There is soulish wisdom, and there is spiritual wisdom. Soulish wisdom comes from man’s mind, but spiritual wisdom is given by God to us in our spirit. If a fleshly man does not have a good understanding or is short of wisdom, this can be remedied by education. Of course, this never changes a person’s natural endowment. However, this is not the case with spiritual wisdom. It can be obtained by prayer through faith (James 1:5). We have to remember one thing: in God’s redemption, "God is not a respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). He places all sinners, whether wise or foolish, in the same position. They need the same salvation in all matters. Wise men are as fully corrupt as foolish ones. In God’s sight, the minds of the wise and foolish are equally useless. The wise and foolish need the same spiritual regeneration. Even after regeneration, the wise are not able to understand God’s Word more easily than the foolish. Finding the most foolish person in the world and trying to lead him to know God is very difficult. Even so, finding the wisest person in the world and trying to lead him to know God is equally difficult. This is because the knowledge of God is discerned clearly in the spirit. Although their minds are different, their spirits are both dead and equally foolish. Man’s natural wisdom cannot more easily enable him to know God and His truths. It may be easier for us to make the wise one understand and comprehend than the foolish one, but this would only be in the realm of the mind. However, the degree of ignorance in the intuition is the same in both cases. They both need resurrection in the spirit.
Even after the spirit has been resurrected, we should never think that the wise will progress faster than the foolish because of their better mind. If there is no difference in their faithfulness and obedience, whatever differences they have in the understanding of their minds will not produce a difference in the intuitive knowledge in their spirit. The old creation can never be the source of the new creation. The speed of progress depends on faithfulness and obedience. Natural talents never help one to excel on the spiritual path. According to the flesh, a man has the opportunity of being better than others because of differences in natural talents. But in spiritual experiences, every person has to start from the same place, go through the same procedures, and arrive at the same goal. Therefore, every regenerated believer, even if he is more clever than others, must still acquire a spiritual understanding before he can have proper communication with God. Nothing can replace this.
"Therefore we also, since the day we heard of it, do not cease praying and asking on your behalf that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God" (Col. 1:9-10). This is the apostle’s prayer for the Colossian believers. This verse shows us that one must have spiritual understanding before he can know God’s will. After knowing God’s will, one can then (1) walk worthily of the Lord to please Him, (2) bear fruit in every good work, and (3) grow by the full knowledge of God.
No matter how good a man’s understanding is, it is not enough for him to know God’s will. Knowing God’s will and having fellowship with God require spiritual understanding. Only spiritual understanding leads one to the realm of the spirit and enables one to know God’s will. Fleshly understanding enables one to know some truths, but these truths will only remain in one’s mind and not issue in life. Because spiritual understanding comes from the spirit, it can transform what it has understood into life. Even the word "know" is connected to God; there is no real knowledge that does not come from the spirit. A spirit of revelation and spiritual understanding go side by side with each other. God has given us a spirit of wisdom and revelation; He has also given us spiritual understanding. The wisdom and revelation we receive in our spirit must be realized by the understanding before we can know the real meaning of the revelation. Revelation is what we receive from God; understanding is comprehending the revelation we have received from God. Spiritual understanding tells us the meaning of all the movement within our spirit; it enables us to know God’s will. Our fellowship with God relies on our spirit receiving God’s revelation, on the intuition of the spirit sensing this revelation, and on the spiritual understanding to interpret the meaning of this revelation. Our own understanding can never resolve anything. When our spirit enlightens our understanding, the latter knows the purpose of God’s movement.
According to Colossians 1:9-10, we can see very clearly that if we want to please God and bear fruit, we should know His will in our spirit. The relationship with God in our spirit is the basis of God’s pleasure and our fruit-bearing. It is vanity for a believer to try to please God on the one hand, while walking according to the soul on the other hand. God is pleased with His will and nothing else. Nothing else can satisfy His heart. The most painful thing for believers is to not know God’s will. Although we can conjecture and search, it seems that we cannot touch God’s will. These verses tell us that the way to know God’s will is not to have more thoughts, considerations, and judgments according to human sentiment, but by spiritual understanding. Only the human spirit can fathom God’s will in the spirit because only the spirit has the intuition to know God’s movements. By the understanding of the intuition, believers can know God’s will.
When believers continue to know God’s will, they will be "growing by the full knowledge of God." This means that the believers’ real knowledge of God will grow gradually. These verses also speak of the spirit. If in everything we seek God’s will in our spirit, we will know God more. The intuition in our spirit will grow without limit. The intuition can grow. The growth of the intuition speaks of the believers’ total growth in the spiritual life. Each time we have real fellowship with God, there is a result; it trains us to know how to fellowship with Him more the next time. Since a believer has been regenerated and can fellowship with God in his intuition, he should pursue perfection. He should utilize every opportunity to train his spirit so that he can know God more. We need to really know Him in the deepest part of our whole being. Many times we think that we really know His will, but with the passage of time and events, it is proven that we have made a mistake. Everyone of us needs to really know Him and His will. Therefore, we should seek to be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual understanding.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 20, by Watchman Nee)