Baptism in the Holy Spirit, being born again, following Jesus, God's love, John of the Cross, John Tauler, justification, sanctification, spiritual maturity, Taylor Marshall, the dark night of the soul, the dark night of the spirit, the new self, the old self
It has been quite some time since I have wanted to deepen the issue of “The Dark Night of the Soul”, yet I did not know how to tackle that task which is anything but easy. Due to the fact that I can only write about what I know AND have already experienced, I have had to go through very deep and extremely painful valleys of dying to self recently so that I began to see more clearly what particularly the second part of the dark night is all about.
A dear brother pointed me recently in an email to the excerpt I posted below and a dear sister told me yesterday that she has been plunged into God’s dark night as well. So I thought, if you like, we could begin to delve into that topic which deals both with the justification and perfect sanctification of our souls. If the whole dark night is over, our hearts will be so pure that they can behold the eternal God forever as Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5:8 ESV)
Below there’s an excerpt from Dr. Taylor Marshall about the different ages we all experience on our way to God – with Jesus who is The Way. If someone wants to know where he or she might stand currently (speaking spiritually, of course), you might find it helpful to read this short exposition. Nonetheless, if you are still insecure where you might find yourself at the moment after having read it, don’t you worry! The most important thing is to know that we are all on the same path, no matter whether someone has just begun or another one has already reached the goal. It makes perfect sense to me that we are not all in the same stages at the same time since thus the (spiritually) older ones (elders in the original sense of the word) can help the young ones to grow up more and more. It is also important to acknowledge that the most spiritual believers are those who are always humble and willing to learn, even from those who have just begun their way with God and Jesus. What we can also observe is that the Christian, while growing up, is being transformed from a self-centered human being that rejoices in every spiritual high and abhors every spiritual low to a God-centered and selfless human being that is more interested in helping others to grow up than in its own comfortable condition. He and she also have learned to be less critical, but more and more compassionate toward everyone.
Eventually, here’s the short summary about “The Dark Night of the Soul”.
According to Saint Paul and Saint John of the Cross and the masters of Mystical Theology, such as John Tauler, the spiritual life consists in three ages: Beginners (Purgative Way), Proficients (Illuminative Way), Perfect (Unitive Way). Incidentally, by Perfect we mean not absolute perfection (like the saints in Heaven) but relative perfection. These three ages mirror natural human life: Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood. Just as these three stages are transitioned by a crisis, so also progress in the spiritual life is marked by crisis.
Saint John of the Cross, the Doctor of the Church with regard to Mystical Theology, teaches that the transition from the Purgative to the Illuminative is occasioned by the “Dark Night of the Senses” and the transition from the Illuminative to the Unitive is occasioned by the Dark Night of the Spirit.
Beginners (Purgative Way)
Dark Night of Senses
Proficients (Illuminative Way)
Dark Night of the Spirit
Perfect (Unitive Way)
The Dark Night of the Senses is the crisis in which God purposefully withdraws consolations of the senses. Warm fuzzies in prayer. Discursive pictorial visions in the imagination, physical comfort, lack of external distraction.
This is very difficult because the Christian begins to worry that he is regressing or has done something to lose God’s favor. Instead, God is preparing him to enter more deeply in the love of God. The soul learns to seek the God of consolation, but not merely the consolations of God. Perhaps this Dark Night of the Senses is one of the most misunderstood elements of daily Christian living.
The Dark Night of the Spirit or Dark Night of the Soul is a crushing desolation where the soul learns to love the cross of Christ. With a desire to be more like Christ and to share in His life, the perfect learn to love persecution, humiliations, disgrace, and other problems in life since they see in them a perfect conformity to God.
(Read the rest here http://taylormarshall.com/2012/09/the-difference-between-dark-night-of.html)
Additionally, I believe that the following Scriptures might be helpful to express the desires of the heart of someone who has come to know his utter dependence on the Living God alone. King David said,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Ps 51:10-13 ESV)