Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), by Watchman Nee


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.


When a believer has gone through all of the Lord’s dealings, he will enter into a life of faith. This life of faith is none other than a true spiritual life. When a believer arrives at this stage, he will have a life of rest. The fire of the cross has already eliminated his greedy heart. He has learned his lesson. Now he knows that only God’s will is of any value; whatever else he may naturally desire is not the highest, nor do they match the highest life. Now he is happy to lose everything. Whatever the Lord thinks should be withdrawn, he gladly allows the Lord’s hand to take away. The sighing, bitterness, and sorrow produced from his hoping, seeking, pursuing, and struggling are gone. He knows that the highest life is to live for God and obey His will. Although he has lost everything, he is satisfied because God’s will is accomplished. Although there is nothing for him to enjoy, he yields to the arranging hand of God. It matters not what he encounters as long as God is pleased. This is perfect rest; nothing outward can stir him.

Now the believer is living by the will (the will that is in union with God); his will is full of the strength of the spirit which rules over his emotion. His life is peaceful, steady, and at rest. The former life of ups and downs is gone. However, we should not take this to mean that he will never again be regulated by his emotion, because this kind of sinless perfection is not possible unless one enters heaven. However, if we compare his present condition to the past, we can say that he is at rest and steady. Even though the former confusion is definitely gone, he will occasionally be affected by his emotion. Therefore, he needs to watch and pray.

Neither should we think that it is no longer possible for him to feel happy or sad. There is not such a thing; unless our organ for emotion is destroyed, our feeling still remains. Our emotion will still feel sorrow, darkness, and dryness. However, all these only affect the outward man; it does not affect the inward man because there is a clear separation between our spirit and soul. Therefore, no matter how much the soul suffers outwardly or is confused, our spirit remains peaceful and secure as though nothing has happened.

When the believer’s life reaches this stage of rest, he realizes that all the loss he suffered for the Lord before has been replaced. At this time, he has gained God. Hence, everything of God is also his. Now in God, he can properly enjoy the things which He withdrew before. At that time, God caused him to experience sorrow and hardship because his soul-life was the mastermind in all things. He had many loves and pursuits in himself; he even sought what was outside of God’s will. This independent action had to be dealt with by God. Since he has lost the self and lost his soul-life, he can enjoy God’s happiness in a proper position and within a proper boundary. Only now has he learned to have a proper relationship with God’s happiness in God. The heart which fervently sought things for the self is dead. He accepts everything which he receives with thanksgiving. Whatever is not given to him, he does not demand just for the sake of happiness.

When believers have reached this stage, they are counted as having reached a pure stage. Pureness means that there is no mixture involved. Whatever is mixed is not pure. According to the Bible, impureness is filthy. When a believer has not yet reached this stage, he does not have a pure life. Why? Because there is mixture in his life. He lives for God, but he also lives for himself. He loves God, but he also loves himself. His intention is for God, but he also has selfish motives for his own glory, happiness, and comfort. This is a defiled life. He lives by faith, but he also lives by feeling; he walks according to the spirit, but he also walks according to the soul. Although the place which he reserves for himself is not big, it is enough to make his life impure. Only that which is pure is clean; anything mixed with a foreign object is defiled.

When a believer has gone through the thorough work of the cross, he arrives at a life of pureness. Everything is for God, everything is in God, and God is in everything. There is nothing for the self. Even the desire to make the self happy is gone. The self-love of the emotion has been put to death. His only objective in life is to do the will of God. As long as God is pleased, nothing else matters. His unique objective is to obey God; how he feels is not important. This is a pure life. Although God grants him peace, comfort, and joy, he no longer enjoys these things for the sake of satisfying his desire. He views all things in God. His soulish life has been terminated. God has given him a spiritual life that is pure, restful, real, and trusting. God destroyed him, but God also has established him. Everything soulish has been destroyed; everything spiritual has been established.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 16, by Watchman Nee)