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

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If we want to receive power to witness for Christ and fight Satan, we have no alternative but to seek the experiences of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is true that at present more and more people seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. But to what end do they seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit and receive spiritual power? How many seek power to show off? How many are for making their own flesh more splendorous? How many hope to receive power which would enable people to fall before them, saving them the labor of searching and fighting? We have to see clearly what our motive is in receiving spiritual power. If our motive is not in accordance with God and is not out of God, we will not receive. The Holy Spirit of God will not rest upon the "flesh" of man. The place He rests upon is only on the spirit that God has newly created. This is not to say that we may let the outer man (the flesh) live while asking God to baptize our inner man (the spirit) in the Holy Spirit. If the flesh has not yet passed through dealing, then the Spirit of God will not descend upon the spirit of man, because giving power to a fleshly man will have no other result than to make him boast and become even more fleshly.

We have often said that the cross comes before Pentecost; the Holy Spirit will not give power to men and women who have not yet passed through the cross. Golgotha is the only road to the upper room of Jerusalem. Only those who follow this pattern have the possibility of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God says, "This shall be a holy anointing oil...upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured" (Exo. 30:31-32). Regardless of whether it is the most filthy or the most cultured flesh, the Holy Spirit of God cannot descend upon it. If there are no nail prints from the cross, there can be no anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. The death of the Lord Jesus is the verdict of God upon all men in Adam: "All must die." God waited until after the Lord Jesus died; only then did He send down the Holy Spirit. Likewise, unless a believer experiences the death of the Lord Jesus and has died to all that belongs to the old creation, he cannot hope to see the power of the Holy Spirit. In history, Pentecost came after Golgotha; in spiritual experience, the filling of the power of the Holy Spirit also comes after bearing the cross.

The flesh is forever condemned before God. God wants it to die. A believer may not want the flesh to die, but may instead want to receive the Holy Spirit to adorn it and provide more power to work for God (of course, this is absolutely impossible). What is our motive in all this? Is our motive personal attraction, reputation, being welcomed by people, being admired by spiritual believers, success, acceptance by man, building up our own self? Those with unclean motives—"double-minded" motives—cannot receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We may think that our motives are very clean, but our great High Priest will let us know through the environment whether or not our motives are really clean. Without coming to the point where our present work completely fails and people despise and reject us, considering our name to be evil, it will be very difficult to know whether or not our motive is completely for God. Everyone who has really been used by the Lord has walked this path. Whenever the cross has accomplished its work, at that moment we receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are there not many believers who do not have deep experiences of the cross, yet they have the power to witness for the Lord and have been greatly used by the Lord? The Bible tells us that in addition to the holy anointing oil, there is an anointing oil that is "like" it (Exo. 30:33). It is similarly compounded, but it is not the holy anointing oil. We should not desire success and greatness; we should only observe whether or not our old creation—everything we have by birth—has passed through the cross. Without the flesh passing through death, the power which we have is surely not the power of the Holy Spirit. All believers with spiritual insight, who have arrived at the other side of the veil, know that such successes have no spiritual value.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)