THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RENEWING OF THE NOUS
When we were saved, our nous was enlightened. We think it is sufficient if we have a new heart, but the Bible speaks not only of this; it also says that our nous needs to be renewed. This is very clear in the English translation of the Bible. (In some places the English translation is much clearer than the Chinese translation; while in other places, the Chinese translation is much better than the English translation.) Our nous was new at the time we were saved. But is it renewed? The part that is toward God has been enlightened. But how about the other parts? I am afraid that after many are saved, their nous is not renewed; it remains just as it was before they were saved. I wish to speak very frankly: the thoughts of many believers today are still like those of a sinner. I often sense that the spirit and the heart of many believers are new but that their nous is not. Their nous is just the same as the nous of the sinners. If the nous of the believers has not been renewed, they should not expect to be useful in the hands of God. Therefore, our nous not only needs to be new; it should also be renewed. Our problem today is this: at the time we were saved, we had a great revelation. But since being saved, our nous has not been renewed. Being saved was the biggest revelation of our lives. But have we continued to receive any big revelations other than that one time? I am afraid that many do not have any other big revelations. Surely the revelation of salvation is the greatest revelation of a lifetime. It is a revelation that we will bring into eternity. But do we continuously receive new revelations? When we first believed in the Lord, why were we enlightened to confess our sins? Why were we not afraid of persecution? Why did we allow our parents and others in the world to oppose us, and why were we willing to forsake the world? It was the nous that enabled us to understand salvation, confess our sins, forsake the world, and allow our parents to persecute us. If this light of the nous shone daily in our life, we would not be in the same condition that we are today. We would truly have a living under the shining.
Once there was a girl who loved the world very much and would not forsake it for anything. One day she heard a man preaching in a church. The preaching was not particularly attractive, but the verse he read, "This is the victory which has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4), was attractive. This word captured the girl. She heard him repeat it seven or eight times: "This is the victory which has overcome the world—our faith." She had not known what the world was for her entire life. But that day she realized what the world was. On that day she put the world away. This realization is the knowledge of the nous. Many are not able to put everything away because their nous has not been enlightened to see through it all. Other matters such as listening to a message or working for the Lord are likewise unprofitable if the nous does not cooperate. Every time we listen to a message, we need the cooperation of our nous. Before we were saved, we would not believe, no matter how people tried to persuade us with various reasons. But one day we believed because our nous realized something, and that realization could not be overturned. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Him whom You have sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). What are the functions of the nous? The functions of the nous include the ability to think, judge, and observe.
THE CONDITION OF THE UNRENEWED NOUS
What is the condition of an unrenewed nous? We will discuss the condition in three aspects: (1) toward man, (2) toward God, and (3) toward ourselves. Whether or not our nous has been renewed can be determined by these three aspects: toward man, God, and ourselves. It is determined by how we control our thoughts. (Please take note that nous is the transliteration of the original word. This word is very hard to explain. If translated "mind," it still cannot fully express the original meaning. The nous is composed of the power of apprehension and the thoughts. The original meaning of this word cannot be expressed if it is translated simply as "apprehension" or "thoughts." Therefore, I have no alternative but to use the word nous constantly.)
1. The Unrenewed Nous to Man
If a man’s nous is not renewed, this nous will have some particular experiences in its dealing with men. If a man’s nous is not renewed, naturally he will have some very inaccurate thoughts toward other men. One interesting thing is that he will never trust in anyone; he will always have doubts about others. Only criticisms come out of him; his thoughts are engaged in "splitting hairs" to find fault, and he always speaks poorly of others. We can find out how our nous is by asking ourselves what kind of thoughts we have toward others. The Bible says that the Lord Jesus never judged anyone according to what He saw and heard; He judged everything according to the sense in His spirit. However, we judge others only according to what we see and hear. It would be wonderful if we could, as Paul said, prove all things. The nous of a criticizing believer is wrong. There is a very precious verse in the Epistle to Philemon; Paul said that Philemon had faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ and toward all the saints. If a believer depreciates everyone else, something must be wrong with his nous. Therefore, every time we see others or listen to others speak, we should ask ourselves if we are depreciating them.
I know a brother who always undervalues the things others give to him. For example, if someone gives him something worth two dollars, he will say it is worth only thirty cents. If someone gives him a gift worth thirty dollars, he will say that the gift is worth only about ten dollars. He is not the only one like this; many believers have the same kind of mentality. What is the reason for this? It is because their nous is worldly and old. Worldly people always think that others are not good, that others are wrong, and that there are always hidden words behind the words of others, just as there are fillings within pie. This is not the way we should think. The reason we have these kinds of thoughts is that our nous is not renewed and also Satan is working behind us. An unrenewed nous is the base for Satan’s working. Everything from Adam can become the base for Satan’s working.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)