THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS EXPERIENCE
The believer who goes through such an experience thinks that his spirituality is at its highest when he has this experience and at its lowest when he loses it. A believer often speaks of his own life as constantly being up and down. He means that his spirituality is at its highest when he feels happy, when he feels that he loves the Lord, and when he feels the Lord’s presence; his spirituality is at its lowest when he feels dark, dry, and bitter. In other words, he is spiritual when he can sense warmth in his heart and soulish when he feels cold. A believer usually thinks in this way, but is it true? These thoughts are based entirely on a misconception. If we are not clear concerning this misconception, we will utterly fail.
The believer must know that "feeling" is forever a part of the soul-life. When he lives by his feeling, no matter how he feels, he is soulish. When he feels happy, when he feels he loves the Lord, and when he feels the Lord’s presence, he is just living by his feeling. When he feels dry, sorrowful, and dark, he is still living by his feeling. He is just as soulish when he feels dry, sorrowful, and dark as he is when he feels nourished, happy, and bright. The spiritual life is never regulated by the feeling, nor is it ever in the feeling. The spiritual life should regulate the feeling; the feeling should not regulate the spiritual life. Today the experience of feeling is most commonly, but erroneously, regarded by believers as a spiritual experience. Many Christians have never entered into a spiritual life. Therefore, the sensation of being filled with happiness is interpreted as a spiritual experience. They do not know that it is simply soulish. Spiritual experience is the experience of the intuition; the rest is soulish.
Herein lies the believer’s greatest mistake. The effect of the emotion causes him to feel that he has ascended into the heavens. Hence, he thinks that he is in possession of the ascended life, without realizing that this is just something which he feels. When he feels the Lord’s presence, he thinks he possesses the Lord; when he does not feel His presence, he thinks that the Lord has forsaken him. He does not realize that this is simply what he feels. He thinks that he really loves the Lord when he senses a warm fire burning in his heart and feels that he loves the Lord very much. When he feels a coldness instead of a burning within, he thinks he has truly lost his love for the Lord. He does not realize that this is only his feeling. Facts do not necessarily correspond with our feelings because our feelings are very unreliable. Actually, a believer is the same with or without a feeling. He may feel he is progressing when he is not; or he may feel he is regressing when he is not. These are just his feelings. He thinks that he has progressed whenever he is full of feeling. He does not realize that because he is still soulish, he is merely advancing in a spurt of emotional excitement. When this feeling subsides, he remains the way he used to be. The effect of the emotion helps a soulish person go on; the power of the Holy Spirit helps a spiritual man go on. Of the two, only the power of the Holy Spirit can truly cause a person to go on.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 29, by Watchman Nee)