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


The human spirit is like an electric light. When it comes into contact with the Holy Spirit, it becomes full of light. When it is detached from the Spirit, it immediately becomes dark. The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord (Prov. 20:27). God’s goal is to fill it with light. Yet many times a believer’s spirit becomes darkened. This is because his spirit has lost contact with the Holy Spirit, and as a result it becomes darkened. If we want to know whether a believer’s spirit has been isolated from the Holy Spirit, all we need to see is whether the spirit has lost its light.

We have said that God’s Holy Spirit dwells in man’s spirit. Man cooperates with the Holy Spirit through his spirit. When the human spirit deviates from its normal condition, it becomes isolated from the Holy Spirit and loses its light. It is very important for a believer to maintain his spirit in a healthy condition, so that it can cooperate with the Holy Spirit. If the spirit is troubled by outward circumstances, it immediately becomes useless; it is not be able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and becomes darkened.

All of the above situations can cause the spirit to neglect its responsibility and fail to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Once the spirit has neglected its responsibility, victory becomes impossible. If a believer feels that his spirit is gone when he wakes up in the morning, the enemy may make him think that he has worked too hard the night before and that his body is tired. If believers are not on the alert, they will allow their spirit to neglect its responsibility. They will find that they have no strength to withstand the temptations of the day and to fulfill the work of the day. They should immediately look into the matter, realizing that their body should not affect their spirit; rather, their spirit should be living and strong, controlling their body. After they understand this, they should confess that their spirit has neglected its duty and is under the attack of the enemy. At such times they should immediately attempt to recover their former condition. If they do not do this, they will fail when they go out to meet others. When our spirit neglects its duty in the morning, we must not allow it to continue this way throughout the day, because this is the way of defeat.

After the believers realize that their spirit has neglected its duty, they should immediately reject all the works of Satan and the cause of all his works. If it is an attack from the enemy, their spirit will be free once they repudiate the attack. But if there is some other reason for the attack, meaning that the believers have given the enemy some ground, they should study the reason for the attacks and remove its ground accordingly. This is very much related to the believers’ past history. They should consider how the enemy has attacked their spirit and consider their environment, family, relatives, children, and careers. They should pray over these things one by one. If they feel that they should pray for something, and while praying feel somewhat relieved in their spirit, they should realize that they have identified the cause of the attack. They should then remove the cause before God. After they pray, they should be free, and their spirit should resume its functions. Sometimes the spirit’s negligence of duty occurs when believers leave their spirit alone and do not exercise control over it or direct it in the right track. "The spirits of prophets are subject to prophets" (1 Cor. 14:32). Those who "follow their own spirit" are "the foolish prophets" (Ezek. 13:3). This is very important. If believers do not exercise their will to control their spirit, to prevent it from being too much or too little, and if they do not maintain a cooperation between their spirit and the Holy Spirit, their spirit has neglected its duty. Believers should realize that the human spirit can become wild. This is why Proverbs says that there is a "haughty spirit" (Prov. 16:18). Man’s spirit can act independently of the Holy Spirit. If a believer does not exercise any control over his spirit and make it subject to the Holy Spirit, it can act independently. Hence, a believer must be on the alert all the time and not allow his spirit to deviate from God’s track or from a quiet fellowship with God; otherwise, he will no longer be able to cooperate with God.

Sometimes, the negligence of duty in the spirit is caused by a hardening of the believer’s spirit. God needs a tender spirit for His will to be expressed. If the spirit is haughty, self-assured, and not humble, the work of the Holy Spirit will be hindered. Only a yielding spirit will fulfill the Holy Spirit’s will. A believer must have a willing spirit (Exo. 35:21), and he must be willing to respond to the will of the Holy Spirit within the shortest period of time. A believer’s spirit must be very sensitive to be able to sense the small voice of the Holy Spirit and respond immediately. If there is the slightest stubbornness in a believer’s spirit, he will not be able to carry out God’s will and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit within his spirit. Hence, believers must maintain their spirit in a pliable condition and always follow the tender sense in their spirit. This is what the apostle meant when he said, "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thes. 5:19). Believers should be careful to follow all the work, feeling, and sense of the spirit. If they do this, the sense of their spirit will become keener and keener. Moreover, God will make His will known to them.

If believers desire to walk according to the spirit, they should know when their spirit has become negligent in its duty, no longer cooperating with the Holy Spirit. They should also know why it has neglected its duty. They should guard their spirit watchfully and keep it in constant simplicity and calmness. Then they can fellowship with God and oppose all the distractions from the enemy and from themselves which take away its peaceful contact with God.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)