Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, by Watchman Nee


I personally treasure this portion of the Word very much. It shows us the first condition for victory. I hope that you will bear with me and consider what this passage is really speaking of. There was a ruler who came to Jesus and asked for eternal life—God’s life. This eternal life includes salvation as well as victory. Therefore, in the following verses both salvation and the entry into God’s kingdom are spoken of. We see that the sphere includes both salvation and victory.

The ruler came to the Lord Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Lord listed five very severe conditions: "Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother." No young ruler could keep these commandments. It would be impossible for a young ruler not to commit adultery, not to murder, not to steal, not to bear false witness, and to honor his parents. No young ruler could fulfill these five conditions. Yet this young man amazingly said to Jesus, "All these things I have kept from my youth." He had not broken any of these commandments even once. It was as if he were saying, "Master, are there any more conditions? If not, I should inherit eternal life. I am qualified to have the eternal life." But the Lord Jesus told him that he still lacked one thing. "Still you lack one thing: all that you have, sell and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in the heavens; and come, follow Me." Do you realize that you still lack one thing? What does it mean to lack one thing? The Lord Jesus said that he still lacked one thing and that he could not get by without having that one thing. Does this mean that everyone who comes to the Lord has to sell all that he has or that everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus has to give up everything? No, we admit that many rich people can receive eternal life. But why do we not see very many of them? Why are there so few of them? Some have said, "I cannot sell all that I have." Verse 26 indicates that some who heard this word murmured, "Then who can be saved?" In verse 27, however, the Lord Jesus said, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God." The Lord was proving to the young ruler that salvation is impossible with man, but the young man would not admit that it is impossible with man. He thought that he could refrain from adultery, murder, stealing, and bearing false witness and that he could honor his parents. The purpose of the Lord’s word was to prove to him that salvation and victory are impossible with man. Salvation is impossible with man, and victory is impossible with man. Yet the young man thought that it was possible. Therefore, the Lord laid out one more condition before him. He was saying, in effect, "Since you say that you can fulfill these five conditions, I will put one thing more before you. I may even add another thing and another thing to see if you can fulfill them all." When the young ruler realized that he could not fulfill the Lord’s conditions, he became sorrowful and left.

If you try to be saved or if you try to overcome, God will often put "one thing" in front of you. We often feel that we have done a good work. We were quick in our temper, but now we can control it. We were proud, but now we can humble ourselves. We were jealous of others, but now we are not that jealous. We were talkative, but now we are no longer that talkative. We think that we are not far from victory and that we have overcome a considerable amount. But even though we may not be impatient, proud, jealous, or talkative, we still have one thing, one flaw. It seems that everything else is taken care of, but we are still short of this one thing. It may be a very small thing. It may be a fondness for eating, or it may be that we cannot get up in the morning before eight or nine o’clock. It seems so strange that we can overcome many other sins, but that we are unable to overcome this one sin. We are helpless in this matter. We spend all our effort to overcome it. We may ask others to wake us up, or we may use an alarm clock, but we still cannot wake up. We cannot explain it. We can overcome many other things, but we cannot overcome this one thing. This is the principle of Luke 18, the principle of still lacking one thing. God is proving to us that we are not able. Eventually, we will have to concede that we are not able. The Lord may allow us to become able in something, but He will show us that we still lack one thing. He has to show us that there is at least one thing which we are not able to do. In order for God to bring us into victory, He must first show us that we are not able. Victory is a gift from Christ; we cannot overcome in ourselves. Consequently, God leaves behind one or two things which are impossible for us to overcome. He is trying to show us that we "still...lack one thing."

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)