The Renewing of the Mind, by Watchman Nee


I have mentioned only a few conditions of a sick nous. The root of all sickness can be traced to the position of the heart. The reason many people are depressed and dull in their mind is that they are lazy in their heart. This is like patients who have become so accustomed to sickness that they eventually like being sick. They would rather be sick than get up and work. Many times when the mind is too tired to think or work, it should take some rest. But if a person always dislikes working, his heart must be lazy. When a man’s mind thinks too much or when it thinks nothing at all, it is a symptom that the nous is sick.

The apostle said in Ephesians 4:18 that because of the hardness of their hearts, the Gentiles were alienated from the life of God, and God’s light could not shine into their nous. Because the light of God’s life cannot shine into their nous, their nous is darkened, and the function of their nous is also darkened. The condition of their nous is due to the hardness of their heart. This is the condition of the Gentiles. Before God there is a danger of a believer being in the same condition as the Gentiles.


We want to know how we can have our nous renewed. We have the new life. We also have the new heart. Our nous has been renewed at least once and has been enlightened by God at least once. What we need to do now is to open our nous to God daily, so that we can receive everything from God, know God’s will, understand God’s desire, and understand the teaching of the Bible. This is our emphasis today. Brothers, do you want to understand God’s will? Do you want to understand God’s desire? Do you want to understand the teaching of the Bible? If you do, your nous must be renewed.

In the passage in Ephesians 4:17-24, the apostle says that since we have heard and been taught the reality in Jesus, we should manifest it in a practical way. His exhortation after verse 24 is based on his teaching given in verses 20 through 24. In other words, verses 20 through 24 are the facts which Christians possess in the Lord, and the following verses show the conduct that Christians ought to have based on that position. Today I am not going to talk about this whole passage. Rather, I will consider the renewing of the mind and its relationship with the old man and the new, based on our position in the Lord in this passage. As far as the fact is concerned, we have put off the old man in Christ. However, this does not mean that in experience we will not see the shadow of the old man. Positionally, our nous has been renewed. But this does not mean that we do not need to renew our mind frequently. Frequent renewing of the nous is essential.


Verses 22-23 say, "That you put off, as regards your former manner of life, the old man, which is being corrupted according to the lusts of the deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your nous." Notice the phrase "the spirit of your nous." There is a special relationship between the nous and the spirit. If we want the spirit of our nous to be renewed, we must put off the old man. If we do not put off the old man in our experience, we will not be able to experience the renewing of our mind.

Putting off the old man is a specific matter; it is like a gate which we go through, rather than a road which extends continuously. Believers must have a specific and definite dealing. A gate is different from a road. Passing a school entrance examination is a gate; studying after getting into the school is a road. If a believer wants to ask himself if he has a renewed nous, he only needs to ask if he has ever specifically put off the old man, the former manner of life, and put on the new man. Please notice another thing: the old man in Romans 6 is spoken of in a different way than it is spoken of here. Romans 6:6 speaks of the facts we have in the Lord; it speaks of our old man being crucified. This is why we only have to reckon and believe. Ephesians 4 does not speak of the fact of crucifixion, but the fact of putting off. The crucifixion is something that we need to believe in; it is a matter of faith. But "putting off" is something of the will. Putting off something is an act of the will. We not only must believe that our old man is crucified, but we must also exercise the power of our will to cast away our old man. If we only exercise faith, without exercising the will to remove the old man, it will not work. We need our will as much as we need our faith.

This passage shows us that if we want our understanding and mind to be renewed, we must specifically put off our old man. If we want to be renewed continuously, we must put off continuously. Just as we exercise our will to take off our clothes and cast them aside when we undress, we should exercise our will to specifically put off the old man and cast it aside. Everything that belongs to the old man, whether it is our speech, thoughts, or behavior, should be specifically cast aside; we should reject everything sinful, unclean, or of the self. At the same time, we must seek the Lord single-heartedly and trust in the Holy Spirit to renew our nous. This renewing work belongs to the Holy Spirit. If we remove the obstacles and trust in Him to do the renewing work, He will renew our nous gradually.

(The Renewing of the Mind, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)