THE STRENGTHENING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The strengthening of the Holy Spirit is needed for the spirit of man to control the soul and body of man and to be the channel of the Holy Spirit flowing out life to the multitudes. Ephesians 3:16 says, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man." These are the words which the apostle prayed for the believers. If it were not so important, the apostle surely would not have prayed in this manner. He asked God to strengthen the believer’s inner man through His Spirit. The "inner man" is the believer’s new man, which the believer has only after believing in the Lord. Therefore, this is the spirit of the believer, the regenerated spirit. The prayer of the apostle is for the spirit of the believer to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that it can become strong.
This verse tells us that some believers have weak spirits, while others have strong spirits. Whether a believer’s spirit is strong depends on whether or not he has specially been given power by the Holy Spirit. The believers at Ephesus had long been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Therefore, what the apostle prayed for on their behalf surely must have been a gift other than the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. The meaning of the apostle’s prayer is that they would not only receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in their spirit, but they would also have the special power of the Holy Spirit poured into their spirit to enable their inner man to become strong. A believer may have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his spirit and still have a weak spirit.
A believer must realize the weakness of his own spirit. Then he will pray for the Holy Spirit to fill his spirit with power; being filled with power in the spirit is the need of the believer. Many times the body of a believer is in excellent condition, but he feels a little lazy. At such times, working for the Lord seems unbearable, and his heart is most unwilling. This shows that his spirit is weak and unable to control the emotion. Sometimes the believer may feel very excited, but his body is a little lazy. At such times, laboring for the Lord also seems impossible. In the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples indeed had this kind of experience. What was the reason for this? It was because "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). To be willing in the spirit is not enough; the spirit must also be strong. When the spirit is strong, it can overcome the weakness of the flesh. Sometimes when a believer is preaching and working on someone, it seems as though he is unable to do anything and has no way to manage him. This is because of the lack of power in the believer’s spirit. If the situation were the opposite, when the believer could not save him, it would not be due to a lack of power but because that person did not want to be saved. This is also the case in regards to the environment. Due to outside confusion, the believer may also feel that he is affected. If the spirit is strong, then he can manage the most confused situations in a calm and composed manner. Prayer is the greatest test of the spirit’s strength. Those whose spirits are strong can pray much and will not quit before the prayer is answered. Those whose spirits are weak will find it difficult to petition God for several years or several decades without being tired and discouraged. This is the case in all matters. Only those with a strong spirit have the energy to go forward continuously without regard to the environment or feelings. Otherwise, they soon feel that they cannot bear it any longer. In regard to fighting with Satan, there is even more need of power in the spirit. Only those who really have power in the spirit will know how to exercise the power of the spirit to resist and attack the enemy. Without power, all the fighting is just a dramatic struggle. If it is not from the mind’s imagination, then it is from the excitement of feelings, and sometimes it may even be the natural strength of the flesh.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 16, by Watchman Nee)