For the sake of understanding Nee’s writings we will give his definitions of spirit, soul and body.
~Man’s spirit=inner man
~Man’s soul=outer man
~Man’s body=outermost man
This understanding will help us understand that in God’s original design. God intended for man’s spirit to be God’s home or dwelling. So the Holy Spirit making a union with the human spirit was to govern the soul, and the spirit and soul would use the body as a means of expression.
When Watchmen Nee speaks of destroying the soul, what he means is that the soul must come under reign of the spirit. So it is the independent action of the soul that must be destroyed.
Austin Sparks has pointed out that:
“...We must be careful, in recognize the fact that the soul has been seduced, led captive, darkened and poisoned by self-interest, we do not regard it as something to be destroyed in this life. The result of any behavior of this type would be in itself be another form of soulishness exaggerated. Our whole human nature is in our souls, and if nature is suppressed in one direction it will take revenge in another. This is what the trouble is with a great many people if they only knew it. There is a difference of a life of suppression and a life of service. Submission, subjection and servanthood in Christ’s case, as to the Father, was not a life of soul-destruction, but of rest and delight. We need to revise out ideas about service, for it is becoming more and more common to think of service as bondage and slavery; when really it is a divine thing. Spirituality is not a life of suppression; it is a new and extra life, not the old one striving to get mastery over itself."
Thirdly, we must see how the soul has to be smitten a fatal blow by the death of Christ as to its self-strength and government. As with Jacobs leg that God touched, he limped the rest of his life. This was the constant reminder that God had touched him. This would illustrate clearly that forever there must be registered in the soul the fact that it cannot and must not act out from it’s as the source. As an instrument the soul has to be won, mastered and ruled in relation to the higher and different ways of God. It is spoken of frequently in scripture as being something over which we have to gain and exercise authority. For instance:
Luke 21:19 KJV
19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
1 Peter 1:22 KJV
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 Peter 1:9 KJV
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
As we approach the end of these lesions we shall have found the secret of fruitful living unto Him. Do not fall into the snare, as so many have, of trying to suppress your soul or despising it; but be strong in the spirit, so that your soul may be won, saved and made to serve His fullest joy. The Lord Jesus has planned that we should find rest unto our souls, and this, He says, comes by way of His yoke—the symbol of union and service. We shall then appreciate our should in His service, not ruling. True, until broken, the soul wants to be master. Through the cross it can become a useful servant.