THE DEPRESSION OF THE SPIRIT
Believers become depressed in their spirit mostly when they turn inward to look at themselves. It may also be due to the fact that the soul-life is still functioning and has not yet been replaced. As a result, they consider all the experiences as their own. It may also be caused by the invasion of the power of darkness from the outside, or even by self-centered prayer and worship. If the believers’ spirit is turned inward instead of outward, God’s power will immediately stop. If they do not deal with this introspection immediately, they will quickly find themselves surrounded by the soul.
Sometimes the spirit will indulge in the soul. This happens when believers are deceived by the evil spirits. The evil spirits give believers bodily feelings and all kinds of strange, happy experiences. If the believers are not alert, they will think that these things are from God, and they will subconsciously live in the world of feelings and drag the spirit into the place of the soul.
Sometimes believers are deceived, and their spirits are depressed because they do not understand the position Christ holds. The Holy Spirit abides in the believers for the purpose of unveiling to them the Christ that is sitting on the throne. The books of Acts, Ephesians, and Hebrews clearly depict Christ’s position in heaven today. The believers’ spirit is joined to the heavenly Christ, but in their ignorance, they may turn inward to look for Christ. They may try to be joined to the Christ within them. In this way, their spirit cannot be uplifted above the clouds, and they are depressed and fall into the realm of the soul.
In short, these activities keep the believers in a life of feeling rather than a life in the spirit. The believers should realize that before they were spiritual, they did not live practically in the spirit, and there was no need for much counterfeit work from the enemy. But once they have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit infused into their spirit, a new world seems to open up before them. It is a world that they have never known before. The danger lies here. Satan’s work is to prevent the believers from living a life in the spirit, because such a life is very damaging to him. His tactic is to entice and deceive the believers with the senses of the soul and the body, causing them to think that these are spiritual experiences to indulge in.
Many believers have entered into a spiritual living. Yet because they do not understand the laws of the spirit, they fail. Satan will give believers all kinds of physical feelings and supernatural experiences. If believers depend on outward, supernatural things or spiritual experiences in their senses, they will suffer many hindrances in the spiritual life within their spirit. When this happens, believers will live in the outward soul or the body which frustrates the innermost spirit from working together with God. Under such circumstances, the soul and the body will surely be uplifted once again; they will gain ascendancy, and the spirit will eventually be completely submerged.
When the spirit is depressed, its senses are suppressed. This is the reason many spiritual believers often feel that their spirit is gone. When the soul and the body occupy too prominent a position, and when the whole person lives by the senses, the soul and the body will have an acute feeling of suppression, suffering, and conflict. When this happens, man’s senses will supersede the work of the spirit, and the senses of the spirit will be buried under the strong feelings of the soul and the body. As a result, all spiritual living and work will come to a standstill. If this continues for a long time, the person will become completely fallen and may even become possessed by the evil spirits.
Therefore, we have to reject everything that kills the spirit’s senses. We should reject uncontrollable laughter, deep grief, and all of the intense signals from the body. The body should be completely calm. It is even wrong to feel supernatural things and to be overly sensitive towards natural things. These things will only cause the mind to walk according to the body, not according to the spirit. We should not allow anything to stop us from knowing the smallest senses in the spirit.
Once the spirit is depressed, the soul surrounds the spirit and controls the spirit. Hence, a believer must learn to maintain his spirit in a constant outward posture; it should never turn itself inward. A believer should realize that if his spirit is not turned outward in an assault on Satan, Satan will attack his spirit instead and cause his spirit to become depressed. Only when the believers’ spirit is flowing outward will the Holy Spirit spread His own life to others through their spirit. If believers turn to themselves and suppress their spirit, the flow of the Holy Spirit is immediately blocked. The outflow and gushing forth of the Holy Spirit is carried out through the believers’ spirit. If the believers turn inward and suppress their spirit, the life of the Holy Spirit will not be able to flow out.
Hence, believers have to know the reason for any depression in their spirit, and they should know how to recover their spirit to its original position. Once a believer detects any leakage in his spirit, he should realize that his spirit is sick and that he should seek a remedy at once.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)