THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NOUS AND SPIRIT
Several years ago I saw in a magazine something written by Mrs. Penn-Lewis which said, "If your spirit is obstructed, it is because your nous is obstructed." In other words, the spirit is closed because the nous is closed. I saw and appreciated these words, but my spiritual life at that time was very shallow, and I could not fully understand. Sometime later I realized how real these words were. If a person’s nous is closed, his spirit must also be closed. Since the spirit expresses itself through the nous, the spirit will have no outlet if the nous is closed. Although an electric current has power, if the filament of the light bulb is broken, no light will shine. This does not mean that the electric company has run out of power; it only means that electricity cannot circulate through the bulb. In the same way, if our nous is closed, our spirit will have nowhere to express itself and have no power to express itself. I do not know what more I can say to lead you into this deep truth and help you have a renewed nous. If your nous is closed, your spiritual power will find no expression.
I am not saying that our mind can help God’s work; what comes out of the mind is just the power of the soul. But if a believer’s nous is not renewed, his spirit will have no outlet, and God will not be able to use him. Peter said, "These men are not drunk" (Acts 2:15). If they had been drunk, their mind would not have been clear. If their mind had not been clear, they would not have had an open spirit for God to use. As far as I know, those who are greatly used by God are very clear in their spirit, understanding, nous, thinking, and logic. The amount of knowledge they have is another matter altogether; not everyone who is used by God has great knowledge.
If our nous is renewed and our understanding is quick, we can understand God’s will, God’s desire, and the Bible.
AND THE RENEWING OF THE NOUS
Romans 12:1-2 says, "I exhort you therefore, brothers, through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect." The word mind in the original text is nous. Here the renewing of the nous is mentioned again. Paul exhorted others to present their bodies to God and serve God. The renewing of the nous is based on consecration.
Friends, are there things which drag you down, hold you back, and bind you tightly? If you can consecrate these things to Him and put them upon the altar, your renewed nous will receive double strength from God, and you will understand God’s desire and will; you will be able to think and understand everything about God. At the same time, you can also dispense them to others. You should practice this matter in a definite way before God. The result is "that you may prove...." (The meaning of that is "so that" or "in order that.") The result is that your mind will understand God’s will, and you will be able to see clearly and prove God’s will, that which is well pleasing to Him.
Many people say lightly, "I will obey, no matter what." Actually, they are far from what they say. They do not know what they are talking about. When the Lord was going to die, Peter said, "Even if I must die with You, I will by no means deny You" (Matt. 26:35). Many people are like Peter. They do not know what God is asking of them. They simply have no idea what God requires of them. This is why they never make any progress. If you want to see how deep or how advanced a believer’s spiritual life is, just find out what God is asking of him. A sinner who is newly saved gives up smoking and gambling, etc. These cannot be considered as signs of very much growth. All of us know that this is a basic step in the spiritual pathway of a saved person. Soon afterwards, he realizes that envy, pride, etc. are bad. This signals a further progress. Further on, God shows him that in his work he should drop his opinion. This is another, deeper step. In short, God’s demand deepens and increases little by little. Some Christians know that they should not smoke or gamble. Other Christians know that they should not be proud or jealous. Yet they often do not know anything more. We must offer ourselves to God according to what we know. Only then will our nous be renewed. At the same time, our renewed nous will teach us how we should consecrate ourselves to God.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 18, by Watchman Nee)