Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, by Watchman Nee


Brothers and sisters, what happens when we see the Lord’s death for us on the cross, and what happens when we believe? We immediately stop trying to do good. As soon as we believe, we are saved. Similarly, when we see that the Lord has brought us to the cross and crucified us there, we will cease fighting and stop improving ourselves. Once we believe that the Lord is living within us and overcoming for us, we will stop our own work and allow God to rescue us. We will say, "Lord, I will never improve, and I do not intend to improve. From now on I will not do anything, I will not manage anything, and I will not be concerned about anything. From now on I will let go, and problems will no longer be my problems." Brothers and sisters, this is surrendering. This is letting go.

Some have said that it is very difficult to let go. When temptation comes, they have to put up a fight, and when their temper rises up, they have to wrestle with it. When they resolve to stop doing something and fail, it only means that they make a stronger resolution next time. However, one more resolution only means one more failure, and one more promise only means one more broken promise. The more resolutions one makes, the more he fails. If the first resolution is not strong enough, the second resolution will not work even when it is stronger. Romans 7 describes this well: To will is present with us, but to work out the good is not (v. 18)! No promise that is made is appropriate because we have not let go. We are still managing our own affairs, and we cannot say that we are crucified with Christ and that it is no longer we who live. Dying is letting go, resigning. It is giving up our efforts to take control and ignoring it. When we are no longer able, God will become able. Hence, the first thing is letting go.

There was a brother by the name of Lee in Tientsin who once asked me how he could resign and let go. He said that he could not resign or let go. What should he do? I asked what he did in his company, and he told me that he was the manager of the textile department. I asked, "If the general manager of the company told you that you were no longer needed by the company the following month and that you were fired, what would you do?" He said that the only thing he could do would be to resign. Then I asked, "Suppose the next month came, the new manager arrived, and you transferred everything to him. What would you do if a buyer came to you and asked, `Manager, what kind of new fabric do you have? What is its price? How much do you think this price will go up in two days?’" The brother answered, "If it happened a few days before the new manager arrived, I would make some calculations and find out what the company had in stock and how much it needed to stock up. But if I had already transferred everything to the new manager, I would have nothing more to do. All I could do would be to watch others work." This is letting go and surrendering. This is what it means to be crucified with Christ. We have to say to the Lord, "I am not resigning because I am capable. I am resigning because I cannot stand it any longer. I am not capable of doing anything. I cannot manage anything any longer. This is why I have to resign. My temper is still present. My pride is still present. My stubbornness and jealousy are all still present. I can do nothing about them. I can only make a transfer and resign. I can only say that everything is in Your hand from now on." However, when "the buyers from the street" show up, we must not be alarmed. There are many "buyers" who come every day to solicit business. All we have to do is commit everything to the Lord’s hand. We do not have to care for or manage anything. This is the meaning of overcoming. This is the meaning of surrendering.


Do you know what temptation is? One brother said that he was always tempted to lose his temper. Another brother said that he was always tempted to be stubborn. One brother complained that he was always tempted by unclean thoughts. Another brother complained that he was always tempted by a quick tongue. It seems that there are a thousand different kinds of temptations to a thousand different kinds of people. But brothers and sisters, there is actually only one temptation in the world. We think that temptations lead us to temper, pride, greed, or adultery. But with Satan, there is only one temptation—the temptation to move. Satan does not induce us to lose our temper or to be proud, greedy, or adulterous. His temptation is to make us move. As long as we move, Satan prevails over us. It does not matter how we move. As long as Satan becomes successful in initiating a move, we have failed. In our prayer and reading of the Bible, he has won the victory the minute we move. I only wish I could speak with many tears in my eyes. We should not move. The minute we move, we are defeated. We can struggle with Satan. We can fight with him or withstand him. But the minute we move, Satan has gained the complete victory. We have to realize that the secret to our victory lies in our standing by; it does not lie in our taking control. Once we try to manage the situation, we will fail. Brothers and sisters, this is a most amazing thing! God wants to set us aside and allow His Son to overcome for us.

Galatians 5:17 says, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these oppose each other that you would not do the things that you desire." This verse does not say that we oppose our lusts or that our lusts oppose us. It says that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. We do not play any part. These two parties are opposing one another. What does this mean? A brother once lamented that his only desires were sin and uncleanness. He could not help himself. But it is the flesh who is fighting against the Spirit, and the Spirit who is opposing the flesh. We play no part in this fighting. This is God’s way of deliverance. If we can stand back and allow the Spirit to fight against the lusts and the lusts to fight against the Spirit, we will experience deliverance.

When I was first saved, I heard a story about a young girl who knew the meaning of victory very well. During the Keswick Convention, a man asked the little girl how she overcame when the devil came to her. She answered, "In the past, if the devil came to knock at my front door, as soon as he knocked, I would say, `Don’t come in. Don’t come in.’ But the result was always a failure. Now when the devil knocks at my door, I say, `Lord, You open the door for me.’ If the Lord opens the door, and the devil sees the Lord, he will say, `Sorry, I came to the wrong door,’ and he will run away."

When we are tempted and say, "Lord, save me because temptation is coming my way again," the devil will come in even before the door is open. We have to allow the Lord to handle the matter completely. The more we pray, the more desperate we become, and the more we repeat our prayer, the harder it is to let go. A brother once said that when Peter was sinking, he only said, "Lord, save me." Praying with a short sentence is letting go. But if one continues to pray, "Lord, save me...," five or six times, he is already defeated. I call this kind of prayer a hangman’s prayer. This is like a person who tries to hang himself a second and third time after having been unsuccessful the first time. When a person repeatedly prays this way, it shows that he has not let go. He is trying to grasp victory with his prayer. He is trying to overcome with his own strength. Invariably, the result is defeat. If he did not pray so much, he might still have overcome. Brothers and sisters, please remember that Satan is trying to make us move. As long as we move, even if it is by praying, he will have his way.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 7, by Watchman Nee)