Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), by Watchman Nee


Satan has another way to attack the believer who diligently follows the guidance of the intuition in spirit; he impersonates the believer’s conscience to accuse him. In order to keep the conscience blameless, a believer is willing to accept the accusations of the conscience and remove all the things condemned by it. The enemy uses the desire of the believer to accuse him, causing him to mistake this as the condemnation of his own conscience so that he will be without peace, become weary of dealing with the problems, and lose his boldness to go on.

Spiritual believers must know that Satan accuses us not only before God but also within us. An accusation within disturbs the believers into thinking that they have erred and deserve some punishment. Satan realizes that believers must have boldness in order to progress in the spiritual journey. Therefore, through counterfeiting the conscience to accuse the believers, he causes them to believe that they have sinned, and thus they lose their fellowship with God. The difficulty with the believers lies in not knowing how to differentiate between the accusation of the evil spirit and the condemnation of the conscience. Often they are afraid of mistaking the condemnation of the conscience for the accusation of the evil spirit and, consequently, disobeying God. However, if they disregard the inner voice, it becomes more and more intense and even uncontrollable. Spiritual believers, therefore, not only must be willing to obey the rebuking of the conscience, but also must be able to discern the accusation of the evil spirit.

Sometimes, the accusation of the evil spirit is related to an actual sin of a believer. But sometimes the believer has not sinned, and the evil spirit still causes him to feel sinful. If the believer has really sinned, he can always confess immediately before God and ask for the cleansing of the precious blood (1 John 1:9). If the accusation still continues, it must be the voice of the evil spirit.

A believer can tell whether he has really erred and is under the reproach of his conscience or whether he is merely under the accusation of the evil spirit by asking himself whether he sincerely hates his sin. Before deciding whether it is the conscience or the evil spirit, it is very important that he ask himself this question: if I am truly wrong in this matter, am I willing to remove it and confess my sin? If he truly desires to follow the will of God and hates sin, then before submitting to the voice of accusation, he can be bold because he is not deliberately disobeying God. Having determined to do God’s will, he must thoroughly investigate whether a matter was definitely done by him. He must clearly know and ascertain that it was his doings, because often the evil spirit accuses us of unrelated matters. If this was his doing, he must examine whether it was truly in error. After fully realizing his failure through the teaching of the Bible and the leading of the intuition, then and only then is he required to confess his sins to God. Otherwise, even though he may not have committed any sin, Satan will cause him to suffer as if he had really sinned.

The evil spirit can give all kinds of feelings to man. He can cause one to feel joyful or sorrowful. He can make one feel as if nothing is wrong or as if there is gross error. Just because a believer feels fine, it does not mean he is really all right. Many times, when he feels all right he is really wrong. Similarly, when he feels that he is wrong, it may not be so. Perhaps he only feels this way and is not really in error. However a believer may feel, he must prove with certainty what is really true so that he can decide whether he has sinned or not. As for all the accusations, a believer should take a neutral attitude. Before he acts, he must determine the source of the accusation. If he is still unclear whether it is the reproach of the Holy Spirit or the accusation of the evil spirit, he should wait patiently for evidence and not be anxious. If it is from the Holy Spirit, and he is sincerely willing to remove it, the present delay is not due to his rebellion but to uncertainty. A believer must absolutely reject the confession of sins compelled by an external power, because the enemy often uses this strategy.

In short, genuine self-condemnation caused by the Holy Spirit sanctifies us; Satan’s purpose is merely for accusation. His accusation causes us to frequently accuse ourselves. His aim is none other than inflicting sufferings on us. Not only so, if a spiritual believer accepts his initial accusation, Satan can also give him a false peace so that the believer is not remorseful over his actual failures. This is the greatest damage. Concerning the rebuke of the conscience, everything will be all right after the confession of sin and a request for cleansing by the precious blood. But the accusation of the enemy does not cease even after the removal of the accusing matter. The reprimand of the conscience leads us to the precious blood, but the accusation of the evil spirit causes us to lose heart and consider ourselves to be hopelessly incurable. Satan’s purpose, through his accusations, is to cause us to fall by thinking that "since we cannot be perfect, then we might as well let the things run their own course."

Sometimes, Satan’s accusation is added to the rebuke of the conscience. Sin is present and not only does the conscience condemn, the evil spirit also accuses. Then after the believer obeys the will of the Holy Spirit, the voice still will not stop. A believer’s determination to be completely separated from sin, leaving no ground for the evil spirit to accuse, is very crucial today. In addition, we must learn how to discern the rebuke of the Holy Spirit from the accusation of the evil spirit —knowing when it is just the accusation of the evil spirit, and when both the condemnation of the conscience and the accusation of the evil spirit are present. Actually, no matter what sin there is, if it is truly sin, after rejecting it and asking for the cleansing of the precious blood, the chiding of the Holy Spirit ceases.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)