|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|SEPARATION AND REVELATION
I AM REVEALED
Dec 8 2013
God not only wants to break our outer man, but also to separate it from the inner man. He wants to dismantle our outer
man so that our outer man does not become an encumbrance to the inner man. He wants our spirit and our soul, that is,
our inner man and our outer man, to be separated from each other.
A MIXED SPIRIT
A problem among God’s children is the mixture of the soul with the spirit. Whenever their spirit is released, their soul is
released as well. It is hard to find a person whose spirit is pure. With many people this purity is lacking. It is this mixture
that disqualifies them from being used by God. The first qualification in the work is a purity of the spirit, not a measure of
power. Many people hope to have great power, yet they pay no attention to purity in the spirit. Although they have the
power to build, they are short in purity. As a result their work is bound for destruction. On the one hand, they build with
power. On the other hand, they destroy with their impurity. They demonstrate God’s power, yet at the same time their
spirit is a mixed spirit.
Some people think that as long as they receive power from God, everything that they have will be sublimated and be
taken up by God for His service. But this will never happen. Whatever belongs to the outer man will forever belong to
the outer man. The more we know God, the more we will treasure purity over power. We cherish this purity. This purity
is different from spiritual power, and it is free from any contamination of the outer man. If a man has never experienced
any dealing in his outer man, it is impossible to expect the power that issues from him to be pure. He cannot assume
that just because he has spiritual power and has produced some results in his work that he is free to mix his self with his
spirit. If he does this, he will become a problem. This, in fact, is a sin.
Many young brothers and sisters know that the gospel is the power of God. But when they preach the gospel, they add
in their own cleverness, frivolity, jokes, and personal feelings. Others can sense God’s power with them, but at the same
time they also sense the self. The preachers themselves may not feel anything, but the pure ones immediately will
sense the presence of mixture. We often are zealous for God’s work outwardly, yet in reality we mix in our own
preferences. We often are doing God’s will outwardly, but actually it is only a coincidence that God’s will matches our
will. Many so-called wills of God are mixed up with man’s preferences! Much zeal is mixed up with man’s sentiment!
Many stout testimonies for God are mixed up with man’s stubborn disposition!
Our greatest problem is our mixture. Hence, God has to work on us to break our outer man as well as to remove our
mixture. God is breaking us step by step so that our outer man will no longer be whole. After our outer man is battered
one, ten, twenty times, we will be broken and our hard outer shell before God will be gone. But what should we do with
the mixture of the outer man in our spirit? This requires another work – the work of purging. This work is carried out not
only through the discipline of the Spirit, but also through the revelation of the Spirit. The way to purge mixture is
different from the way to break the outer man. The way to purge mixture is often through revelation.
Therefore, we find God dealing with us in two ways. One is the breaking of the outer man, and the other is the
separation of the outer man from the spirit. One comes through the discipline of the Holy Spirit, and the other is the
result of the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
THE NEED OF BREAKING AND SEPARATION
Breaking and separation are our two different needs. Yet there is a strong relationship between the two, and it is
impossible to disassociate the two altogether. The outer man needs to be broken before the spirit can be released. But
when the spirit is released, it must not be mixed with the sentiments and characteristics of the outer man. It must not
carry any element that comes from man. This is not merely a matter of the release of the spirit, but a matter of the purity
and quality of the spirit. Many times when a brother stands up to speak, on the one hand, we feel the spirit and the
presence of God. However, on the other hand, we touch his self in his words; we touch his conspicuous spot. His spirit
is not pure. He can give us a cause for praise, yet at the same time be a source of pain. The issue is not whether the
spirit is released, but whether the spirit is pure.
If a man has never been enlightened by God or judged by Him in a deep way, thereby gaining knowledge of his outer
man, the release of his spirit naturally will be accompanied by his outer man. When many people speak, we can sense
the release of their very person. They release God, but the release of their spirit is accompanied by their own
uncondemned self because many things in them have never passed through judgment. When we contact others, they
are primarily touched by our most conspicuous and outstanding elements. If our outer man is not condemned, what will
be exposed as soon as we come in contact with others will be the most conspicuous element of the outer man. No one
can hide this. Many people who are not even spiritual in their own room expect to be spiritual when they stand on the
platform. This is impossible. Many people lose their spirituality as soon as their memory fails to remind them. Their
spirituality is sustained by their memory. But this is an impossible proposition. We should not think, “I will remember to
muzzle myself today because I have to give a message; I have to work.” Our memory is not our salvation. We cannot be
saved by our memory. Whatever kind of person we are will be exposed as soon as we open our mouth. No matter how
hard a person tries to pretend, act, or cover up himself, his spirit comes out as soon as he opens his mouth. Whatever
kind of spirit we have and whatever mixture there is in our spirit will be obvious to everyone as soon as we open our
mouth. In spiritual matters, there is no way to pretend.
If we want to experience deliverance from God, this deliverance must be fundamental, not fragmentary. God has to work
in us to deal with our strong point, and He has to break it. Only then will our spirit be released without mixture being
imparted to others. If we have never been touched by God in a fundamental way, we may act somewhat spiritual when
we remember to do it, but we will manifest the self once our memory slips. Actually, in both cases, whether we remember
or we forget, the spirit that we release is the same, and the things that are carried by the spirit are the same.
The problem of mixture is the biggest problem among workers. We often touch life in the brothers, but also touch
death. We touch God in the brothers, but also touch a stubborn self. We find the Holy Spirit in them, but also find the
flesh in them. When they stand up to speak, others sense a mixed spirit, an impure spirit. If God intends for us to serve
Him in the ministry of the word and if we have to speak for God, we have to ask for grace. We have to say, “God, work in
me. Break my outer man, tear it down, and separate it from the inner man.” If we have not experienced this deliverance,
we will express our outer man subconsciously every time we open our mouth. There is no way for us to hide it. As soon
as the word goes out, the spirit goes out as well. We are the kind of person we are; we cannot pretend. If we want to be
used by God, our spirit must be released, and this spirit must be pure. In order for us to be pure, our outer man must be
destroyed. If our outer man is not destroyed, we will carry our own cargo with us when we serve as ministers of the
word. The Lord’s name will suffer loss, not on account of our lack of life, but on account of our mixture. The Lord’s
name will suffer, and the church will suffer as well.
We have spoken of the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Now we would like to speak on the revelation of the Holy Spirit. It is
possible for the discipline of the Spirit to come before the revelation of the Spirit, and it is possible for the order to be
reversed. We can make a distinction in sequence, but when the Holy Spirit works, He does not necessarily do one thing
first and then the other. In our experience there is no set order of events. Some people experience revelation first.
Everyone’s experience is different. Some receive the discipline of the Spirit first, then the revelation of the Spirit, and
then more discipline. Others receive the revelation of the Spirit first, then discipline, and then more revelation. However,
among God’s children there is always more discipline of the Holy Spirit than revelation of the Holy Spirit. Here we are
speaking about experience, not doctrine. With many people, discipline occurs more often than revelation. In short, the
soul and the spirit have to be separated. The inner man must be separated from the outer man. The outer man must
be broken, pulverized, and completely separated from the inner man. Only then will our spirit be free and pure.
HOW TO BE SEPARATED
Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing
even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the
heart. 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.” Word in verse 12 is logos in Greek. Account in verse 13 is also logos in Greek.
This carries the meaning of judgment. The last part of verse 13 can be translated as “all things are naked and laid bare
to the eyes of Him who judges us” or “all things are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the Lord; the Lord is our Judge.”
The first thing we have to realize is that the Bible tells us that God’s word is living. If we really touch God’s word, it will be
living to us. If we do not sense the livingness of God’s word, it proves that we have not touched God’s word. Some
people have read through all the words of the Bible. But they have not touched God’s word. Only to the extent that we
have touched something living can we claim that we have touched God’s word.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that every one who believes into Him would
not perish, but would have eternal life.” One person hears this word and kneels down, praying, “Lord, I thank and praise
You because You love me and save me.” This is a person who has touched God’s word, because His word has become
living to him. Another man sitting right next to him may hear the same word. The sound may be the same, but he only
is hearing the sound; he does not hear God’s word. There is no living response within him when he hears the word.
God’s word is living. If a man hears the word and does not become living, he has not heard the word. God uses His own
word, and this word is living.
God’s word is not only living, but operative. Living refers to its nature, and operative refers to the works which it
accomplishes in man according to God’s will. God’s word does not pass away lightly. It always results in something. It
produces results. God’s word does not come to us void. It operates to produce results in man.
God’s word is living and operative. What does this word do to man? It pierces and divides. God’s word is sharp, even
“sharper than any two-edged sword.” It pierces “even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow.” Here is
a contrast. On the one side, we have a two-edged sword verses the joints and marrow. On the other side, we have God’
s word versus the soul and the spirit. The joints and marrow are the deepest parts of man. To divide the joints is to
divide the bone outwardly. To divide the marrow is to divide the bone inwardly. A two-edged sword can divide a bone
outwardly and inwardly. Physically, a two-edged sword can do this to our body. But there are two things which are
harder to divide than the joints and marrow: the soul and the spirit. A sharp, two-edged sword can divide joints and
marrow, but it cannot divide soul and spirit. It cannot tell us what the soul is and what the spirit is. It cannot show us
what is of the soul and what the spirit is. It cannot show us what is of the soul and what is of the spirit. But the Bible says
that one thing, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, can divide the soul and the spirit. It is the word of God. God’
s word is living, and God’s word is operative. It can pierce and divide. What it pierces is not the joints and what it divides
is not the marrow. It pierces to the dividing of the soul and spirit. It can separate the soul from the spirit.
Some may say, “I do not feel that God’s word can do anything. I have been listening to God’s word for a long time, and I
have accepted His revelation. But I have not received anything special. I do not know what it means to pierce and to
divide. I know that God’s word pierces even to the dividing of the soul and spirit. But in my experience I do not know
what it means to pierce and to divide.”
The Bible answers this concern. In the first part of the verse it says, “Piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and
of joints and marrow.” What does it mean to pierce to the dividing of soul and spirit? The next part of the verse says,
“And able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Thoughts are what we think in our heart, and intentions
are our motives and purpose. God’s word can discern what we think in our heart as well as our motives.
We often concede that something is of our outer man, that it is of the soul, of the flesh, and is fleshly. We concede that
it is something that originates from ourselves. Yet even as we are saying this, we do not see this matter in actuality.
When God grants us mercy and enlightens us, He will speak to us in a serious and sober way, as if to say, “This is it!
This is the self that you have been talking about for a long time. This is your self! You have been talking so glibly and
lightheartedly about the flesh. This is it! This is what I hate. This is what I abhor.” When we do not see the flesh, we
speak about it jokingly. When we are under the light, we will fall on our face and confess: “This is it! The flesh that I was
speaking of is this very thing!” The dividing of the soul and spirit is not a division in knowledge. It occurs when God’s
word comes to us and reveals the thoughts and intentions of our heart. The dividing of the soul and the spirit happens
when, under God’s shining, we see that our thoughts, our mind, and our actions are all of the flesh and that our motives
are all for the self.
Suppose two sinners are before us. Both are sinners, but they are not the same. One is a sinner with knowledge. He
comes to the meeting and hears many teachings. He knows that man is a sinner, and that he is a sinner by virtue of this
and that fact. The preacher is lucid in his preaching, and our friend has picked up much knowledge. He confesses that
he is a sinner. Yet in talking about himself being a sinner, he is very jovial and unconcerned. The other man hears the
same thing, but God’s light is upon him, and he falls on his face and says, “My goodness, this is me! I am a sinner!” He
hears God’s word telling him that he is a sinner, and he sees that he is a sinner. He condemns himself and falls on his
face. This enlightened one prostrates himself on the floor and confesses his sins; he receives God’s salvation. The
other one who jokes about being a sinner does not see anything, and he is not saved.
Today we have heard that the outer man is a serious problem and that the fleshly man must be broken. If we speak
about this subject lightly as if it is a subject for conversation, it will do us no good. If we receive God’s mercy to see the
light, we will say, “Lord! Today I know myself. I now know what is my outer man.” When God’s light shines on us, we will
see what the outer man is, and we will fall down and not be able to rise again. We immediately will see that we are that
very person. We say that we love the Lord, but when God’s light shines on us, we will see that we did not love the Lord
at all but instead only loved ourselves. When the light comes, it divides. The mind does not divide us. Doctrines do not
divide us. God’s light divides us. We boast of our zeal, but God’s light will reveal this zeal as nothing but activities of the
flesh. We preach the gospel and think that we love sinners, but when light comes, we will see that our preaching of the
gospel was the result of our restlessness and talkativeness; it was only our natural inclination. When light comes, the
motive and thoughts in our heart are exposed. We think that our thoughts and intentions are of the Lord, but when light
comes, everything is exposed, and we will find that these were all of ourselves, not of the Lord at all. Once the light
comes we will see, and when we see, we will fall at God’s feet. Many things which we think are of the Lord will be found
to be of ourselves. We foolishly claim that such and such is for the Lord, but when the light comes, we will realize how
little of what we have done was for the Lord. Most of the things were done for ourselves. We think that many works
have been done by the Lord. Actually they all have been done by us. We boast that many messages that we preach
are from the Lord. But when God’s light shines on us, we will find that very little of what we have said were words given
by the Lord. Perhaps there were no such words at all. We think that many works are commissioned by the Lord, but
when the light breaks from heaven, we will see that all the works we have done were merely activities of the flesh. This
revelation of our true state of affairs and the confrontation of reality become light to us. Then we will realize how much of
what we have is of ourselves, of the soul, and how much is of the Lord and of the spirit. As soon as the light shines, the
soul is divided from the spirit, and there is the discerning of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We cannot make this matter clear with doctrines. If we try to discern doctrinally what is of the self, what is of the Lord,
what is of the flesh, what is of the Holy Spirit, what is of the Lord’s grace, what is of the outer man, and what is of the
inner man, we can spell out a long list and can even memorize the list, but we will still be in darkness. We will still do the
same things. We will still be unable to get rid of the outer man. The things will still be with us, and we will still not be able
to free ourselves from them. We can say that the flesh is wrong. We can jokingly point out that this is the flesh and that
is the flesh, but this will not save us. Deliverance does not come this way; it comes from God’s light. As soon as God’s
light shines on us, we will realize that even our rejection of the flesh is an act of the flesh. The Lord will discern the
thoughts and the intentions of our heart. We will see the real condition of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, and
we will bow down and say, “Lord! Now I know that these things belong to the outer man.” Brothers and sisters, only this
light will separate our outer man from our inner man. The separation of the outer man does not come from denial. We
cannot grit our teeth and say that we reject it. Our rejection is unreliable. Our confession is unclean. Even the tears of
our confession have to be washed by the blood. We foolishly think that we possess what we know in our mind. But God
does not see things this way.
God says that His word is living and operative. His word is sharper than anything else. When this word comes to us, the
soul and spirit are divided, even as a two-edged sword divides the joints and the marrow. It divides us by exposing the
thoughts and intentions of the heart. Not many of us know our heart! Brothers and sisters, only those who are under
the light know their own heart. Those who are not under the light never know their own heart. There is no exception to
this! We do not know our heart at all. Only when God’s word comes to us will we see that we have been only for
ourselves. We live for our own satisfaction, our own glory, our own pursuit, our own position, and our own edification.
Brothers and sisters, when the self is exposed and made manifest by the light, we will fall on our faces before God.
WHAT IS A REVELATION?
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 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 self that was previously hidden now will be exposed. The self that was removed from our consciousness now will be
clearly felt. Everything will be clear, and we will realize that the self actually involves so much, including activities so
numerous. We thought that many things were done in the name of the Lord. Now we will see that in essence they are
all of ourselves. Once we see this, we will spontaneously condemn the outer man. The things that we see under the
light will be condemned by us when they surface again. What we have seen under the light will be rejected by us again
when things, words, or intentions of a similar nature arise a second time; we immediately will see that what we are faced
with is the same thing that we were trying to deal with the first time. Anything that has passed through the judgment of
light once will be judged again as soon as a little seed sprouts forth. After we have received this shining we will be able
to divide the soul from the spirit. Before this shining, all we had were doctrines, and we spoke like a sinner glibly talking
about his own sin. If we do not have the light, even our effort to deal with ourselves is useless. The only kind of dealing
that is useful is the dealing under the light. When we live before the Lord in this way, our spirit will be released. We will
become pure, and the Lord will not have any trouble using us.
The dividing of the soul and the spirit comes from the shining. What is the shining? May the Lord be merciful to us to
show us what the shining is. Shining is seeing what God sees. What does God see? He sees what we do not see.
What do we not see? We do not see the things that are of ourselves, the things that we think are of God but which are
not. Light shows us how much of what we thought was of God is actually of ourselves. It shows us how much of what we
thought was good is actually not good, how much of what we thought was right is actually wrong, how much of what we
thought was spiritual is actually soulish, and how much of what we thought was of God is actually of ourselves. Then we
will say, “Lord! Now I know myself. I am a blind man. I have it. I did not see what You have seen.”
This seeing will take away what we have. Our seeing is the dealing. Do not think that seeing is one thing and dealing
another thing. God’s word is operative. Once His word shines on us, our outer man is gone. We do not hear God’s
word and then gradually experience the dealing afterwards. We do not see something through God’s light and then deal
with what we have seen afterwards. We do not have seeing as one step and dealing as another. The shining is the
removing; both happen at the same time. As soon as the light shines, the flesh dies. No flesh survives when it is
exposed to the light. When a man sees light, he does not have to humble himself; he will fall on his face immediately.
Under the light his flesh will wilt away. Brothers and sisters, this is what it means to be operative. God’s word is living
and operative. This does not mean that God speaks, and then we make it operative. The word itself is operative in us.
May the Lord open our eyes to see these two things. On the one hand, we have the discipline of the Holy Spirit. On the
other hand, we have revelation. These two things combined together will deal with our outer man. May the Lord be
gracious to us so that we will put ourselves under His light, and may this light shine on us so that we will prostrate
ourselves and say to the Lord, “I am indeed foolish and blind. I have been so foolish and blind that for years I have
taken what is of myself to be of You. Lord, be merciful to me!”
THE BREAKING OF THE OUTER MAN AND THE RELEASE OF THE SPIRIT, by Watchman Nee, Copyright 1997, Living