Some of Watchman Nee's writings speak of ways in which a spirit can "sense." He calls this intuition. Examples are Mark 2:8 (perceiving in his spirit), Mark 8:12 (He sighed deeply in his spirit), Romans 12:11 (in spirit burning/fervent in spirit, literally), and John 11:33 (He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled). I previously thought that "he sighed deeply in his spirit" was just a manner of speaking in those days, and that it simply meant that the sighing was very heartfelt. I thought the same of the passage in John, but don't know enough to determine if these are functions of the spirit or just manners of speaking. Do you know? -- Leslie (Johannesburg)
I do not think that every time we read the word "spirit" we should look for an operation or manifestation of the Holy Spirit. That is over-interpreting the text. On the other hand, it is not always easy to distinguish the sense of spirit intended by the author. Sometimes a reference to the Holy Spirit may be intended.
Since all human beings are spiritual creatures -- we were created that way -- we ought to be careful not to ascribe to the Holy Spirit something that would take place anyway by virtue of our humanity. Interestingly, the NIV, in contrast to the NAS and NRS, renders Mark 8:12 "He sighed deeply," rather than "he sighed in his spirit." The NLT and NJB also omit the word spirit, rendering the sense of the original language through an adverb or prepositional phrase. This shows a concern not to over-interpret. Translators must navigate the straits between paraphrase and metaphrase.
I think as we align our will with God's will, we gradually develop a sense of how to apply God's word in our lives. We naturally ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" or "Is this in line with the word of God?" or "What happened last time I applied -- or failed to apply -- this biblical principle?" So while I agree that through spirituality we acquire intuition, I think Nee goes way too far, running ahead of the text and the Spirit he claims to discern.
In summary, I must caution against hyperspirituality -- ascribing everything to the working of the Holy Spirit. For more on the Spirit in our lives, please see my book The Spirit (IPI. 2005).
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2006. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.