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


The spirit requires the soul and the body to be the organs for its expression. The spirit is like the lady of the house, and the steward and servant must carry out the lady’s wishes. The spirit is also like electricity, and there must be a filament before it can express its light. If the soul and body are attacked by the evil spirits and become abnormal, the spirit will be blocked and have no outlets. The enemy knows the importance of the spirit. He often works in a believer’s soul and body, causing them to lose their function so that the spirit no longer has an organ for its expression. By this, the spirit loses its victorious position.

At such times, the mind may come under attack and become confused. The emotion may feel lonely and sad, and the will may feel tired and lifeless, unable to direct the person. The body may feel very weak or somewhat lazy. If the believers’ soul and body are attacked, and if they do not oppose it right away, their spirit will be blocked; they will not be able to fight vigorously with the enemy and maintain their victorious ground.

Once a believer’s spirit is blocked, he loses his vigor. He will appear shy or withdrawn, and he will not want to do anything in public. He will prefer to retreat to the rear of the battle line, and he will not want to expose himself. He may think that this is an enlightenment for him, but actually this is a blockage of his spirit. When he reads the Bible, he does not seem to have much energy. When he prays, he does not seem to have any words to say. When he considers his spiritual work and experience, they seem meaningless and even, at times, silly. When he preaches, he does not sense any result and feels that he is only going through the motions. If this condition persists, the believer will come under further attack and find himself choked and muffled. This will continue unless God intervenes through other men or through his own prayer. If a believer does not have the proper knowledge, he will become very bewildered. Usually he does not try to search for the reason, but instead allows it to go on. Strictly speaking, every spiritual experience and feeling has a cause to it. We should study it carefully and not allow it to remain in us indefinitely.

Such an experience happens when there is a blockage of the spirit. The soul and body outside the spirit have been locked up, and the spirit has no chance to express itself. Satan has imprisoned the spirit and locked it up in a dark room so that the soul no longer has the leading of the spirit. Once the thing that blocks the spirit is removed, the believer will find the outlets cleared, and he will recover his former lightness.

It is very important for a believer at such times to exercise his will to speak aloud. He should speak words of rebuke against the enemy, and he should speak out with a loud voice the victory of the cross and the defeat of the enemy. He should single-mindedly oppose the enemy’s work in his soul and body. The will must stand behind a person’s words and actively reject all blockages. Prayer is another way. Prayer is often the way to remove the blockages. But at these times, one has to pray out loud. The best kind of prayer at such a time is to call on the victorious name of the Lord Jesus and withstand all the attacks of the enemy. One should also exercise his spirit and channel its strength to break open a way to come out.


A believer’s spirit can become poisoned by evil spirits. This is what the fiery darts of the enemy do. He can shoot his darts directly into a believer’s spirit. He can shoot sorrow, sadness, suffering, grief, and heartbreak into a believer’s spirit, causing him to have a "sorrowful spirit" (1 Sam. 1:15). "But a wounded spirit who can bear?" (Prov. 18:14). Hence, this greatly affects a person. When a believer feels sorrowful, he thinks he is feeling sorrowful, considering this sorrow to be very natural. He does not try to find out its cause nor does he try to oppose it at all. He accepts everything that comes to him silently and without any objection. We have to remember that this is very dangerous. We can never accept a thought carelessly or allow any feeling to come into us. If we want to walk according to the spirit, we have to be watchful in everything; we must study all our thoughts and feelings and find out where they come from.

Sometimes Satan causes our spirit to become hard, stubborn, narrow, selfish, wild, and disobedient. Consequently, the spirit is not able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and carry out God’s will. We will lose all of our love for men and all of our gentleness, sympathy, and considerations for the weaknesses of others. When this happens, the Holy Spirit cannot use us to any great extent; we will have lost the Lord’s broadness and set up a boundary for ourselves.

Sometimes the enemy puts an unforgiving spirit into the believers. This is the most frequent poison that believers take in. This probably accounts for the majority of the cases of failure in spiritual believers. This kind of poison, such as fastidiousness and vengeance, is the most deadly poison to the spiritual life. Even after a believer has suffered from this poison, most of the time he will still not be clear about what happened or realize that this poison came from Satan. Instead, he thinks that he hates others and that this cannot be removed.

Sometimes Satan causes believers to become narrow. He will cause believers to set a boundary for themselves and separate themselves from others. If believers do not have the concept of the church being the Body of Christ, instead making their own little group their foremost concern, it is a sign that their spirit has dwindled and become narrow. A spiritual believer considers God’s business as his own business and the whole church as the object of his love. If his spirit is open, the river of life will flow everywhere. But if he becomes narrow, he will frustrate God’s work and minimize his own usefulness. If our spirit is not big enough to include all of God’s children, it means that our spirit has been poisoned.

Sometimes Satan causes the believers’ spirit to become proud. In this way they become boastful, self-respecting, and self-esteeming. Satan causes the believers to think that they are not destitute, that they are somewhat important, and that they have some worth in God’s work. This kind of spirit is also a great cause for the believers’ failures. "Pride goeth before destruction,/and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).

The evil spirits inject such things together with other poisons into the believers’ spirit. If the believers do not oppose these things immediately, they will quickly turn into things of the flesh. If believers know how to live in the spirit, these things will only be Satan’s poison at the beginning; they will not have an opportunity to become a sin of the flesh. However, if believers do not oppose them, subconsciously accepting them instead, they will soon turn into sins of the flesh.

If the spirit is poisoned, and the poison is not quickly dealt with, it will turn into sins in the spirit. Sins in the spirit are more serious than any other sins. "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? But turning, He rebuked them and said, You do not know of what kind of spirit you are" (Luke 9:54-55). The kind of spirit we have is very important. Many times our spirit is stirred up by Satan, and we do not know it. Once the spirit errs, everything else errs.

When we consider the experience of the two disciples, we can see that a wrong spirit is very easily detected in our words. However, the words probably do not reveal as much as one’s tone of voice. Many times the words may be right, but the tone is wrong. If we want to overcome, we have to take care of the tone in our speaking. Once evil spirits touch our spirit, our tone will lose its gentleness. All harsh voices, rash voices, and sharp voices do not come from the Holy Spirit. Rather, they are a sign that the ones with these voices have already been stirred up by Satan’s poisons.

How do we ordinarily speak? When we speak about others, can we speak without any sense of condemnation? Perhaps what we say is true, but a spirit of criticism, condemnation, wrath, and jealousy may be lurking behind truthful words. We should speak the truth in love. If our spirit is pure and meek, we can speak the truth. But if a spirit of condemnation is lurking behind our words, we are committing a sin. Sin is not only an act, but also a condition. The spirit behind all of our actions is very important. Many times we can be working for God or man and committing sins at the same time. The work may be done, but a spirit of dishonesty, unwillingness, or grudge is hidden behind it.

We should maintain our spirit in a sweet and tender condition. Our spirit should be clean and pure. Do we consider a wrong spirit a sin? When does the enemy attack our spirit? When is our spirit poisoned? If we know about sins, will we remove them humbly? When we detect a hardening of our tone, we should immediately stop and not go on. We should immediately say to others, "I would rather say the same words with a clean spirit. I would rather oppose the enemy." If we are not willing to tell our brothers that we are wrong, our spirit retains its sins. Believers should learn to guard their spirit from the provocation of the enemy and to guard their spirit in sweetness and gentleness.

Ordinarily a believer should have the shield of faith for the quenching of the flaming darts of the evil one. This means that he should exercise a living faith to oppose the attacks of the enemy and should trust in God’s protection. Faith is our shield; it is not our extracting pliers. It is for quenching the fiery darts, not for pulling them out.

If believers are hit by the darts, they should immediately remove the cause of the fiery darts and take up an opposing stand. They should immediately reject everything from the enemy and pray for God’s cleansing.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)