DEALING WITH THE SOUL
When God works, He works with His own power. This is why we have to ask God to bind our soul. Every time we work, we must first deal with the self. We must deal with our self, and we must put our self aside. We must first lay aside our own wisdom, thoughts, talents, and virtues. We need to ask God to bind these things and say to Him, "Lord, whatever talents and abilities I have, I will not use them; I only want You to do the work. I can do nothing according to myself. I ask You to do it."
Today many co-workers think that God’s power is not sufficient, so they add some of their own power. This kind of work is not only unprofitable, but it is also damaging. Bear in mind that the work of the Holy Spirit never leaves any room for the human hand. I have always said that in God’s work we should be like a paper puppet, which has no life and which can do nothing by itself. An organic life would have to be put into it before it could work. Let us all reject the self to the extent that we are like a paper puppet, having no strength of our own. All the power must be from above, and all the methods must also be from above. Only the Spirit gives life. God works through the Spirit. If we want God to work, we must ask Him to bind our soul before He can freely work.
John 12:24-25 says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his soul-life loses it; and he who hates his soul-life in this world shall keep it unto eternal life." These two verses speak of "soul-life" two times. In Greek this refers to the soul. Whoever loves his soul-life shall lose his soul-life, and whoever loses his soul-life shall keep his soul-life unto eternal life. This is the Lord’s specific command. The Lord says this as an explanation for His words in verse 24: "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Something must die before certain things will take place. If a believer will not lay down his soul-life, the Spirit will never work, and men will never receive a profit. If we want to do a deeper work, we must specifically deal with our soul. The soul should be lost. A grain of wheat is good; its golden color is attractive. But if we put it on the table, it will still be one grain even after one hundred years. It will never yield more grains. The soulish power is like a grain of wheat that has never fallen into the ground. It will never bear fruit.
Let us consider this question most soberly: Has the holy, blameless, resurrection life which we have received ever produced any fruit? Some may ask, "Why can I not save people or help people?" Others may ask, "Why do I not have any power for the work?" Many have said, "I do not have the power to work." I would answer that we have no power because our power is too great. Since we have so much power already, is there any room for God to work? If we want to use our own wisdom, methods, strength, and natural ability, we are frustrating God’s power from being manifested. Many miraculous things are but an expression of the soulish power; they are not from God. Yet we use all these things as substitutes for God. How can there be desirable results? Many revival meetings might look good at the time, but the result is generally zero. There are some revival meetings that actually help people. But I am talking about those that employ human methods in their works. I want to say this very seriously to everyone who wants to do a better and deeper work: do not talk very much about power. Our responsibility is to fall into the ground and die. Once we die, we will spontaneously bear fruit.
The Lord said, "He who hates his soul-life in this world"—what will happen?—"shall keep it unto eternal life." What does this mean? Suppose that I have eloquence but do not use it. My heart is not in my eloquence, and I do not use my eloquence as a tool for my work. If I give up my eloquence and do not depend on my eloquence, what will be the result? I will gain life, and I will render help to others in life. Suppose that I have a great deal of administrative skill. If I do not exercise my natural ability, but rather wait before the Lord, others will receive practical help. Let us learn not to use our own ability. If we do this, we will bear much fruit.
Power comes from the realm of resurrection. Resurrection is a living that has passed through death. What we need is not greater power but deeper death. We need to reject every natural ability. If we never lose our own soul-life, we will never understand what power is. If we pass through death, we will gain life. If we lose our soul, we will die like a grain falling into the ground; but God’s life will grow up in us and bear much fruit.
I feel that many people are too rich and too strong; there is no room for God to work in them. I often consider two words to be most precious: "utter helplessness." We can say to God, "All that I have is Yours; I have nothing besides You. Apart from You, I am utterly helpless." We will then have an attitude of total trust in God; we will feel as if we cannot breathe without Him. We will see that our holiness is from Him and our power is from Him. Whatever we need is from Him. It is God’s desire that we come to Him in utter helplessness. A brother once asked me what the conditions are for the Holy Spirit to work. I said that the Holy Spirit never needs any help from the power of the soul. The Holy Spirit must first bring us to a place where we can do nothing by ourselves. Let us learn to reject everything natural. We should reject anything that is not from God, whether it is miraculous or ordinary. If we do this, God will use His power to do the work He wants to do.
THE LORD’S PATTERN
In John 5:19 the Lord says, "Then Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing from Himself except what He sees the Father doing, for whatever that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner." From here means "out of’"; it is better to translate it "out of." For the Son to do nothing from Himself meant that the Son did nothing out of Himself. In other words, whatever the Lord was doing was not out of Himself. This was the Lord’s attitude. He did not depend on His own ability; He did not depend on His own will. Whatever was out of Himself, He rejected. Was there anything bad with His soul? Was not His soulish power very useful? He did not have a trace of sin. Was it a sin for Him to exercise His soulish power? However, the Lord said, "The Son can do nothing from Himself." If one as holy and perfect as He did not exercise His own power, how about us? If He, in a living as perfect as His, still looked to God helplessly and did not act according to His own will on earth, but did everything according to the Father’s will, how could humble mortals like ourselves consider doing anything by ourselves? We must drop our soulish power and must reject everything out of the soul before we will have the spiritual power to work and bear much fruit. May God bless us.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)