The body has its senses, and the spirit also has its senses. The spirit dwells in the body and has a very close relationship with the body; nevertheless, it is completely different from the body. The body has various senses, but a spiritual man can detect that which is beyond his physical senses. There is another sense in the innermost part of his being which can rejoice, grieve, fear, approve, condemn, determine, and discern. These are the senses of the spirit which are distinct from the senses of the soul expressed through the body.
The senses and functions of the spirit can be seen from the following verses:
"The spirit is willing" (Matt. 26:41).
"Jesus, knowing fully in His spirit" (Mark 2:8).
"He groaned deeply in His spirit" (Mark 8:12).
"My spirit has exulted in God my Savior" (Luke 1:47).
"The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truthfulness" (John 4:23).
"He...was moved with indignation in His spirit" (John 11:33).
"When Jesus had said these things, He became troubled in His spirit" (John 13:21).
"His spirit was provoked within him as he beheld that the city was full of idols" (Acts 17:16).
"This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in spirit" (Acts 18:25).
"Paul purposed in his spirit" (Acts 19:21).
"I am going bound in the spirit to Jerusalem" (Acts 20:22).
"Burning in spirit" (Rom. 12:11).
"For who among men knows the things of man, except the spirit of man which is in him?" (1 Cor. 2:11).
"I will sing with the spirit" (1 Cor. 14:15).
"If you bless with the spirit" (1 Cor. 14:16).
"I had no rest in my spirit" (2 Cor. 2:13).
"Having the same spirit of faith" (2 Cor. 4:13).
"A spirit of wisdom and revelation" (Eph. 1:17).
"Your love in the Spirit" (Col. 1:8).
Now we can see how keen the sense of man’s spirit is and how numerous its functions are. The Bible does not say man’s heart senses and functions in this way, but his spirit does sense or function in this way. We must read the above verses very carefully to realize that the human spirit possesses all these functions. After thoroughly reading them, we will see that the functions and senses of the human spirit are as inclusive as those of the soul. Whether it is thoughts, decisions, or feelings, as long as it is something that the soul has, the spirit has it also. This shows us how important it is to learn to distinguish the spiritual from the soulish. As a believer passes through the deep work of the cross and Holy Spirit, he gradually becomes experienced and knows what is of the soul and what is of the spirit.
After a believer has embarked on a spiritual life, his spirit’s senses and functions grow and fully develop. Before a believer’s spirit is separated from the soul and joined to the Lord as one spirit, it is hard for him to notice the senses in his spirit. But once the power of the Holy Spirit is poured into his spirit and his inner man is strengthened, his spirit will possess the senses and functions of a full-grown man. Only then will he be able to understand the various senses of his spirit.
This sense of the spirit is called the intuition because it comes without any cause or reason. It comes "intuitively" without passing through any means. Our ordinary senses are aroused by specific means, which may be people, things, or events. These things give rise to certain feelings. If there is something to rejoice about, we rejoice. If there is something to be sorrowful about, we feel sorrow. All these senses are aroused by something; therefore, they cannot be called intuition. The sense of the spirit does not come from any means but comes directly from our inner being.
The soul and the spirit are quite similar. Believers should not follow their soul, which means that they should not follow their thoughts, feelings, or preferences. These are all from the soul. God’s way for the believers is to walk according to the spirit. All other ways belong to the old creation and have no spiritual value at all. How, then, can we walk according to the spirit? Walking according to the spirit is walking according to the intuition in the spirit; this is because the intuition of the spirit expresses the thought of the spirit and of God.
Many times we intend to do certain things, and we may have plenty of reasons for doing them. Our heart may desire certain things, and this desire may be very good. Furthermore, our will may decide to carry out the intentions of our mind and desire. However, in the deepest part of our being, there is something unspeakable, silent, heavy, pressing, and lurking which fights against our mind’s thoughts, our emotion’s desires, and our will’s determinations. This complex feeling in our heart seems to tell us that we should not do these things. On other occasions this experience may be different. It may start with our innermost being having the same unspeakable, silent, heavy, pressing, and lurking feeling as we had before, which urges, presses, moves, or encourages us to do certain things. These things seem to us to be unreasonable and irrational and are contrary to our ordinary thoughts. These things are opposite to what we ordinarily desire, favor, prefer, love, and hold dear, and our will has no desire to perform them.
What is this thing which acts contrary to our mind, emotion, and will? It is the intuition of the spirit. The spirit expresses its thought through the intuition. Now we can see the difference between the intuition and the feelings of our emotion. Frequently, what we feel to do is just the opposite of the warning of this inward, silent intuition. This intuition is also completely different from our mind. Our mind comes from our head and is rational. However, the intuition is not located in our head and quite frequently is irrational. The Holy Spirit reveals His own thoughts through the intuition of the spirit. The "prompting" of the Holy Spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit in our spirit which causes our intuition to understand His will. Now we can distinguish between what is from the Holy Spirit and what is from the self and Satan. The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit is in our spirit, and our spirit is the center of our whole being. Hence, when the Holy Spirit reveals His will through our intuition, He does it through the innermost part of our being. The believers’ own will, however, lies in the outer part of his being. Our thoughts come from the outside, and our feelings also lie in our outward parts. Once we see that our opinions come from our mind or emotion—our outward man—we will know that they are just our own thoughts and not the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The prompting of the Holy Spirit always comes from the deepest part of our being. The same distinction can be said for things from Satan (except those who are demon possessed). Satan does not dwell in the believer’s spirit. His dwelling place is in the world. "Greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Satan can only invade the believers from the outside. He either works through the cravings and sensations of our body or through our mind and emotion, because the body and soul both belong to the outward man. Therefore, the believers should be very careful to discern whether or not their feelings come from the innermost part of their being or from their outward man.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)