“Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee

(Note: I wrote the following review 6 months ago but never got around to publishing it. Lately several people have asked me if I’ve read Sit, Walk, Stand – it seems this book is enjoying a renaissance among grace folk.)

A few weeks ago I posted some thoughts on Watchman Nee’s book The Normal Christian Life. If you liked that book, you will love Sit, Walk, Stand. Both books were published in 1957 and both are largely based on Nee’s sermon notes.

Sit, Walk, Stand is a small book with a big message. It’s sold as a study of Ephesians, but it’s much more than that. In 78 short pages the author describes the three aspects of the believer – to God, to man, and to the enemy. The best summary of the book is the one the author provides on the last page…

“The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by him and standing in him. We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength or a consistent and unfaltering walk in the world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with him at last in triumphant possession of the field.” (p.78)

This is boot camp Christianity, the sort of book every new believer needs to read.

That said, I have just come away from my latest reading of Sit, Walk, Stand wondering how I could have missed so much good stuff the first time around. About seven years ago I got our church in Hong Kong to study this book. To be honest, we weren’t ready for it. We were wearing the wrong glasses. It is only since I have learned to read everything through the lens of Jesus and His finished work that this book really begins to make sense.

Incidentally, this is a very common experience for me – reading old books as if for the first time.

Perhaps you’re like me – you read Sit, Walk, Stand many years ago and thought it was good but not great. If so, can I encourage you to take another look? To whet your appetite, here are 12 of my favorite sound-bites from the book.

On Sitting

“All true spiritual experience begins from rest.” (p.27)

“Whereas God worked six days and then enjoyed His sabbath rest, Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before He rests, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work.” (p.16)

“God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before He can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, He will do everything.” (p.23)

“Just you stop ‘giving’ and you will prove what a Giver God is! Stop ‘working,’ and you will discover what a Worker He is!” (p.25)

Our Walk

“The all-important rule is not to ‘try’ but to ‘trust,’ not to depend upon our own strength but upon his… Too many of us are caught acting as Christians. The life of many Christians today is largely a pretense. They live a ‘spiritual’ life, talk a ‘spiritual’ language, adopt ‘spiritual’ attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves.” (pp.38-9)

“Too often we think that the actual doing is what matters. We have to learn the lesson of not doing – of keeping quiet for Him. We have to learn that if God does not move we dare not move… The abiding principle of all true Christian work is: ‘In the beginning God…’ … You ask me what I mean by natural power. Put very simply, it is what we can do without the help of God.” (p.67)

“Have we discovered how good the Lord is? Then in us He is as good as that! Is His power great? Then in us it is no less great! Praise God, His life is as mighty as ever, and in the lives of those who dare to believe the Word of God the divine life will be manifest in a power not one whit less mighty that was manifest of old.” (pp.39-40)

“The question is one of practical sonship. True, God has ‘foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ’ (1:5), but we make the mistake of thinking that we have already ‘come of age’ – that we are already mature sons… All will reach ripeness somehow. But the Lamb is seeking firstfruits. The ‘wise’ in the parable (of the wise and foolish virgins) are not those who have done better, but those who have done well at an earlier hour.” (pp.33,44)

Taking a Stand

“Armies march into other countries to occupy and subdue. God has not told us to do this. We are not to march but to stand. The word ‘stand’ implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God’s, and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold on it.” (p.54)

“Today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory… When you fight to get the victory, then you have lost the battle at the outset.” (p.55)

“Because victory is His, therefore it is ours.” (p.56)

“If we believe the Lord, we shall not pray so much but rather we shall praise him more. The simpler and clearer our faith in him, the less we shall pray in such situations and the more we shall praise. Let me say again: In Christ we are already conquerors. Is it not obvious then that, since this is so, for us merely to pray for victory – unless that prayer is shot through with praise – must be to court defeat by throwing away our fundamental position?” (p.57)
See all E2R’s book reviews here

22 Comments on “Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee

  1. Pennee Rowland // September 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    I love Watchman Nee, Sit/Stand/Walk first read it 1994, time to re-read.

  2. I absolutely love this little book and have read it many times. These truly are foundational truths that the apostle Paul knew and beautifully expressed in the book of Ephesians with both majesty and simplicity. Nee’s book made them even more real to me. Great post.

  3. Paul, a phrase that is used in my fellowship is, ‘cross tinted glasses’. We are currently studying the Typology of the Old Testament and we ‘see’ Jesus in the OT when we are wearing our cross tinted glasses!

  4. I have read this book twice in the past, but not since understanding grace and the new birth like I do now. I should read it again.

  5. Thanks Paul, these quotes are gold. I will be selahing these nuggets, oh yeah. Thanks.

  6. I read all of Watchman Nee in college back in the 60’s. What he said, I had never heard before but it really did not matter for I had rebelled against my father’s version of the Law until I left home for good. I still have all his books. After you read this one, which is a great place to start, then prepare yourself for a long journey as you read his great trilogy: The Spiritual Man Vol1-3. To this day, his name is whispered and his teachings remembered. I see a lot of Nee in Joseph Prince.

  7. Flonette De Castro // January 28, 2013 at 5:28 pm // Reply

    Great book… great insights, Paul.

  8. Dana Roberts // May 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm // Reply

    I also recommend Sit, Walk, Stand. It’s standard teaching covered in many books written before Nee’s time. But Nee leaves out Paul’s call to walk in evangelical unity in Ephesians 4…

  9. am blessed with this post

  10. Dania Bright // August 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm // Reply

    I thank God I met NEE.

  11. Wow….wow…wow….woa…glory…wow! Must find this book..
    Leme use this opportunity to seek help Paul, am new into the truths of Grace and I have come from under a long queue of law feeding and condemnation and am having challenges with…

  12. I read everything imaginable by Nee back in the 1970’s. Much of his writing is very inspiring. But a warning should be given. He borders on becoming a mystic and certainly some of his book about the soul is in severe error and has led to cults such as the Local Church and the teachings of Witness Lee.

  13. Jim Paulino // August 25, 2016 at 8:55 am // Reply

    This book Sit,Walk,Stand-changed my life. The Lord lead me to it on a book shelf in my home. If one is ready to understand what was accomplished at Calvary by Jesus and the depth of the Cross, this is a MUST study. About 90 pages it took me more than 3 months to read it the first time. Have read it 7 times.

  14. The writings of Watchman Nee has a great influence on my spiritual life, Am looking eagerly for this book sit, walk, stand

  15. Dear Dr. Ellis – We are the publisher of this book, and I was wondering if we could use your quote here — “This is boot camp Christianity, the sort of book every new believer needs to read” — as an endorsement for our next printing?
    Thanks in advance – Jim Pitman – CLC Publications

  16. Watchman Nee, Your books are really shaking the foundations of my belief system as far as my walk with God is concerned. I’m glad I stumbled on your works.

  17. Alexander Berard // June 8, 2023 at 1:50 pm // Reply

    I have been fighting for years resisting evil temptations. Fasting, Prayer, weeping and pleading before God for freedom. Shamefaced and wretched when I failed despite my desperate battle ” to be Good”. Reading the simplicity of this book Sit, Walk and Stand, has truly turned my whole perspective upside down. It seems so natural and simple to just rest in Him, the work done, not by us, but by Christ. God’s plan all along. I was stunned, and a little frustrated that I spent so many years fighting out of my own strength or weakness when the fight had taken place and finished on the cross. Please read this book all you of any stage in your Christian walk.

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