2 Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.
10 Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
We have Christ as the treasure in a poor earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7). We may think that we are quite good, but in reality we are not good…. None of us is better than others; we are all descendants of Adam with the same fallen nature.
We need to realize that the natural life is the enemy of God and of Christ…. If we intend to follow the Lord, the first condition is that we deny ourselves and apply the killing power of the cross to the self constantly [cf. Matt. 16:24]. We need to… [let] the cross put the self to death. In order to follow the Lord, we do not need teaching; neither do we need to be adjusted in our behavior. Rather, we need to be put to death; we need to be broken. (CWWL, 1968, vol. 2, pp. 450-451)
Our disposition is our self…. It is in us, and it is us. Our disposition makes it hard for us to release our spirit…. The breaking of the outer man is the breaking of our disposition…. It is easier to deal with our disposition when we are young. (CWWL, 1989, vol. 3, “The Experience and Growth in Life,” p. 138) Watchman Nee saw that what we are by nature means nothing; only what the Spirit constitutes within our being counts. Whatever we are by birth, whether good or bad, whether useful or not, is natural and altogether a hindrance to the Holy Spirit in constituting the divine life into our being. For this reason our natural strength, natural wisdom, natural cleverness, natural disposition, natural shortcomings, natural virtues, and natural attributes, plus our character and habits, must all be torn down in order that the Holy Spirit may form in us a new disposition, new character, new habits, new virtues, and new attributes. In order to accomplish this work of reconstitution, the Holy Spirit of God moves within us to enlighten, inspire, lead, and saturate us with the divine life. He also works in our environment to arrange every detail, person, matter, and thing in our situation to tear down what we are naturally. He may arrange to place a certain person in our home in order to tear down our natural quickness or slowness. He may arrange certain matters to abolish our natural cleverness or dullness. He may arrange another situation to tear down our natural wisdom or folly. He uses all kinds of persons, matters, and things to tear down all aspects of our natural being in order that He may conform us to the image of Christ. (Watchman Nee—a Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, pp. 115-116)
The Lord often chastises us, but we turn our attention to men and take the wrong track. Our attitude before the Lord should be as the psalmist said, “I did not open my mouth; for You have done this” (Psa. 39:9). We have to remember that it is not our brother, sister, friends and relatives, or any other person who is dealing with us. It is God who is dealing with us. We have to see this. We have to realize that the Lord has been disciplining us and dealing with us all these years. Because of our ignorance we have put the blame on others or even on fate. This is total ignorance of God’s hand. It is wrong. We have to remember that everything has been measured to us by our God. The amount, the length, and the intensity of what befalls us are all measured by Him. He orders everything around us, the only purpose of which is to break our conspicuous, obtuse, and hard spots. May the Lord be gracious to us and show us the meaning of His work in us. May He grant us much light to expose us and to humble us. (CWWN, vol. 54, “The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit,” p. 244)
Further Reading: Watchman Nee—a Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, chs. 15-17; CWWN, vol. 57, ch. 25; CWWN, vol. 52, “The Character of the Lord’s Worker,” ch. 3