Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), by Watchman Nee


As we have said before, the High Priest is working because we have accepted the cross. Now we want to talk about how, in practice, the Lord Jesus divides our soul and spirit.

Knowing the Need to Have
the Soul and Spirit Divided

If there is no such knowledge, there will be no such demand. The believer must ask the Lord to show him the detestableness of a life of the spirit and soul mixed together and must know that in God there is a life that is both higher and deeper, completely of the spirit, and not affected by the soul. He should know that a spirit-soul mixed life is a life of loss.

Wanting to Be Divided

The believer should not only know but also truly desire to have this mixed spirit-soul divided; there should be a desperate desire in the heart to have this dividing. This is because all problems are now with the will of man. If the believer is not willing and does not want the dividing of his spirit and soul, but rather prefers to enjoy what he himself sees as good, God will respect the character of man and will never force him.

Surrendering Wholly

If a believer is willing to gain the experience of the dividing of spirit and soul, he should put himself wholly on the altar of the cross. He should be completely willing in his heart to accept the effect of all the work of the cross, willing to follow the Lord’s death until his spirit and soul have been divided experientially. Before he has the experience of this dividing, he should continually put his will on the side of God, livingly and actively choosing the dividing. He should maintain the attitude that until the dividing work is done, he does not want the High Priest to stop working.

Standing on Romans 6:11

Believers must be careful not to fall into sins and trespasses while seeking the experience of the dividing of spirit and soul. The basis of the dividing of the spirit and soul is that one has died to sin. Therefore, the believer should daily take the attitude of Romans 6:11, reckoning that he is truly dead to sin, and wholeheartedly keep this attitude in his will: "Do not let sin therefore reign in your mortal body" (v. 12). Only by this can he have the possibility of not letting the soul-life sin again through the mortal body.

Praying and Reading the Word

The believer should search the Bible by prayer and meditation. He should let the word of God deeply pierce him so that his soul-life can have the cleansing of the word of God, for if the believer truly can walk according to the word of God, his soul-life surely will not be active. This is the meaning of the word in 1 Peter 1:22: "Since you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth."

Bearing the Cross Daily

If the Lord is to divide our spirit and soul, He will, according to the need of circumstances, allow us to bear the cross. If the believer daily bears the cross, refuses the self, not being directed by the flesh for one moment, and has the Holy Spirit of God constantly reveal the activities of the soul in his daily living, this is a living of the spirit. If a believer faithfully submits himself, the Lord will secretly divide the soul and spirit of the believer so that he can have a pure and spiritual living.

Walking by the Spirit

Walking by the Spirit is a condition that safeguards us and is also the condition in which to have our spirit and soul completely divided. Believers should in all things seek to walk by the spirit, distinguish what is from the spirit and what is from the soul, and decide absolutely to follow everything that is from the spirit and refuse that which is from the soul. One should learn to know all the work of his own spirit and follow it.

These are all conditions which believers should fulfill on their part. The Holy Spirit needs us to work with Him. If we do not do what is required of us, the Lord cannot do what is required of Him. If we have done our part according to what is required of us, our High Priest will divide our spirit and soul by the power of the cross and by the sharp sword of the Holy Spirit. He will cause everything that is of the emotion, the feeling, the mind, and the natural ability to be separated one by one from the spirit and not be mixed at all. To lay on the altar is what is required of us. However, dividing our spirit and soul with a sharp knife is what our High Priest should do. If we have truly given ourselves to the cross, our High Priest will surely fulfill His duty to divide our spirit and soul. This is His work; therefore, we need not worry. Once He sees that we have fulfilled the necessary requirements for Him to work, in due time He will surely divide our spirit and soul.

Indeed, every believer who sees the danger of having spirit and soul mixed can only seek deliverance. The way of deliverance is open yet difficult. The believer must be diligent in praying to clearly see his pitiful condition and know the dwelling place, the work, and the requirement of the Holy Spirit. The believer ought to see the mystery and reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, respect this holy presence, and be careful not to have anything that grieves Him. The believer should know that what grieves the Holy Spirit the most, besides sin, and what damages the believers even more than sin is the believer’s living and working according to his self-life. The original transgression of man was that he pursued good, wisdom, and knowledge according to his own idea. This kind of transgression is what believers repent of and commit again time after time. Believers ought to know that they have believed in the Lord and that the Holy Spirit has indwelt them already. The Spirit should thus have complete authority, while the soul should completely submit to Him. It is not that since you have prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to work and guide, everything is all right and will be accomplished. This is not the truth. Unless day by day you wholly put to death the soul-life and its ability, wisdom, and feeling, and are honestly willing to submit completely to Him, wait for His teaching, and trust in His working, you will not easily see that He is truly working.

The believer has to see that what divides his soul and spirit is the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Himself is the Word of God, and He will by Himself divide our soul and spirit. Are we willing to let His life and His accomplished work stand between our soul and spirit? Are we willing to seek His life to fill our spirit, in order to deal with the soul so that it cannot be active? The Bible is God’s written word. The Lord Jesus divides soul and spirit with the teachings in the Bible. Are we willing to follow all the truth? Are we willing to obey the teachings in the Bible? Are we willing to submit to the Lord simply by the teachings in the Bible without our own opinion? Are we willing to be content with the authority of the Bible and to obey without help from men? If we are willing to come into a completely spiritual living, we absolutely have to submit to the Lord and to all His teachings in the Bible. This is necessary, and this is the sharp sword in practice to divide our soul and spirit.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 12: The Spiritual Man (1), Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)