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

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If a believer wants to walk according to the spirit, he must renounce a life of feeling. One who walks according to the spirit must walk by faith. To walk according to the spirit is to renounce the pleasant feeling which the flesh holds on to, demands, and desires, which the believer regards as crutches and security in all his activity. When a believer walks according to the spirit, he does not fear the absence of any supportive feeling or the presence of any opposing feeling. Once his faith weakens, however, and he does not walk according to the spirit, he will seek things which he can see, feel, and touch to support him. Whenever the spiritual life is weak, feeling will replace intuition in taking the lead. A believer who lives by his feeling will come to realize that he was after a pleasant feeling in the beginning. Eventually, he will seek the help of the world. If you cannot reject the pleasant effect of feeling, it will lead you to rely on the world. Feeling must have the world as its resting place. Therefore, emotional believers often resort to their own ways, seeking help from men. To be led by the spirit more than anything else requires faith because the intuition’s leading is often contrary to one’s feeling. Those without faith cannot go on. Soulish believers simply cease to serve God the moment they feel discouraged. However, believers who live according to faith do not wait until they are excited to work; rather, they ask God to increase the strength of their spirit so that they can overcome the sense of discouragement.


This life of faith may be called a life of the will. Faith is not mindful of emotion. Therefore, during periods of dryness it comes forth through the decision of the will and wants to walk according to the will of God. Although the believer may not feel that he should obey God, nevertheless, he wants to obey Him. Here we see two kinds of Christians: one who lives by feeling and the other who lives by the will (referring to the renewed will). The believer who lives by feeling obeys God only when he gets help from feeling, that is, when he feels happy. On the other hand, the believer who lives by the will obeys God whatever the environment and feeling. Our will expresses the opinion of our true self, whereas our feeling is just a reaction to an outward stimulus. Hence, a believer who does the will of God only when he feels happy is not of much value to God, because he is stirred by God’s joy to do God’s will and not by his sincerity. If he is willing and resolves to do God’s will even when he does not feel any amount of happiness or pleasant sensation to help him go on, God considers this truly valuable because it comes out of the believer’s sincerity. It is an indication that he respects and surrenders to God, not caring or living for himself. This is the difference between a spiritual believer and a soulish one. A soulish believer obeys God only when what he feels is sufficient to satisfy his desire. This gives the self primary consideration. A spiritual believer is fully in union with God in his renewed will. He obeys God’s arrangement; even though he does not receive any external help, he remains steadfast.

What is there to boast of if we obey God to the end while we feel physically and emotionally comfortable? What is there to boast of if we obey the Lord while we are receiving God’s comfort in our suffering? It is valuable to God when we suffer and do not feel His comfort, love, help, presence, and joy and yet still decide to obey Him and do His will.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 30, by Watchman Nee)