THE GOAL OF SPIRITUAL WORK
The goal of spiritual work is nothing other than the spirit of man receiving life and building up the spirit which has life. If the aim of our work does not pay attention to the spirit in the deepest part of man, then our work will not have any spiritual value and result. Sinners do not need some sort of beautiful thought; rather, they need life. Believers do not need more knowledge of the Bible; rather, they need something which can feed their spiritual life. If all that we have is just excellent paragraphs, clever illustrations, deep meanings, wise words, or clear reasonings, then we can only give the mind of man one more thought, the emotion one more stimulation, and the will one more decision. After so much effort, we still allow the person upon whom we have worked to go away just as he came—with a dead spirit. A sinner does not need better reasonings, more tears, or a firmer resolve; he needs the resurrection of the spirit. A believer does not need the building up of the outward man; he needs the more abundant life which can make his spirit grow. If we pay attention only to the outward man and forget the inner man, the spirit of man, then all our work, even though it is complete and absolute, will eventually be empty. This work is the same as not working and may even be worse because time is wasted!
A person may be emotionally touched, shed tears, confess his sins, understand doctrines, admit the reasonableness of redemption, be interested in religion, resolve, repent, sign his name, read the Bible, pray, be "revived," rejoice, and testify. However, his spirit may still not have received the life of God and may be just as dead as before. The soul of man can do all these things regardless of whether his spirit is dead or alive. We do not despise them, but we know that if the spirit is not made alive, these things are just sprouts with no roots and will dry up when the sun shines on them. In the regeneration of the spirit, there may be these expressions outwardly in the soul; however, in the deepest part of his whole being he has received a new life, enabling him to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. If the spirit has not resurrected so that he can know God in the intuition, none of the work will have any spiritual result.
We must realize that it is possible to have a "false faith" and a "false regeneration." Many have confused "apprehending" with "believing." To apprehend is just to understand in the mind that this doctrine is reasonable and believable. To believe, in the biblical sense, is to be united. To believe that the Lord Jesus died for us is to unite ourselves in the death of the Lord Jesus. A person may understand the doctrine, but he may not believe in the Lord Jesus. We should pay attention to the fact that man is not saved by his own doings but by receiving eternal life through believing in the Son of God. Man must believe in the Son of God. Many have "believed the doctrine of redemption" but have not believed in the redeeming Savior. Many have put the blood of the Lamb in the container but have not applied this blood on the door of their heart. Regeneration may also be false! The living of many so-called Christians seems to be the same as that of the genuinely regenerated. They are very clean, pious, and willing to help others; they know how to pray, often read the Bible, often come to meetings, and are very loving! They exert a great effort to lead others to believe in Christ. Although they have all these things and even say that the Lord Jesus is their Savior, they have a basic lack. They do not know God in their intuition. They may hear and talk about God, but they do not know God, nor do they have a personal knowledge of God. "My own know Me...and they shall hear My voice" (John 10:14, 16). Those who do not know the Lord and do not know the Lord’s voice are not the Lord’s genuine sheep.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)