The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, by Watchman Nee


After the outer man is broken, how does a man approach God’s Word, how does he serve as a minister of His word, and how does he preach the gospel? Let us turn our attention to these questions.

Studying the Word

One undeniable fact in studying God’s Word is that the kind of person we are determines the kind of Bible we have in our hands. A man often approaches the Bible with his rebellious, confused, and seemingly clever mind. What he gets out of the Bible is the product of his mind; he does not touch the spirit of the Word. If we want to meet the Lord through the Bible, our rebellious and uncooperative mind must be broken. If our mind is always rebellious and uncooperative, none of our cleverness will do us any good. We may think that our cleverness is outstanding, but it is a great hindrance to God. No matter how clever we are, we can never know God’s thought through our cleverness.

There are at least two things that we should do when we come to the Bible. First, our thoughts must be identified with the thoughts of the Bible. Second, our spirit must be identified with the spirit of the Bible. We have to think like the writers of the Bible. Men like Paul and John had certain thoughts behind them when they wrote the various portions of the Word. We have to get into the same thoughts. We have to begin from where they began, and develop our thoughts along the same line they developed. We have to reason the same way they reasoned, and consider the same teachings they considered. In other words, our thoughts are like a cog, and their thoughts are also like a cog. The two cogs have to interlock with one another. Our thoughts have to enter Paul’s and John’s thoughts. As our thoughts enter the Bible’s thoughts and our mentality becomes one with the mentality behind God’s inspiration, we will understand what the Bible says.

Some people read the Bible with their mind as the principal organ. They read in the hope of picking up some ideas from the thoughts in the Bible. They have a whole set of doctrines spinning in their minds already, and they only want to collect material from the Bible to strengthen their doctrines. When we stand up to speak, an experienced person, after five to ten minutes of our speaking, knows whether we are quoting Scriptures with our mind or whether our thoughts are merged with the thoughts of the Bible. These are two entirely different things. These two kinds of preaching belong to two entirely different worlds. When some stand up to preach, they may be scriptural and their sermons may be very attractive, but their thoughts are contrary to the thoughts of the Bible; the two are incompatible with each other. However, others are different. When they speak on the Bible, their thoughts are merged with the thoughts of the Bible. The two become one and are in harmony with each other. This is the right way. But not everyone can do this. In order for our thoughts to merge with the Bible’s thoughts, our outer man has to be broken. If the outer man is not broken, we cannot even read the Bible. We should not think that our study of the Bible is poor because we cannot find anyone to teach us. It is poor because our very person is wrong; our thoughts have not subjected themselves to God. As soon as we are broken, we will cease our own activity. We will not have any subjective notion of our own. Gradually, faintly, and little by little, we will touch the Lord’s thinking. We will touch the thoughts behind the writers of the Bible, and we will think as they did. The outer man must be broken before we can enter into the thoughts behind God’s Word. When this happens, the outer man is no longer a hindrance.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)