Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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There is a two-step endeavor in the union of the will with God. One step is for God to subdue the activities of our will; the other step is for God to subdue the life of our will. Often our will is subdued by God only in certain particular matters. In these matters we think that we have completely submitted to God. However, there is still a secret tendency for our will to become active once given the chance. God not only wants our will to be restricted by Him in the aspect of its activities, He also wants the tendency of our will to be completely broken, smashed, and destroyed as if its very nature is changed. Strictly speaking, a submissive will and a harmonious will are different. Submission is only in the aspect of activities, but harmony is in the aspect of life, nature, and tendency. A servant, who fulfills all the orders of his master, merely has a submissive will. The will of a son who is intimately sympathetic towards his parents’ heart is harmonious with his father’s will because he not only does what he should do, but he also delights in doing it. A submissive will merely stops its own activities, but a harmonious will is one with God and is of the same heart as God. A will that is in complete harmony with God is one in which one’s whole heart is placed in the will of God. Only those who are in harmony with God can truly comprehend God’s heart. If a believer has not reached the point where his will and God’s will are in complete harmony, he has not yet experienced the highest point of the spiritual life. Submission to God is good, but when grace has completely overcome the natural disposition, the believer will be in complete harmony with God. Indeed, the union of the will is the highest point of the believer’s experience of life.

Many people think that they already have totally lost their will. Little do they know that they are actually far from it. In all the temptations and trials, they only see the submissive will, not the harmonious will. The submissive will is the will without resistance, not the will without the self. Who does not want to gain something for himself, to reserve something for himself? Who does not want to have gold, silver, honor, freedom, happiness, convenience, high position and a little of whatever? A person may think that his heart does not care for these things. But while he still has them, he does not realize how tightly he is bound by them. Only when he is about to lose them will he realize how much he is unwilling to part with them. Sometimes a submissive will is quite compatible with the will of God. But at other times, a person feels that in the life of his own will he is struggling severely against God’s will. If not for the work of God’s grace, it would be hard to overcome.

Hence, a submissive will is still not perfect. Although the will has been broken and no longer has the strength to resist God, it has not reached the point of being one with God. We admit that reaching the point of not being able to resist is already a great mercy of God. Generally speaking, a submissive will is already dead. Strictly speaking, however, it still has a thread of unbroken life within it. There is still a kind of hidden inclination within, affectionately desiring the former way. Hence, it seems that we are quick, happy, and diligent to fulfill God’s will in some matters more than in others. In both cases we are fulfilling God’s will, but there is a difference in the degree of personal preference. If the self-life is indeed put to death completely, the believer will see that he holds the same attitude in all matters concerning the fulfillment of God’s will. The difference in slowness, fastness, bitterness, happiness, as well as the difference in the effort we apply, indicates that our will is not yet in harmony with God.

The two conditions of the will may be illustrated by the examples of Lot’s wife, the Israelites’ coming out of Egypt, and the prophet Balaam. In the experience of Lot’s wife coming out of Sodom, the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, and Balaam’s blessing of the Israelites, they were all carrying out God’s will. They were all subdued by God and not acting according to their own will. Yet the inclination within them was not one with God. Therefore, the results were all failures. Even when the direction of our steps is right, our heart is often privately not in harmony with God. As a result, we become fallen.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 35, by Watchman Nee)