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


In summary, a believer must understand all the laws of the spirit before he can walk according to the spirit. If he is not watchful, and does not cooperate with God, he will become fallen. The most important law of the spirit is to examine the condition of the spirit. An examination of the condition of the spirit is the central issue that we have spoken about in the above discussion.

A believer should understand the condition of his own spirit. He should know the normal condition of the spirit and when the spirit has lost its normalcy. The spirit should rule over man’s soul and body; it should have the highest preeminence and be the most powerful part. A believer should check to see if this is indeed the condition of his spirit. He should know if his spirit has lost its normalcy and is being agitated through warfare or the environment. There are generally four kinds of conditions with the spirit:

(1) The spirit is oppressed and suffers a setback.

(2) The spirit is calm, steady, and in the proper position.

(3) The spirit is agitated and forced to overreact.

(4) The spirit is defiled and has become sick (2 Cor. 7:1); it has given ground to sin.

A believer must at least know these four conditions of his spirit, and he must know how to deal with them. Many times through his own carelessness or through the attacks of the enemy, a believer’s spirit is "pushed aside," and becomes depressed. At such times, he loses his heavenly, bright, and victorious position and becomes cold, crippled, and flattened. The spirit can become depressed through sorrow or a hundred other reasons, losing its soaring joy. When the spirit is oppressed, it falls below the line of normalcy.

Sometimes the spirit can also be agitated and moved beyond its proper position. A believer can be excited in the soul and become ecstatic to the extent that his spirit is agitated and loses its calmness. Sometimes a believer follows the "creaturely vigor" to the extent that he has an "unrestrained spirit." Uncontrollable laughter and many other reasons can cause the spirit to become wild and uncontrollable. Prolonged warfare with the enemy can also result in overactivity of the spirit. Satan can cause a believer’s spirit to become overstretched during or after Satan’s conflict with him to the extent that he cannot stop his spirit’s activity and hold his composure. Satan can give believers a strange kind of happiness or many other things that cause their spirit to act beyond the control of their mind or will. When this happens, believers are no longer able to guard themselves, and they fail.

Sometimes, the spirit is neither too high nor too low, but it is defiled. Sometimes the defilement appears as an attitude in one’s spirit like stubbornness and disobedience. Sometimes it appears as sins in the spirit like pride and jealousy. At still other times, it appears as a mixture of soulish activities in the spirit like natural love, feelings, and thoughts. Once the spirit is defiled, it has to be cleansed (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 John 1:9).

If a believer desires to walk according to the spirit, he must understand his spirit’s condition. Is his spirit in a calm and proper condition, or is it in a position that is too low, too high, or defiled? He should know how to uplift his suppressed spirit so that it will match the standard of the Holy Spirit. He should know how to exercise his will to stop the hyperactive spirit and turn it back to its normal condition. He should know how to cleanse his defiled spirit so that he can once again work with God.

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