Open as PDF
Another secret of spiritual power lies in the perpetual ignoring of our creature ability. I do not say a perpetual denying of our ability. Telling an untruth never helps God any, whether it be against ourselves or against Satan, and if we represent ourselves as being nothing in the absolute sense of that world it is un-Scriptural.
But I say that the secret of power lies in the constant ignoring of our creature ability as a sufficiency of success. In the realm of creaturehood, our natural ability is something, but in the realm of divine grace, where spiritual miracles are to be wrought, we can be efficient in the hands of God by a most perfect ignoring of our sufficiency. It is in this sense we find all those Scripture expressions about being "dust and ashes," being a "broken vessel," "the lame taking the prey," and being less than the least, "being nothing," "taking the weak things, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are."
We are to put ourselves in the hands of God without relying on our powers. We are to abandon ourselves to the uttermost to the Spirit of God, and, at the same time, utterly ignore any strength or wisdom or goodness that belong to us as creatures.
Let me give you a sample. Joseph was wonderfully sanctified in prison. We are told in the Psalms that while he was in prison "the Word of the Lord tried him," it so tried, proved, tested him as to lead him through a perfect crucifixion. When Pharaoh sent for him they made haste and shaved him and changed his prison raiment and rushed him in speedily before the king. The king said, "I have heard you have wisdom and can interpret dreams." In Joseph's reply to the king there is brought out this secret of power. He said to the king, "It is not in me." This was the negative pole to the current. While his natural faculties and talents were far above the majority of his fellows, yet he knew that the interpretation of the king's dream was a divine secret for a divine purpose, and lay beyond the region of any uninspired human mind. Hence the perfect renunciation of his own ability. Then he said, "But God will give Pharaoh an answer." What a world of meaning there is in that expression, "But God!" And then leaning back on the Holy Spirit in self-renunciation, in utter abandonment to the divine will, God put into his heart and mind the interpretation. And so he gave the interpretation as God gave it to him. He did not know the interpretation of it in prison, but he got the interpretation right there on the spot, and God poured a stream of light and discernment through that man because he had died to creature-wisdom, and his whole being was in such an attitude of dependence that God could prompt him to speak. He was not a battery, but the wire that conveyed the current. And when he finished the interpretation the king said, "The Spirit of God is in Joseph." That heathen king saw a divine light and power in that poor prisoner which surpassed all the wise men of Egypt.
There you have the secret power, a power that convinced a heathen king, a power that so pierced through his heathen nature and caused him to adopt the plans of an ex-convict, and thereby immortalize his name forever.
We may also take the case of the apostles, when through them was healed the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple. The people looked upon Peter and John as demigods, and Peter said, "Why do you look upon us, as if by our holiness we had made this man well, it is by the name of Jesus, through faith in His Name, this man has been made whole as you see."
All through the Word of God, the secret of power is to "trust in the Lord with all our heart, and to lean not to our own understanding." Mark it is not merely not to depend on our understanding, but not even to lean or incline towards it. We are so apt to lean on our experience as if wisdom and unction were accumulated forces stored up in our faculties. Because a man has been preaching several years he is apt to lean upon his old sermons and old plans, and because we have been in the Lord's work for some time, we are apt to lean upon our methods.
True, there is a sense in which we acquire wisdom and facility and fluency. The man who is constantly at work for God, preaching, exhorting and teaching, does acquire experience, and becomes skilled in the exercise of his gifts, and in discriminating the fitness of times and things, and even from the creature standpoint the skillful use of gifts and doctrine amounts to a good deal.
But I am now talking about the secret of divine power, not the secret of creature power. The secret of divine power is, that with all our learning and skill and experience, we are never to bank on it, never draw a check on it for success, but view it all about in the same way as the dust out of which God made man's body.
If we desire to be workers for God, and keep in the power, we must walk along this path of ignoring creature ability and depending every time, as at the beginning, for the gift of the Spirit.
Oh, if we could only recollect ourselves. Recollect we are nothing, that we are empty and weak; recollect our attitude toward God and His work. God gives us unction not as a reservoir, but as a stream; not as a fountain, but as a current; not as a battery, but as a transmission. In a reservoir the water is dammed up, but in a channel the water is in perpetual flow. And so fully sanctified souls, acting under the power of the Holy Ghost, are more like a telegraph wire along which the lightning can flash at any time, and not like a battery of stored-up electricity. Many a Christian worker has lost the power by unintentionally regarding himself as a reservoir.
We are to keep at the point of self-nothingness, and at the same time look to God alone for sufficiency just as truly as we take the sunshine from the sun today and do not think of using the sunshine of yesterday.