I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life that you and your seed may live… Deut. 30:19
In the Collected Works, Watchman Nee says, “The highest level of Christian living is a living by the will” (Vol 3, p 68). Many of us who have either grown up in the recovery or spent time reading the ministry might be caught off guard by this statement – Isn’t the most important part of our being our spirit? Shouldn’t we be those living by our spirit? Then how can the highest level of Christian living be one according to the will?
What Watchman Nee is pointing out is a very practical and extremely helpful point for our progress in the Christian life. He goes on to stress the difference between living by our emotions, which we tend to do, and living by our will, which we need to do. According to 2 Corinthians 5:7 and Romans 1:17, we are those who walk and live by faith, not by appearance, feeling, or sight. As such, we should not be concerned with our feelings, whether high or low, or our thoughts, whether good or bad. We should simply exercise our will to choose to walk by our spirit.
Our spiritual life is one which believes in God, and not one which senses God or sees God. Feeling and seeing are merely feelings in your soul; they are not your true spiritual life. The most important thing that we should know is that true spirituality depends on man’s will, rather than on his emotions. If your will consistently, constantly, and continuously (1) wills, (2) determines, and (3) chooses that which is of God and even God Himself, you are already living a spiritual life. Your emotions are unreliable. Indeed, they are like the waves. But you can abide peacefully by your will. What God wants to give is not a happy feeling every day. His purpose is for you to live by your will and your spirit. “I love the Lord, not because of what I feel, but because I want to love Him.” Just as we would read the Bible, pray, preach, and serve the Lord when we are joyful, in the same way we should read the Bible, pray, preach, and serve Him when we do not feel anything and our heart is as cold as ice. Please understand that the most important thing is to live by the will and not by the emotions. The most deceiving thing is for a person to take his feelings as an indicator of his spiritual life. From now on, please learn to exercise your will to control your whole being and your feelings. If God rewards you with feelings, thank Him. If He does not and you feel lost at heart, go on as usual. Until you have overcome your habit of living by your feelings, God cannot greatly use you. He needs solid vessels, those who do not change due to circumstances. – Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol 7, pp 1106-1108
It seems that in our daily living, we are keenly aware of our mind and emotion, but we often forget the third, and evidently most important part of our soul, our will. We are very sensitive to our feelings and often interpret them as signs of our walk with the Lord. We seem to analyze where we are with the Lord and try to use our mind to interpret the feelings in our emotions, forgetting about the capacity the Lord has installed in us to choose. We simply need to forget about how we feel or what we think, and exercise our will to turn to our spirit. Notice – we do not exercise our spirit to turn to our spirit, but we exercise our will to turn to our spirit. We don’t just exercise our spirit, the key is to choose to exercise our spirit.
In the Collected Works of Witness Lee, Brother Lee gives a very enlightening example of this in starting a car (vol 1, pp 23-28). Although the car runs on gasoline, it is started by electricity. The electricity starts the car, but once it is started, the gasoline runs the car. In the same way, our will is the electric starter, and our spirit is the gasoline which runs the car. Yes, we must be those who live by our spirit, just as the car runs by the gasoline. But how do we ignite our spirit? We have to use the will to choose to get there. Rather than waiting for a feeling or inspiration, we must realize that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet – we can turn to our spirit any time we choose!
A barrier some may have experienced is that we are hesitant to exercise our will for fear of living by will-power. However, the difference between the will and will-power is also illustrated by this example. After you start the car, you do not try to run it by means of the electric starter. That would be foolish. The starter ignites the gasoline, and the gasoline runs the car from there. In the same way, the will simply serves to get us to our spirit, and our spirit takes us from there. As we exercise our will, we must depend on and trust in our spirit. This is the reason both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee realized the will was so important – because it is the only way that we will get to our spirit! Our mind and emotion may try to distract us, but we must exercise our will and choose to turn to our spirit. Praise the Lord we have the capacity to choose life!
“Your spirit is connected to your will, which is powerful. So whenever you exercise your spirit, you have to realize that your will is involved.” – Witness Lee, The Spirit with Our Spirit, p 82
“The most important thing that we should know is that true spirituality depends on man’s will, rather than on his emotions.” – Watchman Nee, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol 7, pp 1107-1108
9 thoughts on “Choosing to Exercise our Spirit”
Amen Lord! this is really true, in this years ITERO we realized that, we need to exercise to choose what is morally right, which means we need our will to choose. Praise the Lord! my spirit is connected to my will, which is powerful. Lord cause us all to choose life. Keep doing this till You come to find us so doing. Amen!
What a wonderful truth. Amen I choose to exercise my spirit. I realized the word choose is directly connected to our will. And I will to intentionally to exercise my spirit. And also I’m amazed that the ministry is so rich and to get into it if I feel cold or hot. For this I say again I choose, hallelujah Amen I choose to exercise my spirit which is subject to me.
What a wonderful life
Wonderful! Wonderful! This truth is really wonderful. Thank the Lord for this portion on exercising our spirit through our will. Yes we simply need to forget about how we feel or what we think, and exercise our will to turn to our spirit. This is truly our salvation! O Lord Amen Halleluah!
I really enjoyed the following statement:
From now on, please learn to exercise your will to control your whole being and your feelings. If God rewards you with feelings, thank Him. If He does not and you feel lost at heart, go on as usual.
praise the Lord what a wonderful fact!
Amen! Believe and chose to exercise to be in our spirit!
Praise the Lord He has installed in us the capacity to choose – choose to turn to our spirit – our mingled spirit – where there is no footprint of Satan.
May I know which title of the Collected Works with Withness Lee you refering to? I’m trying to put the chinese message(if i can find it)into my fb to help more young saints to know how to exercising our christian living.
I want the whole of creation to praise God the father for His abundant love for humanity that He gave us Jesus of Nazareth whom He raised up above all powers in the universe and elevated to His throne and made both Lord and Christ for us. Today, our Lord and Christ Jesus is a life-giving Spirit and every one who accepts our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ receives His Holy Spirit in his spirit. I have been taken to this Holy of Holies by the Lord and He will take every believer to this place in the individuals own way. Praise the Lord for He is magnanimous in mercies. Exercise your spirit everytime and you will come to see that wonder that God has promised the saints.
Praise the Lord!!!
So glad I found this. What a great portion!!
This has been a big challenge to me in that any time I feel empty or cold while reading, praying etc, my mind tells me am not in spirit. I just feel worse and begin to worry, just full of death. From now on, I will choose to exercise my spirit regardless of my mind and emotion. Hallelujah