Watchman Nee

B. Childress
Jan 01 2014


Whether or not we can be a worker of the Lord depends not on what we say or do but on what comes out of us.  If we
say and do one thing, yet what comes out of us is another thing, others will not receive help.  What comes out of us is a
very crucial matter.

Sometimes we say that we have a good impression of a certain person, or that we have a bad impression of another
person.  Where does this impression come from?  The impression does not come from a person’s words.  If it does, then
we would say that a person is good if his words are good and that he is bad if his words are bad; there would not be the
need to talk about impression at all.  Yet in reality there is something inexplicable which gives us certain impressions.  
The impressions that we receive of a person are something apart from his words and deeds.  As he is speaking or
acting, something else comes out of his being which impresses us with an impression.

What generates an impression in others is the strongest spots we have in ourselves.  If our thoughts have never been
broken and are lawless and wild, when we meet the brothers and sisters, they spontaneously will touch our thoughts.  
This will be all that impresses them.  We may possess an abnormal emotion; it may be exceptionally warm or cold.  If our
emotion has never been broken by the Lord, it will spontaneously come out of us when we contact others.  The
impression others will receive will be of our emotion.  Our strong spot will be what comes out of us, and it will be the
impression that others receive.  We can control our words and our actions, but we cannot control what flows out of us.  
Whatever we have will flow out of us spontaneously.

Second Kings 4 gives us the account of the Shunammite woman’s reception of Elisha.  The Bible says that “One day
Elisha was passing through Shunem; and there was a wealthy woman there, who compelled him to have a meal.  So
whenever he passed through, he would turn aside and have a meal there.  And she said to her husband,  Now I know
that this man who continually passes through unto us is a holy man of God” (verses 8-9).  Elisha passed through
Shunem.  He did not give one message or perform one miracle.  Every time he passed through, he turned aside and had
a meal there.  The woman identified him as a man of God by the way he took his meal.  This was the impression that
Elisha gave to others.

Today we have to ask ourselves, “What is the impression that we give to others?  What is the thing that comes out of
us?”  We have spoken repeatedly that the outer man must be broken.  If the outer man is not broken, the impression
that others receive from us will be nothing but the outer man.  Every time we contact others, we may give them an
unpleasant feeling that we are self-loving, stubborn, and proud.  Or we may give them an impression that we are clever
and extremely eloquent.  Perhaps we give others a so-called good impression.  But does this impression satisfy God?  
Does it meet the church’s need?  God is not satisfied, and the church has no need of our so-called good impressions.

Brothers, God requires that our spirit be released, and the church also requires that our spirit be released.  We have a
very great and crucial need: Our outer man must be broken.  If the outer man is not broken, our spirit will not be
released, and the impression we give to others will not be an impression of the spirit.

A brother once was speaking on the subject of the Holy Spirit, but all his words, attitude, and stories exposed him as a
man full of the self.  While others were listening, they were uncomfortable.  The Holy Spirit was in his mouth, but the self
was in his being.  His words were on the Holy Spirit, but the impression he gave to others was of his self.  What purpose
does this serve?  We must not pay attention to doctrines alone.  The important thing is what comes out of us.  If what
comes out of us is the self, others will only touch the self.  Even though our subject may be wonderful and our message
excellent, what good will it serve?  God has no intention for us to make progress in doctrine alone.  He has to deal with
the person.  If our person is not dealt with, we will be of little use to God’s work.  We will only be able to give others
spiritual teachings; we will not be able to give others spiritual impressions.  It is a great pity if our teachings are spiritual
but the impressions we give to others are of the self!  This is the reason we repeatedly have spoken of the need for God
to break our outer man.

Time after time, God has been arranging our circumstances to break our strong spot.  It may be so strong that one blow
is not enough to take it away.  Therefore, a second blow comes.  If our strong spot is still unyielding, a third blow will
come.  God will not let us go.  He has to break our strong spot.  He will never stop His work.

What the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us through His disciplining work is different from what we receive through ordinary
preaching.  In receiving a message, we generally understand the doctrine in our mind and then wait for months and even
years before God leads us into the truth subjectively.  We receive the message, and then we enter into the truth.  But
the discipline of the Holy Spirit works differently.  It is characterized by the fact that the instant we see the truth, we
receive the content of that truth itself.  These two things occur at the same time.  We do not see the doctrine and then
receive the content later.  We are foolish men; we understand doctrines quickly, but we learn from the discipline slowly.  
We can remember many teachings after hearing them once.  Yet the discipline of the Holy Spirit may come to us ten
times, and we still may be bewildered and astonished as to what we are being disciplined for.  If the Lord cannot break
us with one blow, He will do it again and again.  As we experience the discipline of the Holy Spirit once, twice, ten times,
or even a hundred times, the Lord will wrought something into us, and in that same moment we will see the truth.  The
moment we see the truth is the moment we acquire the thing itself.  Hence, the discipline of the Holy Spirit equals both
the breaking down and the building up of the Holy Spirit.  After a man passes through the Spirit’s discipline, he will be
edified as well as see the truth; he will be built up as well as torn down.  When he has experienced so much discipline
from the Holy Spirit, he will see and touch something real before the Lord, and he will say, “Thank the Lord.  Now I know
that the Lord has used the past five or ten years to deal with me just for the purpose of getting rid of this one thing.”  
Thank the Lord that He removes our obstacles through repeated dealings.


Shining is another work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit deals with our outer man by these two means: discipline and
shining.  Sometimes He works by both means simultaneously and at other times consecutively.  Sometimes, the Holy
Spirit disciplines us through the environment to knock out our strong spots.  At other times, He grants us special grace
by enlightening us in a special way.  We must be clear that the flesh can only take shelter in darkness.  When darkness
is gone, the flesh has no place to hide.  Many acts of the flesh remain because we do not know them as the flesh.  As
soon as light comes and we see them as the flesh, we become fearful to act the way we have before.

When the church is rich, when God’s word is released, when the ministry of the word is strong, and when prophesying is
common, light is frequent and prevailing.  Once light shines, we realize what pride is.  We begin to know the very things
that we have been talking about in the past.  When we spoke of pride previously, it was something we boasted of.  But
when we see pride under the light, we can only exclaim, “My goodness!  This is pride.  Now I know that pride is so evil
and filthy!”  The pride that we see under the light of revelation is completely different from the pride that we speak of with
our mouth.  The pride that we so glibly speak of does not appear loathsome and filthy to us.  Even while we are speaking
about it, we have very little feeling.  But when we are under the light, everything becomes different.  Light exposes our
true condition.  The self that we see today is thousands of times more evil and filthy than the self that we spoke of in the
past.  Under such circumstances, our pride, self, and flesh will wilt away.  They will be removed and no longer survive.

The wonderful thing is that whatever we see under the light is killed by the light.  The seeing and the killing do not
happen consecutively.  We do not see our shortcomings and then remove them gradually years later.  When we see our
shortcomings under the shining, the shortcomings are finished immediately; they are killed immediately.  Light kills; this is
the most wonderful thing about the Christian experience.  As the Holy Spirit enlightens us, we are dealt with.  Therefore,
revelation comprises seeing as well as killing.  Through seeing, the flesh withers away.  Revelation is God’s way of
operation.  In fact, revelation is God’s operation itself.  As soon as light reveals, it kills.  When light shines, we see, and
our seeing kills everything.  Once we see how filthy and evil something is and see the Lord’s condemnation of it, it can
no longer survive.

The greatest thing in the Christian experience is the killing that comes from light.  Paul did not receive a shining and then
hasten to kneel beside the road; the very instant he was enlightened, he fell down.  Prior to that, he was able to plan for
everything, and he was confident about everything.  However, his first reaction when the light came was to fall down.  We
should take note that these two things happen as one step, not two steps.  It does not happen the way we think.  God
does not shine on us and make us understand, and then we carry out what He has shown us.  God does not enlighten
us concerning our short comings, and then we begin to change these short comings.  No, God does not work this way.  
He shows us how evil, filthy, and short we are, and as soon as we see this, we exclaim, “My!  What a filthy and evil man I
am!”  As soon as God shows us our true condition, we fall.  We wither away and are not able to stand up any longer.  
Once a proud man is enlightened, he is no longer able to be proud even if he tries.  Once we have seen our true
condition under God’s light and once we have seen what our pride is, the impression will never leave us.  Something will
remain in us that will give us pain, that will give us the feeling that we are useless, and we will no longer be able to be

When God shines on us, it is a time for believing and prostrating ourselves, not the time for petitioning.  Many brothers
and sisters busy themselves in prayer when God is speaking to them.  As a result they do not see any light.  The
principle that brought us our initial salvation holds true for all subsequent works of God.  At the time we are enlightened
for our salvation, we did only one thing: We knelt down and prayed, “Lord, I accept You as my Savior.”  Following this,
something happened.  If a man prays after he hears the gospel, “Lord I beg that You would be my Savior,” he may pray
the same prayer for a few days without feeling that the Lord has saved him.  As soon as the Lord shines on us, we have
to fall under His light and say, “Lord, I accept Your judgment.  I accept Your view.”  If we do this, God will give us more
light and will show us how filthy we are.

The day that God shines His light on us, many things will change before our eyes.  We thought that we had done many
things in the name of the Lord and for love’s sake.  Now the picture changes.  We discover that hidden beneath our
noblest goals are base and ugly motives.  We thought that we were absolutely for God.  Now we discover that hidden
beneath our noblest goals are base and ugly motives.  We thought that we were absolutely for God.  Now we discover
that we are full of plans for ourselves.  In fact we are so full of these things that we can only fall on our faces.  Man’s self
creeps into every nook and cranny; it even tries to usurp God’s glory.  “Is there anything that man cannot do?”  Under
God’s shining, we find out the kind of person we are.  As soon as God’s revelation comes, our condition is exposed and
laid bare.  He exposes us, and we see ourselves.  Previously, only the Lord knew us.  We were naked and laid bare
before Him, but not before ourselves; we still did not know ourselves.  But when God exposes all of the thoughts and
intentions of the heart to us, we become naked not only before Him, but before ourselves as well.  When we are naked
and laid bare before ourselves, we no longer dare to lift up our heads.  Before we are exposed, we do not know
ourselves, and we can easily get by.  But when we see ourselves under God’s light, we are so ashamed that no place is
good enough for us to hide ourselves.  Now we know what kind of person we are!  Now we know the kind of boasts we
made!  We thought we were better than others.  Now we know the kind of persons we are!  We cannot find more fitting
terms before the Lord to describe ourselves; we can only say that we are filthy and evil.  We admit that our eyes have
been blind for years, and that they have seen nothing.  The more we see our filth, the more ashamed we become.  It
seems as if all the shame of the whole world is upon us.  We prostrate before the Lord and repent, saying, “I repent of
myself.  I hate myself.  I admit that I am an incurable man.”

This shining, repentance, shame, loathing, and prostration will shake off what we have been unable to shake off all
these years.  Man’s salvation comes from this instant enlightening.  The seeing and removing are one work; the two are
joined together.  As the Lord shines, He saves.   The shining is the saving, and the seeing is the deliverance.  We need
this kind of seeing before the Lord.  Only this kind of shining will remove our pride, and only this light will stop our fleshly
activities and break our outer shell.


We have these two main things before us – the Spirit’s discipline and God’s shining, or we can say the Spirit’s
revelation.  Let us make a comparison of the two things.  The discipline of the Holy Spirit is generally a slow process.  It
comes to us slowly, little by little.  Sometimes it takes a few years for Him to deal with us concerning a certain thing.  
Moreover, this discipline does not come necessarily through the ministry of the word.  Many times there is no ministry of
the word, yet the Spirit still exercises His discipline.  But the revelation of the Holy Spirit is different.  Often it comes
quickly, maybe in days or even in minutes.  God’s light may shine on a man for a few minutes or a few days.  Under this
light he sees that he is finished, that he is absolutely useless, and that all of his former boasts are now his shame.  Such
revelation of the Holy Spirit often comes through the ministry of the word.  This is the reason the revelation of the Holy
Spirit occurs more frequently when the church is strong and the ministry of the word abundant.  But even when there is
no ministry of the word, and consequently little revelation from the Spirit, no one can remain in the Lord’s presence while
still preserving his outer man.  The word and the revelation may be lacking, but there is still the discipline of the Holy
Spirit.  Even if a person has not come into contact with any other believer for years, the Holy Spirit still performs His
disciplining work on him, and a man can still learn and touch something high before the Lord.  Some do not have the
ministry of the word because the church is weak.  Some even think that they have lost the discipline of the Spirit through
their own foolishness.  This does not mean that there is no longer any discipline of the Holy Spirit.  Rather, it means that
the Holy Spirit has been disciplining for years without producing anything or arriving at any result.  The Lord may strike
once, and we may not know what it means.  He may strike again, and we still may not know what it means.  He may strike
for ten years, while we act like a mule without reason, unaware of His intentions.  This is a pity.  Discipline never falls
short in us; what falls short is our vision of the Lord’s hand.

The Lord often chastises us, but we turn our attention to men and take the wrong track.  Our attitude before the Lord
should be as the psalmist said, “I did not open my mouth; for You have done this” (Psalm 39:9).  We have to remember
that it is not our brother, sister, friends and relatives, or any other person who is dealing with us.  It is God who is dealing
with us.  We have to see this.  We have to realize that the Lord has been disciplining us and dealing with us all these
years.  Because of our ignorance we have put the blame on others or even on fate.  This is total ignorance of God’s
hand.  It is wrong.  We have to remember that everything has been measured to us by our God.  The amount, the
length, and the intensity of what befalls us are all measured by Him.  He orders everything around us, the only purpose
of which is to break our conspicuous, obtuse, and hard spots.  May the Lord be gracious to us and show us the meaning
of His work in us.  May He grant us much light to expose us and to humble us.  If the Lord breaks our outer man, we will
no longer present others with our strong self when we touch them.  Instead, our spirit will flow out whenever we touch

We pray that the church will come to know God in a way as never before.  We also pray that God’s children will receive
unprecedented blessings from God.  The Lord has to adjust our being until we become proper.  Not only must the
gospel be proper; the gospel preacher also must be proper.  Not only must the teaching be right; the teacher also must
be right.  The question is whether or not God will be released through our spirit.  When the spirit is released, it will touch
many in this world who are in need of the spirit.  No work is more important or basic than this, and no other work can
replace this.  The Lord’s attention is not on our doctrine, our teaching, or our message.  He is asking what impression we
are giving to others.  What is coming out of us?  Are we drawing others to ourselves or to the Lord?  Do they touch
doctrines, or do they touch the Lord through us?  This is a very serious question.  If this question is not resolved, all of
our labor and work will not be worth much.

Brothers, the Lord cares more for what comes out of us than for what we say with our mouth.  Every time we contact
someone, invariably something comes out of us.  Either our self comes out or God comes out.  Either the outer man
comes out or the spirit comes out.  Brothers, let me repeat the question: “When we stand before men, what comes out of
us?”  This is a fundamental question that needs to be resolved.  May God bless us and may we see the light.


Stream Ministry.