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The Difference Between the Soul and the Spirit–Watchman Nee   Leave a comment

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Excerpts from The Messenger of the Cross by Watchman Nee:

Page 26:  “Let us read another Scripture passage to help us understand what is the difference between depending on natural life and depending on supernatural life.  ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.  He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal’ (John 12.24, 25).”

Page 28:  “But what does this phrase ‘fall into the earth and die’ really mean?  By reading the succeeding words which the Lord utters here, we may readily understand:  ‘He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal’ (12.25).  In the Greek original, two different words are used for the several times ‘life’ is mentioned here.  One Greek word psuche has reference to the soul life or natural life; the other word zoe signifies the spirit life or supernatural life.  Hence what the Lord is actually saying here is:  ‘He that loveth his soul life loseth the spirit life; and he that hateth his soul life in this world shall keep the spirit life unto eternity.’  To put it simply, we should deliver the soul life to death, just as the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies; and then by our spirit life many grains will come forth and be kept to eternity.  How we long to bear much fruit, yet we do not know how to let the soul life die and the spirit life live.

“Soul life is our natural life.  It is the soul life which enables our flesh to live.  It is therefore the life factor of the natural man.  A person’s natural endowment belongs to the soul—such elements as our will, strength, emotions, thought, and so forth.  These things which all natural lives share in common are accessories of the soul life.  Our cleverness, reasoning, eloquence, affection, and ability belong to the soul life.  The spirit life, though, is the life of God.  It is not an evolvement from any part of the soul life but is a life especially given to us by the Holy Spirit when we believe in the finished work of the cross of the Lord Jesus and are saved.  God is then in us to quicken this spirit life so that it may grow and thus become the power of all our good deeds and works.  It is the will of God for Him to put our soul life in the place of death (note, however, that this is different from the death prescribed in 2 Corinthians 4).”

Training the spirit and the soul
An Intellectual Dilemma
The Latent Power of the Soul

The Deeper Work of the Cross by Watchman Nee   3 comments

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“When we forsake physical happiness and mundane pleasures we are apt to conclude that the cross has finished its perfect work in us. We do not perceive that in God’s work of annulling the old creation in us there remains a deeper cross awaiting us. God wishes us to die to His joy and live to His will. Even if we feel joyous because of God and His nearness (in contrast to being joyous because of fleshly and earthly things), God’s aim nevertheless is not for us to enjoy His joy but to obey His will. The cross must continue to operate till His will alone is left. If we rejoice in the bliss God dispenses but renounce the suffering He also dispenses, then we have yet to experience the deeper circumcision by the cross.”
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“This is a practical cross by which the Lord reveals to us whether we are living for Him by faith or living for ourselves by feeling. Frequently have we heard people say, ‘I live for Christ.’ What does this really convey? Many saints assume that if they labor for the Lord or love the Lord they are living for Christ. This is far from being exactly so. To live for the Lord means to live for His will, for His interest, and for His kingdom. As such, there is nothing for self–not the slightest provision for self-comfort, self-joy, or self-glory. To follow the mind of God because of comfort or joy is strictly forbidden. To recoil from, to cease or delay in, obedience because of feeling depressed, vapid or despondent is positively impermissible. We ought to know that physical suffering alone may not be regarded as enduring for the Lord, for often our bodies will be bearing pain while our hearts are full of joy. If we actually suffer for Him, then not only do our bodies suffer but our hearts feel pained as well. Though there is not the least joyfulness, we yet press on. Let us understand that to live for the Lord is to reserve nothing for self but to deliver it willingly to death. He who is able to accept everything gladly from the Lord—including darkness, dryness, flatness—and completely disregard self is he who lives for Him.”
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“We should inquire once again as to what the life of faith is. It is one lived by believing God under any circumstance: ‘If he slay me,’ says job, ‘yet would I trust in Him’ (13.15 Darby). That is faith. Because I once believed, loved and trusted God I shall believe, love and trust Him wherever He may put me and however my heart and body may suffer. Nowadays the people of God expect to feel peaceful even in the time of physical pain. Who is there who dares to renounce this consolation of heart for the sake of believing God? Who is there who can accept God’s will joyfully and continuously commit himself to Him even though he feels that God hates him and desires to slay him? That is the highest life. Of course God would never treat us like that. Nevertheless in the walk of the most advanced Christians they seem to experience something of this apparent desertion by God. Would we be able to remain unmoved in our faith in God if we felt thus? Observe what John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, proclaimed when men sought to hang him: ‘If God does not intervene I shall leap into eternity with blind faith come heaven, come hell!’ There was a hero of faith! In the hour of despair can we too say, ‘O God, though You desert me yet will I believe You’? Emotion begins to doubt when it senses blackness, whereas faith holds on to God even in the face of death.
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“How few have arrived at such a level! How our flesh resists such a walk with God alone! The natural disinclination for cross-bearing has impeded many in their spiritual progress. They tend to reserve a little pleasure for their own enjoyment. To lose everything in the Lord, even self-pleasure, is too thoroughgoing a death, too heavy a cross! They can be fully consecrated to the Lord, they can be suffering untold pain for Him, they can even pay a price for following the will of God, but they cannot forsake that obviously trifling feeling of self-pleasure. Many cherish this momentary comfort; their spiritual life rests on this tiny twinge of feeling. Were they to exercise the courage to sacrifice themselves to God’s fiery furnace, showing no pity or love for self, they would make great strides on their spiritual pathway. But too many of God’s people remain subservient to their natural life, trusting what is seen and felt for safety and security: they have neither the courage nor the faith to exploit the unseen, the unfelt, the untrodden. They have already drawn a circle around themselves; their joy or sorrow hinges upon a little gain here or a little loss there; they accept nothing loftier. Thus are they circumscribed by their own petty self.
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“Were the Christian to recognize that God wishes him to live by faith, he would not murmur against God so frequently nor would he conceive these thoughts of discontent. How swiftly would his natural life be cut away by the cross if he could accept the God-given parched feeling and could esteem everything given him by God as excellent. Were it not for his ignorance or unwillingness, such experiences would deal with his soul life most practically, enabling him to live truly in the spirit. How sad that many succeed at nothing greater in their lives than the pursuit of a little feeling of joy. The faithful, however, are brought by God into genuine spiritual life. How godly is their walk! When they examine retrospectively what they have experienced they readily acknowledge that the ordering of the Lord is perfect: for only because of those experiences did they renounce their soul life. Today’s crying need is for believers to hand themselves over completely to God and ignore their feeling.
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“This should not at all be misconstrued to signify, however, that henceforth we shall become joyless persons. ‘Joy in the Holy Spirit’ is the greatest blessing in the kingdom of God (Rom. 14.17). The fruit of the Holy Spirit, moreover, is joy (Gal. 5.22). If this is so, then how can we reconcile this apparent inconsistency? Simply come to see that though we do lose joy in our feeling, nevertheless the joy we gain issues from a pure faith and cannot be destroyed. Joy of this caliber runs far deeper than emotion. In becoming spiritual we abandon the old desire for self-pleasure and hence additionally the former search for bliss; but the peace and joy of the spirit which arises from faith remains forever.”
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–Watchman Nee
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New Testament Circumcision
Opening your eyes to seeing the work he is already doing in you!
Obedience:  The Bondage Breaker
The Spiritual Man
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Burdens of the Spirit   Leave a comment

The Spiritual Man

The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee
Volume II
Part Six: Walking After the Spirit
Chapter 2: The Laws of the Spirit

(5) Burdens of the Spirit

“The burdens of the spirit differ from the weights on the spirit. The latter proceed from Satan with the intent of crushing the believer and making him suffer, but the former issue from God in His desire to manifest His will to the believer so that he may cooperate with Him. Any weight on the spirit has no other objective than to oppress; it therefore usually serves no purpose and produces no fruit. A burden of the spirit, on the other hand, is given by God to His child for the purpose of calling him to work, to pray, or to preach. It is a burden with purpose, with reason, and for spiritual profit. We must learn how to distinguish the burden of the spirit from the weight on the spirit.

“Satan never burdens Christians with anything; he only encircles their spirit and presses in with a heavy weight. Such a load binds one’s spirit and throttles his mind from functioning. A person with a burden or concern from God merely carries it; but the one who is oppressed by Satan finds his total being bound. With the arrival of the power of darkness, a believer instantaneously forfeits his freedom. A God-given burden is quite the reverse. However weighty it may be, God’s concern is never so heavy as to throttle him from praying. The freedom of prayer will never be lost under any burden from God: yet the enemy’s weight which forces itself upon one’s spirit invariably denies one his freedom to pray. The burden imparted by God is lifted once we have prayed, but the heaviness from the enemy cannot be raised unless we fight and resist in prayer. The weight on the spirit steals in unawares, whereas the concern of the spirit results from God’s Spirit working in our spirit. The load upon the spirit is most miserable and oppressive, while the burden of the spirit is very joyous (naturally the flesh does not deem it so), for it summons us to walk together with God (see Matt. 11.30). It turns bitter only when opposed and its demand is not met.

“All real works begin with burdens or concerns in the spirit. (Of course, when the spirit lacks any concern we need to exercise our minds.) When God desires us to labor or speak or pray, He first implants a burden in our spirit. Now if we are acquainted with the laws of the spirit we will not continue on carelessly with the work in hand and allow the burden to accrue. Nor will we neglectfully disregard the burden until it is no longer sensed. We should lay everything aside immediately to ferret out the meaning of this burden. Once we have discerned its import, we can act accordingly. And when the work called for is done, the burden then leaves us.

“In order to receive burdens from God our spirit has to be kept continuously free and untrampled. Only an untrammeled spirit can detect the movement of the Holy Spirit. Any spirit which is already full of concerns has lost the sharpness of its intuitive sense and hence cannot be a good vessel. Due to his failure to act according to the burden which he already has received from God, the believer often finds himself painfully burdened for many days. During this period God is unable to give him any new one. Consequently, it is highly necessary to search out the meaning of a burden through prayer, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of one’s mind.”

The Spiritual Man

The Messenger of the Cross by Watchman Nee   4 comments

Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee

[15 December 2009]

John 12: 32: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

I will be staying here with a friend in Belgrade, Montana for a couple of nights. This morning I noticed a book by Watchman Nee, The Messenger of the Cross. I read Chapter One before I came to the library. Here are some good quotes:

Page 7: “Paul’s message is the cross, and he himself is a crucified person. In the preaching of the cross, he adopts the way of the cross. A crucified person preaches the message of the cross in the spirit of the cross. How often what we preach is indeed the cross; but our attitude, our words and our feelings do not seem to bear witness to what we preach. Much preaching of the cross is not done in the spirit of the cross! Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers that he ‘came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom when proclaiming’ to them ‘the testimony of God.’ The testimony of God here refers to the word of the cross. Paul did not use lofty words of wisdom in proclaiming the cross but came in the spirit of the cross: ‘My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.’ Such is truly the spirit of the cross.

“The cross is the wisdom of God, though to unbelieving men it is foolishness. When we proclaim the ‘foolish’ message, we must assume the ‘foolish’ way, adopt the ‘foolish’ attitude, and use the ‘foolish’ words. The victory of Paul lies in the fact that he is indeed a crucified person. He can therefore proclaim the cross with the attitude as well as the spirit of the cross. He who has not experienced crucifixion will not be filled with the spirit of the cross; and consequently he is not fit to proclaim the message of the cross.”

Page 8: “The word of the cross which we so often proclaim is actually not ours but is borrowed–it is gleaned from books or from searching the Scriptures with our brain power. People with clever minds and those who are used to preaching are particularly prone to such danger. I am afraid that all their research, study, reading, and hearing talks on the mystery of the cross in its various aspects is for other people and not first for themselves. Consistently thinking of other people and neglecting our own lives will eventually result in spiritual famine!”

Page 11: “We cannot give what we do not have. If all we have is thought, we can only give thought. If in our life we do not have the experience of co-death with Christ to overcome sin and self nor the experience of taking up the cross to follow the Lord and suffer with Him, and if our knowledge of the word of the cross is obtained through people’s pens and mouths but we cannot impart life; all we can do is instill the idea of the life of the cross in people’s minds. Only when we ourselves are transformed by the cross and have received its spirit as well as its life are we able to impart the cross to other people.”

Page 12: “Man’s thought, word, eloquence and argument can only stir up the human soul, since these reach to the soulical part of man. They merely excite man’s emotion, mind and will. Life, however, may reach man’s spirit; and all the works of the Holy Spirit are done in our spirit–that is, in our inward man (see Rom. 8.16; Eph .3.16). As we in our spiritual experience let flow our life in the spirit, the Holy Spirit will send forth His life to the spirits of others and cause them to receive either regenerated life or the life more abundant.”

Page 13: “We become a living teaching and a living word; and what we preach is no longer simply an idea which we know but is our real life. This is the meaning of being ‘doers of the word’ according to the Biblical sense.”

Page 15: “For if we really are full of the Spirit due to the deeper work of the cross in us, we will spontaneously diffuse life in our conversation and our talk–whether private or public–so as to enrich those with whom we have contact. This does not require any self-effort or self-fabrication, but should be something most natural. And this thus fulfills what the Lord Jesus declares in John 7: 38: ‘He that believeth on me . . . from within him shall flow rivers of living water.'”

Shiloh

Posted December 15, 2012 by Tim Shey in Uncategorized

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The Cross of Christ by Watchman Nee   2 comments

The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee
Chapter 2: “The Cross of Christ”:

Page 34: “So we see that objectively the Blood deals with our sins. The Lord Jesus has borne them on the Cross for us as our Substitute and has thereby obtained for us forgiveness, justification and reconciliation. But we must now go a step further in the plan of God to understand how he deals with the sin principle in us. The Blood can wash away my sins, but it cannot wash away my ‘old man.’ It needs the Cross to crucify me. The Blood deals with the sins, but the Cross must deal with the sinner.”

Pages 35-36: “How were we constituted sinners? By Adam’s disobedience. We do not become sinners by what we have done but because of what Adam has done and has become. I speak English, but I am not thereby constituted an Englishman. I am in fact a Chinese. So chapter 3 draws our attention to what we have done—‘all have sinned’—but it is nevertheless not because we have done it that we become sinners.

“I once asked a class of children, ‘Who is a sinner?’ and their immediate reply was, ‘One who sins.’ Yes, one who sins is a sinner, but the fact that he sins is merely the evidence that he is already a sinner; it is not the cause. One who sins is a sinner, but it is equally true that one who does not sin, if he is of Adam’s race, is a sinner too, and in need of redemption. Do you follow me? There are bad sinners and there are good sinners, there are moral sinners and there are corrupt sinners, but they are all alike sinners. We sometimes think that if only we had not done certain things all would be well; but the trouble lies far deeper than in what we do: it lies in what we are. A Chinese may be born in America and be unable to speak Chinese at all, but he is a Chinese for all that, because he was born a Chinese. It is birth that counts. So I am a sinner because I am born in Adam. It is a matter not of my behavior but of my heredity, my parentage. I am not a sinner because I sin, but I sin because I come from the wrong stock. I sin because I am a sinner.

“We are apt to think that what we have done is very bad, but that we ourselves are not so bad. God is taking pains to show us that we ourselves are wrong, fundamentally wrong. The root trouble is the sinner; he must be dealt with. Our sins are dealt with by the Blood, but we ourselves are dealt with by the Cross. The Blood procures our pardon for what we have done; the Cross procures our deliverance from what we are.”

The Spiritual Man