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


No person expresses more charm than one who has passed through such a breaking process. A stubborn and self-loving person becomes charming after he is broken by God. Consider Jacob in the Old Testament. He wrestled with his brother from the time they were in their mother’s womb. He was a naughty, cunning, and conniving person. Yet he went through many sufferings throughout his lifetime. In his youth he ran away from home and was cheated by Laban for twenty years. His beloved wife Rachel died on the way home, and his cherished son Joseph was sold. Many years later Benjamin was detained in Egypt. Jacob was dealt with by God again and again, and he met with numerous misfortunes. He was smitten by God time after time. Jacob’s history is a history of God’s smiting. After repeated dealings by God, he changed. During his final years, he became a truly transparent person. How dignified he was in Egypt when he stood before Pharaoh and spoke to him! At his deathbed he worshipped God leaning on his staff. How beautiful this picture is! How clear his blessing to his children and grandchildren was! In reading the last part of his history, we cannot help but bow down and worship God. Here was a matured person, one who knew God. After being dealt with for decades, Jacob’s outward man was broken. In his old age we see a beautiful picture. All of us have something of Jacob in us. Perhaps more than a little! Hopefully the Lord will find a way through us. May our outer man be broken to such an extent that the inner man can be released and expressed. This is precious, and this is the way of the servants of the Lord. We can only serve when we have reached this point, and we can only lead others to the Lord and to the knowledge of God when we have reached this point. Nothing else will work. Doctrines and theology will not work. Mere Bible knowledge will not profit us. The only thing that is useful is for God to come out of us.

When our outer man is smitten, dealt with, and humbled by all kinds of misfortune, the scars and wounds that are left behind will be the very places from which the spirit flows out from within. I am afraid that some brothers and sisters are too whole; they have never suffered any dealings and have never changed in any way. May the Lord be merciful to us and set a straight course before us. May we see that this is the only way. May we see that all of the dealings that we have received from the Lord during the past ten or twenty years are for achieving this one goal. Therefore, we should not despise the Lord’s work in us. May the Lord truly show us the meaning of the breaking of the outer man. Unless the outer man is broken, everything we have is in the mind and in the realm of knowledge and is useless. May the Lord grant us a thorough dealing.

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