How Little It Is Enjoyed
"My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
Paul speaks here of two kinds of preaching and two kinds of faith. The spirit of the preacher will determine the faith of the congregation. When the preaching of the Cross is given only in the words of human wisdom, then the faith of the hearers will be in the wisdom of men. When the preaching is in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, the faith of the Christian people will also be firm and strong in the power of God. Preaching in the demonstration of the Spirit will bring the double blessing of power in the Word and in the faith of those who receive that Word. If we desire to know the measure of the working of the Spirit, we must consider the preaching and the faith that springs from it. In this way alone can we see whether the full blessing of Pentecost is truly manifested in the Church.
Very few are prepared to say this is really the case. Everywhere among the children of God we hear complaints of weakness and sin. Among those who do not complain is reason to fear that their silence is ascribed to ignorance or self-satisfaction. It is important that we concentrate on this fact until we come under the full conviction that the condition of the Church is marked by impotence and nothing can restore her except the return to a life in the full enjoyment of the blessing of Pentecost. The more deeply we feel our deficiency, the more speedily we will desire and obtain restoration. It will help to awaken longing for his blessing if we earnestly consider how little it is enjoyed in the Church and how far the Church is from being what her Lord had power to make her.
Power Over Sin
Think for example, what little power over sin there is among the children of God.
The Spirit of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God's holiness. When He came down on the disciples, a transformation was effected in them. Their carnal thoughts were changed into spiritual insight, their pride into humility, their selfishness into love, their fear of man into courage and fidelity. Sin was cast out by the inflowing of the life of Jesus and of heaven.
The life which the Lord has prepared for His people is a life of victory. It is not victory to such an extent that there will be no temptation to evil or inclination to sin. But there is to be victory of such a king that the indwelling power of the Spirit who fills us, the presence of the indwelling Saviour, will keep sin in subjection as the light subdues in the darkness.
Yet to what a small extent we see power for victory over sin in the Church! Even among earnest Christians we see untruthfulness and lack of honor, pride and self-esteem, selfishness and lack of love. How little are the traces of the image of Jesus - obedience, humility, love, and entire surrender to the will of God - even among the people of God. The truth is that we have become so accustomed to the confession of sin and unfaithfulness, of disobedience and backsliding, that it is no longer regarded as a matter of shame.
We make the confession before each other; and then after the prayer, we rest comforted and content. Brethren, let us feel humbled and mourn over it! It is because so little of the full blessing of the Spirit is enjoyed or sought for that the children of God still commit so much sin and have so much to confess.
Let every sin, whether in ourselves or others, serve as a call to notice how much the Spirit of God is lacking among us. Let every instance of failure, in the fear of the Lord, in love, holiness, and entire surrender to the will of God, urge us to call on God to bring His Spirit to full dominion over the whole Church once more.
(continued with 16 - "Separation From the World")