“One of the strange things about God is that He will come in as far as we allow Him. I have often said that a Christian is as full of the Holy Spirit as he wants to be. We can beg to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We can talk about it, but until we are willing to empty ourselves, we will never have the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God will fill as much of us as we allow Him to fill.” A.W. Tozer
“We, on the other hand, want to give our lives over to the Holy Spirit, but at the same time, we want to control what the Holy Spirit does in our lives. We want to sit in the control room. We want to issue the commands and the “Thus saith the Lord.” I have long concluded that the Holy Spirit works alone in my heart and needs no help from me, other than me simply surrendering absolutely to Him.” ― A.W. Tozer
Why was Jesus so unequivocal about the need for us to deny ourselves and take up the crosses of our death to self if we are to be His followers? After all, there are few absolutes about being a follower of His that Jesus left us – love Him with all our being, believe in a manner that brings us into Him, seek Him first above all other pursuits, and live a crucified life are the most prominent.
I believe the reason for the severity of this command and the prominence Jesus gave to it are due to the insurmountable difficulty we have in following Jesus if we do not. If we would love our God and seek Him above all else, if we would believe in such a way as to lose ourselves into Him, our self-life will have to be surrendered by us and killed by the Holy Spirit. Our preoccupation with self runs far deeper than we can even imagine. It is the root fruit of our rebellion and the cause of sins in us (see Isaiah 53:6). Until it is out of the way, we can never experience the rest of the absolutes necessary to follow Jesus.
In the last post I explored two outcomes our God wants to complete in us as a result of our full surrender. The first was to fill our hearts with a love for Him that exceeds and excels all other loves. This “great commandment” love is not possible in our flesh. We are too self-oriented. As we surrender our self-life to Him our God pours out His love into us, enabling us to love Him and others as we should (see Romans 5:5). The second outcome is to experience the fullness of union with Himself. We were created to be in union with our God, yet our selfish rebellion and self-oriented living obstructs that union. As we surrender control of all our living to Him, our God brings greater fullness in to our union with Himself.
There is a third outcome our God wants to bring to pass in us as a result of our full surrender to Him and the death of all things of the flesh and self-life. That is a daily experience of what I call “conversational communion” with Him. This is the daily, moment-by-moment experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. He is continually speaking with us, revealing truth to us, counseling us, and filling us with the expressions of the life of our God. It is conversational because it is indeed a two-way relationship, just as any close relationship of love is a two-way conversational experience.
And how could it not be so? If the Spirit of God Himself lives in us, it is certainly not so He can remain silent and uninvolved. After all, who gets married so they can sit in silence in the same room with their spouse?
I know, so many marriage jokes are possible here. Don’t go there.
Marriage is the model of the relationship between Christ Jesus and His church, whom He calls His bride. As such, a healthy loving marriage is our model for our relationship with the Holy Spirit of Christ within us. As in a strong marriage, the two partners are nearly continuously aware of the other, even if they are physically separated. When in the same space, they are always alert to the possibility of the other speaking. I picture life with the Holy Spirit like a road trip with a spouse. Conversation comes and goes, and opinions are sought and offered. In times of silence, each is alert to the other should they speak or need something. Grace and mercy are extended, hopes are shared, and dreams are discussed. So it is to be with the Holy Spirit every day.
A marriage will lack in these qualities if the two partners are not fully surrendered to each other, and have not dealt with the selfish tendencies of our human condition. Self is the opposite of love, and a self-oriented life leads to indifference toward the other. In a marriage we know to deny our selfish interests and make significant time for such conversational communion with our spouse. When we do, it leads to all levels of intimacy and expressions of union. It strengthens and deepens the relationship, enabling all obstacles to be overcome.
So it is with the Holy Spirit of Christ, with Whom we are to have intimate conversational communion. When we begin to think in these terms, plan for and make space for such conversational communion in our day, we will begin to experience the joy of the presence of God.
“I believe that God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure! This is why we believers have to surrender to Him the full control of everything that we consider to be an asset in terms of human power and talent and accomplishment.” – A.W. Tozer