As an exercise I read both prefaces to The Spiritual Man and combined them into one preface here where there was similar points made
- The Spiritual Man: what this book is and what it is not - "Although all volumes deal with [the way of] spiritual life and [the strategem of spiritual] warfare, some sections may lay more stress on spiritual life while others may lay more on spiritual warfare. The book as a whole is prepared to serve as a guide; hence its emphasis is principally a matter of how to walk in this way rather than that of persuading people initially to take this walk. It is written not so much to urge individuals to seek the spiritual way as to help those who are seeking to know the way. May all whose hearts are out to the Lord find help in its pages".
- translator, "Long after the book’s initial publication in Chinese our brother once was heard to express the thought that it should not be reprinted because, it being such a 'perfect' treatment of its subject, he was fearful [in humility] lest the book become to its readers merely a manual of principles and not a guide to experience as well".
- Necessary basic knowledge: "The result of our findings, both through studying the Word and through experience, tells us that for every spiritual experience (for example, the new birth) there is a special change in our inward man. We conclude that the Bible divides man into three parts—spirit, soul and body. We shall see further how different are the functions and the realms of these three parts, particularly those of spirit and soul. In this connection, a few words need to be said concerning Part One of this first volume. The differentiation of spirit and soul as well as the difference in their functions are necessary knowledge to those who seek to grow in spiritual life. Only after knowing what is the spirit and what is spiritual can we walk according to the spirit. Because of the great lack of such teachings, I have attempted to explain in detail".
The Old Creation and the New Creation:
"God’s purpose is that His children are to be delivered wholly from the
old creation and are to enter fully into the new creation. No matter how
the old creation may appear to man, it is utterly condemned by God. If
we workers know what ought to be destroyed and what ought to be built,
then we are not the blind leading the blind . . . It would be well to
reflect upon God’s redemptive design. God’s purpose is that
through the new life given us at the time of regeneration He might be
able to deliver us from (1) sin, (2) the natural, and (3) the
supernatural, that is, the satanic force of evil in the unseen realm.
These three steps of deliverance are necessary; none can be omitted. If
a Christian limits God’s redemptive work by being content with merely
overcoming sin, he falls far short of the purpose of God. The natural
life (the good self) must be overcome, and so too must the supernatural
enemy. It certainly is well to overcome sin, but the work is not
complete if the petty self and the supernatural evil are left
unconquered. The cross can afford us such victory. I hope through God’s
grace I can emphasize these points as we go along".
- The inner spirit: "New birth—receiving God’s own life—is the starting point of all spiritual life. How useless it is if the end result of all our exhortation, persuasion, argument, explanation and study is but to induce some understanding in the mind, some determination in the will, some feeling in the emotion. It has not assisted people to receive God’s life into their spirit. But if we who are responsible for preaching the gospel truly perceive that unless people receive God’s life into the depths of their beings we have not done anything profitable, then what a drastic reformation will there be in our work! Indeed, such knowledge will bring us to the realization that many who do profess to believe in the Lord Jesus have never actually done so. Tears, penitence, reform, zeal and labor: these are not the hallmarks of a Christian. Happy are we if we know that our responsibility is to bring man to receive God’s uncreated life".
- Third Heaven Experience and Humility: We will not all receive a third heaven experience as like that of Paul or John. Only under special circumstances and special experiences do some of us receive a third heaven experience: "Now I do not have a 'third heaven' experience, neither have I received great revelation . . . Let us confess anew that we are poor but He is rich, that we have nothing but He has everything. Except we are given grace we are but defenseless sinners. May we thank Him with gratitude in our hearts, for the Lord Jesus has given us grace . . . Father, may You build Your Son’s Body, destroy Your Son’s enemy, and hasten the coming of Your Son’s Kingdom! Father God, I look to You, I cast myself upon You, and I desire after You!".
- The enemy fights ruthlessly: "I know the enemy hates this work deeply. He will try every means to prevent it from reaching people’s hands and to hinder them from reading it. Oh, that you would not allow the enemy to succeed here . . . As I recall how the enemy has tried to hinder me from learning the truths written in the last volume, I cannot but be apprehensive that some, though possessing the book, will be hindered by Satan from reading it; or if they do read it, will be made to soon forget it. Therefore let me warn my readers: you should ask God to keep Satan from preventing your reading it. Pray as you read; turn what you read into prayer. Pray that God will cover you with the helmet of salvation lest you forget what you read or simply fill your mind with innumerable theories . . . It is natural for the enemy to hate the spreading of God’s truth. As a consequence I have been attacked and assaulted incessantly. Thanks be unto God, His grace has hitherto sustained me . . . I recognize that a work which seeks to uncover the wiles of the enemy shall certainly incur the hostility of the power of darkness and the opposition of many. I have not written with the thought of courting the approval of men. This opposition I consider therefore as of no account. I also realize that if God’s children derive help from reading this book they may think more of me than is proper."
- Commissioned by the Lord for an Urgent Need: "I felt the urgent need for a book—based on the Word and on experience—which would give God’s children a clear understanding of spiritual life in order that the Holy Spirit might use it in leading the saints onward and in delivering them from groping in darkness. It was then that I knew I was commissioned by the Lord to undertake this task . . . I did not have the slightest intention of undertaking this task: I wrote only because I was commissioned by the Lord so to do. The truths in these pages are not mine; they were given me by God. Even when I was writing He blessed me with many new blessings . . . I do this not because I wrote the book but because of the deposit of truth in the book . . . I feel they will meet the urgent need of this age".
- Experimentally proven: foretaste of experience and comprehending in spiritual maturity: "In my contacts with people the Lord showed me not only what is genuinely lacking among His children but what is the revealed remedy in His Word as well. Let me therefore tell my readers that this is a manual on spiritual life, every point of which can be experimentally proven . . . If you should therefore come to some points difficult to understand, please neither reject them nor try to fathom them mentally. Such truths should be reserved for more matured life. Upon re-reading that difficult part later (say after two weeks or a whole month), you may perhaps grasp it better . . . this book deals wholly with spiritual life as an experience. In no other way can it be understood. What appears to be tasteless in the beginning may come to be most precious later. You will understand when you reach that stage. But is it necessary to wait until reaching that stage before understanding? If such were the case, what will be the use of this book! A great mystery surrounds the spiritual experience of a believer. The Lord always gives a foretaste of the outline of a deeper life before He leads him into the full experience of it. Many believers mistake their foretaste for the fullness, not realizing that the Lord is just beginning to lead them in. The teaching in this book will meet the need of those who have tasted but not yet fully drunk ."
- Help others and receiving help: "If God has graciously liberated you from the flesh and the power of darkness, you, in turn, ought to bring these truths to others. So after you have digested the book thoroughly and the truths have become your own, will you gather a few saints together and teach them the truths. If it is too much to use the entire book, then one or two parts would be profitable. The hope is that the truths herein will not be left unnoticed. Even lending the book to others to read would be a profitable thing . . . my prayer before Him is that He may bless these pages to fulfill its God-given mission in His church. I am asking God to bless every reader that he may find the straight path and learn to follow the Lord perfectly . . May You in these last days keep Your children from corrupted flesh and wicked spirits! . . . Thanks to God the Father and to some of my friends in the Lord, I was provided with a quiet place for resting and writing . . . As often as I despaired, however, just as often was I strengthened by the God whom I serve, according to His promise and through the prayers of many".
- Don't treat this as a book of principles and theory: ". . . this work is in no way to be considered a treatise on the theory of spiritual life and warfare. I myself can testify that I have learned these truths through much suffering, trial and failure . . . When composing the volumes I did not attempt to group similar and related principles together. I have simply mentioned them as the need arose. Out of consideration for their extreme importance, I may have touched upon one truth or another many times, hoping the children of God would thereby better remember . . (Isaiah 23.13)".
- Misunderstanding, Personal Need, and Thinking We Know Already: "I realize there are many apparent inconsistencies in the work, but the reader should remember that they are indeed apparent, not actual. Because this book treats of matters in the spiritual realm, there are bound to be many apparent theoretical contradictions. Spiritual things do often seem to be contradictory (2 Cor. 4.8,9). However, these all find their perfect harmony in experience. Hence, though there are places which seem to defy understanding, my request is that you try your best to understand. If anyone desires to misunderstand, he can surely read into these pages that which I have not intended . . My original purpose was to supply the need of many believers; obviously only those who have need will be able to appreciate the book . . . According to the measure of his need shall be the believer’s understanding of what is written here. Unless the reader has personal need he will not find any problem solved through the reading of these pages. This is what the reader must guard against . . . Let us therefore be careful lest we accept the teachings in the book with our mind and deceive ourselves into thinking we have possessed them already."
- Criticizing: "The reader also should be watchful lest he misuse the knowledge he obtains from these pages to criticize others. It is very easy for us to say this is of the spirit and that is of the flesh . . . obviously only those who have need will be able to appreciate the book . . . Others will either look upon these truths as ideals or criticize them as inappropriate".
- Analyzing ourselves: "One thing we must guard against: we should never use the knowledge we acquire from this book as an aid in analyzing ourselves. If in God’s light we see light, we shall know ourselves without losing our freedom in the Lord. But if all day long we analyze ourselves, dissecting our thoughts and feelings, it will hinder us from losing ourselves in Christ. Unless a believer is deeply taught by the Lord he will not be able to know himself. Introspection and self-consciousness are harmful to spiritual life . . . Upon reading such a treatise as this, we may quite unconsciously become over-active in self-analysis. In observing the condition of our inward life we tend to over-analyze our thoughts and feelings and the movements of the inner man. This may result in much apparent progress, yet actually it renders treatment of the self life that much more difficult. If we persistently turn within ourselves we shall lose our peace completely, for we shall soon discover the discrepancy which exists between our expectation and our actual condition. We expect to be filled with holiness but we are found wanting in holiness. This makes us uncomfortable. God never asks us to be so introspective. To do so constitutes one of the main reasons for spiritual stagnation. Our rest lies in looking to the Lord, not to ourselves. In the degree that we look off unto Him to that degree are we delivered from self. We rest on the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, not on our own shifting experience. True spiritual life depends not on probing our feelings and thoughts from dawn to dusk but on 'looking off' to the Savior!"
- Determining supernatural; soul and spirit: "When a believer is faced with any supernatural phenomenon, he ought to examine it carefully according to the principles revealed in the Bible before he decides to accept or to reject it . . . the excitement of the soul, if it expresses the spirit’s feeling, is extremely valuable; and the thought of the soul, if it reveals the spirit’s mind, can be most instructive".
- The blessing of weakness: "Let me speak honestly that I am but a man, the weakest of all men. The teachings of these pages reveal the experiences of my weaknesses . . . every one of these teachings has been branded with fire. And these words are not used lightly . . . this very frailty affords me a deeper insight since I suffer more weakness, sickness and pain than most people. . . I hope those who have had similar experiences in their earthly tents will accept what I have written as offering some light out of the darkness through which I have gone. Naturally innumerable are the controversies which have revolved around divine healing . . . What I now request of my reader is that in the phenomena of sicknesses he discern and distinguish as to which come from God and which from self".
- Conscience and Courage: "Countless times my courage has seemed to fail but, thank God, I have been able to finish . . . What I have set down I present to the conscience of God’s children—for them to weigh what is said . . Should you have the courage and perseverance to read through the first Part and continue on with the others, perhaps God will bless you with His truth".
For more explanation of what The Spiritual Man book is, and what it is not, see the prefaces and explanatory notes. Discover the meaning of the savings ratio.