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Another condition essential to the full enduement of spiritual power is the crucifixion of self in order that we may be united with the Holy Ghost. God cannot fill us with His Spirit, illuminate us, empower us with courage and boldness, and that intuitive and divine insight and energy until we are first crucified. We must first die before we live; we must reach the point of our own utter inherent foolishness in order to receive the wisdom from above; we must reach the consciousness of our own indescribable weakness in order to join. on to God's power. His strength is made perfect at the point where our weakness is perfect.
In the account in Genesis, where God met Jacob at Peniel and wrestled with him, Jacob's prayer prevailed at the very point where he was utterly conquered. We hear it said that Jacob wrestled with the angel, but the Word tells us, "There wrestled a man with Jacob." Let us remember that this wrestling was not with a convicted sinner, for Jacob had entered the family of God twenty years before at Bethel, but it was the conflict between the perfect will of God and the original perversity of Jacob's nature. At first Jacob thought he was wrestling with a mere man, but he had not wrestled long before he discovered that the mall was an angel, and, a little later, this angel assumed the proportions of the Prince of the Angels and, before the conflict ended, he found it was God Himself. So that what seemed a mere man at the beginning turned out in the end to be the Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Almighty, who was no less a personage than the Lord Jesus.
How often this is illustrated in our experience. God comes to us in disguise, and seeks to conquer us at unexpected points and in unexpected ways, wrestling with us in the humble armor of some petty circumstance or person, hiding His infinite majesty under such little cheap apparel that we never dream it is God till we are conquered and the mist falls from our vision, and, like Jacob, we are amazed to find ourselves "face to face with God." The Lord wrestled with Jacob in order to perfectly break down all the hidden resistance within him to the Holy Ghost, all the latent resistance to God's will and love. And when he found that the wrestling was hard and delayed, he touched the hollow of his thigh and put it out of joint.
Here is another suggestion for us. Jacob was a strong man physically, and a good walker with his strongly built constitution, and as the thigh joint is the locality of strength, especially in wrestling, in long marching and in lifting or bearing heavy burdens, the Lord broke him down at the very point where he was strong, and in that very joint which he would likely boast of or depend on. And when that point was touched, and he was crucified in the last reserve and main dependence of his energy so that he had to limp as a frail thing, then the Holy Ghost flowed in and filled his being. Thus his utter helplessness became the most fitting condition of his union with the Holy Spirit, so that he limped in his body but leaped in his soul. Now, the same thing takes place in us. In order that we may receive the strength of God, the secret of power, God wrestles with us, and the wrestling must go on until He breaks down in us all resistance to His will, not only all open resistance, or known and conscious resistance, but all the hidden and unsuspected resistance that lies in our fiber or feelings, or faculties; that subtle stubbornness of nature which the delicate nature of God can see and feel, but which we do not perceive. And He must break us down at the very point where we are strongest, where our energy is lodged, be that in head or hand or heart, be that in our mind or management or money, be that in our education or prejudice or desires or affections, in whatever point of our being we may fancy we are the best, in whatever locality there is stored up the most of self, there is where the finger of God must put the knife, there is where the last resistance must expire in order that the Holy Spirit may unite us with Himself and make us partakers with the Holy Ghost.
Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live." All through the Word of God we find that crucifixion precedes deep spiritual power. Not only must God break down the sins of a sinner in order to convert him, but in those who are truly regenerated He must needs break down their wisdom, learning, prudence, their pet views, their churchly training and prejudice, their narrow-mindedness, their knowledge, their righteousness. It takes the Lord just about as long to break down a Christian man's righteousness as to break down a sinner's unrighteousness. Do not understand me that God ever breaks down His own wisdom or righteousness or strength, but He breaks down that form of wisdom, righteousness and strength which sprouts and grows out of human nature. Whatever originates in self, in the creature nature, must be crucified in order that the creature may be wedded to Christ through the Holy Ghost, and from that sacred union derive other wisdom, righteousness and strength infinitely superior to that of any creature. We are to let go not only our wicked selves, but, also, our seemingly pious selves in order that we may take hold of God. The self-life at any point is like attaching a conductor to a telegraph wire which diverts the electric message and runs it into the ground. It is only the insulated wire through which man can pour his intelligence through the electric current, so it is the crucified and insulated soul through which God can pour His unmixed truth, and upon which He can place the secret unction of holy power.