Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 14: The Spiritual Man (3)by Watchman Nee
Because of the attack of evil spirits, many believers lose their original power of memory and often have the phenomenon of forgetfulness. Words just spoken are forgotten in an instant, work just done is forgotten in an hour, things just put down are forgotten before the day is over, and things just promised are forgotten in a moment. The believer acts like a man without a mind; nothing seems to be retained in his mind. He may think that this happens because his memory is worse than someone else's memory. Little does he realize that this is due to the disturbance of evil spirits in his mind. In such a condition, the believer finds himself jotting down all kinds of "memos," and becomes a slave to his notebooks. He must depend on these things as his "reminders"; otherwise, he will encounter difficulties all the time. We are not saying that a believer's mind should remember all kinds of things. We admit that many things are forgotten through the passing of years, and even current events can be forgotten because the impression produced in the mind is not deep. We are not saying that believers should remember everything. However, other than the above-mentioned matters, there are many things which have not transpired long ago, which the believers have paid attention to. Given the short period of time and the circumstances, a believer should remember these things. Yet there is often not even a shadow of memory; he cannot recall anything. This is not natural; rather, it must be the attack of evil spirits. For example, it is not natural to forget what we have most recently paid attention to. Some forgetfulness is natural; some is not natural. Behind all the unnatural forgetfulness, there are the attacks of evil spirits. Evil spirits are very capable at taking hold of certain of our nerves at critical hours and making us forget what we should have remembered. Countless numbers of believers have suffered considerable hardships as a result of the attacks of evil spirits in this area. Many works are damaged because of this. Many embarrassments result from this. Therefore, the trust that others have in this type of person decreases, and his usefulness also decreases. Yet he still does not realize that these memory lapses are caused by the work of evil spirits in his mind.
At other times, a believer's memory seems to be very good and does not seem to suffer from any sickness. But strangely, there are certain sudden lapses in his memory! At many critical junctures, when the mind should be working very well, it suddenly becomes muddled and cannot remember anything. As a result, matters fall into a hopeless situation. This sudden lapse in the function of the mind may seem strange to the believer. He may think that he is momentarily failing in his mental power and that this will last only for a little while; he does not realize that this is a phenomenon of the attack of evil spirits on the mind.
Many times evil spirits also take away the power of concentration in the believers' minds. The power of concentration is different from believer to believer. But according to the experience of believers, a variation in the power of concentration mainly comes as a result of the evil spirits' distraction. Many believers seem unable to concentrate their thoughts. Some are a little better. If they try to concentrate on one thing for a few minutes, they find their thoughts flying all over the place instead. This is especially true when one is praying, reading the Scriptures, or listening to a message. Many believers feel that their mind is always wandering. Although they have made up their mind to concentrate, it cannot be done in actuality. Although they exercise the will to control these racing thoughts, and although it may produce some effect for a while, nothing seems to last for long. Sometimes they find themselves completely out of control within themselves. All these are the works of evil spirits. But these works occur because the believers' minds have already reserved ground for them. It is unfortunate that believers waste away their mental power in this way. The result is that nothing is accomplished all day long. Just as it is a damage to waste physical energy, it is a damage to waste mental energy. Many believers today have wasted much time and not secured any results because their minds are under the attack of evil spirits and unable to concentrate.
Because evil spirits attack the mind in such a way, believers often experience a kind of "absentmindedness." Initially the mind is sharp. Suddenly, there is an emptiness, and one finds his thoughts flying away to nowhere. He does not know what he is doing or what book he is reading. He may think that his mind is on something else. However, the point to realize is that these kinds of thoughts are not initiated by one's own will. Countless numbers of believers have the experience of a sudden loss of hearing of what others are saying during the meetings and also at normal times. It is evil spirits which are causing them to not hear the words which are profitable to them. At such moments, evil spirits either cause their minds to stop functioning or force them to think about something else.
After a believer's mind has been attacked by evil spirits, it is very difficult for him to listen to others. Sometimes, he seems to miss a few sentences or a few words. Before he can understand what the other party is saying, he must wrinkle his forehead in order to try to hear the words. Often he does not understand the very obvious meaning of the other party, or he misunderstands the teachings given to him by the other party. All these are caused by the disturbance of evil spirits in his mind, who put many prejudices into him or interpret the meaning of the words for him. The believer hears men and demons speaking at the same time. Therefore, he either hears nothing or he misunderstands. Many believers become disinclined or unable to hear others speak because evil spirits work this way. Before others finish their words, they want to cut in with something. This happens because evil spirits have given them many thoughts, forcing them to listen to them and speak what they have put into them. At such times, a believer hears two voices at the same time, one from the outside and one from the inside. He hears suggestions from evil spirits within, and he hears men's words without. Since the voices within are closer than the voices without, the believer's ears will seem to be blocked from hearing the voices without. What is ordinarily known as "absentmindedness," is in fact just the heart being occupied by evil spirits. How many times do believers think that they have become "absent-minded," when in fact their hearts have just been captured by evil spirits. If believers do not rid themselves of the work of evil spirits in their minds, it will be impossible for them to concentrate their minds on anything.
Because of evil spirits' disturbance in the minds of the believers, they shake their heads, as if to shake out the undesirable things. If they say something, they have to say it loudly in order to let their own minds hear what they are saying and to leave an impression. If they think, they also have to loudly speak what they are thinking. Otherwise, their muddled minds do not understand. If they read, they also have to loudly read. Otherwise, they do not understand what they read. All these are the result of the disturbance of evil spirits in the mind. They cannot concentrate their thoughts, and they have to do these things before their minds can receive a little impression or know anything.
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