The Spiritual Man:
To live by the spirit we must move in accordance with the delicate sense of its intuition and depend on its enabling to accomplish the revealed task. Well do we begin if we follow intuition instead of thought, opinion, feeling or tendency; well do we end if we rely on the Spirit's power and not on our talent, strength or ability. Simply keep in mind that the moment we cease to follow our intuitive sense at that very moment we begin to walk after the flesh and end up minding the things of the flesh. This in turn infects death into the spirit. Only if we “walk not according to the flesh” can we walk “according to the spirit”.
[Part Four, page 31, The Spiritual Man
The insight and wisdom of this book is hard to describe. So deep and full does the spiritual insight and wisdom of Watchman Nee run that few in our modern age are willing to take the time and sacrifice to even began to comprehend the level of spirituality that this man calls us into. If one has any delusional fantasies of spiritual maturity they will be quickly demolished after one begins to read this unique and special book.
This is a long book and by no means a light read. It requires a great deal of discipline and patience to contemplate and absorb all that is being said. On top of this the reader often finds himself reading things he really doesn't want to hear. The underlying motives of the heart are exposed to the light and what we see in ourselves is often difficult to take. In our shallow Christian culture where we are often made to feel content about our level of spirituality this is a much needed book, but predictable not a very popular one.
For anyone who is ready to press on into the deeper things of the spirit this is an excellent book to start with. One word of warning however. The book has a tendency to balance itself out in the long run. Reading only the first half will give an incomplete picture. Absorbing the book as a whole is very important in order to see all aspects of the spiritual life.
For example, in reading the quote that began this review one may get the impression that what the author calls “intuition” is all that is needed for a successful spiritual life. Yet in the latter part of the book he delves into the importance of the mind, and how a mind renewed to the truth is a powerful tool to be used for the glory of God. So if you decide to read it determine beforehand you will not wimp out half way through. Trust me, you will be tempted to.
*NOTE: I have heard that Nee himself was not very pleased with the book, and some have reported that he wished he had never written it. It was penned at the tender age of 19 so it is understandable. He stated years later about the book: "... I can endorse it all. It was a very clear and complete setting forth of the truth. But just there lies its weakness. It is too good, and it is the illusion of perfectness about it that troubles me. The headings, the orderliness, the systematic way in which the subject is worked out, the logic of the argument - all are too perfect to be spiritual. They lend themselves too easily to a merely mental apprehension." One should keep this in mind as well when reading it. Still, there is so much to be gained by this work overall that these things should not detour us from delving into the Spiritual Man