ANSWER TO BROTHER WEN CHING YI
To Mr. Watchman:
I have already believed in Christ and am truly a child of God. But after believing, I realize that sufferings often come to individuals, misfortunes often come to families, and temptations and persecutions often arise. I do not know whether all these are the discipline of God or the attacks of Satan. What is God’s discipline like? What is the work of Satan like? I do not understand yet. Please sir, give me definite and detailed instructions in the Lord. (Parts omitted.)
Wen Ching Yi
Brother Ching Yi:
God’s discipline and Satan’s attacks do not look much different from the outside. This means that any matter which befalls us does not look much different outwardly. It means that sufferings, hardships, temptations, and attacks which come because of God’s discipline are not different outwardly from the sufferings, hardships, temptations, and attacks which come from the attack of Satan. So how can we differentiate them? To differentiate them, we must ask who is behind these sufferings, hardships, temptations, and attacks. From the Bible, we see that God does not give these things directly to people. Satan is the one who gives them directly to people. Thus, when God disciplines people, He takes advantage of the work of Satan. Therefore, in Satan’s work we see the discipline of God, and in God’s discipline it is not hard to find Satan’s work.
So what should our attitude toward these two matters be? First Peter 5:6-9 and James 4:7 teach us concerning this. These two passages of the Bible tell us to obey God and resist the devil. Please pay attention to the fact that the sequence in both passages is to obey God first and then resist the devil. Therefore, when we uncover any situation, we must never complain. We must not use our fleshly hands to quickly save ourselves from this situation. We should not do this. We should first humble ourselves before God, confessing that we accept this kind of situation because we have sinned. Furthermore, we should ask God to show us why He gave us this kind of situation and what teaching or lessons He wants us to learn from it. After we become clear, we should submit to these lessons. Then we should resist the works of Satan.
Please remember that we must come to this stage before we resist Satan. But when we have arrived at this stage we must resist Satan. If we do not resist Satan after we have obeyed God, we give ground to Satan. God is the disciplining Father, and the works of Satan are the whipping rod in His hand. If we do not obey God before we resist Satan, we are telling God that we are not willing to change according to His will and that we are trying to break the whipping rod in His hand. On the surface, it appears that we are resisting Satan, but actually we are resisting God. If we have obeyed God and do not resist Satan, it means that we have changed according to God’s will, but we are still receiving His whipping. Please remember that the whip in God’s hand is with a purpose. The devil wants us to continue to suffer after we have obeyed, so we must resist. (Parts omitted.)
The slave of Christ,
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 25: Collection of Newsletters (1), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)