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Tozer on the Holy Spirit
A 366-Day Devitional
By Marilynne E. Foster
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2000 Zur Ltd.
All rights reserved.
What the Lord May Expect of Me
Put off concerning ... [that] which is corrupt ... and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
For some of us last year was one in which we did not acquit ourselves very nobly as Christians, considering the infinite power available to us through the indwelling Spirit....
The man of illuminated mind will learn from his mistakes, yes even from his sins. If his heart is trusting and penitent, he can be a better man next year for last year's fault—but let him not return again to folly.
Repentance should be radical and thorough, and the best repentance for a wrong act, as Fenelon said, is not to do it again....
Brother Lawrence expressed the highest moral wisdom when he testified that if he stumbled and fell he turned at once to God and said, "O Lord, this is what You may expect of me if You leave me to myself." He then accepted forgiveness, thanked God and gave himself no further concern about the matter. WOS095-096
"Tell the backslider," says the Lord, "I am married unto him." Was there ever a tenderer message? SAN058
Truth Made Practical
As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
We who pride ourselves on our orthodoxy ... have in recent years committed a costly blunder.... Our blunder (or shall we frankly say our sin?) has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead.
This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the biblical position wherever our creedal pronouncements are concerned. Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed.
This is not a trifling distinction. A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. POM060
Truth consists not in correct doctrine, but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.... Deity indwelling men!.... No man has experienced rightly the power of Christian belief until he has known this for himself as a living reality. POM084, 100
The Holy Spirit: Present or Absent?
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the doxology and the benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist....
Our neglect of the doctrine of the blessed Third Person has had and is having serious consequences. For doctrine is dynamite. It must have emphasis sufficiently sharp to detonate it before its power is released....
The doctrine of the Spirit is buried dynamite. Its power awaits discovery and use by the Church. The power of the Spirit will not be given to any mincing assent to pneumatological truth. The Holy Spirit cares not at all whether we write Him into our creeds in the back of our hymnals;He awaits our emphasis. POM060-061
[The Holy Spirit] loves us so much that when we insult Him, He is grieved; when we ignore Him, He is grieved; when we resist Him, He is grieved; and when we doubt Him, He is grieved. COU052
Walk in the Spirit
There is therefore now no condemnation to them ... who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The idea of the Spirit held by the average church member is so vague as to be nearly nonexistent. When he thinks of the matter at all he is likely to try to imagine a nebulous substance like a wisp of invisible smoke which is said to be present in churches and to hover over good people when they are dying....
Now, how should we think of the Spirit? A full answer might well run to a dozen volumes. We can at best only point to the "gracious unction from above" and hope that the reader's own desire may provide the necessary stimulus to urge him on to know the blessed Third Person for himself.
If I read aright the record of Christian experience through the years, those who most enjoyed the power of the Spirit have had the least to say about Him by way of attempted definition. The Bible saints who walked in the Spirit never tried to explain Him. POM061062
We will never understand the Holy Spirit so long as we terminate our thought upon Him. The Scriptures always lead us on beyond every subjective experience to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. HS544
Knowing by Experience
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil.
In post-biblical times many who were filled and possessed by the Spirit were by the limitations of their literary gifts prevented from telling us much about Him. They had no gifts for self-analysis but lived from within in uncritical simplicity.
To them the Spirit was One to be loved and fellowshiped the same as the Lord Jesus Himself. They would have been lost completely in any metaphysical discussion of the nature of the Spirit, but they had no trouble in claiming the power of the Spirit for holy living and fruitful service.
This is as it should be.
Personal experience must always be first in real life.... Knowledge by acquaintance is always better than mere knowledge by description, and the first does not presuppose the second nor require it. POM062-063
Happy is the man who will not allow himself to be diverted and distracted, but having emptied and cleansed his heart, will stand waiting ... for Christ to descend, fill and ever remain as the glorious indweller of the soul. SAN037
Knowing or Knowing About?
For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
—2 Timothy 1:12
In religion more than in any other field of human experience a sharp distinction must always be made between knowing about and knowing. The distinction is the same as between knowing about food and actually eating it.... A man can remain spiritually dead while knowing all the historic facts of Christianity.
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). We have but to introduce one extra word into this verse to see how vast is the difference between knowing about and knowing. "This is life eternal, that they might know about thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
That one word makes all the difference between life and death....
We dare not conclude that because we learn about the Spirit we for that reason actually know Him. Knowing Him comes only by a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit Himself. POM063-064
The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds. MDP066
Who is the Holy Spirit?
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.
How shall we think of the Spirit? The Bible and Christian theology agree to teach that He is a Person, endowed with every quality of personality, such as emotion, intellect and will. He knows, He wills, He loves; He feels affection, antipathy and compassion. He thinks, sees, hears and speaks and performs any act of which personality is capable.
One quality belonging to the Holy Spirit, of great interest and importance to every seeking heart, is penetrability. He can penetrate mind; He can penetrate another spirit, such as the human spirit. He can achieve complete penetration of and actual intermingling with the human spirit. He can invade the human heart and make room for Himself without expelling anything essentially human. The integrity of the human personality remains unimpaired. Only moral evil is forced to withdraw. POM065
By nature we are in correspondence with sin; but by union with Christ in His death and resurrection and by the incoming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are out of correspondence with it ... [and] dead alike to its presence and power. CDL166
Two Shall Become One
A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ... and I will give you an heart of flesh.
How can one personality enter another? The candid reply would be simply that we do not know, but a near approach to an understanding may be made by a simple analogy borrowed from the old devotional writers of several hundred years ago.
We place a piece of iron in a fire and blow up the coals. At first we have two distinct substances, iron and fire. When we insert the iron in the fire we achieve the penetration of the iron and we have not only the iron in the fire but the fire in the iron as well.... Two distinct substances ... have co-mingled and interpenetrated to a point where the two have become one.
In some such manner does the Holy Spirit penetrate our spirits. In the whole experience we remain our very selves. There is no destruction of substance. Each remains a separate being as before; the difference is that now the Spirit penetrates and fills our personalities and we are experientially one with God. POM066
The Christian ... is in correspondence with God. He walks "in newness of life." ... Indeed, the deeper walk of the Holy Spirit in sanctification quickens every spiritual sense. CDL167
The Holy Spirit Is God
I will put my spirit within you ... and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
How shall we think of the Holy Spirit? The Bible declares that He is God. Every quality belonging to Almighty God is freely attributed to Him. All that God is, the Spirit is declared to be. The Spirit of God is one with and equal to God just as the spirit of a man is equal to and one with the man....
The historic Church when she formulated her "rule of faith" boldly wrote into her confession her belief in the Godhood of the Holy Ghost. The Apostles' Creed witnesses to faith in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost and makes no difference between the three. The fathers who composed the Nicene Creed testified in a passage of great beauty to their faith in the deity of the Spirit:
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified. POM066-067
[A]ll that the Son is the Holy Ghost is, and all that the Father is the Holy Ghost is, and the Holy Ghost is in His Church. HTB020
Trinity in Unity
It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.
Among the important writings which appeared [in the fourth century] is the Athanasian Creed.... It was written as an attempt to state in as few words as possible what the Bible teaches about the nature of God; and this it has done with a comprehensiveness and precision hardly matched anywhere in the literature of the world. Here are a few quotations bearing on the deity of the Holy Ghost:
There is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other: none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together: and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. POM067-068
The Holy Spirit came to carry the evidence of Christianity from the books of apologetics into the human heart. HTB028-029
The Godhead of the Spirit
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter ... even the Spirit of truth.
In her sacred hymnody the Church has freely acknowledged the Godhead of the Spirit and in her inspired song she has worshiped Him with joyous abandon. Some of our hymns to the Spirit have become so familiar that we tend to miss their true meaning....
In the poetical works of Frederick Faber I have found a hymn to the Holy Spirit which I would rank among the finest ever written ...:
Fountain of Love! Thyself true God!
Who through eternal days
From Father and from Son hast flowed
In uncreated ways!
I dread Thee, Unbegotten Love!
True God! sole Fount of Grace!
And now before Thy blessed throne
My sinful self abase.
O Light! O Love! O very God
I dare no longer gaze
Upon Thy wondrous attributes
And their mysterious ways. POM068-069
[T]he Holy Spirit is a Being dwelling in another mode of existence.... He nevertheless exists as surely as you exist. HTB011
The Godhead Never Works Separately
We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
What we have in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is Deity present among us. He is not God's messenger only; He is God. He is God in contact with His creatures, doing in them and among them a saving and renewing work.
The Persons of the Godhead never work separately. We dare not think of them in such a way as to "divide the substance." Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two. He cannot divide Himself.
Where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. "We will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). For the accomplishment of some specific work one Person may for the time be more prominent than the others are, but never is He alone. God is altogether present wherever He is present at all. POM070
[Jesus] is the epitome of love, kindliness, geniality, warm attractiveness and sweetness. And that is exactly what the Holy Ghost is, for He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. HTB021
Unity in Worship if Not in Doctrine
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
Christianity is rarely found pure. Apart from Christ and His inspired apostles probably no believer or company of believers in the history of the world has ever held the truth in total purity.
One great saint believed that the truth is so vast and mighty that no one is capable of taking it all in, and that it requires the whole company of ransomed souls properly to reflect the whole body of revealed truth....
The Spirit always says the same thing to whomsoever He speaks and altogether without regard to passing doctrinal emphases or theological vogues. He flashes the beauty of Christ upon the wondering heart, and the awed spirit receives it with a minimum of interference. BAM076-077
No single doctrinal principle is important enough to displace the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as the one name that alone should dominate His Church.... It is not union but unity that God wants, and that is a matter of life and love. CTBC, Vol. 5/155
A Bush with No Fire!
True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Whatever direction the theological wind may set there are two things of which we may be certain: One is that God will not leave Himself without a witness.... Saving truth will never be completely hidden from the sight of men. The poor in spirit, the penitent, will always find Christ close at hand ready to save them.
The other is that the Holy Spirit is the true conservator of orthodoxy and will invariably say the same thing to meek and trusting souls. Illuminated hearts are sure to agree at the point where the light falls.
Our only real danger is that we may grieve the blessed Spirit into silence and so be left to the mercy of our intellects.... We'll have the bush, pruned and trimmed and properly cultivated, but in the bush there will be no fire. BAM078-079
Mere wisdom ... [makes] us hard and cold, but wisdom set on fire with love and energized by power [through the Holy Spirit] will enable us to bless the world. HS496
Kneel, Adore and Obey
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.... If ye love me, keep my commandments.
—John 14:6, 15
Truth is forever the same, but modes and emphases and interpretations vary. It is a cheering thought that Christ can adapt Himself to any race or age or people. He will give life and light to any man or woman anywhere in the world regardless of doctrinal emphasis or prevailing religious customs, provided that man or woman takes Him as He is and trusts Him without reservation.
The Spirit never bears witness to an argument about Christ, but He never fails to witness to a proclamation of Christ crucified, dead and buried, and now ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The conclusion of the matter is that we should not assume that we have all the truth and that we are mistaken in nothing. Rather we should kneel in adoration before the pierced feet of Him who is the Truth and honor Him by humble obedience to His words. BAM079
The first [principle and condition of divine guidance] is a surrendered spirit. Next, there must be a readiness to obey. He will not give us light unless we mean to follow it. WCC77
Seeing Things as They Are
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
John the Baptist possessed ... the right kind of vision, a true spiritual discernment. He could see things as they were.
The Holy Spirit came like a dove, descended like a dove, putting down His pink feet and disappearing into the heart of the Son of God.
I wonder out of all those crowds who saw the Holy Ghost come?
Only John the Baptist. I do not think anyone else had the kind of vision that was necessary to see Him....
Excerpted from Tozer on the Holy Spirit by Marilynne E. Foster. Copyright © 2000 Zur Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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