A.W. Tozer, darkness, death, dying to self, experience, following Jesus, John of the Cross, light, pain, spiritual power, T.A. Sparks, the dark night of the soul, the dark night of the spirit, the new self, the old self, the valley of the shadow of death
This life on earth provides joys and pains for everyone, whether we believe in God or not. However, if God has chosen to adopt us as His beloved children, we will experience an additional kind of suffering this world will never know. These pains that spring from taking up our cross daily in order to die to self are by no means an end in itself. As painful as such periods are, there is a goal ahead to which God will surely bring us.
As I was sitting at the hairdresser this morning, I would read several entries on “Dying to Self” on the internet. It dawned on me that only those who experienced such a process were really inclined to write more detailed about it. Or to put if more humorously as A.W. Tozer did,
“Among the plastic saints of our times, Jesus has to do all the dying, and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying.”
Seeing myself as such a plastic saint, too, which means I would have never chosen to die to self unless God had given me a foretaste of the things to come, I know today that God’s power alone can help us to pursue things our natural man would have never aimed at. As for the consequences of dying to self and being raised again to a really New Life IN Christ, we will finally see that we did not lose anything which had been worth being kept at all. Everything our old self gives into spiritual death, will be handed back to us on a completely new level as Jesus promised here,
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10:39 ESV)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10 ESV)
If we have walked with Him through the valley of the shadow death, we will suddenly see the light of life as we have never seen it before. Or in other words, i.e. our Lord’s,
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12 ESV)
Regarding the crisis from death to life which all of us experience(d) or will experience sooner or later, I offer you a longer, but hopefully helpful excerpt by T.A. Sparks who explained it more detailed and most certainly from his own experience, too. Here you are.
How does this life get into us, this light of life? The Lord Jesus says that death must take place, a death to what we are in ourselves, a death to our own life, a death to a life apart from Him. We must go down with Him into death, and there, under the act of the Spirit of God in union with Christ buried, there is a transmission of His life to us, and He, coming up no longer merely as a single grain of wheat, comes up manifold in every one of us. It is the miracle that is going on every year in the natural realm, and it is just exactly the principle by which the Lord gets into us. You see the necessity of our ceasing to have a life apart from the Lord, the necessity of our letting that life of ours go absolutely. That is a crisis at the beginning, a real crisis. Sooner or later, it has to be a crisis.
Some may say, I have not had that crisis. For me becoming a Christian was a very, very simple thing. As a child, I was simply taught, or, at sometime I simply expressed my personal faith in the Lord Jesus in some way, and from that time I belonged to the Lord; I am a Christian! Are you moving on in the growing fullness of the revelation of the Lord Jesus? Are you? Have you an open heaven? Is God in Christ revealing Himself to you in ever greater wonder and fullness? Is He? I am not saying that you do not belong to the Lord Jesus, but I am saying to you that the unalterable basis of an open heaven is a grave, and a crisis at which you come to an end of your own self-life.
It is the crisis of real experimental identification with Christ in His death, not now for your sins, but as you. Your open heaven depends upon that. It is a crisis. And so with not one or two but with many this has been the way. The truth is this, that they were the Lord’s children; they knew Christ, they were saved, they had no doubt about that; but then the time came when the Lord, the Light of Life, showed to them that He not only died to bear their sins in His body on the tree, but He Himself represented them in the totality of their natural life, to put it aside. It was the man, and not only his sins, that went to the Cross. That man is you, that man is me: and many, after years of being Christians, have come to that tremendous crisis of identification with Christ as men, as women, as a part of the human race; not only as sinners, but as a part of a race; natural men, not unregenerate, but natural men, all that we are in our natural life. Many have come to that crisis, and from that time everything has been on a vast, a vaster scale than ever before in the Christian life. There has been the open heaven, the enlarged vision, the light of life in a far greater way.
How does it come about? Just like that, and that crisis is a crisis for us all. If you have not had that crisis, you ask the Lord about it. Mark you, if you are going to have that transaction with the Lord, you are asking for something, you are asking for trouble; for, as I said before, this natural man dies hard; he clings tenaciously, he does not like being put aside. Look at that grain of wheat. When it has fallen into the ground, look at what happens to it. Do you think it is pleasant? What is happening? It is losing its own identity. You cannot recognize it. Take it out and have a look at it. Is this that lovely little grain of wheat I put into the ground? What an ugly thing it has become! It has lost all its own identity, lost its own cohesiveness; it is all falling to pieces. How ugly! Yes, that is what death does. This death of Christ as it is wrought in us breaks up our own natural life. It scatters it, pulls it to pieces, takes all its beauty away. We begin to discover that, after all, there is nothing in us but corruption. That is the truth. Falling apart, we are losing all that beauty that was there from the natural point of view, perhaps, as men saw it. It is no pleasant thing to fall into the ground and die. That is what happens.
“But if it die . . .” “If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Rom 6:8). We shall share His life, take another life, and then a new form is given, a new life; not ours, but His. It is a crisis. I do urge upon you to have real dealings with the Lord about this matter. But if you do, expect what I have said, expect that you are going to fall to pieces, expect that the beauty you thought was there will be altogether marred; expect to discover that you are far more corrupt than ever you thought you were; expect that the Lord will bring you to a place where you cry, Woe is me for I am undone! But then the blessing that will come will just be this—O Lord, the best thing that can happen for me is that I shall die! And the Lord will say, That is exactly what I have been working at, I cannot glorify that corruption. “This corruptible must put on incorruption” (1 Cor 15:53), and that incorruption is the germ of that Divine life in the seed which yields its own life up, that is transmitted from Him. God is not going to glorify this humanity. He is going to make us like Christ’s glorious body. That is far too deep, and too much ahead, but our point is that there has to be this crisis if we are coming to the glory, God’s end.
I do believe that TAS in his article wrote about what others, esp. John of the Cross, called the Dark Night of the Soul, here particularly the Dark Night of the Spirit, where God and Jesus after having revealed their love to their beloved child, maybe not only for years but even for decades, eclipse everything of which the natural man with his perceptive faculty could ever cling to. Here we go through a spiritually very dark night where we receive the faith OF Jesus Christ. Satan can hardly tempt us now because we lose all good feelings just as we more and more lose all our bad feelings as well. Our self-will dies daily and eventually God enables us to live His life here on earth as a new creation that always lives IN Christ. God’s will will be ours when He has made us completely one with Himself. Or as our Lord once put it,
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10 ESV)
May God help us to get there. Amen.