The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, by Watchman Nee


Hebrews 4:13 continues, saying, "And there is no creature that is not manifest before Him, but all things are naked and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we are to give our account." Here the Lord shows us the standard by which He enlightens us and discerns our thoughts and intentions. What constitutes a revelation of the Holy Spirit? To what extent do our eyes have to be opened before we can say that we have a revelation? This is what verse 13 tells us. Putting it in one sentence, the standard of light is the standard of God. Revelation means that we see things according to God’s standard. All things are naked and laid bare before Him, and nothing is hidden from Him. Hiding something only hides it from our eyes; nothing can be hidden from the Lord’s eyes. Revelation is God opening our eyes to see our intentions and the deepest thoughts in our being as God sees them. Just as we are naked and laid bare before Him, we are naked and laid bare before ourselves after we receive revelation. Just as we are manifest before God, we are manifest before ourselves after we receive revelation. This is revelation. Revelation is seeing what the Lord sees.

If God is merciful to us and grants us a little revelation, if we see a little of ourselves as God sees us, and if He reveals to us a little of what we are like, we will immediately fall on our face before the Lord. We will not have to force ourselves to be humble; we will fall by ourselves. Those who are in the light cannot be proud even if they want to. Only those who are in darkness are proud. A man is arrogant because he does not have God’s light. All those who are in the light and in revelation surely will fall on their faces.

How do we know what is spiritual and what is soulish, what is from the inner man and what is from the outer man? It is hard to clarify this matter by means of doctrine. But if we have revelation, we will find this question simple to answer. As soon as God exposes our thoughts and shows us the intentions of our heart, our soul will be separated from our spirit. Whenever we are able to discern the thoughts and intentions of our heart, we are able to divide our soul from our spirit.

If we want to be useful, sooner or later we have to allow this light to shine upon us. Only when this light comes to us will we be under the Lord’s judgment. When we are judged, we will be able to lift up our head and say, "God, I am totally unreliable. Even when I am rebuking myself, I am not trustworthy. Even while I am confessing my sins, I am still ignorant of what I am confessing. I can only know through the light." Before we receive light, we may say that we are sinners, but we do not have the sense of being a sinner. We say that we hate ourselves, but we do not have the feeling that we are actually hating ourselves. We say that we are denying ourselves, but we do not have the feeling that we are denying ourselves. This will only come through the Lord’s shining. As soon as the light shines, our true self will be exposed. We will find that all our lives we have been loving ourselves, not the Lord. We have been deceiving ourselves and deceiving the Lord. We did not love the Lord at all. Light will show us the kind of persons we are and the kind of things we did before. From that day onward, we will know what is of the spirit and what is of the soul. We will know that many things were of ourselves. A man can only say that he knows after he has been judged by the light. If he is not judged by the light, he will not be what he claims to be even if he tries to imitate. Only as God shines a great light upon us can we say, "This is my soul." The judgment that comes with the light will distinguish the inner man from the outer man. When the inner man and the outer man are distinguished from one another, then our soul and spirit will be divided. The Lord does a kind of one-time shining in us with His unprecedented, great light. It may happen while we are listening to a message. It may happen while we are praying, fellowshipping with other brothers, or walking along the road. The unprecedented light shines, and we discover ourselves. Once we are placed under this great light, we will discover how little of what we have done in our lifetime has been of the Lord. It always has been ourselves. We have been the ones who have been acting, busily and zealously working, speaking, helping the brothers and sisters, and preaching the gospel. When the light shines on us, we will realize how pervasive our presence is, how we have extended ourselves into everything, and what our self encompasses.

(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 7, by Watchman Nee)