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


Since our spirit, as the organ for fellowship between the Holy Spirit and the believers, is so crucial, it is no wonder that Satan utterly abhors the believers knowing about the functions of the spirit and walking according to the spirit. His aim is to have the believers live in the soul and "quench the Spirit." He can cause their bodies to be filled with many kinds of strange feelings and their minds with many wandering thoughts. Through these feelings and thoughts, he can confound the spiritual senses of the believers, so that in a state of confusion, the believers cannot distinguish what is really from the spirit and what is from the soul. He knows that "reading" the sense of the spirit is mandatory in order for a believer to be victorious. (How pitiful that many believers are unaware of this!) Therefore, he does his utmost to attack the spirit of the believers.

So let us repeat, in spiritual warfare a believer must never act according to his own feelings or some sudden thoughts. Never consider that a matter can never go wrong once it has been covered in prayer. Many believers believe that all of their thoughts while praying are God-given. This is a mistake. They seem to believe that their prayer can make their work infallible. They reckon that all of the work done through prayer is unerring. Nevertheless, they do not know that seeking the will of God is not the same as knowing the will of God. Moreover, the mind is not the place to know the will of God. He instructs us in our spirit.

Satan not only uses feelings and thoughts to cause the believers to live by the soul and not walk by the spirit; he has far worse devices. If he can succeed in causing a believer to live in the outward man through feelings or thoughts, he then takes a further step to disguise himself as the spirit within the believer. This is accomplished through first obtaining a position within the believer and then by fabricating many feelings. If the believer does not reject these feelings, they can gain ground within him. Soon they will overcome the function of the spirit or numb the sense of the spirit. If the believer is unaware of the enemy’s tactics, the function of his spirit will be stopped. In following these deceiving feelings, he still considers himself to be following the spirit. Once the sense of the spirit stops and Satan takes this step to deceive, the believer will consider that God is leading him through his renewed mind. Through his failure to use his own spirit, Satan’s operation will be secretly covered up. Once the spirit stops working, there can be no co-laboring with the Holy Spirit, and everything from God is cut off. Once the believer follows sudden thoughts and the feelings of the false spirit, he walks completely according to the flesh and soul, and there is no longer a genuine spiritual life.

If the believer is still ignorant, Satan will attack him even more fiercely. He may cause the believer to be void of the feeling of God’s presence, but tell him that there is no need of feelings since he is living by faith. He may cause the believer to be in anguish without reason, but tell him that this is suffering with Christ in the spirit. In these conditions, Satan will deceive the believer through this counterfeit spirit, so that he actually follows his will. These experiences are common with spiritual (yet unwatchful) believers.

A spiritual believer must possess spiritual knowledge so that all his conduct and actions are according to his (spiritual) rationality. Consequently, he does not act according to impulsive emotion, some stress, or sudden thoughts in the mind. He ought not to be hasty or rushed. All of his doings must be done only after realizing that they are from God, based on observation with the spiritual eyes and apprehension with spiritual intuition. Nothing should be done out of impulse, feelings, or sudden thoughts. Decisions should only come after quiet, cool calculations and deliberations.

The most crucial point in a living of following the spirit is to search and test. In spiritual living, a believer must not pass his days in ignorance; everything that happens to him, whether thoughts or feelings (both happy and sad), must be thoroughly and carefully scrutinized to determine their source: God, Satan, or self. By nature every believer loves to be at ease. Whatever he encounters during the day is treated lightly; many times he even accepts the arrangements of the enemy. He does not investigate, but the Bible commands us to "prove all things" (1 Thes. 5:21). The power and characteristics of a spiritual believer come from "interpreting spiritual things with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:13). In the original language interpret means "compare," "test," "see together," and "judge." This power can be attained by all spiritual believers. The Holy Spirit gives them this power so that in their living they will not allow the things that are happening to them to go untested. Otherwise, it is very difficult not to live a life under deceit from the evil spirit.

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