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


God’s purpose is that the believer would live in the spirit and also be willing to completely put his soul-life to death. Therefore, God has no choice but to banish the natural desire of the believer. He wants to destroy all the natural desire of the believer. Many times the things and matters are not bad or wrong; in fact they are even good and proper. Yet God does not allow the believer to do or possess these things simply because they are the result of an emotional impulse and the believer desires them. If the believer walks by his own likes—even though these things may initially be very good—he is bound to rebel against God. God’s purpose is to absolutely destroy the believer’s desires which are apart from Him. God does not care for the nature of the things; He only asks what directs him—his own desire or the will of God? Even the best work and behavior, as long as it comes out of the believer’s own desire and is not according to intuitive revelation, is absolutely and spiritually worthless before God. God may want to lead a believer to do many works, but because the motive is of the believer’s own desire, God will immediately oppose this work. Only when the believer fully submits to Him, will He lead him to proceed to work again. God wants only His will (known in our intuition) to be the standard rule in our walk. Though our desires may coincide with His will, He will not let us follow them. We need to follow God’s will alone; whatever is of our desire must be denied. This is God’s wisdom. Although sometimes our desire may agree with the will of God, God will not let us walk according to it because it is still our desire. If we still follow our good and righteous desire, does not our "self" still have its position?

Even though some of our own desires may be the same as God’s will, God does not like them because they came out of our self. He wants us to completely cut off anything that we love that is apart from Him. Though the things we desire may be excellent, He does not allow us any ground for our independent desire. We must depend on Him in everything. He does not want anything that is not dependent on Him. In this way, He presses on, step by step, to deny the believer’s soul-life.

If the believer wants to gain a real spiritual life, he must cooperate with God to put his own desire to death. All of our interest, inclination, and love must be put to death. We must joyfully accept man’s opposition, spite, rudeness, misunderstanding, and harsh criticism and allow all the things which are against our natural desire to deal with our soul-life. We should learn to accept all the sufferings, afflictions, and lowly positions given to us by God in His arrangement. No matter how much these cause our natural life to suffer, or how much our natural feelings become displeased, hurt, or uneasy, we have to experience these things in an enduring manner. If we practically bear the cross in this way, we will see that the practical cross we bear will crucify our self-life shortly. Bearing the cross is being crucified. Every time we silently accept something that falls upon us which is against our natural desire, we are adding another nail to firmly nail down our soul-life. All vainglory must be crucified. Our desire to be seen, honored, worshipped, exalted, and proclaimed should be crucified. Our desire to display our self needs to be crucified. All outward adornment to win people’s praise needs to be crucified. All self-exaltation and self-boasting need to be crucified. We need to forsake our desire wherever it is expressed. Anything that is initiated by ourselves is filthy in God’s eyes.

The practical cross which God gives is contrary to our desires. The purpose of the cross has always been to crucify our desires. No other part in our whole being suffers the pain of the cross more than the emotion. The cross must cut deeply into all that belongs to ourselves. How can our emotion not feel sorrow over our defeated desires? God’s redemption requires completely getting rid of man’s old creation. God’s will and our soulish desires cannot co-exist. If the believer wants to follow the Lord, he must go against his own desires.

Since the purpose of God is such, God allows a believer to pass through many fiery trials under His sovereign arrangement so that all desire, like dross, will be fully burned by the fire of suffering. A believer longs for high position, but the Lord will not allow him to be exalted. He has many hopes, yet the Lord will not allow him to be successful in anything; rather, He causes all his hopes to be crushed. The believer may have many delights, but the Lord will cause him to lose all of his delights and have no way to gain them back. The believer covets glory, but the Lord causes him to suffer shame. Almost nothing in the Lord’s arrangements agrees with the thoughts of the believer; everything is like a beating rod. Though the believer still struggles with great effort, he will soon see the Lord—yet not know that it is the Lord—leading him to meet death face to face. It is as if everything were dead; everything wants him to die, and everything wants him to lose the hope of life. At that moment, he realizes that he cannot escape death and that he owes this death to God; hence, he submits himself to God and dies willingly. This death causes him to lose his soul-life in order that he may fully live in God. It is for this death that God has done much work. A believer may resist for a long time, but once he passes through death, everything is fine, and God accomplishes His purpose in him. From then on, the believer can advance quickly on his spiritual way.

Once the believer has lost his heart for self, he can fully submit himself to God. He is willing to become whatever God desires of him; his desire is no longer contrary to God, and he no longer seeks anything other than God. His living is very simple. He expects nothing, he demands nothing, and he covets nothing; he just willingly submits to God’s will. A life that submits to God’s will is the simplest life on earth because this life does not seek anything for the self but rather silently follows God.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 14, by Watchman Nee)