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

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What then is salvation? Salvation is nothing other than God saving man out of himself and into God. Salvation has the aspects of termination and union. It terminates the self and unites God and man. Any way of salvation that does not have the goal of saving man from himself and into union with God is not genuine. If a method of salvation cannot save man from himself and into union with God, it is only empty words. Real spiritual life is the severing from that which is of the animal and entering into that which is divine. Everything that belongs to the creature must go; the creatures should only enjoy all that the Creator is in the Creator Himself. The creature must become nothing before real salvation can be manifested. Genuine greatness does not depend on how much we have; it depends on how much we lose. Genuine life can only be seen in the losing of one’s self. If the natural disposition, life, and activities of the creature are not totally done away with, there will be no place for God’s life to be manifested. Our "self" is often the enemy of God’s life. If we do not lose the intentions and experiences that are for ourselves, our spiritual life will suffer great loss.

What is the self? This is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Although we cannot answer the question one hundred percent accurately, it may be more or less accurate to say that the "self" is the "self-will." The essence of man’s self is just his will because the will reveals how the man actually is, what he actually wants, and what he is willing to do. Except for the work done in man by the grace of God, all that man has, whether he is a sinner or a saint, is completely opposed to God. The disposition of created man is always natural, and it is never of the same kind as God’s life.

Salvation is nothing other than saving man out of his fleshly, natural, created, animal, and selfish will. We should pay attention to this point. In addition to God giving us a new life, the return of our will to God is the greatest work of salvation. God gives us new life for the purpose of turning our will back to Him. The gospel is to lead us to a union with God in our will. Otherwise, the gospel has not achieved its mission. God does not intend to save just our emotion or our mind; He intends to save our will because once the will is saved, the rest will be included. To a certain extent, man may unite with God in the mind. He may also share the same emotion with God in many things. But the most important and the most complete union with God rests in the union of man’s will with God’s will. This union of the will includes all the other union of man and God. If the mind or the emotion is united with God, but the will is not, this union is still short. Since our whole being moves according to our will, our will is clearly the most powerful part of our being. Noble as the spirit may be, it too submits to the governing of the will. (We will see this in a moment.) The spirit is not sufficient to represent the whole being, because the spirit is the part where man has fellowship with God. The body is not sufficient to represent the whole being either, as it is the part where man contacts the world. But the will stands for the attitude, opinion, and condition of man’s true self; therefore, it is has the power and sufficiency to represent the whole being. If the will is not joined completely to God, other unions are shallow and empty. If the will that governs our entire being is in complete union with God, our entire being will be totally submissive under God’s hand.

There are two unions between God and man; one is the union in life, the other is the union in the will. The union with God in life is through receiving of the very life of God at the time of our regeneration. Just as God lives by the Holy Spirit, we also should live by the Holy Spirit from now on. This is the union in life. This means that God and we have only one life. This is inward. However, the will expresses this one life. This is why there is still the need for the union of the will outwardly. The union of our will with God means that God and we have only one will. These two unions are mutually related and dependent. At this moment we are only speaking about the union of the will because the other is beyond our present scope. The union of the new life is spontaneous because the new life is the life of God. However, the union of the will is more difficult because the will belongs to us.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 35, by Watchman Nee)