Part 2 | Chapter 5: The Believer’s Ultimate Attitude Toward the Flesh (Continued)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Note: These are the notes I wrote down as I read through this book. Sometimes the notes are a word-for-word transcription from the book. Other times it’s my paraphrase of what was written. These notes are not intended to fully explain what Watchman Nee wrote. If something is confusing or requires more clarity, you can reference this book for more information.

The Cross and the Deeper Work of the Holy Spirit

Whatever has the intent and desire to develop ourselves that we may be seen and admired by others belongs to the flesh.

There is natural good as well as natural bad in this flesh.

John 1:13 shows the “will of the flesh.”

The flesh can will, decide, and plan to execute good in order to receive God’s favor. But it still belongs to human flesh and hence must go to the cross.

A self-confident Christian trusts in his wisdom, thinking he knows every teaching of Scripture and how to serve God.

It is highly dangerous to receive the truths of the Bible with human wisdom, for there is a hidden and subtle method that causes us to perfect with the flesh the Spirit’s work.

The Spirit alone can quicken. The flesh profits nothing.

We are not discussing sin here but the inevitable consequence of the natural life in man. Whatever is natural is not spiritual.

We must deny our righteousness and wisdom. Both must be nailed to the cross.

The possibility of walking by the flesh always exists. Even in worship, Christian work, in Bible knowledge, and in saving souls.

Unless yielded to the cross, the flesh operates in the saint just as in the sinner.

For saints, the possibility always remains for us to draw from the life of the flesh.

The flesh can motivate us to perform many good acts. The flesh can make us think we are serving the will of God.

Within believers, two life principles exist: Good and evil (right and wrong) or life.

Many live a mixed life. Obeying one and then the other. Sometimes we depend entirely on the Spirit. At other times we mix in our strength.

Allow the cross, like a knife in circumcision, to cut off completely everything of the flesh.

Every affection, desire, thought, knowledge, intent, worship, and work of the flesh must go to the cross.

The flesh deserves nothing but death.

Our fellowship with the cross begins after we see the flesh as God sees it.

Before the Holy Spirit can take full charge over a person, there must first be the complete committal of the flesh to the cross.

What is lacking today is not a better living but a better dying. We need to die a good death—a thorough death.

If we die correctly, we shall live correctly.

We can’t have resurrection life without death. The experience of resurrection is measured by the experience of death.

If we want life without death, we can easily spiritualize the works of the flesh and call them works of the spirit.

We are most susceptible to deception by the flesh when we are on the verge of being delivered from it. We must abide constantly in the Lord’s death.

We must submit ourselves cheerfully to Christ and trust the Holy Spirit to apply the dying of Jesus to us that the life of Jesus may be exhibited.

When He is in complete control, He will overthrow the power of the flesh and manifest Christ as our life.

If we live by faith and obedience, we can expect the Spirit to do a most holy and wonderful work.

“If we live by the Spirit”—this is our faith, for we believe that the Holy Spirit abides in us. Therefore, “let us walk by the Spirit.” This is our obedience (Galatians 5:25).

Words of Exhortation

If we allow the Spirit of God to do a deeper work by the cross, our circumcision will become increasingly real.

“We are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).

That confidence in the flesh is relinquished through the circumcision performed without hands.

We must distrust the flesh entirely, however good or able it may be. Instead, we should trust the Holy Spirit and submit to Him alone.

Do not give any opportunity to the flesh, for its rightful place is death.

Learn to distinguish between the activity of the Holy Spirit and your own religious, able, good flesh.

Always rely on the Holy Spirit, else your self-reliance and self-confidence will give greater opportunities to the flesh and you will fall.

With holy diligence, cultivate an attitude of total dependency upon the Holy Spirit, so that the flesh has no opportunity.

“Make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14).

Beware of small measures of self-conceit, for this will provide great opportunities to the flesh.

The flesh can conjure up many plans and methods and be full of expectations. It has opinions, power, and ability. It can look quite good and commendable. Nevertheless, it is still the flesh and must be must mercilessly be put to death.

The righteousness of the flesh is as abhorrent as is its sin. Its good acts should be repented of as much as its sinful deeds.

We must always maintain God’s view of the flesh.

Even the best that is done—though not “sinful”—is the flesh and is condemned by God as unclean.

God is not so much interested in the form or shape as He is the source.

Bryan Kessler