have received." What I can say to you is that you should be willing to lose "this sight you have received." Please remember, "For we walk by faith, not by appearance" (2 Cor. 5:7). "The righteous shall have life and live by faith" (Rom. 1:17), and not by feeling or sight. Faith is to disregard feeling and sight. We need to learn to believe in the Lord even when we are in the darkness, that is, when we do not have any feeling or sight. We should live by this faith. This means that our spiritual life is one which believes in God, and not one which senses God or sees God. The spiritual life of a believer is far deeper than sight or senses. Please do not think that because you have those kinds of praises, thanksgivings, and feelings and sights of joy that you are at the height of your spiritual life. No, these are not spiritual living; these are merely what you see and feel. You may ask, "Is not a man’s life dependent on what he feels and sees?" You have to realize that these are merely the feelings in your soul; they are not your true spiritual life. The most important thing that we should know is that true spirituality depends on man’s will, rather than on his emotions. If your will consistently, constantly, and continuously (1) wills, (2) determines, and (3) chooses that which is of God and even God Himself, you are already living a spiritual life. Your emotions are unreliable. Indeed, they are like the waves. But you can abide peacefully by your will. If you seek after and grasp the sight you have received, you will be up and down all the time. What God wants to give is not a happy feeling every day. His purpose is for you to live by your will and your spirit. "I love the Lord, not because of what I feel, but because I want to love Him." Just as we would read the Bible, pray, preach, and serve the Lord when we are joyful, in the same way we should read the Bible, pray, preach, and serve Him when we do not feel anything and our heart is as cold as ice. Please understand that the most important thing is to live by the will and not by the emotions. You should never think that just because you do not have happy, wonderful feelings, you are therefore defeated. No, that is only your feeling; it is not real. I am afraid there is nothing in this world that is as undependable as our feelings. But what a pity that the thing that believers desire the most is wonderful feelings. The most deceiving thing is for a person to take his feelings as an indicator of his spiritual life. From now on, please learn to exercise your will to control your whole being and your feelings. If God rewards you with feelings, thank Him. If He does not and you feel lost at heart, go on as usual. Whatever you do when you have high feelings, do the same when you do not have these feelings. Quietly submit yourself to your will, and do not fluctuate through your feelings. Until you have overcome your habit of living by your feelings, God cannot greatly use you. He needs solid vessels, those who do not change due to circumstances. If you go on putting aside your feelings, you will find that you will live less by your feelings, and you will find your will becoming stronger and stronger.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 19, by Watchman Nee)