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 Soul’s Love of the World
Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife, whoever seeks to gain his life [self-life] will lose it, but whoever loses his life [self-life] will preserve it” (Luke 17:32-33, emphasis mine).
This is self-denial in relation to the world. Self-denial in relation to our earthly possessions.
Lot’s wife did not forget her possessions even in a time of great peril.
We can forsake the world and leave everything behind. Yet inwardly cling to those very elements.
One glance at the world indicates our soul-life is still active.
When our soul-life is crushed, nothing can move our hearts.
Soul-life is worldly; hence it is attached to the things of the world.
Only after we offer our soul-life to death can we obey the Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount is impossible to obey apart from self-denial.
Without the inward work of the cross, our actions and hearts are not aligned.
Gaining spiritual life is conditional on suffering loss.
Our real capacity lies not in how much we retain but in how much we have purged out.
If our hearts are not separated from love of the world, our soul-life has yet to go through the cross.
We must allow God to so operate in us that our hearts are severed from everything related to the world. We must be totally released from the intent of Lot’s wife.
This is the prerequisite for experiencing perfect life in Christ.
Often, we are unconscious how powerful our self-life is until tested in regard to material matters.
Earthly things truly represent an acid test for soul-life.
God’s children, who indulge in eating and drinking and in ease and comfort, need a deeper cutting away of the cross to free their spirit from the bondage and influence of the soul and to be free to live in God.
Any who still long for the things of the world have yet to learn how to lose their soul-life through the deep penetration of the cross.
The Cross and Soul-Power
Soul-life involves the soul’s affections, the soul’s love for material possessions, and the soul’s love of self. This is soul-power.
In John 12, Jesus spoke of the grain of wheat and soul-life. If there is no death of the soul-life, there is no spiritual fruit.
The grain of wheat represents self-life. A grain can’t bear fruit until it dies. Likewise, there can be no spiritual fruit until the natural life has been broken by the cross working death into the soul.
In John 12:24-25, Jesus is emphasizing the matter of fruitfulness.
While the soul-life possesses tremendous power, it cannot bear spiritual fruit.
All the energies generated in the soul, including talent, gifts, knowledge, and wisdom, cannot enable believers to bear spiritual fruit.
Our soul-life, our self-life, must die to produce spiritual fruit.
Soul-power does not help God one bit when it comes to bearing spiritual fruit.
The greatest peril for us is to lean upon ourselves and to draw upon soul-power—talent, gifts, knowledge, magnetism, eloquence, or cleverness.
Unless our soul is delivered to death, it will be most active in service.
We must be willing to be led through death’s darkness—no support, no sensation, no sight, no understanding—and silently trust God Himself to work until we emerge on the other side of resurrection, possessing a more glorious life.
Our soul is not annihilated; rather death affords God an opportunity to communicate His life to us.
Don’t misunderstand this as the inactivity of our mind, talent, wisdom, and gifting.
In losing our soul-life, we will keep it unto life eternal, unto created, indestructible life.
When Paul said that the sinful body might destroyed, he did not mean that the hands, feet, eyes, arms, etc. would be destroyed (Romans 6:6).
Nor does the soul delivered to death mean the destruction of the soul’s functions.
We yield our body as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13). Likewise, when natural life is sacrificed to death, we find renewed, revived, and restraint of the Holy Spirit in all the faculties of our soul.
Every part of the body and every organ of the soul still exists and is meant to be fully engaged. Only now as the spirit rules by the Holy Spirit’s power transmitted to our spirits.
The key is: Are the soul’s faculties regulated by our natural life (self-life) or by the supernatural life in our spirits?
The power that activated the soul (the self-life) and the body is now put to death. Then the Holy Spirit makes God’s supernatural power our life that we live by.
Man’s soul is man’s own self. It is where one’s personality resides and is expressed.
If the soul does not accept power from the spirit-life, it will draw its power for living from its natural, soulical life.
The soul, as a composite of organs, continues. But the soul as a life principle must be denied.
The soul’s life, our soul-power, must be crucified. Only then can the power of the Spirit operate in all parts of our souls, without interference from the natural life.
Here is God’s law of life. God transmits His life to us. Then we must experience co-death with Christ of the self-life so that His life is fully released within us.
This law of life is a continual process.
By continuously losing our soul-life in death, we may continually gain more abundantly and gloriously God’s life in resurrection.
Only when our soul is united to God’s indwelling life via progressive death and resurrection can we bear spiritual fruit and keep it for life eternal.
Jesus described fruit, more fruit, much fruit, and fruit that remains. This is accomplished by progressive death in our soul-life so that Christ’s life can permeate the soul entirely.