Part 3 | Chapter 4: The Cross and the Soul

Wednesday, November 17, 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.

On four separate occasions and recorded in the four Gospels, Jesus called His disciples to deny their soul-life, deliver it to death, and then to follow Him.

Jesus mentioned soul-life in all these, yet a different emphasis in each.

Jesus summons us to commit our natural life to the cross.

The Cross and Soulical Affections

Matthew 10:38-39 exhorts us to relinquish soul-life and deliver it to the cross for the Lord’s sake.

We must take up our cross by committing our soulical affections to death.

We must be purified from natural love.

Jesus wishes to rid us of our natural love to others so that we will not love with our own love.

We should receive from Him His love so that we may love others.

To keep Jesus as our first love, the soul-life must be denied.

We must be liberated from the power of the soul.

Upon losing its natural affection on the cross, the soul secedes ground to the Holy Spirit that He may shed abroad in the believer’s heart the love of God. Enabling him to love with the love of God.

The Lord calls us to overcome the natural life in our souls, for the greater life—the life of Christ.

Like Abraham, we must love God more than we love our Isaac.

God gave us our soul-life. But we are not to be governed by that life principle.

We yield not only what is sinful but also legitimate—such as affection—that we may be entirely under the Holy Spirit’s authority.

Affection can be a formidable obstacle to spiritual life.

If the Lord is not preeminent in our affections, He can hardly be Lord in other respects.

We are to love our spirit-life so much, that in comparison, it seems we hate our soul-life and we therefore refuse to give it free reign.

We are to bear the cross so we’re not controlled or influenced by soulical affection. Instead, we are to be empowered to love in the power of the Spirit.

The Cross and the Self

Matthew 16:24-25 exhorts us to take up our cross and to put our soul-life to death.

Matthew 10:38-39 describes the affections of the soul.

Matthew 16:24-25 describes the self of the soul.

When soul-life reigns supreme, we’re unfit to accept God’s orders because it wants its will and not God’s.

The cross is how we lose the self-life in the soul and it’s the only way for the spiritual life of Christ to be enthroned pure and supreme.

No amount of revelation can give us freedom from the dominion of the soul.

Unless the cross has worked thoroughly within us the natural life is preserved.

The soul-life’s prime motivation is self-preservation.

Cross bearing is continuous. It’s daily.

The cross that condemned sin to death is an accomplished fact. We acknowledge and receive it.

The cross, where we forfeit our soul-life, is different. Self-denial is not a matter already completed and accomplished. We experience it daily.

We are required to take up our own cross daily. We are to determine daily to allow the power of the cross to deny self until self is completely crucified.

As the Word of God penetrates deeper, the soul and the spirit are divided. We can see more clearly the soul’s operation so that we can crucify it and deny it. And we see more clearly the Spirit’s operation, so that we yield more fully to Him.

How can we deny the self-life in the soul when it is unknown to us?

God’s Word must lay bare more and more of our natural life so that the work of the cross can probe deeper and deeper. The cross must be borne daily.

Bryan Kessler