I found this book to be the most illuminating and liberating (extra-Biblical) writing I’ve read on the spiritual experience of a Christian.

Watchman Nee was a Chinese evangelist and church planter that lived from 1903 to 1972. He spent his last twenty years in prison. This book is a compilation of speeches, personal journals, and magazine articles.

Nee uses Romans 1-8,12 as his primary text, and suggests that Romans 1-8 should be taken in two halves. The first dealing with 'sins' (justification) and the second dealing with 'sin' or sin nature (sanctification).

The first eight chapters of Romans form a self-contained unit. The four and a half chapters from 1:1 to 5.11 form the first half of the unit and the three-and-a-half chapters from 5.12 to 8.39 the second half. A careful reading will show us that the subject matter of the two halves is not the same. For examples in the argument of the first section we find the plural word ‘sins’ given prominence. In the second section, however, this is changed, for while the word ‘sins’ hardly occurs once, the singular word ‘sin’ is used again and again and is the subject mainly dealt with.

He insists that conscious acceptance of our death with Christ and our resurrection to new life in the Spirit are key to experiencing what God had in mind for man from the time of creation… a God centered life. When we embrace the death and resurrection to new life, we make a different choice than Adam did in Eden.

So this was the alternative that lay before him [Adam in Eden]. Choosing the way of the Spirit, the way of obedience, he could become a ‘son’ of God, living in dependence upon God for his life; or, taking the natural course, he could put the finishing touch to himself, as it were, by becoming a self-dependent being, judging and acting apart from God. The history of humanity is the outcome of the choice he made.

Nee’s treatment of Romans chapter 7, with it’s palpable struggle between flesh and spirit, is the best I’ve heard or read.

Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from Law… What does it mean in everyday life to be delivered from the Law?… It means that from henceforth I am going to nothing whatever for God. I am never again going to try to please him. [I’ll let that be your teaser to read chapter 9 of the book if not more.]
The final three chapters are excellent illustrations and context for the idea of dying to self and picking up one’s cross each day. The idea of emptying ourselves of all self-direction, leveraging natural gifts instead of God’s work in you, being more concerned about the ‘work of God’ than God Himself.

I would highly recommend this book for those who have been in the Christian walk for more than a few years. Some of the concepts don’t hit home with new Christians the way they will with those of us who have struggled to do God’s will through sheer force of will.

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