The Spiritual Man – Quotes From Watchman Nee Vol.3 – and my thoughts
Quotes From – Watchman Nee – The Spiritual Man Vol.3 My comments in Italics
If a Christian’s mind is not renewed his life is bound to be lopsided and narrow. Work becomes nigh to impossible for him. The popular teaching nowadays stresses that there should be love, patience, humility and so forth in the Christian life. These traits of the heart are highly significant, since nothing else can replace them. Even so, can we regard these as meeting all our needs? They are important but not inclusive. It is equally vital for a person’s mind to be renewed, enlarged and strengthened. Otherwise we shall witness an unbalanced life.
I like how Brother Nee has differentiated between the “traits of the heart” and “a renewed mind”. It was the work of Jesus on the cross that gave us a new heart and spirit (Eze.36:26;James 4:8) but it is through this new heart and spirit that we are to have our minds renewed.
One fact which we must always bear in mind is: man possesses free will. God’s intention is for man to control himself. Man has the authority to regulate his every natural endowment; hence his mental processes should be subject to the power of his will. A Christian ought to inquire of himself: Are these my thoughts? Is it I who am thinking?
Brother Nee here shows the need for free will to corporate with God and challenges us to distinguishes between the thoughts that are coming from “sin that dwells within us” and the “thoughts from our heart and renewed mind” the “I”.
The salvation which is rooted deeply in our being must gradually be “worked out.” A serious lack among Christians today is in not perceiving the need for their minds to be saved (EPH. 6.17); they conceive salvation in general and somewhat vague terms. They fail to recognize that God desires to save them to the uttermost in that all their abilities are to be renewed and fit for His use. How many of God’s children, although hither to saved and possessed of a new life, still carry about them an old head. Nothing of their former theories, thought processes, or prejudices has been altered: only a Christian casing has been added. They use their old brain to search, to accept and to propagate spiritual truth. Is it any wonder they fall into countless errors and precipitate endless conflicts in the church? Just as God is displeased with the wicked man who uses his own strength to do the Lord’s work, so He is displeased with the wicked man who uses his own mind to apprehend God’s truth. An unrenewed mentality is spiritually dead; hence everything which proceeds from it is likewise none other than dead. Many may boast in the depth of their Bible knowledge and in the excellency of their theological tenets, but those with spiritual discernment are aware that it is dead.
A person who has come to an awareness of Jesus and their need for Him has received new life but that new life is received and understood through an old mind or an old way of thinking. Many after receiving Jesus begin to study the Bible to learn about Jesus though an unrenewed mind that still sees, looks and understands things in an old way. I think we read an example of this in the gospels with the 12 disciples as they followed Jesus. When we try and understand the scriptures through an unrenewed mind we bring death to the words and stories.
Each word of truth has to be fought for in the believer’s mind. The evil spirits try to keep from him the truth about their operations. They moreover attempt to disown the particular phenomenon which results from accepting a particular lie. Their operating principle is ever and anon “to keep them from seeing the light” (2 Cor. 4.4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.). A Christian must be very thorough in spotting the truth concerning all matters. Truth means at the very least the true condition.
Brother Nee has presented here the reality that our minds eye is blind as to what is real. It is only through the eyes of the Spirit that Truth can be known. It is only a renewed mind that will be able to understand Truth.
In this conflict the child of God must exercise his mind. He must take the initiative in each action and not depend on anyone else. If possible he must make his own decision, not waiting passively for other people or for more conducive environment. He must not glance back at the past nor worry concerning the future but learn to live just for this moment.
The battle is ultimately fought between your will and God’s will. Are you going to believe what the Spirit is showing you or are you going to believe what the flesh is showing you? The flesh will throw the past up to you and the future it sees if you follow the way of the Spirit – both views will be death. If you will simply stand in the present moment and see what is – it is here that the Spirit will speak and reveal life to you – Not a past life or a future life but a present eternal life in the here and now.
Because the individual’s mental life has been protractedly passive, the battle for freedom likewise requires a protracted period. As the believer retrieves the ground inch by inch, the effect gradually will be manifested. Although at the beginning situations may appear to turn worse as he attempts to recover, nonetheless if he persists he shall witness the adversary steadily losing his power. Various symptoms will decrease as the territory is increasingly regained. He will detect his mind, with its memory, imagination and reasoning powers, gradually becoming free so that he can use it again.
Step by step the ground of our minds can be taken and liberated by life in the Spirit. It is a battle but the enemy is already defeated and all you have to do is speak to it and it will go away. As Brother Nee says you mind is “gradually becoming free” and a free mind can be used by the Spirit to display the glory of our Life in the Father.
The Bible speaks most distinctly about the coordination of the spirit and the mind: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know . . . ” (Eph. 1.17-18). We have explained the meaning of “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation” before; it means that God makes Himself and His will known to us by giving revelation in our spirit. But now we wish to note how the revelation obtained intuitively in our spirit works together with our mind. The eyes of your heart” points figuratively to the organ of our reasoning and understanding, that is, our mind. In this passage the word “know” or “knowledge”–used twice serves to convey two distinctive notions: the first one is a knowing intuitively, the second is a knowing or understanding mentally. This spirit of revelation is located in the depth of our being. God reveals Himself to our spirit that we may truly apprehend Him by our intuition. Thus far, however, this is but intuitive knowledge; that is to say, the inner man knows while the outer man remains ignorant. The communication to the outward man of what has been known by the inward man is an indispensable step, the lack of which prevents united action by the inner and outer man together.
Intuitive knowledge (Heart Thinking) – Mind understanding (Natural Intelligence/Ego) Heart thinking come from a clean new heart – it is where God communicates and fellowships with us. Natural Intelligence or our Ego is our natural or fallen way of thinking and looking at ourself and God. It is in this place that the renewal is going on. The heart is finished it is the mind or understanding that is the work in process.
How then can there be this communication? The Scripture informs us that our spirit will enlighten our mental faculty to make it understand the meaning of the revelation in the intuition. Since our outward man depends on the mind in order to comprehend things, the spirit must convey what it knows intuitively to the mind so that the latter can deliver the message to the entire being and enable the child of God to walk according to the spirit. We first come to know the will of God in our intuition and then our intellect interprets that will to us. The Holy Spirit moves in our spirit, producing in us a spiritual sense; afterwards we exercise our brain to study and to understand the meaning of this sense. It requires the cooperation of both spirit and mind to comprehend fully the will of God. The spirit enables our inner man to know, while the mind causes our outer man to understand.
I love the way Brother Nee describes the communication that is going on between our hearts and minds. God’s way is from the heart to the mind and mans way is the mind to the heart. In order to walk out the will of God in the flesh our minds but be renewed by our hearts to comprehend fully the will of God.
Such cooperation occurs in a second, although it takes longer to describe with pen and ink. They operate like two bands: and in the twinkling of an eye the spirit already has made known to the mind what it has seen. All revelations come from the Holy Spirit and are received not by the mind but by man’s spirit, so that man may know by intuition; they are then studied and understood by his mental powers.
I have found that in the place of silence where I have stilled my mind – it is here that I can hear my heart. In the place where I can hear my heart my mind can be communicated to and my understanding can come into alignment to what my heart intuitively knows. It is in this practice that I choose to have my mind renewed by my new heart and spirit.
We consistently ought to refuse to allow the mind to serve as the prime element for receiving God’s will, yet we must not inhibit it from serving as the secondary apparatus for understanding that will, A carnal Christian mistakes the thought of the head to be the criterion for his conduct because be has not yet learned bow to walk after the spirit. A spiritual Christian follows the spirit, but be also pen-nits his mind to comprehend what the spirit means. In true guidance these two elements are one. Ordinarily the leading in the spirit opposes what men call reasoning; however, to the person whose rational power has been renewed such reasoning works together with his spirit, thus his guidance seems perfectly logical to his reasoning. But the rationality of the person whose inner man has not yet attained this lofty position frequently will withstand the leading of the spirit.
Have you ever noticed that the longer you walk with the Lord your reasoning changes. The actual way you reason changes. Why do you think the Sadducee’s and Pharisees had such a hard time understanding Jesus – Two different reasoning were going on – These different reasonings spirit and flesh are more different than Chinese and English are from each other. God’s ways and mind are not the same as man’s fleshly ways and mind.
We have observed in Ephesians 1 how the spirit aids the mind. Upon receiving revelation from God the believer’s spirit enlightens the intellect. The mind of a spiritual man does not rely upon natural life; it depends instead on the enlightening of the spirit’s light. It lapses into darkness otherwise. A renewed mentality needs to be directed by the light of the spirit. This explains why a person may find his thoughts confused and his whole being dissipated if his inner man is blocked.
I believe that brother Nee has describe very well the room and function we see pictured in Moses Tabernacle as the Holy Place. It is in this room that fellowship at the table with the bread and the candlestick with its light takes place. It is not in the Outer Court experience that the mind is renewed but a heart made new and clean in the Outer Court – this is a quick work done by Christ alone (although many people never venture beyong the outer court). It is in the Holy Place or the Pentecostal experience where the mind is renewed out of darkness and into light.
AN OPEN MIND
Besides experiencing God’s direct revelation, we also frequently receive truth through the preaching of the Word by other children of God. Such truth is first received in the intellect before it reaches the spirit. Since we make contact with the utterances or writings of others with the mind, there is hardly any possibility of this kind of truth reaching our life except through the channel of the mind. An open mind is consequently of paramount importance to spiritual life. If our brain is full of prejudice towards the truth or towards the preacher, truth will not enter it nor will it extend to our life. No wonder some believers derive no help already have they decided what they would like to read or hear. It seems to be the rare person who can hear with their mind and withhold judgment until it has passed by the Spirit.
Two main things I find are needed in order for this to happen (1.- Willingness and openness) You have to be willing to listen and open to take what you hear into the spirit before you come to any understanding. (2.- Time – Yo need to be willing to listen and take the time in silence to allow these things to come into the light of the Spirit.
If a Christian is familiar with the process whereby truth is translated into life he will perceive the significance of a mind being unimpeded. Truth is understood initially by the mind; next it enters and stirs the spirit; and lastly, it is manifested in practical living.
First the Mind -Second the Spirit -Lastly the practical manifestation.
With the Mind and Spirit we can HEAR and with the manifestation we DO God’s Word. A closed mind prevents truth from entering the spirit.
A closed mentality is a prejudiced one; it opposes and criticizes any item differing from its idea; its notion becomes the standard of truth; anything contrary cannot be truth. Such a mentality deprives the opportunity for many of God’s truths to penetrate into the man; consequently it damages the believer’s spiritual life. Many experienced saints can testify to the necessity for an unprejudiced mind in regard to revelation of truth. Oftentimes enough truth has been communicated to us, but we simply have not comprehended it because of the lack of an open mind. How many are the years that God must expend in removing all obstacles before we can accept truth. An unobstructed mentality in conjunction with a free spirit aids us the most in knowing the truth.
Many of us for years have relied on our way of doctrinally thinking – it is this type of thinking that needs to be adjusted – this is where the work of ministry comes into play. Equipping the Saints in Eph.4:12 has the idea of adjusting or setting things in place so they work and flow together. It is the gear of our mind that is not in sync with the gear of our spirit. It is the “mind gear” that needs to be adjusted to fit with our new spirit gear. Its not that we need someone to teach us about God but we do need people to help us hear and and be renewed in our minds by the spirit within us.
If the mind is open the individual will soon perceive the preciousness of a truth which initially appeared rather dull to him but now is illumined by the spirit’s light. This is the way a child of God often receives truth: at the beginning it seems quite meaningless; after a while, though, the light of the spirit shines upon his mind and equips him to comprehend the depth of that truth. Although he may not have at his command the proper words to explain it, yet inwardly he has understood perfectly. An open mind lets in the truth, but the illumination of the spirit’s light renders the truth profitable.
An open mind to hear your brother or sister and time spent before the Lord is very profitable. Both are equally needed. To simply be with your brothers and sisters and not before the Lord will not allow for what you have heard to take hold of your being as belief. To simply be before the Lord will not allow for you to have your thoughts challenged and will not give you anything to bring before the Lord for light.
When the mind is functioning, beware lest it do so alone, that is, beware lest it operate independently of the spirit’s rule. A selfless mind aids the Christian in understanding God’s will, but an independent one merely exhibits the corruption of the flesh. For instance, many search the Scriptures with their brain, depending upon their own intellectual ability. Yet the truth they claim to know is but there in their heads. Such independent mental action is quite, dangerous, for it accomplishes nothing in the Christian’s life, other than to furnish some additional information for his thoughts and some additional ground for his boasting. We should sincerely reject all truths which are solely mental for such knowledge provides Satan with an opportunity to work. We must restrain any desire which seeks mere intellectual knowledge.
The “What If’s” of understanding. Instead of living in the present moment – many Christians like to plan ahead and figure out the “What If’s”. What would you do in this situation or what if that were to happen. This is the road of vain imagination and it is completely of the flesh. People often like to gather around a perceived like-mindedness. What they end up doing is testing one another as to what they believe or how they would act in a given situation. This is really just an attempt of the old way of thinking to gain control over the new way of going to the spirit and allowing the spirit to reveal the truth of a matter.
The brain ought to function, but it likewise needs to rest. If a believer were to allow it to work incessantly without any occasion for rest, it eventually would become sick just as the body does. He must regulate its activity, forbidding it to grow overactive and go out of control. The defeat Elijah encountered under a broom tree was due to the excessive working of his mind (I Kings 19). A Christian should keep his mind in the peace of God at all times. “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace,” noted Isaiah, “whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee” (26.3). A restless brain is a disturbed brain that is harmful both to spiritual life and to spiritual service. It has led many into numerous errors. An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally.
Our Inheritance as stated by the writer of Hebrews is still to enter into Rest. Our spirit is already at rest and now we strive to release our mind form the old way of thinking and into the light of spirit that renews our minds day by day.
Hence the Apostle teaches us to “have no anxiety about anything” (Phil. 4.6). Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise. Let the peace of God maintain your heart and mind (v.7). But Paul also exhorts us to put our heads to work and not just let them lie fallow: “brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (v.8). End
This entry was posted on March 23, 2009 by Eclectic Mind. It was filed under Church Life, Disciples of Jesus Christ, House Church, Jesus Christ, Organic Church, Reimagining Church, Simple Church, Truth, Wise Sayings .