How the Blessing is Hindered
Many earnestly seek the full blessing of Pentecost and yet do not find it. Often the question is asked what may be the cause of this failure. To this inquiry more than one answer may be given. Sometimes the solution to the problem points in the direction of one or another sin which is still permitted. Worldliness, lovelessness, lack of humility, and ignorance of the secret of walking in the way of faith, and indeed many more causes, may also be often mentioned with justice.
Many people think they have come to the Lord and sincerely confessed these failures and put them away. Yet they complain that the blessing does not come. It is necessary to point out that there still remains one great hindrance - namely, the root from which all other hindrances have their beginning. This root is nothing less than our individual self, the hidden life of SELF with its varied forms of self-seeking, self-pleasing, self-confidence, and self-satisfaction.
The more earnestly anyone strives to obtain the blessing and desires to know what prevents him, the more certainly he will be led to the discovery that it is here the great evil lies. He himself is his worst enemy. He must be liberated from himself, and the self-life to which he clings must be utterly lost. Only then can the life of God entirely fill him.
A Full Understanding of the Cross
That is what is taught us in the words of the Lord Jesus to Peter. Peter had uttered such a glorious confession of his Lord that Jesus said to him: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." But when the Lord began to speak of His death by crucifixion, the self-same Peter was seduced by satan to say: "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee" (Matthew 16:17, 22).
The Lord said to him that not only must He Himself lay down His life, but that this same sacrifice was to be made by every disciple. Every disciple must deny himself and take up his cross in order that he himself may be crucified and put to death on it. He that would save his life will lose it; and he that is prepared to lose his life for Christ's sake will find it.
You see, then, what the Lord teaches and requires. Peter had leaned through the Father to know Christ as the Son of God, but he did not yet know Him as the Crucified One. Of the absolute necessity of the death on the cross, he as yet knew nothing. It may be so with the Christian. He knows the Lord Jesus as his Saviour; he desires to know him better, but he does not yet understand that he must have a deeper discernment of the death of the cross as a death which he himself must die. He must actually deny and lose his life - his whole life and being in the world - before he can receive the full life of God.
This requirement is hard and difficult. And why is this so? Why should a Christian be called on always to deny himself, his own feelings, will, and pleasure? Why must he part with his life? The answer is very simple. It is because that life is so completely under the power of sin and death that it has to be utterly denied and sacrificed. The self-life must be wholly taken away to make room for the life of God. He that would have the full, over-flowing life of God, must utterly deny and lose his own life.
Only one great stumbling-block lies in the way of the full blessing of Pentecost. It lies in the fact that two diverse things cannot at the same time occupy the very same place. Your own life and the life of God cannot fill the heart at the same time. Your life hinders the entrance of the life of God. When your own life is cast out, the life of God will fill you. As long as I myself am still something, Jesus Himself cannot be everything. My life must be expelled, then the Spirit of Jesus will flow in.
Let every seeker of the full blessing of Pentecost accept this principle and hold unto it. The subject is of such importance that I would like to make it still clearer by pointing out the chief lessons which these words of the Lord Jesus teach us.
(continued with # 20 - "Self and the Power of Sin")