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

More excerpts from this title...


To reject the emotional life and live wholly by faith is the most important requirement for doing God’s work. Emotional believers are useless in God’s hand. Those who live by their feeling know how to enjoy happiness but not how to work. They are not yet qualified to work. They are people who live for themselves; they have not lived for God. Only those who live for God can work for God. What does this mean? Does it mean that all the work of an emotional believer is not counted?

A believer must arrive at the state of living by faith before he can have the reality of working for God and truly be an instrument in His hand. Otherwise, his objective is to obtain happiness, whether physical or emotional. When he is unhappy, he wants to quit. He works for the feeling and quits for the feeling. His heart is full of self-love. When God puts him to work in a field which is full of emotional and physical suffering, he feels sorry for himself and refuses to go on. The work of Jesus is a work of the cross; the work of a believer is also a work of the cross. What is there to be happy about? It would be very difficult for God to gain true workers if we do not deliver our emotion and self-love fully to death.

Today God needs a group of people to be His workers who are willing to follow Him to the end. Too many Christians can work for the Lord when the work is flourishing, when the work suits their interests, and when their feelings are not hurt. However, when the cross comes, demanding them to die and requiring them to hold on to God by faith, without the help of any good feelings, they refuse to go on. The work which is truly accomplished by God will definitely have results. However, can anyone, after receiving God’s command to work for eight to ten years, faithfully continue on without seeing any result, just because it is God’s command? How many Christians work simply because God commands them to do so? How many work for results? God needs believers of faith to work for Him because all His work has eternity in view. Because His work bears an eternal nature, it is difficult for those who live in time to perceive and understand. Those who live according to feeling cannot be included in this kind of work because there is nothing to please their feeling. If the death of the cross does not deeply deal with their self to the point that they do not keep anything for themselves, then as far as God’s work is concerned, they can only follow the Lord to a certain point and no further. God needs men to work for Him who have been completely broken and who are willing to follow Him unto death.


A believer who lives by his feeling is even less useful in spiritual warfare because spiritual warfare involves attacking the devil through prayer. This is certainly a work of self-denial. How great a suffering this is! There is nothing in this work that makes the self happy. Rather, it is a pouring out of one’s self-life for the Body of Christ and for the kingdom of God. To resist and wrestle in the spirit is hard to bear! If the spirit bears an unspeakably heavy burden for God’s sake, what is there to be happy about? If all our strength is directed against the evil spirits, how can that be enjoyable? This is a warfare of prayer. Yet for whom do we pray? It is not for ourselves but for God’s work. This kind of prayer is for warfare. It is not as enjoyable as our usual emotional prayer. What is comfortable about travailing by prayer in our soul for the saints, destroying and establishing by prayer? Spiritual warfare does not cause the flesh to be happy unless we are fighting in our imagination.

When an emotional believer fights against Satan, he is easily defeated. When he attacks Satan by prayer, Satan uses his evil spirit to attack the believer’s feeling. He makes the believer feel that warfare is hard and prayer is dry. When the believer feels sorrowful, tasteless, dark, and dry, he ceases to fight. Hence, an emotional believer cannot fight Satan. Satan only has to attack his feeling, and he will not be able to withstand. If the feeling has not gone through death, it gives Satan ground every time. Each time he opposes Satan, Satan only has to attack his feeling to defeat him. If we have not overcome our feeling, how do we expect to overcome Satan?

Therefore, spiritual warfare requires a person to have an attitude of death to his feeling and to live by faith alone. This kind of person is able to endure the pain of being alone. He is able to fight the enemy without seeking man’s acceptance and companionship. He is able to go on in spite of any feeling of suffering. He does not care if he is dead or alive; he only cares for how God leads. This kind of person bears no self-interest, aspiration, or preferences. He has already committed his self to death and fully lives for God. This kind of person does not blame or misunderstand God but loves all of God’s ways. He can fill the breach. Although it seems that God has deserted him and that there is no one to help him, he can still face the opposition alone. This kind of person can be a prayer warrior to defeat Satan.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 30, by Watchman Nee)