The Spiritual Man
by Watchman Nee
Extract from Chapter 1: Spirit, Soul and Body
The ordinary concept of the constitution of human beings is dualistic—soul and body.
According to this concept soul is the invisible inner spiritual part, while body is the visible outer corporal part.
Though there is some truth to this, it is nevertheless inaccurate.
Such an opinion comes from fallen man, not from God; apart from God’s revelation, no concept is dependable.
That the body is man’s outward sheath is undoubtedly correct, but the Bible never confuses spirit and soul
as though they are the same.
Not only are they different in terms; their very natures differ from each other.
The Word of God does not divide man into the two parts of soul and body.
It treats man, rather, as tripartite—spirit, soul and body.
1 Thessalonians 5.23 reads: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and
body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This verse precisely shows that the whole man is divided into three parts.
The Apostle Paul refers here to the complete sanctification of believers, “sanctify you wholly.”
According to the Apostle, how is a person wholly sanctified?
By his spirit and soul and body being kept. From this we can easily understand that the whole person comprises
these three parts.
This verse also makes a distinction between spirit and soul; otherwise, Paul would have said simply “your soul.”
Since God has distinguished the human spirit from the human soul, we conclude that man is composed of not two,
but three, parts: spirit, soul and body.
Is it a matter of any consequence to divide spirit and soul? It is an issue of supreme importance for it affects
tremendously the spiritual life of a believer.
How can a believer understand spiritual life if he does not know what is the extent of the realm of the spirit? Without
such understanding how can he grow spiritually?
To fail to distinguish between spirit and soul is fatal to spiritual maturity.
Christians often account what is soulical as spiritual, and thus they remain in a soulish state and seek not what is
How can we escape loss if we confuse what God has divided?
Spiritual knowledge is very important to spiritual life.
Let us add, however, that it is equally as, if not more, important for a believer to be humble and willing to accept the
teaching of the Holy Spirit.
If so, the Holy Spirit will grant him the experience of the dividing of spirit and soul, although he may not have too
much knowledge concerning this truth.
On the one hand, the most ignorant believer, without the slightest idea of the division of spirit and soul, may yet
experience such a dividing in real life.
On the other hand, the most informed believer, completely conversant with the truth concerning spirit and soul, may
nonetheless have no experience of it.
Far better is that person who may have both the knowledge and the experience.
The majority, however, lack such experience.
Consequently, it is well initially to lead these to know the different functions of spirit and soul and then to encourage
them to seek what is spiritual.
READ MORE: click on link to download full pdf: The Spiritual Man, Vol.1-3, by Watchman Nee
Part ONE: INTRODUCTION ON SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY
1 Spirit, Soul and Body
2 Spirit and Soul
3 The Fall of Man
Part TWO:THE FLESH
1 The Flesh and Salvation
2 The Fleshly or Carnal Believer
3 The Cross and the Holy Spirit
4 The Boastings of the Flesh
5 The Believer’s Ultimate Attitude towards the Flesh
Part THREE:THE SOUL
1 Deliverance from Sin and the Soul Life
2 The Experience of Soulish Believers
3 The Dangers of Soulish Life
4 The Cross and the Soul
5 Spiritual Believers and the Soul
Part FOUR:THE SPIRIT
1 The Holy Spirit and the Believer’s Spirit
2 A Spiritual Man
3 Spiritual Work
4 Prayer and Warfare
Part FIVE:THE ANALYSIS OF THE SPIRIT
Part SIX:WALKING AFTER THE SPIRIT
1 The Dangers of Spiritual Life
2 The Laws of the Spirit
3 The Principle of Mind Aiding the Spirit
4 The Normalcy of the Spirit
Part SEVEN:THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL—EMOTION
1 The Believer and Emotion
4 A Life of Feeling
5 The Life of Faith
Part EIGHT:THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL—THE MIND
1 The Mind a Battlefield
2 The Phenomena of a Passive Mind
3 The Way of Deliverance
4 The Laws of the Mind
Part NINE:THE ANALYSIS OF THE SOUL—THE WILL
1 A Believer’s Will
2 Passivity and Its Dangers
3 The Believer’s Mistake
4 The Path to Freedom
Part TEN:THE BODY
1 The Believer and His Body
3 God as the Life of the Body
4 Overcoming Death