By Watchman Nee Preface

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The Release of the Spirit

by Watchman Nee


IN READING this manuscript we have been impressed that it is a vital message needing to be shared and known by all the Lord’s seeking ones who long to be a channel for His Life. One cannot read very far before sensing Watchman Nee’s longing and prayer is that the Church may know the Lord in the fullest way, that God’s people may be increasingly fruitful unto Him, that He may find a minimum of hindrance in us, and that He may be fully released through our quickened and controlled spirit.

Surely this is the hour when the battleground is in the soul. While the Lord is seeking to work through the quickened spirit, Satan is seeking to work through the natural, soulish life which has not been brought under control of the Spirit.

In his many years of laboring with fellow workers, Brother Nee has clearly seen the absolute necessity of brokenness. It is almost as if he were personally here upon the religious scene in America sensing the great need for brokenness among Christian workers. There may be some who are unprepared for such a bitter dose of spiritual medicine, yet we believe anyone with discernment and hunger will agree that the breaking of the soul-powers is imperative if the human spirit is to express the Life of the Lord Jesus.

Second Preface: October 1976

Rejoice with us! One million copies in ten languages are now in print. In this present hour, when the religious scene is occupied with subjectivism and emotional experiences, it seems even more important (than it was twelve years ago when this book was first published) that each one of God’s children understand his basic make-up and function of his spirit, soul and body. For those who are truly pressing for the prize and the upward calling this is indeed a truth most imperative. We trust then that this message shall reach every part of the Body of Christ and accomplish a release of His life. May it be so for His eternal glory, praise and honor!

The Publishers

De Vrijmaking van de Geest

door Watchman Nee


Bij het doorlezen en uitwerken van dit manuscript kwamen wij sterk onder de indruk van de geestelijke belangrijkheid van dit boek. Niemand zal bij het doorlezen ontkomen aan de indruk dat Watchman Nee’s verlangen en gebed uitgaat naar het feit dat de Gemeente de Heer Jezus Christus mocht kennen in de volste zin. Tevens dat Gods volk een groeiende vruchtbaarheid in Hem zal openbaren en dat de Heer volle vrijheid in ons krijgt door de vrijmaking van de geest, die door Hem tot leven werd gebracht.

Het is heel duidelijk dat in deze dagen de geestelijke strijd ten nauwste verband houdt met ons zieleleven. Naast het feit dat de Geest Gods zich baanbreekt door een levende en opgewekte geest in ons, is de satan krachtig bezig zich te openbaren door een ongecontroleerd natuurlijk zieleleven, wat een leugenachtige imitatie is van een werkelijke openbaring van de Geest van God.

In zijn jarenlange ervaring en werk, samen met zijn medearbeiders, heeft broeder Nee de absolute noodzaak van verbrokenheid duidelijk leren zien. Het lijkt alsof hij de situaties van het geestelijke leven in andere landen - en zo ook in dat van ons - heeft begrepen en de noodzaak van verbrokenheid onder Gods dienstknechten ook hier heeft aangevoeld. Wij zijn ons bewust van het feit dat sommigen niet bereid zullen zijn de bittere dosis van dit geestelijke medicijn in te nemen. Daarnaast echter menen wij dat ieder die geestelijke honger heeft en die met ernst de Heer zoekt zal aanvaarden dat de verbreking van de ziele-krachten, gebonden aan onze aardse natuur, van groot belang is, wil het mogelijk zijn door de geest het leven van de Heer Jezus te tonen aan anderen.

TWEEDE VOORWOORD: oktober 1976

Verheugt u met ons! Er wordt nu een miljoen exemplaren gedrukt in 10 talen. In dit uur, waarin het godsdienstige toneel zich bezighoudt met subjectiviteit en emotionele ervaringen, lijkt het nu nog belangrijker (dan dit 12 jaar geleden al was toen dit boek voor het eerst werd gepubliceerd) dat ieder van Gods kinderen begrip heeft van de fundamentele gesteldheid en functie van zijn geest, ziel en lichaam. Voor hen die zich echt uitstrekken naar de prijs van de hemelse roeping is dit een hoogst noodzakelijk te kennen waarheid. Wij hopen dan dat deze boodschap elk deel van het Lichaam van Christus zal bereiken en zal leiden tot een vrijmaking van Zijn leven.

Moge de inhoud van dit boek zijn tot Zijn eeuwige heerlijkheid, lofprijzing en eer.


FOR THE READER to properly appreciate these lessons, perhaps a few preparatory statements will be helpful:

Firstly, we must become accustomed to the terminology which Brother Nee uses. He has chosen to call man’s spirit the inner man; he calls man’s soul the outer man and for the body he uses the term, the outermost man. In the diagram we have pictured this. It will also help to realize that in designing man originally, God intended for man’s spirit to be His home or dwelling place. So the Holy Spirit making a union with the human spirit was to govern the soul, and the spirit and soul would use the body as the means of expression.

Secondly, when Watchman Nee speaks of destroying the soul, it may seem he is using too strong a word as though to imply annihilation. Actually the whole substance of his message clearly points out that the soul, instead of functioning independently, must become the organ or vessel for the spirit. So it is the independent action of the soul that must be destroyed.

T. Austin-Sparks has wisely pointed out:

“We must be careful that, in recognizing the fact that the soul has been seduced, led captive, darkened and poisoned with a self-interest, we do not regard it as something to be annihilated and destroyed in this life. This would be asceticism, a form of Buddhism. The result of any such behavior is usually only another form of soulishness in an exaggerated degree; perhaps occultism. Our whole human nature is in our souls, and if nature is suppressed in one direction she will take revenge in another. This is just what is the trouble with a great many people if only they knew it. There is a difference between a life of suppression and a life of service. Submission, subjection and servanthood in Christ’s case, as to the Father, was not a life of soul-destruction, but of rest and delight. Slavery in its bad sense is the lot of those who live wholly in their own souls. We need to revise our ideas about service, for it is becoming more and more common to think that service is bondage and slavery; when really it is a Divine thing. Spirituality is not a life of suppression. That is negative. Spirituality is positive; it is a new and extra life, not the old one striving to get the mastery of itself.”

Thirdly, we must see how the soul has to be smitten a fatal blow by the death of Christ as to its self-strength and government. As with Jacob’s thigh, after God had touched it he went to the end of his life with a limp. This would illustrate clearly that forever there must be registered in the soul the fact that it cannot and must not act out from itself as the source. Again T. Austin-Sparks writes: “As an instrument the soul has to be won, mastered and ruled in relation to the higher and different ways of God. It is spoken of so frequently in the Scriptures as being some thing over which we have to gain and exercise authority. For instance:

“In your patience ye shall win your souls.” Luke 21:19

“Ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth.” I Pet. 1:22
“The end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”’ I Pet. 1:9.”

Finally, in these lessons we must see why Watchman Nee insists that the soul (outer man) be broken, be mastered and be renewed for the spirit to use. T. Austin-Sparks has said:

“Whether we are able yet to accept it or not, the fact is that if we are going on with God fully, all the soul’s energies and abilities for knowing, understanding, sensing and doing will come to an end, and we shall ‘on that side’ stand bewildered, dazed, numbed and impotent. Then, only a new, other, and Divine understanding, constraint, and energy will send us forward or keep us going. At such times we shall have to say to our souls, `My soul, be thou silent unto God’ (Ps. 62.5); and `My soul, come thou with me to follow the Lord.’ But what joy and strength there is when, the soul having been constrained to yield to the spirit, the higher wisdom and glory is perceived in its vindication. Then it is that `My soul cloth magnify the Lord, and my spirit bath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46). The spirit HATH, the soul DOTH - note the tenses.

So that unto fullness of joy the soul is essential, and it MUST be brought through the darkness and death of its own ability to learn the higher and deeper realities for which the spirit is the first organ and faculty.”*

As we approach the end of these lessons we shall have found the secret of fruitful living unto HIM. Do not fall into the snare, as so many have, of trying to suppress your soul or of despising it; but be strong in spirit, so that your soul may be won, saved and made to serve His fullest joy. The Lord Jesus has planned that we should find rest unto our souls, and this, He says, comes by way of His yoke-the symbol of union and service. We shall then appreciate how the soul finds its greatest value in service, not in ruling. True, until broken, the soul wants to be master. Through the Cross it can become a very useful servant.

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