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


Shining is another work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit deals with our outer man by these two means: discipline and shining. Sometimes He works by both means simultaneously and at other times consecutively. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit disciplines us through the environment to knock out our strong spots. At other times, He grants us special grace by enlightening us in a special way. We must be clear that the flesh can only take shelter in darkness. When darkness is gone, the flesh has no place to hide. Many acts of the flesh remain because we do not know them as the flesh. As soon as light comes and we see them as the flesh, we become fearful to act the way we have before.

When the church is rich, when God’s word is released, when the ministry of the word is strong, and when prophesying is common, light is frequent and prevailing. Once light shines, we realize what pride is. We begin to know the very thing that we have been talking about in the past. When we spoke of pride previously, it was something we boasted of. But when we see pride under the light, we can only exclaim, "My goodness! This is pride. Now I know that pride is so evil and filthy!" The pride that we see under the light of revelation is completely different from the pride that we speak of with our mouth. The pride that we so glibly speak of does not appear loathsome and filthy to us. Even while we are speaking about it, we have very little feeling. But when we are under the light, everything becomes different. Light exposes our true condition. The self that we see today is thousands of times more evil and filthy than the self that we spoke of in the past. Under such circumstances, our pride, self, and flesh will wilt away. They will be removed and no longer survive.

The wonderful thing is that whatever we see under the light is killed by the light. The seeing and the killing do not happen consecutively. We do not see our shortcomings and then remove them gradually years later. When we see our shortcomings under the shining, the shortcomings are finished immediately; they are killed immediately. Light kills; this is the most wonderful thing about the Christian experience. As the Holy Spirit enlightens us, we are dealt with. Therefore, revelation comprises seeing as well as killing. Through seeing, the flesh withers away. Revelation is God’s way of operation. In fact, revelation is God’s operation itself. As soon as light reveals, it kills. When light shines, we see, and our seeing kills everything. Once we see how filthy and evil something is and see the Lord’s condemnation of it, it can no longer survive.

The greatest thing in the Christian experience is the killing that comes from light. Paul did not receive a shining and then hasten to kneel beside the road; the very instant he was enlightened, he fell down. Prior to that, he was able to plan for everything, and he was confident about everything. However, his first reaction when the light came was to fall down. He became foolish and ignorant. Light brought him down. We should take note that these two things happen as one step, not two steps. It does not happen the way we think. God does not shine on us and make us understand, and then we carry out what He has shown us. God does not enlighten us concerning our shortcomings, and then we begin to change these shortcomings. No, God does not work this way. He shows us how evil, filthy, and short we are, and as soon as we see this, we exclaim, "My! What a filthy and evil man I am!" As soon as God shows us our true condition, we fall. We wither away and are not able to stand up any longer. Once a proud man is enlightened, he is no longer able to be proud even if he tries. Once we have seen our true condition under God’s light and once we have seen what our pride is, the impression will never leave us. Something will remain in us that will give us pain, that will give us the feeling that we are useless, and we will no longer be able to be proud.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)