The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, by Watchman Nee


The cross is not merely a doctrine. It has to be carried out in practice. The cross has to be realized in us; all the things that belong to us have to be destroyed. As we are smitten once, twice, many times, there will come a time when spontaneously we will become sober; we will no longer be arrogant. The way is not through denying our arrogance when our memory reminds us of it. That kind of denial will disappear in five minutes. Only after a man passes through God’s chastisement will his pride be forever stripped. A man may be proud at first, but after he is smitten by God once, twice, many times, he will begin to humble himself, and his arrogance will begin to erode away. No teaching, doctrine, or memorization will destroy the outer man. Only God’s chastisement and the Spirit’s discipline will destroy it. When a person is dealt with by God, spontaneously he will not dare to be proud. He does not have to force himself to remember this lesson. He does not act this way because he has heard a message a few days ago about it. He is not acting according to teaching. His pride has been knocked out, removed. He abhors his own methods and views them like fire; he is afraid of being burned. We live by God’s grace, not by our memory. God has to smite us to the extent that we will be the same whether or not we remember to act that way. Such a work is reliable and lasting. When the Lord finishes such a work in us, we will not only receive grace and be strong in our inner being, but the outer man which was once a hindrance and frustration to the Lord’s word, purpose, and presence will now be broken. Formerly, the outer man and the inner man could not be joined together. Now the outer man prostrates in fear and trembling; it has yielded itself to God and is no longer at odds with the inner man.

Every one of us needs to go through dealings from the Lord. In looking back, we find the Lord dealing with us item by item. He is continually breaking our outer shell and knocking down our outward independence, pride, and selfishness. When we look back at all that has happened in the past, we have to acknowledge that everything the Lord has done is meaningful.

I hope that God’s children would see the significance of the discipline of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to see that we are poor, that we have been going against Him, that we have failed, that we have lived in darkness, walked by ourselves, and been proud and arrogant for a long time. Now we know that the Lord’s hand is on us to break us. Let us put ourselves in His hand unreservedly and unconditionally, praying that this breaking work will be accomplished in us. Brothers and sisters, the outer man must be broken! Do not try to save the outer man from being wrecked while hoping to build up the inner man. As we pay attention to the work of breaking, we will spontaneously witness the work of building.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)