Their first goal was to uncover the lie that a carnal Christian life is all that is possible. Nothing does more harm in the body of Christ than the underlying thought that obedience is impossible. Until believers see the error of this and honestly view their life of continual failure as sinful and inexcusable, no amount of preaching will help. To walk after the flesh, continually yielding to self-will, is contrary to what God requires of us.
My first clarification regarding being filled with the Spirit is that it does not mean a state of high emotion. Nor does it mean absolute perfection or a level at which there can be no more growth. Being filled with the Spirit is simply this: The whole personality is yielded to His power. When the soul is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God himself will fill it.
For us too, this is the first step in the way to the baptism of the Holy Spirit: We must forsake all to follow Christ. I am not speaking here about forsaking sin—that you do when you first come to Christ and are converted. But there is something more for us as His children. Many believers think that when they receive Jesus, He saves them and then helps them in times of trouble. Then they all but deny Him as their Master! They think they have a right to have their own will and their own way in a thousand things. They say what they want to say, do whatever they like to do, and use their property and possessions as they wish; they are their own masters and would never dream of saying, “Jesus, I forsake all to follow you.”
Each of us must examine our own heart. Some have never thought it a necessity to do so. Some have never understood what it meant when Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Or when He said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Our love for God must be greater than all of these. Surely our lack of victory over sin and the reason the Holy Spirit does not fill us is because we have not forsaken all to follow Christ.
Believer, this is the beginning of the deeper blessing. Some people would forsake everything for the sake of their religion. Even for a false religion multitudes have given up all. Some would forsake all for their church. Some would give up all for the sake of their family or friends. But that is not what is asked of us. We must forsake all for the sake of Jesus, let Him come into our life and take possession of our heart. Is your life one of tender personal attachment to Jesus and of joy in Him? I am not asking if your love is perfect. I am asking if you can say honestly, “It is what I am striving after, what I have yielded myself to, what I long for above everything. Jesus Christ must have all of me every day and all the day.”
Do you know what the death of Jesus meant? Jesus said to His Father, in effect, “Here is my life, which has been precious to me. I have not yielded to sin. I have given you all my life while on earth; now I yield it to you in death.” He gave up His spirit saying, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Because He gave up His life so entirely, and passed through the thick darkness of death and the grave, God raised Him up into a new life and new glory. It was His death that was the secret of the Resurrection. If you want to be filled with the Spirit and the risen life of Christ, you must first die to self. The apostles were men who had been brought to a place of utter self-despair. They had lost all, and were ready to receive all from God.
Christ did not conquer their pride. This was not due to a lack of divine teaching. The reason was because of the fact that Christ was outside them and could not yet dwell in their hearts to empower them. The time had not yet come. They had the almighty Redeemer alongside them but not in them. This teaches us that no outward instruction, even from Christ himself, or His words in Scripture, can bring us the full blessing—until the Holy Spirit works it in us.
But the presence of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is meant to be unbroken, continual, and forever. This is surely what our hearts long for. Perhaps you know what it is like to live a week or a month in a joy that makes your heart sing all day. Then the change comes with the cloud and the darkness—and you do not know why it is—sometimes with physical sickness or depression, sometimes with the cares and the difficulties of this life, sometimes with the consciousness of your own failure. Oh, that I could convince every believer! Jesus does love you; He does not wish to be separated from you for a moment. He cannot bear it. We want to believe in that love of Jesus. No mother has delighted more in the baby in her arms than does Christ delight in you. He wants both intimate and unceasing fellowship with you. Receive it, beloved believer, and say, “If it is possible, God helping me, I must have this filling of the Holy Spirit, that I may have Jesus always dwelling in my heart.”
Let us learn in every trial and trouble, great or small, to see God immediately. Meet your God there, and let God be who He is and allow Him to do what He does—all for your good and His glory. Not a hair of your head can fall without the will of your Father. Meet the will of your Father in every trial, in the deepest trial, the heaviest trial; the Son of God walks there. He is with you. And in the smallest trials—the person who irritates you, the child who hinders you, the friend who may have hurt you, the enemy who has reproached you, who has spoken evil of you and robbed you of your good name, the difficulty that worries you—why not say, It is God who comes to me in every difficulty. I will meet Him, and honor Him, and give myself to Him. He will keep me!
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