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

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Spiritual work often flows with the current of the Holy Spirit without any constraint and without the need for the strength of the flesh. This is not to say that there is no opposition from the world or attack by the enemy; rather, it means that in the Lord there is always the sense of having the Lord’s anointing. When a believer’s work is needed by God, he will feel the flow of the Holy Spirit no matter what kind of difficulty. The Holy Spirit has always been for the expression of the life of the spirit. This kind of work is very spontaneous. It is expansive, and it expands the life in the spirit.

However, many of God’s servants who are urged by the environment (or other reasons) unconsciously let the work they are doing become mechanical. Whenever a believer feels this way, he must search to see whether this kind of "mechanical work" is still needed by the Holy Spirit or if it has accomplished His purpose so that now God is calling His own vessels to go on. The servants of the Lord must know that what is begun as a spiritual work, a work of the Holy Spirit, may not always continue to be spiritual. Many works originally come from the Holy Spirit, but subsequently He, not man, may not need this work. Yet man still continues, thinking that what the Holy Spirit has begun must be spiritual forever. This will cause what is spiritual to become fleshly.

A spiritual believer will never see the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit in a mechanical work. God may no longer need a certain kind of work. If a believer continues to do that work because of the outward organization (which may not necessarily be visible), then he must draw on his own power, apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, as the supply to meet the demand of the work. When spiritual work needs to stop and the believer does not stop, he has to use his soulish strength and physical strength to work. In true spiritual work, the believer must completely reject his own mental power, natural ability, gift, etc., before he can do a fruitful work for God. But a work which is not led by the Holy Spirit will fail immediately unless the believer exercises his mental power, natural ability, gift, etc.

A worker must be watchful to see on which part of his work the Holy Spirit is applying the ointment. Then he will know how to co-labor with the Holy Spirit and work according to the flow of the Holy Spirit’s power. The responsibility of a believer is to fix his sight on the "flow" of the Holy Spirit and then follow that flow. If a work no longer has God’s application of the ointment, if it is outside of the flow of the Holy Spirit, if it causes the worker to have a feeling of depression and obstruction, and if he is able to obtain the flow apart from this work, the work must be stopped. Those with spiritual discernment will discern faster than others. The question is: where is the "flow" of the Holy Spirit and where is it flowing? Any work which suppresses the life of the spirit, fails to support the expression of the life of the spirit, or hinders the Holy Spirit from flowing out in life and victory is a hindrance, no matter how it was in the beginning. If the work is not completely abolished, then either it must be corrected to let it obey the life in the spirit, or the relationship of the believer to this work must be changed.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)