Is Your Heart Open?
At the time of his conversion, the young Christian has little understanding of this requirement. He receives the seed of the new life into his heart while the natural life is still strong. It was this way with Peter when the Lord addressed to him the above words. He was a disciple but an incomplete one. When his Lord was to die, instead of denying himself, he denied his Lord. But that grievous failure brought him at last to despair of himself and prepared him for losing his own life entirely and for being wholly filled with the life of Jesus.
We must all eventually come to this point. As long as a Christian imagines that in some things - for example, in his eating and drinking, in the spending of his time or money, or in his thinking and speaking about others - he has the right and the liberty to follow his own wishes, to please himself, and to maintain his own life, he cannot possibly attain to the full blessing of Pentecost.
My brethren, it is an unspeakably holy and glorious thing that a man can be filled with the Spirit of God.It demands inevitably that the present occupant and governor of the heart, our individual self, be cast out and everything be surrendered into the hands of the new inhabitant, the Spirit of God. If only we could understand that the joy and power of being filled with the Spirit will come once we comply with the first principle condition - namely, that He alone be acknowledged as our Life and our Leader.
Who Performs This Transformation?
At no stage of our spiritual career are the power and the deceitfulness of our individual self and the self-life more manifest than in the attempt to grasp the full blessing of Pentecost. many people endeavor to appropriate this blessing by a great variety of efforts. They do not succeed and are not able to discover the reason why. They forget that self-will can never cast out self-will and that self can never really mortify itself. Happy is the man who is brought to the point of acknowledging his helplessness and impotence. He will especially need to deny himself here and cease to expect anything from his own life and strength. He will rather lay himself down in the presence of the Lord as one who is impotent and dead, that he may really receive the blessing from Him.
It was not Peter who prepared himself for the day of Pentecost or brought down the Pentecostal blessing from heaven. It was his Lord that did all this for him. His part was to despair of himself and yield himself to his Lord to accomplish in hi what He had promised.
It is your part, believer, to deny yourself, to lose your own life, and in the presence of the Lord to sink down in your nothingness and impotence. Accustom yourself to set your heart before Him in deep humility, silent patience, and childlike submission. The humility that is prepared to be nothing, the patience that will wait for Him and His time, and the submission that will yield itself wholly that He may do what seems good is all that you can do to show that you are ready to lose your life.
Jesus summons you to follow Him. Remember how He first sacrificed His will. He laid down His life into the hands of the Father, went down into the grave, and waited until God raised Him to life again. In like manner, you are to be ready to lay down your life in weakness, assured that God will raise it up again in power with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Forfeit the strength of mere personal efforts and abandon the dominion of your own power. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).
(continued with # 22 - "Deny Yourself Daily")