Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), by Watchman Nee


Since we have seen that the Holy Spirit indwells the believers at the time of their regeneration, we should see in more detail where the Holy Spirit dwells so that we can understand His work within us.

We must remember that the real meaning of regeneration is not an outward change or the soul and the body being stimulated, but it is the spirit receiving life. Regeneration is a new event which takes place within the human spirit. It is the enlivening of the deadened spirit. The reason the deadened spirit can be made alive is due to receiving a new life. But the most important point is that when we receive a new spirit, we also receive the Holy Spirit of God to dwell within us. The phrase "put within you" occurs twice in Ezekiel 36:26-27 and indicates that the place where the Holy Spirit dwells is the human spirit.

We have seen that our whole being is just like the holy temple. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). What the apostle means is that because believers are the temple of God, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is just like God dwelling in the holy temple in the old days. Although the entire temple signifies the presence of God and is the dwelling place of God, the actual place of God’s dwelling is in the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place and outer court are only places for God to work and move according to His presence in the Holy of Holies. Our spirit is signified by the Holy of Holies. According to this illustration, the Holy Spirit indwelling our spirit is a very clear matter.

The nature of the dweller and the dwelling place are the same. After man’s regeneration, only man’s regenerated spirit is an adequate dwelling place of the Holy Spirit—not his mind, emotion, will, and body. He is the Builder and also the Dweller. He cannot dwell before He builds. He builds because He wants to dwell. He can only dwell in the place which He has built.

As we have mentioned, the holy ointment cannot be poured upon man’s flesh. We have also mentioned that everything of man before his regeneration, regardless of which part, in its totality is called "flesh" in the Bible. Therefore, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in man’s flesh. This also indicates clearly that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in man’s mind, emotion, will, or body. Not to mention that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in any part of man’s soul or body, He cannot dwell even in man’s unregenerated spirit. Just as the holy ointment cannot be poured upon the flesh, in the same way, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in any part of the "flesh." The Spirit can only lust against the flesh (Gal. 5:17); He has no other relationship with the flesh. Therefore, unless something different from the flesh exists in man, there is no way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in man. Therefore, the regeneration of the spirit is very important because the Holy Spirit dwells in the new spirit, which is different from the flesh.

The Holy Spirit indwelling man’s spirit is a very important thing. If a believer does not know that the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is in the deepest part of his whole being, which is deeper than his mind, emotion, and will, he will surely seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in his mind, emotion, and will. If we understand this, then we will know that we were deceived before and were wrong in looking outward, outside the spirit in the soul, or inside or outside the body for guidance. The Holy Spirit is indeed dwelling in the deepest part of our being. Therefore, His work can only be expected to be seen there; His guidance can only be found there. Our prayer is toward the "heavenly Father," but the heavenly Father is within us leading us. Our Comforter is within our spirit. Therefore, His guidance also issues from there. If we seek a sign from a dream, vision, voice, or feeling outside of our spirit, then we will be deceived.

Many believers often look inwardly, searching into their own thinking, feeling, and opinion to see whether they have peace, how much grace they have received, or what kind of progress they have made. This is not of faith, and it is very harmful. This causes the believer to turn his eyes away from Christ to himself. But there is another kind of inward looking which is different from the one just mentioned. The greatest deed of faith is to look to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the spirit. The believer’s mind, emotion, and will cannot sense the things within him, yet even in darkness he must believe that God has given him a new spirit, within which dwells the Holy Spirit. Just as God who dwelt behind the dark veil was believed, feared, and yet not seen by man, the Holy Spirit indwelling man’s spirit also cannot be sensed by his soul and body.

After seeing this, we know what is the real spiritual life. It is not many thoughts and visions in the mind; neither is it many enthusiastic, joyful, and happy feelings in the emotion; nor is it sudden shakings, penetrations, and contacts brought by outward forces upon the body. Rather, it is a life issuing from the Spirit which is in the deepest part of a man. A real spiritual life is deeper than the mind, the feelings, and the consciousness of the body. It is in the deepest part of a man. Truly walking according to the spirit is knowing the moving of the innermost spirit and following it. No matter how wonderful experiences in the mind, emotion, and will are, if they are just outward, not even deeper than feelings, then these experiences are not of the spirit. Only the effect produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in man’s spirit can be counted as a spiritual experience. Anything else is just thought and feeling. A spiritual living needs faith.

Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit"—not the heart or the soul—"that we are children of God." Man’s spirit is the part where man works together with the Holy Spirit. How do we know that we have been saved through regeneration and are the children of God? We know because our spirit has been made alive and the Holy Spirit lives in our spirit. Our spirit is a regenerated and renewed spirit, and He who dwells in, yet is distinct from, our spirit is the Holy Spirit. He bears witness with our spirit within us.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)