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

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Because the believer is totally consecrated, he thinks that he should take the way of the cross and suffer for the sake of Christ. He also thinks that his natural life is of no use. He wants to receive power from God, so he willingly becomes weak, hoping that by so doing, he will become strong. Both suffering and weakness are pleasing to God, yet both can become the basis for evil spirits to work through the believer’s misunderstanding.

A believer may consider it to be the highest gain for him to suffer. After his consecration, he may passively submit to every suffering that befalls him, no matter through what means the suffering comes. He believes that his suffering is for the Lord and that it is with a reward and for a gain. He does not realize that he must explicitly exercise his will to choose what God wants him to choose and withstand everything that the evil spirits give to him. If he passively accepts all the sufferings, evil spirits will have a good opportunity to make him suffer their sufferings. To suffer passively may cause evil spirits to inflict sufferings on the believer. After the believer suffers afflictions and believes that they come from God—believing the lies of the evil spirits—he present evil spirits with an opportunity to put him under suffering for a long time. He may not realize that his suffering is the result of his fulfillment of the condition for evil spirits to work and that his suffering does not come from God. He may think that he is suffering for the sake of the church, to fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ. He may think that he is a martyr, when in reality he is only a victim. He glories in suffering, not knowing that this is a symptom of being possessed!

One thing deserves our attention. Sufferings that come as a result of demon-possession are always meaningless. They produce absolutely no result and are purposeless. They are sufferings that bear no significance whatsoever. Furthermore, there is no witnessing of the Holy Spirit in our intuition that these are from God. These thoughts simply come from the believer.

If the believer investigates a little, he may discover that before his consecration, he did not have this kind of experience. It was only when he consecrated himself to the Lord and chose to suffer that he had this kind of experience. Furthermore, after he chose and accepted all the sufferings, he thought that all of the sufferings were from God. Actually, if not all, at least a majority of them came from the power of darkness. Since he gave ground to evil spirits and believed in their lies, his whole life became full of afflictions. There is no reason for them, he does not know their cause, and there is no merit in them. If the believer knows about demon-possession, he will understand this matter. Just as there are many sins that cannot be removed because of demon-possession, there are many afflictions of unknown source which are caused by demon-possession. After a believer knows the truth about demon-possession, he will be able to remove sins and also remove the meaningless afflictions.

Concerning weakness, the believer can have a similar misunderstanding. He may think that he should be weak for a long time in order to gain God’s power. He considers the apostle’s word, "When I am weak, then I am powerful" (2 Cor. 12:10), and thinks that he has to be weak before he can be strong. He does not realize that the apostle never said, "I have to be weak so that I can be strong." He was just speaking about one of his experiences. He just said that when he was weak, God’s grace strengthened him to accomplish God’s will. Paul did not ask for this weakness. He was actually weak, but God made him strong. This is not an exhortation for believers to choose weakness; Paul had no intention that the strong believer should purposely choose weakness so that God would make him strong. Rather, his intention was to instruct those believers who are already weak that they can be strong!

Choosing weakness on purpose is wrong; it affords a ripe opportunity to evil spirits. Choosing weakness and choosing afflictions both fulfill the condition for evil spirits to work because they put man’s will purposely on the side of evil spirits. Many believers were healthy at one time. But they have chosen weakness, and they think that by so doing, they will be strong in God. To their surprise, they find that the weakness they have chosen becomes more apparent as time goes by, while the strength they expected never materializes. In the end, they become a burden to others and are completely useless in the work of God. This choosing of weakness will never bring God’s strength. On the contrary, it will give evil spirits an opportunity to attack. If a believer does not resist, oppose, and refuse such weakness in a definite way, he will remain weak for a long time.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 37, by Watchman Nee)