THE PROPER USE OF EMOTION
If a believer allows the cross to do a deeper work in his emotion, he would soon learn that the emotion would not obstruct the spirit, but would even cooperate with the spirit. The cross would deal with all the natural life of the emotion, renew it, and make it an instrument of the spirit. We have previously mentioned that a spiritual man is not a spirit, nor is he a man without emotion. On the contrary, he uses his emotion to express the divine life within him. Before being dealt with by God, the emotion cannot be an instrument of the spirit. Rather, it acts according to its own desire. After being cleansed, the emotion can be an organ to express the spirit. The spirit likewise expresses its life through the emotion. The spirit needs the emotion to express its love and feelings towards man’s suffering; it also needs the emotion to cause man to sense the operation of intuition. The sense of the spirit is made known to man through the feeling of his quiet emotion. If the emotion obeys the spirit, it causes the spirit to love what God loves and hate what He hates.
After understanding the truth concerning not living according to the emotion, some believers mistakenly think that a spiritual life is a life void of emotion. They think we need to abolish emotion so that we can be without emotion, like wood or stone. If a believer does not understand the meaning of the death of the cross, he cannot know the meaning of delivering the emotion to death and living entirely according to the spirit. We are not saying that the believer should become exceedingly hard, like iron or rock; nor should he be without affection in order to be considered a spiritual man, as if the term "spiritual man" denotes a man without affection. On the contrary, the most tender, sympathetic, merciful, and loving person is a spiritual man. Being entirely spiritual and delivering the emotion to the cross do not mean that a believer will lose his emotion and become emotionless. When we see how a spiritual believer’s love is greater than that of others, we will know that a spiritual man is not without emotion; rather, his emotion differs from that of an ordinary man.
In delivering our soul to the cross, we must remember that the life of the soul is lost, not the function of the soul. To nail the function of the soul on the cross would mean that we no longer think, decide, or feel. We must always remember this fact: losing the soul is to solely and continuously live by the life of God, not living by the natural life. It is being willing to not live according to self or walk according to the pleasure of the self, but to submit to God’s will. Moreover, the cross and resurrection are two inseparable facts. "For if we have grown together with Him in the likeness of His death, indeed we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). The death of the cross does not mean annihilation; the emotion, mind, and will of the soul-life are not exterminated by passing through the cross. They only lose their natural life in the death of the Lord; they are resurrected in His life. Death and resurrection cause the functioning organs of the soul to lose their life and then cause them to be renewed and used by the Lord. Consequently, a spiritual man is not without emotion; rather, his emotion is the most perfect and noble; it is as if it were newly created by God’s hand. If anyone has difficulty here, the problem lies in his theory because no problem exists in his spiritual experience.
Emotion must pass through the work of the cross (Matt. 10:38-39) in order to get rid of its fiery nature, fanaticism, and confusion and to be totally subject to the spirit. The goal of the work of the cross is for the spirit to have the authority to regulate the function of the emotion.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)