Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 08: The Present Testimony (1), by Watchman Nee


Brothers, God now has no other goal than to bring you to an utter end. God wants you to be disappointed about your self, to lose hope in your self, and to confess that you are incurable and worse than anyone else. God wants you to know the self. How many times in the past have you aspired to victory, yet always failed in the end! It was for no other reason than this: God wanted to bring you to know yourself. You mourned, struggled, strove, sought, prayed, worked, labored diligently, and used hundreds and thousands of other means in the hope that you could overcome sin and be sanctified completely. But you invariably failed. Although sometimes you might have had a small amount of success, it never lasted. Although you did whatever you could to maintain your success, your success took wings like a bird. You thought your struggle to succeed was unsuccessful because you were worse than everyone else. Brothers, these experiences were for one reason only: God wants to help you to know your self. You fail not because you are too bad, but because you are not bad enough. Brothers, you should know that to mourn is your self, to struggle and try hard is your self, to pursue prayer is your self, and to work and labor diligently is also your self. It is all your self that is working, and it is all for your self. How much of it is in complete dependence upon God? How many really know that they are incurable and as a result depend on God? By struggling and seeking in such a way, what are you really after? Is it not something for the self? Yes, you are seeking victory over sin and evil, and you are seeking sanctification, but what are they for? Is it not for the self to be happier, more glorified, and more boastful? If you have not reached the point where you are fully aware of the weakness and deceitfulness of the self, God will still allow you to stumble and fail. This makes you realize that you are powerless and that you do not deserve any honor or glory.

Brothers, God wants us to be in union with Him, relying on Him, carrying out His will, and giving Him the glory in everything. If you do not know the true character of the self and think that the self is good and capable, naturally, you will not be able to depend on God or give Him the glory. Naturally you will be self-confident and self-glorying. Even until today, you still do not know how weak the self is. That is why God allows you to fail again and again. Every failure is His indication that you are weak. But you would not believe it. You are not disappointed at your self but are still full of expectation. You think that the last failure was because you exerted too little effort and that if you exerted more energy next time, you would succeed. But you have failed so much already! There have been so many ups and downs with you! But you still do not know how weak you are. You still cannot receive the lesson God wants to teach. Rather, you are still planning to make a final endeavor to gain a final victory. After experiencing so many failures, you still do not know how to be completely and helplessly disappointed. You still do not know how to forsake your self efforts and cast yourself completely into God’s hand. You still may not know how to trust in Him by stopping your own scheming and managing while, at the same time, not having any knowledge of what to do. Since you have not learned your lesson, greater and more numerous failures must come upon you before you will know the self. Brothers, until you cease your own working, you should not expect God to deliver you.

We know that those who rescue people from water will not start saving them immediately after they fall in. This is because at that time a person’s strength is still very great, perhaps even greater than usual. If a rescuer approaches the drowning one too quickly, he seizes him, entangles him, and prevents the rescuer’s hands and feet from further movement. As a result, both sink. Only after the drowning one has struggled for a while, exhausting his own means to save himself, and only after his strength is all gone, reckoning that he must die, will the rescuer dare approach him and bring him back to shore with one hand under him. God allows His children to struggle now in order that they might see the uselessness of their struggling. He allows them to approach a dangerous position day after day. He is now waiting for them to be exhausted and deem themselves about to die. He is waiting for them to surrender to Him and reckon that unless God saves, they cannot sustain themselves even one more second—unless God saves they will die. Only then will He stretch forth His hand of deliverance. Whenever believers give up relying on themselves, God will save them fully. God’s only goal is to make the believers realize that the self is completely useless with regard to God’s life and His work. Apart from depending on God, they have no other work or living.


God also wants the believer to realize the deceitfulness of the self. Many times the mouth speaks of dependence on God, but in actuality it is dependence on self! Many times there is some dependence on God, but more dependence on self! When the believer is in this condition, God has no choice but to allow him to fail some more. This will show him how much he is still secretly depending on his self. Every failure makes the believer realize that he has fallen to that state only because he has made reservation for his self.

How deceitful we are! How intense is our heart for the self! Is it not true that in everything we do and in all our motives, there is the mixture of the self? Perhaps we have consecrated ourselves to God, and we think that we are more faithful than others. Yet we do not realize how wild and unbridled our heart and mind are toward the world and its people. God must bring us to the place of failure, to expose our hidden and secret motives through our conduct, before we realize how deceitful we are. Our mouth may say that we are living fully for God, and outwardly we may act as if we are serving Him wholeheartedly. Actually, all these are for our own boasting, glorying, and receiving the praise of others. God wants us to know the self; He wants us to realize that these are our motives. Therefore He allows us to fail so that in our failure we may judge ourselves and learn to realize that even when we have not failed, we are still for the self and are stealing God’s glory.

Many believers are still living according to the deceitful self! Many believers are still taking self as the principle of all their living! Nearly everything is for the self and from the self. One category of believers—the deceitful believers—is more dangerous than all. It seems that they can never break away from their self. If they learn one more thing or know one more matter, it is all for glorifying the self. This is true not only in spiritual matters, but in secular matters as well. If they have learned something or understood something, they will take this as a reason for them to boast about their self. Oh, the deceitfulness of the flesh! Who can fully know it? God must break and demolish such believers and strip them of all their smooth environments so that they will be deprived of all their means to expand themselves. God has to deal with them in the most severe environment; otherwise, they will still exalt and boast about themselves.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 08: The Present Testimony (1), Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)