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

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If we want to walk according to the spirit, we should keep our love calm; otherwise, we cannot hear the voice of the intuition directly. If our affection is not entirely subject to God’s purpose, our heart is often disturbed. This hinders the leading of the spirit. The believer should continually pay attention in the spirit to the people and things that stimulate his affection. If Satan cannot win in other matters, he will surely tempt you in this area. I do not know how many believers have failed because of this. Therefore, we should be cautious.

Friends can stir our love more than anything else. Among friends, the opposite sex stirs us the most because males and females need to be adjusted not only physiologically but also psychologically. Since there are many differences in their natural make-up, they have the power to attract each other. This is soulish and natural and, therefore, should be rejected by the believer.

It is a fact that the opposite sex can very easily arouse love. The stimulation one receives from the same sex is much less compared to that from the opposite sex. Since there is a mutual psychological demand, this leads one to believe that people of the opposite sex are more approachable than those of the same sex. This kind of inclination is common, natural, and inherent. Therefore, love toward the opposite sex is easily kindled by just a little stirring.

All these matters refer to the natural side. Factually, this is the case. Therefore, if a believer wants to walk according to the spirit, he must pay attention to this. In our dealings with other people, especially in the matter of love, if we treat the same sex in one way and the opposite sex in another way, we should realize that we are under the working of the soul. If we treat people differently for no other reason than that they are of the opposite sex, then our affection is still natural. If the believer feels some kind of mysterious strength attracting him to someone of the opposite sex just because that person is of the opposite sex, he should know that his natural affection has been activated. Sometimes this kind of stimulation is mixed in with a purpose that is very proper. However, if there is a fraction of thought about the opposite sex mixed in with his other thoughts, the believer should realize that the relationship is not entirely spiritual.

In his work and while working, a worker should be cautious that his work is not penetrated by any thought about the opposite sex. Every desire to obtain glory among those of the opposite sex must be absolutely rejected. All the speaking and attitudes that are influenced by the opposite sex are enough to nullify true spiritual power. Everything should be done quietly and with a pure motive. Remember that not only are sins filthy, but everything of the soul is also filthy.

If so, should believers not have friends of the opposite sex? This is not the teaching of the Bible. While the Lord was on earth, He associated with Martha, Mary, and other women. The important point is whether the affection is entirely under God’s governing or whether it has the effect of the soul in it. It is normal for brothers and sisters to associate with each other. But there should not be any working of the soul or of sin. Before a believer experiences the thorough working of the cross, it is best not to have friends of the opposite sex. However, no matter what stage of growth that a believer reaches, if he seeks or longs for friends of the opposite sex, he is surely being controlled by the soul. In everything, we should submit to God’s arrangement.

In short, the believer’s love must be completely consecrated to God. Any time we feel that it is difficult for us to give up someone, we should realize that our soul-life is in control. If our love cannot submit to God’s purpose in any area, then there must be a great many unspiritual things mixed in with that area. Soulish love only leads us to the world and sins. If our affection is not of the Lord, sooner or later it will become lust. From the past to the present, Samson is not the only one who failed in this matter. Delilah continues to shave people’s hair everywhere!

We have previously said that it is very difficult for believers to consecrate in the matter of love. Therefore, the consecration of this one thing is a sign of true spirituality. The extent to which a believer dies to his affections and his seeking for love is the extent to which he is spiritual. This is the biggest test. Without dying to the affections of the world, we are not yet dead to anything. Being dead to affection is being dead to the world. Desiring friendship and a lover’s love indicates that we are not dead to the self-life. Real death to the soul- life can be seen in the giving up of our love, except the love for God. How transcendent is the spiritual man, walking above the love of man!

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 27, by Watchman Nee)