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


The Holy Spirit is inside a believer; but the believer either does not know it or he fails to obey Him. Therefore, he must know the Holy Spirit who indwells him and completely obey Him. The believer must know that God’s Holy Spirit, being a person, indwells him to teach, guide, and give the "reality," the truth, in Christ to the believer. This work of the Holy Spirit can be done only after the believer acknowledges how ignorant and dull his soul is, and he decides that, even though he is foolish, he is willing to be taught. The believer must be willing to let the Holy Spirit take hold of everything and reveal the truth. When the believer knows that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in the deepest part of his being, in his spirit, and waits for His teaching, then the Holy Spirit can work. When we do not pursue on our own and are completely willing to be taught, the Holy Spirit can teach us the truth in a way that our mind is able to digest. Otherwise, there is danger. When we know that within us there is a spirit, God’s Holiest of all, which is deeper than mind and emotion and is able to fellowship with the Holy Spirit and when we wait for God’s Holy Spirit, then we know that He truly indwells us. When we confess Him and honor Him, He will manifest His power and work from that hidden place inside us and will allow the life of our soul and consciousness to have His life.

The Corinthian believers were fleshly. When Paul persuaded them to leave their fleshly situation, he exhorted them more than once that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit was indwelling them. Knowing that the Holy Spirit indwells a believer is a help in getting out of the fleshly situation. The believer must know by faith, know entirely, know clearly, and know constantly that the Holy Spirit indeed indwells him. The believer should not only know the doctrines in the Bible that speak about the Holy Spirit; he should know the Holy Spirit Himself. With this kind of knowledge, the believer should commit himself unreservedly to the Holy Spirit to be renewed and willingly submit the various parts of his soul and body to Him, allowing Him to guide and correct.

The apostle asked the Corinthian believers saying, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). He seemed to be astonished at their lack of awareness of such a sure thing. He considered the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be the very first result of salvation, yet they did not know this! It does not matter what the believers’ level is, even a level as low as the Corinthian believers. What a pity it is that many believers may not be higher than them! They should clearly know this fact. Without knowing this, a believer will be fleshly and unable to be spiritual. If you have never experienced His indwelling, have you ever known in faith that He indwells you?

When we consider how the Holy Spirit is God, how He is one of the Triune God, how He is the life of the Father and the Son, and then further consider His honor and how He indwells us, who are fleshly, we will surely fear, honor, and praise Him. The Lord Jesus took the likeness of sinful flesh, and the Holy Spirit dwells inside the likeness of sinful flesh. What grace this is!


The strengthening of the Holy Spirit is needed for the spirit of man to control the soul and body of man and to be the channel of the Holy Spirit flowing out life to the multitudes. Ephesians 3:16 says, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man." These are the words which the apostle prayed for the believers. If it were not so important, the apostle surely would not have prayed in this manner. He asked God to strengthen the believer’s inner man through His Spirit. The "inner man" is the believer’s new man, which the believer has only after believing in the Lord. Therefore, this is the spirit of the believer, the regenerated spirit. The prayer of the apostle is for the spirit of the believer to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that it can become strong.

This verse tells us that some believers have weak spirits, while others have strong spirits. Whether a believer’s spirit is strong depends on whether or not he has specially been given power by the Holy Spirit. The believers at Ephesus had long been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Therefore, what the apostle prayed for on their behalf surely must have been a gift other than the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The meaning of the apostle’s prayer is that they would not only receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in their spirit, but they would also have the special power of the Holy Spirit poured into their spirit to enable their inner man to become strong. A believer may have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his spirit and still have a weak spirit.

A believer must realize the weakness of his own spirit. Then he will pray for the Holy Spirit to fill his spirit with power; being filled with power in the spirit is the need of the believer. Many times the body of a believer is in excellent condition, but he feels a little lazy. At such times, working for the Lord seems unbearable, and his heart is most unwilling. This shows that his spirit is weak and unable to control the emotion. Sometimes the believer may feel very excited, but his body is a little lazy. At such times, laboring for the Lord also seems impossible. In the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples indeed had this kind of experience. What was the reason for this? It was because "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). To be willing in the spirit is not enough; the spirit must also be strong. When the spirit is strong, it can overcome the weakness of the flesh. Sometimes when a believer is preaching and working on someone, it seems as though he is unable to do anything and has no way to manage him. This is because of the lack of power in the believer’s spirit. If the situation were the opposite, when the believer could not save him, it would not be due to a lack of power but because that person did not want to be saved. This is also the case in regards to the environment. Due to outside confusion, the believer may also feel that he is affected. If the spirit is strong, then he can manage the most confused situations in a calm and composed manner. Prayer is the greatest test of the spirit’s strength. Those whose spirits are strong can pray much and will not quit before the prayer is answered. Those whose spirits are weak will find it difficult to petition God for several years or several decades without being tired and discouraged. This is the case in all matters. Only those with a strong spirit have the energy to go forward continuously without regard to the environment or feelings. Otherwise, they soon feel that they cannot bear it any longer. In regard to fighting with Satan, there is even more need of power in the spirit. Only those who really have power in the spirit will know how to exercise the power of the spirit to resist and attack the enemy. Without power, all the fighting is just a dramatic struggle. If it is not from the mind’s imagination, then it is from the excitement of feelings, and sometimes it may even be the natural strength of the flesh.

Therefore, in order for the believer to receive this power of the Holy Spirit, some works must be accomplished on his side. He must have a specific surrender; he must get rid of all the dubious things and actions in his life; he must be willing to fully obey the will of God; he must believe that God will pour the power of the Holy Spirit into his spirit; and he must pray for this matter. If there is no obstacle on the side of the believer, God will immediately accomplish what he hopes for. The believer does not need to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and fill him, because the Holy Spirit has descended long ago. The believer only has to wait for the cross to work deeply enough within him to fulfill the necessary condition for the Holy Spirit’s filling. If the believer is faithful, obedient, and believing, then in a very short time the power of the Holy Spirit will be poured into his spirit, making him strong and providing the strength to live and work. For some believers, just one instance of surrendering to the Lord may enable them to immediately receive this filling without any delay, because they have fulfilled the necessary condition for the Holy Spirit’s filling.

The pouring of the Holy Spirit’s power into the believer—it may also be called the believer’s being filled by the Holy Spirit—is a matter which occurs in the spirit, the inner man. The Holy Spirit does not fill man’s feeling or body, rather He fills the spirit of man. The "inner man" is aroused and becomes strong with energy from the Holy Spirit, not the outward man. This is most important, because it will keep us from seeking for physical feelings, such as shakings, spasms, and falling down, when we seek the filling of the Holy Spirit, rather than simply applying faith (Gal. 3:14). However, a believer must be careful never to regard his faith as an excuse for not needing the inward strengthening of the Holy Spirit. The conditions must be fulfilled, and the attitude must be firm. God will accomplish His promise.

If we read what the apostle said in the subsequent passage concerning how to apprehend, know, and be filled, then we will realize that the strengthening in the spirit causes the consciousness of our spirit to become very clearly manifest. The spirit, like the body, has its functions and consciousness. When the believer has not yet had the power of the Holy Spirit poured abundantly into his spirit, it is very difficult for him to perceive the intuition of his spirit. Once he has had the new experience of being strengthened in the spirit, his spirit’s intuition becomes clearly manifest. Consequently, many believers will more easily know the intuition of their own spirit because their inner man has become strong. When this happens, they will be more able to feel the slight movements of their spirit.

A spirit that is full of the power of the Holy Spirit can control the soul and body and make them completely submissive. Regardless of whether it is thought, desire, feeling, or intention, everything must be controlled by the spirit. This will keep the soul from acting independently; rather, the soul will be the steward of the spirit. This will also enable the Holy Spirit to flow out the life of God through the spirit of the believer so that He may water and revive those who are dried up and dead. This is different from the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This strengthening emphasizes life or living (it also affects the work); however, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is particularly for the purpose of the work.

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