The Renewing of the Mind, by Watchman Nee


We should pay attention to one more matter: the trouble with man’s nous originates in man’s heart; therefore, if the nous is to be renewed, the prejudiced heart must also be corrected. Although this correcting does not mean a so-called cultivation of the heart, that idea is, nevertheless, included in this correcting. An improper motive will block the light of God. Something as tiny as a little leaf can block the sunlight. It only takes a very tiny sin to block God’s light. Most people have sin in their hearts. Once the sin in the heart is dealt with, everything else will be taken care of properly. If a believer’s heart is proper, he will be able to understand God’s will. Every believer who does not understand God’s will is in this condition because his heart was improper in the first place.

Whoever is willing to say to God, "God, if You teach me right now, I thank You; if You do not teach me right now, I will not insist," can be taught by God. When a person who has been taught by God listens to another’s preaching, he will ask, "God, am I wrong or not? Is what he said right or wrong?" The way a believer listens to a message proves whether or not his heart is proper.

The most precious thing about a renewed nous is that it can open as well as close one’s thoughts. A renewed nous, with respect to God, is able to know His will; with respect to the self, it is able to control one’s own mind and clarify his thoughts; and with respect to others, it can discern, receive, and understand the words of others.


Verse 24 reads, "And put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness of the reality." This is our conduct on the positive side. If we want to renew our nous, or have our nous renewed frequently, we must put on the new man in our experience. This also is an act of the will. What does it mean to put on the new man? Our new man, which is according to God’s image, was created in righteousness and holiness of the reality. In other words, the characteristics of the new man are righteousness and holiness of the reality. Righteousness is God’s way; holiness is God’s nature.

Concerning God, we can speak of three aspects: (1) glory, referring to God Himself; (2) holiness, referring to God’s nature; and (3) righteousness, referring to the way God acts. We were created according to God’s image, but this is limited to the aspects of God’s righteousness and holiness; we cannot be like God in His glory, since glory has to do with His Godhead. We cannot be part of this. But we have God’s righteousness and holiness. Therefore, if a believer wants to be like God, he should let God’s nature deal with him in God’s way. Today how many believers have deep feelings about sin? I am ashamed to say that my feeling about sin is not deep enough. Miss M. E. Barber deeply understood sin and God’s holiness. Usually one only senses pride or jealousy but does not know what pride and jealousy are. But if you went to Miss Barber, you would have a feeling that you otherwise would not have had. She hated sin the most, and she dealt with sin the best. She dealt with herself very strictly. As a result, she was also extremely straightforward with others. The minute one came into her presence, he realized what pride and jealousy are. She truly knew God. This is why I say that many times we cannot learn truths from a man’s preaching, but we can learn from the truth he practices.

If you yield to sin the first time, you will lose the feeling about sin the second and third time. If you call sin by the right name and acknowledge sin as sin the first time, if you have the right view and right attitude toward sin, and if you deal with sin the right way the first time, you will be able to deal with sin the next time. If you do not consider sin as sin the first time and deal with it, but rather consider losing your temper as a common thing for a Christian, you will commit the same sin the next time. Whoever does not know sin will not know holiness. What is holiness? Holiness is having the knowledge of sin. Adam and Eve were only ignorant and innocent before they sinned; they were not holy. Only those who know sin know the meaning of holiness.

What is unrighteousness? Whatever is improper is unrighteousness. Originally, I did not know what unrighteousness was. One time I saw a story in a magazine which said that there was a man who listened to someone preaching in a chapel. After he preached, the speaker walked down the aisle and sat next to the listener. While he was seating himself, he unintentionally stepped on and dirtied the raincoat of a lady sitting in front of him. He kicked the raincoat aside without removing the dirt and did not apologize to the owner of the raincoat. The listener criticized the preacher, saying it was unrighteous. What is unrighteousness? Unrighteousness is to be indebted to someone. Even if the man did not indemnify the lady, at least he should have removed the dirt for her; otherwise, before God there is an indebtedness forever.

Therefore, the nous is related to our living before God. Whenever we yield to sin, we become unrighteous. We are not able to fellowship with God, and our nous is darkened. Therefore, we should put off uncleanness, improper motives, and unrighteousness on the negative side and put on the new man on the positive side. Brothers, we must pass through this gate. The renewing of the nous is something very specific. Do not think that all that is needed is to grow gradually.

(The Renewing of the Mind, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)