We hear of people who live in poverty but have gobs of money hidden under their mattress. I’ve heard of people who are literally starving yet they have food in their pantry. I have no idea why these folks would not take advantage of what they have. Why suffer when there is plenty available?
But some Christians do it too. We are born into the family of God and given the Holy Spirit of God. He is our life. Yet we limp along trying to master the art of living well in our own strength, for some reason not availing ourselves of what God has given us.
Tozer’s devotional is titled, “How to Receive the Holy Spirit” but this is not quite the right theology. The Spirit is already ours. The issue is, how do I live in His power? How do avail myself of the godliness that is within me? Tozer gives steps that might be helpful for some people.
For me, the first one is realizing my need, confessing to God that I’m selfish, self-centered, and stubbornly refusing to yield to His lordship. Any time that I’ve been running my own life, it is because I think I know better than God. This is arrogance and pride and needs to be confessed.
Tozer’s first step is to present myself to God. It seems simple but is truly radical . . .
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1–2)
Next, he says to simply ask. Do I realize the generosity of God? Or in my heart have I believed the lie that He will withhold Himself from me? Even worse, do I think I am able to control Him and His power like an on/off switch? Is more confession needed for such prideful arrogance? If not, then all I have to do is ask . . .
“I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9–13)
Third, Tozer quotes, “We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32) In context, this is about obedience to the Gospel and needs to be considered carefully. No one can obey God without the Holy Spirit and He is needed also to believe in Jesus. I consider this verse is not a promise but a fact. People who obey already have the Holy Spirit. He is not given because I obey!
This is reinforced by the next quote in Tozer. Paul is writing to people who are slipping from faith into a salvation by their own efforts (which is impossible). He says . . .
“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2)
In my understanding, the Holy Spirit is given, sealing me as a child of God when I am saved. He never goes away, but sticks with me forever.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14)
To be filled does not mean having more of Him — the Spirit does not come in parts. Instead, it means He has more of me! If I want to be filled, then I need to be emptied, rid of pride and the notion that I can handle this life without His help . . . in every area of it. It means admitting my sin and yielding to Him instead of trying harder and being stubborn about who is the boss.
Lord, sin is subtle and You are polite, often standing back and letting me run things until I finally realize that I am unable. Oh, the folly to think that I, a mere mortal and sinner to boot, can out-do the God of the universe, the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth. For that notion alone, I need Your Spirit so I can think properly and so I can live the way You created me to live. Wow, thanks also for Your patience with my foolishness.