Experiencing the Holy Spirit # 12
Finding The Blessing
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will ... put a new spirit within you ... I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
The full Pentecostal blessing is for all the children of God. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). God does not give a half portion to any one of His children. To every one He says, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). Christ is not divided (see 1 Corinthians 1:13); he who receives Him receives Him in His fullness. Every Christian is destined by God and is actually called to be filled with the Spirit.
In the preceding chapters I have had in view especially those who are to some extent acquainted with these things and have been already in search of the truth. They have already been led, after conversion, to make a more complete renunciation of sin and to yield themselves wholly to the Lord. But it is quite conceivable that among those who read this book, there may be Christians who have heard little of the full Pentecostal blessing and in whose hearts the desire has arisen to obtain a share in it. They do not, however, understand that they are willing to have pointed out to them where they are to begin and what they have to do in order to succeed in their desire. They are prepared to acknowledge that their lives are full of sin and that it seems to them as if they will have to strive long and earnestly before they can become full of the Spirit.
I would like to inspire them with fresh courage and to direct them to the God who has said, "I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time" (Isaiah 60:22). I would like to take them and guide them to the place where God will bless them and to point to them out of His Word what the attitude must be in which they can receive this blessing.
Putting Away Sin
In the message of Ezekiel, God first promised, "I will cleanse you," and then, "I will put My Spirit within you." A vessel into which anything precious is to be poured must always first be cleansed. So, if the Lord is to give you a new and full blessing, a new cleansing must also take place.
Your conversion was a confession and putting away of sin. After conversion you endeavored to overcome sin, but the effort did not succeed because you did not know the purity and holiness the Lord desired.
This new cleansing must come through new confession and discovery of sin. The old leaven cannot be purged unless it is first searched for and found. Do not say that you already know sufficiently well that your Christian life is full of sin. Sit down in silent meditation with the specific purpose of seeing what your life as a Christian has been. How much pride, self-seeking, worldliness, self-will, and impurity has been in it? Can such a heart receive the fullness of the Spirit? It is impossible.
Look into your home life. Do hastiness of temper, anxiety about yourself, bitterness, harsh or unbecoming words testify to how little you have been cleansed?
Look into the current life of the church. How much religion is there that is merely intellectual, formal, and pleasing to men, without real humiliation of spirit? It lacks real desire for the living God, real love for Jesus, and real subjection to the Word - things that constitute worship in spirit and in truth.
Look into your general course of conduct. Consider whether the people around you can testify that they have observed, by your honorable spirit and freedom from worldly-mindedness, that you are one who has been cleansed from sin by God. Contemplate all this in the light of what God expects from you and has offered to work in you, and take your place as a guilty, helpless soul that must be cleansed before God can bestow the full blessing on you.
Not in Our Own Strength
Following this discovery is the actual putting away and casting out of what is impure. This is something that you are simply bound to do. You must come with these sins, especially with those that are most strictly your own troublesome sins. You must acknowledge them before God in confession and make renunciation of them.
You must be brought to the conviction that your life is a guilty and shameful life. You are not at liberty to take comfort in the consideration that you are so weak or that the majority of Christians live no higher life than you. It must become a matter of earnest resolution with you that your life is to undergo a complete transformation. The sins that still cleave to you are to be cast off and done away with.
Perhaps you may say in reply that you find yourself unable to do away with them or cast them off. I tell you that you are quite able to do this. You can give these sins up to God. If there happens to be anything in my house that I wish to have taken away and I am unable to carry, I call for men who will do it for me. I give it over into their hands, saying, "Look here, take that away," and they do it. So I am able to say that I have put the thing out of my house.
In like manner, you can give up to God those sins of yours against which you feel yourself utterly powerless. You can give them up to Him to be dealt with as He desires, and He will fulfill His promise: "I will cleanse you from all your filthiness."
There should be a definite understanding between you and the Lord. You on your part must confess your sin and bid it everlasting farewell. Wait on Him until He assures you that He has taken your heart and life into His own hands to give you complete victory.
If the knowledge of sin at conversion is superficial, so also is the faith in Jesus. Our faith, our reception of Jesus, never goes further or deeper than our insight into sin. If since your conversion you have learned to know the inward, invincible power of sin in your life, you are now prepared to receive from God a discovery of the inward, invincible power of the Lord Jesus in your heart as you have never known it before.
If you really long for a complete deliverance from sin, to be able to live in obedience to God, God will reveal the Lord Jesus to you as a complete Saviour. He will make you know that although the flesh, with its inclination to evil, always remains in you, the Lord Jesus will so dwell in your heart so that the power of the flesh will be kept in subjection by Him. Then you will no longer do the will of the flesh.
Through Jesus Christ, God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness so that, day by day, you may walk before God with a pure heart. What you really need is the discovery that He is prepared to work this change in you. You may receive it by faith here and now.
This is what Jesus Christ desires to work in you by the Holy Spirit. He came to put away sin - not the guilt and punishment of it only, but sin itself. He has not only mastered the power and dominion of the law and its curse over you, but He has also completely broken and taken away the power and dominion of sin. He has completely rescued you as a newborn soul from beneath the power of sin. He lives in His heavenly authority and all-pervading presence in order to work out this deliverance in you.
In this power, He will live in you and carry out His work in you. As the indwelling Christ, He is bent on maintaining and manifesting His redemption in you. The sins that you have confessed - the pride, the lovelessness, the worldly-mindedness, and uncleanness - He will by His power take out of your heart.
Although the flesh may tempt you, the choice and the joy of your heart must abide in Him and in His obedience to God's will. Yes, you may indeed become more than a conqueror through Him who loves you (Romans 8:37). As the indwelling Christ, He will overcome sin in you.
What, then, is required on our side? When the soul sees it to be true that Jesus will carry out this work, it will then open the door before Him before Him and receive Him into the heart as Lord and King. Yes, this can be done at once. A house that has remained closely shut for twenty years can be penetrated by the light in a moment if the doors and windows are thrown open. In like manner, a heart that has remained enveloped in darkness and powerlessness for twenty years, because it did not know that Jesus was willing to take the victory over sin into His own hands, can have its whole experience changed in a moment.
When I acknowledge my sinful condition, yield myself to God, and trust the Lord to do this work, then I may firmly believe that it is done and that Jesus takes all that is in me into His own hands. This is an act of faith that must be held fast. When doors and windows are thrown open and the light streaming in drives out the darkness, we discover at once how much dust and impurity there is in the house. But the light shines in order that we may see how to take it away.
When we receive Christ into the heart, everything is not yet perfected. Light and gladness are not seen and experienced at once, but by faith the soul knows that He who is faithful will keep His Word and will surely do His work. The faith that has, up to this moment, only sought and wrestled, now rests in the Lord and His Word.
It knows that what was begun by faith must be carried forward only by faith. It says, "I abide in Jesus; I know that He abides in me and that He will manifest Himself to me." As Jesus cleansed the lepers with a word, so He cleanses us by His Word. He who firmly holds to this fact in faith will see the proof of it.
Preparing Your Soul
The Lord gave the promise, "I will cleanse you." Then He gave the second promise, "I will put My Spirit within you." The Holy Spirit cannot come with power or fill the heart and continue to dwell in it, unless a special and complete cleansing first takes place within it.
The Spirit and sin are engaged in mortal combat. The only reason why the Spirit works so feebly in the church is sin, which is all too little known or dreaded or cast out. Men do not believe in the power of Christ to cleanse; therefore, He cannot do His work of baptizing with the Spirit.
It is from Christ that the Spirit comes and to Christ the Spirit returns again. The heart that gives Christ liberty to exercise dominion in it will inherit the full blessing.
Reader, if you have done what has been suggested, if you have believed in Jesus as the Lord who cleanses you, be assured that God will certainly fulfill His Word: "I will cleanse you ... [and] put My Spirit within you." Cling to Jesus, who cleanses you. Let Him be all within you. God will see to it that you are filled with the Spirit.
Do not be surprised if your heart does not at once feel as you would like it to feel immediately after your act of surrender. Rest assured that if you present yourself to God as a pure vessel, cleansed by Christ, to be filled with the Spirit, God will take you at your word and say to you, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). He will manifest it to you more gloriously than ever before.
Keep in mind the purpose for which the Spirit is given. God said He would put His Spirit within you and cause you to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments and do them. The fullness of the Spirit must be sought and received with the direct aim that you will now simply and wholly live to do God's will and work on the earth. Yes, you will be able to live like the Lord Jesus and to say with Him, "Behold, I have come... to do Your will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7).
If you cherish this disposition, the fullness of the Spirit may be positively expected. Be full of courage and yield yourself to walk in God's statutes and to keep His judgments and do them, and you may trust God to keep His Word that He will cause you to keep and do them. He, the living God, will work in you. Even before you are aware how the Spirit is in you, He will enable you to experience the full blessing.
Have you been seeking for a long while without finding the fullness of the Spirit? Here you have at last the sure method of winning it. Acknowledge the sinfulness of your condition as a Christian, and make renunciation of it once and for all by yielding it up to God. Acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is ready and able to cleanse your heart from its sin, to conquer these sins by His entrance into it, and to set you free.
Take Him now as your Lord, at once and forever. Be assured that He will do it. Permit Him to begin, and let Him do it in you now.
(continued with # 13 - The Key To The Secret