Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 3: The Believer's Response to the Holy Spirit's Inworking
The Prerequisite to Fullness Cleansing
"God hath not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness," and if we measure up to our calling as saints, all uncleanness must go. The infilling of the Holy Spirit demands the cleansing of the life. Two commands given to Christians in regard to their relationship to the Holy Spirit reveal this fact very strikingly.
Ephesians 4:30, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
Grieve is a love word. You cannot grieve one who does not love you. You can hurt him or anger him but you cannot grieve him. To grieve the Holy Spirit means that we are causing pain to Someone who loves us. What, then, in us causes this divine One grief?
He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) so anything false, deceitful, hypocritical, grieves Him.
He is the Spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13) so doubt, unbelief, distrust, worry, anxiety, grieve Him.
He is the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29) so that which is hard, bitter, ungracious, unthankful, malicious, unforgiving or unloving, grieves Him.
He is the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4) so anything unclean, defiling or degrading, grieves Him.
He is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) so ignorance, conceit, arrogance and folly, grieve Him.
He is the Spirit of power, love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7) so that which is barren, fruitless, disorderly, confused and uncontrolled, grieves Him.
He is the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2) so anything that savors of indifference, lukew, lukewarmness, spiritual dullness, and deadness, grieves Him.
He is the Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14) so anything worldly, earthly or fleshly, grieves Him.
He dwells within us to enable us "to grow up into him in all things" (Ephesians 4:15); to bring us daily into conformity to Christ's image (2 Corinthians 3:18); until we have reached "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13); so anything in us which hinders Him in carrying out this purpose grieves Him. Knowingly, willfully, to permit anything which is contrary to what the Holy Spirit Himself is to remain in your life, now His domain, must mean that you love sin more than you love Him. Such unfaithfulness grieves Him. Refusing obedience to God's revealed will constitutes a rejection of Him in favor of His enemy.
Spirituality depends upon a harmonious and happy relationship with our divine Helper and Advocate. Sin, then, which impairs such relationship must inevitably hinder any true spirituality. As long as we are indulging known sin we are living in the same abode with a grieved Spirit who is thereby hindered from manifesting Himself fully in must be put away. "God does not require golden vessels, neither does He seek for silver ones, but He must have clean ones." To be filled one must be cleansed.
|1 Thessalonians 5:19, "Quench not the Spirit."|
We "grieve" the Spirit when we say yes to Satan when he lures us into sin. We "quench" the Spirit when we say no to God when He woos us into sanctification and service. To bring the believer to will to let God's will have absolute sway over the entire being is part of the Spirit's work, perhaps it is His hardest task. Self-will is a latent thing in every one of us which is prone to manifest itself in secret if not in open rebellion against God.
The only cure for self-will is a deliberate, determined choice to do God's will in all things, at all times, at all costs. It is to have one's heart firmly fixed upon the doing of God's will as the rule for daily life and to permit no exception to this rule. "So a yieldedness to the will of God is not demonstrated by some one particular issue; it is rather a matter of having taken the will of God as the rule of one's life. To be in the will of God is simply to be willing to do His will without reference to any particular thing He may choose. It is electing His will to be final, even before we know what He may wish us to do. It is, therefore, not a question of being willing to do some one thing; it is a question of being willing to do anything, when, where and how it may seem best in His heart of love" (L. S. Chafer, He That Is Spiritual, p. 113).
God's first man had the right to will and the power to will Godward. But he chose to will Satanward. God's second Man had the right to will and the power to will Godward which He invariably did in every choice. If you are a Christian, you are God's new man in Christ. You have the right to will and the Holy Spirit dwells within you to enable you always to will Godward. But if you say no to God at any point you have allied yourself with the evil forces which are in rebellion against God. Such resistance and rebellion are sin and the Holy Spirit cannot occupy fully His abode in your life until you are cleansed.
The indwelling Spirit longs to fill the life of each one whom He indwells. So He is constantly working toward the purifying of the life. Indeed He is there for that very purpose. In a darkened room there would be much of dust which would pass unnoticed but, when the sun shines in, it is all brought out into the light. The more fully the light fills the room the more perfectly the dust is revealed. The Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer brings out into the light the sin in the life and the more fully He indwells the more perfect will be the revelation and recognition of sin. The nearer God comes to us the more sensitive to sin are we made. Some things which five years ago or a year ago or a month ago you would not have called sin you now acknowledge to be sin. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us is there to purify our hearts and to sanctify our lives. "Giving them the Holy Ghost, purifying their hearts by faith."
THE MEANS OF CLEANSING
1 John 1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
For sinner and saint alike nothing but the blood of Jesus suffices to cleanse from sin. For the unsaved sinner it removes the guilt of sin. For the sinning saint it removes the defilement of sin. The Christian is in constant contact with sin and the very tense of the verb used in this verse "cleanseth" shows that he never gets beyond the need of the cleansing blood of Christ.
THE METHOD OF CLEANSING
The grieved Spirit will let us know that He is grieved and what it is that grieves Him. He will convict us of the sin that thwarts and throttles Him and He will point us to the cleansing blood of Christ. He will open the Word to 1 John 1:9 and show us what our part is. Then our responsibility begins. God requires but one thing of us a frank, full confession prompted by a true heart-repentance.
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
But, while He requires only this simple, honest confession, He will accept no substitute for it. Regret and remorse because of suffering from sin's punishment are not confession; a forced acknowledgment when caught in some offense which is in reality merely the admission of transgression rather than of the sin of the transgression, is not confession; prayer in which a short, vague, half-concealed acknowledgment of Sin is overshadowed by a long accompaniment of justification and vindication of self, will not pass with God for a bona fide confession from the heart. Confession of sin is made primarily to God and often only to Him. But, if one has wronged another and sin has placed a barrier between them, confession of that Sin before the other may be required to remove the barrier. God's cleansing of us may await our confession to a brother. But this precious promise does hold out to us the blessed assurance that, when honest confession of known sin is frankly made to God, He instantly forgives and cleanses. We are thereby brought into perfect adjustment to an ungrieved, unquenched Spirit and every hindrance to His infilling is removed.
THE MEASURE OF CLEANSING
The measure of cleansing is from all defilement of both flesh and spirit. Separation from every defiling thing is a prerequisite to the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 7:1, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
God demands a cleansing that reaches from the innermost desire to the outermost deed; that goes from the core to the circumference. He asks us to take His conception of sin which regards a lustful look as truly sin as a lustful act; which calls hate in the heart sin as much as murder by the hand; which sees in irritability of spirit the seed of the outburst of temper. God asks for the cleansing of both the inner and outer part of the temple which He indwells. Even after we have "cleansed ourselves" by deliberately putting out of our lives everything which we know to be sinful there will he much when once He fills the life which the Holy Spirit will convict us of as unclean and unholy.
God's withholding of His presence in power from His own children until sin is put away is very strikingly revealed in His dealings with the children of Israel over Achan's sin. They had gained a marvelous victory at Jericho. The city and all that was in it had been delivered to them by the Lord. God had told them beforehand that everything in the city was accursed and that no one of them was to take anything of the spoils for himself or he, too, would be accursed. Achan, coveting gold, silver, and a Babylonish garment, took them and hid them under his tent. No eye but that of the all-seeing God saw him do it. The children of Israel, rejoicing in the signal victory over Jericho, marched against the smaller city of Ai with absolute assurance of a similar victory, only to meet with an overwhelming defeat.
Joshua fell on his face before God and offered a prayer in which he charged God with blame for such humiliation before their enemies. But God commanded him to stop praying and told him that He would continue to withhold His presence from the children of Israel until the accursed thing was taken away from among them. Not until the man who had coveted, stolen and deceived was found and confession of sin was made did God again dwell in victory and in power among the children of Israel.
Perhaps you have been praying fervently for the fullness of the Holy Spirit while all the time there has been the continued indulgence of some known sin, the willful disobedience of some known command, or the deliberate resistance to God's clearly revealed will. If so, God is saying to you just now, "Get thee up, wherefore liest thou upon thy face? Thou hast sinned, neither will I be with you any more except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify yourselves, thou canst not stand before thine enemies until ye take away the accursed thing from among you (ef. Joshua 7:10-13). So long as you are living with a grieved or a quenched Spirit you cannot be filled. To be filled one must be cleansed.
I looked the other day upon the snow-clad summit of the Silberhorn as it glistened in the sun. It was a marvelous symbol of purity. What was the cause of its spotlessness? There was nothing between it and the heaven above. It lay open to receive the unstained, unsullied snow sent down from heaven. Oh! that your heart and mine might be as pure. And they may be if there is no known sin between God and us and our lives lie open to the moment by moment infilling of the blessed Holy Spirit.