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


The Lord breaks our outer man in two ways. First, He breaks it in a cumulative way, and second, He breaks it in a sudden way. The Lord gives some people a sudden breaking first, followed by more gradual breakings; the sudden work comes first and the cumulative work follows. Other people face situations and problems every day. Then one day, they suddenly receive one great blow from the Lord; the cumulative work comes first and the sudden work follows. These are different patterns of breaking that we ordinarily experience. Either the sudden breaking comes, followed by the cumulative breaking, or it is the other way around. Generally speaking, even with those who have not deviated and detoured, the Lord has to spend a few years before He can complete this breaking work.

We cannot reduce the time this breaking takes, but we can extend this time. The Lord completes the work in some in a few years. However, with others, the work is not completed after ten or twenty years. This is a very solemn matter! Nothing is more pitiful than wasting God’s time. Too often the church is deprived of blessing because of us! We can preach with our mind and incite people with our emotion, but we cannot exercise our spirit. God cannot use His Spirit to touch others through us. When we delay the work, we incur great loss.

If we have never consecrated ourselves to the Lord in a thorough way in the past, we have to do it now. We have to say, "Lord, for the sake of the church, for the going on of the gospel, for You to have a way, and for the sake of my going on in my own life, I commit myself unreservedly and unconditionally to Your hand. Lord, I gladly put myself in Your hand. I am willing to let You find a way to release Yourself through me."


We have heard about the cross for a long time. We may be very familiar with it already, but what is the cross? The meaning of the cross is the breaking of the outer man. The cross puts the outer man to death and breaks open the shell. The cross destroys everything of the outer man. It destroys our opinions, methods, wisdom, self-love, and everything. Once the outer man is broken, the inner man is released, and the spirit is able to function. The way before us is very clear indeed.

Once our outer man is broken, it becomes easy to release our spirit. One brother has a good mind; those who know him all acknowledge this. His will is strong and his emotions are reserved and deep. Yet when others meet him, they realize that they are touching his spirit, not his strong will, good mind, or reserved and deep emotions. Every time others fellowship with him, they touch a spirit, a pure spirit because this man is broken. Another sister is quick. Everyone who knows her realizes this. She is quick in thoughts, quick in words, quick to confess, quick to write, and quick to throw away what she has written. But when others meet her, they do not touch her quickness but her spirit. Her very person has been broken. The breaking of the outer man is a very fundamental issue. We cannot hold on to our weaknesses all the time. We cannot have the same flavor after the Lord has dealt with us for five or ten years. We must allow the Lord to have a way through us. This is the Lord’s basic requirement of us.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)