THE DIFFERENT RESULTS OF THE FUNCTION
OF THE SOUL AND OF THE SPIRIT
What is the difference in the results of the soul’s function and the spirit’s function? This is a great principle; this principle allows us to differentiate between the things of the spirit and the things of the soul. Let us look at 1 Corinthians 15:45: "`The first man, Adam, became a living soul’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit." This verse says that the first man, Adam, became a living soul. This means that the soul is living; it has life and can do whatever it is supposed to do. This refers to the position of Adam. Following this it says, "The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit." This word deserves our attention and is most precious and important. The difference in the results of the soul’s function and the spirit’s function is right here. The soul itself is living and has life, but the Spirit can enliven people and can give life to people. The soul is living in itself, but it cannot give life to people. The Spirit is living and can give life to people. Only the Spirit can give life to people. We may have the strongest and the most living soul, but we cannot give life to others. The Lord says, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing’" (John 6:63a).
Please distinguish these two functions clearly. This is most important. No one can carry out the Lord’s work well if they cannot distinguish the work of the spirit from that of the soul. Let me repeat this: even though the soul is living, it cannot give life to others. The Spirit, however, is not only living, but it can also give life to people. This is why I repeatedly say that we have to put the power of the soul under us. Whatever is from the soul is not worth anything. This is not an argument of words; it involves a great principle. Although the soul is living, it cannot give life to others. Therefore, when we help someone, our purpose should not be to help his mind, but to work in the deepest part of his being; only this can benefit others. We cannot work with the power of the soul. The soul can only live by itself; it cannot save or profit others. We should be very careful and reject everything that comes from the soul! Not only are the things from the soul unable to help people, they actually interfere with God in His work, frustrate Him from getting the glory, and are an offense to Him.
THE DANGER OF WORKING
THROUGH THE POWER OF THE SOUL
Let me give some common examples to illustrate the vast difference between the works of the soul and the works of the spirit. I will not mention the miraculous examples, because I have mentioned them during the past two Lord’s Days. I can say this much: many people use psychological methods in their works in the church today. They use psychology to attract people to their preaching meetings. In meetings of the believers, it is also common to find psychology being employed to stir up people. When you go to a place you can know the kind of work they are doing just by observing the methods they use. Frankly speaking, many teachings only benefit people’s souls; they do not benefit people’s spirits. This kind of preaching can only reach the soul and merely adds more knowledge to the person because it is preached from the soul. We cannot do this, because this kind of work does not reach man’s spirit.
How do many revival meetings work? I want to make it very clear that I am not against believers being revived. But are many of the methods used in revival meetings from the Spirit? Is it not true that in many revival meetings, a revival atmosphere is created to give people a warm feeling and atmosphere? They repeatedly sing some chorus lines to stir people up. They relate moving stories to cause people to testify. These are just methods and means; they are not the power of the Holy Spirit. After the atmosphere is warmed up, the speaker stands up and preaches. In his heart he knows what will happen. The ways are already worked out: some will come and be shaking, and others will come with tears to confess their sins and make resolutions. This kind of revival goes on year after year, and everything remains the same. When the effect of the medicine runs out, the old conditions come back. Some revival meetings last only a few weeks, while others may last three or five months. In the beginning people become very burning and willing to do anything. However, after a while, everything is over. This is only because they have not received any life. For many believers, their history is a history of revivals—one revival followed by a lapse, followed by another revival. The dosage of stimulant used the first time must increase the second time; otherwise, they will not be revived again. The method used next must be more emotional and more exciting before it will take effect. I call this a spiritual "morphine" addiction. After you give an injection to someone the first time, you have to give more injections the second time. Oh, the soul can only give life to itself; it can never give life to others. If you work by the power of the soul, even if you can make men cry, make them resolve to do things, or cause them to become zealous, nothing worthwhile will be produced.
ONLY THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE
What is regeneration? Regeneration is to receive the Lord’s resurrection life. Why does the Bible not say that we are regenerated through the Lord’s birth, but through the Lord’s resurrection? It is because we are not regenerated with the life of Bethlehem. The begotten life may still die, but the resurrection life will never die. The Lord says, "I am...the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living forever" (Rev. 1:17b-18a). The resurrection life never dies; it lives forever. The begotten life is the flesh and may die. The life we received through regeneration will live forever; it will never die.
What is resurrection? We cannot use any human method to enliven a corpse. No matter how much effort we exert or how much warmth we give to it, it will not come alive. The only way for it to be enlivened is to put God’s life into it. The life which enables it to be enlivened is the resurrection life. This is the meaning of resurrection. What is worse than a dead situation? What is colder than a dead situation? A dead corpse will only spoil and stink more and more. However, once we put resurrection life into it, death will be swallowed. Therefore, a regenerated person can reject anything of death and drop anything that is dead.
Someone once spoke of the resurrection life with the following illustration. There was a person who did not believe in resurrection. He was a very renowned person among the atheists. Later he died, and his tombstone was engraved with the words: "A tomb that will never open." The tomb was ornately made with marble. Amazingly, one day the marble cracked. A spruce seed had fallen into a fracture of the stone; it gradually grew into a tree and burst the tomb wide open. A tree has life. That is why it can break the tomb. Only life can overcome death. This is regeneration, and this is resurrection.
The Spirit gives life, and only the Spirit can impart life to people. We should pay attention to this. Today there are many counterfeits of the Spirit.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)