Copyright
Andrew Murray.

The Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church online

. (page 13 of 27)
Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 13 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


saints according to God.* — Rom. viii. 26, 27.

OF the offices of the Holy Spirit, one that leads
us most deeply into the understanding of
His place in the Divine economy of grace, and into
the mystery of the Holy Trinity, is the work He
does as the Spirit of prayer. We have the Father
to whom we pray, and who hears prayer. We
have the Son through whom we pray, and through
whom, in union with whom, we receive and really
appropriate the answer. And we have the Holy
Spirit in whom we pray, who prays in us according
to the will of God, with such deeply hidden, unutter-
able sisjhinors, that God has to search the hearts to
know what is the mind of the Spirit. Just as
wonderful aiid rei^l as is the Divine work of Go4



196 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

on the Throne, graciously hearing, and, by his
mighty power, effectually answering prayer ; just
as Divine as is the work of the Son interceding
and securing and transmitting the answer from
above, is the work of the Holy Spirit in us in the
prayer which waits and obtains the answer. The
intercession within is as Divine as the intercession
above. Let us try and understand why this should
be so, and wliat it teaches.

In the creation of the world we see how it was
the work of the Spirit to put Himself into contact
with the dark and lifeless matter of chaos, and by
His quickening energy to impart to it the power of
life and fruitfulness. It was only after it had been
thus vitalized by Him, that the Word of God gave
it foini, and called forth all the different types of
life and beauty we now see. So, too, again in the
creation of man it was the Spirit that was breathed
into the body that had been formed from the
ground, and that thus united itself with what would
otherwise be dead matter. Even so, in the person of
Jesus it is the Spirit through whose work a body
was prepared for Him, through whom His body
again was quickened from the grave, as it is
through Him that our bodies are the temples of
God, and the very members of our body the
members of Christ. We think of the Spirit in
connection with the spiritual nature of the Divine
Being, far removed from the grossness and feeble-
ness of matter ; we forget that it is the very work
of the Spirit specially to unite Himself with what



THE SPIKIT OF PRAYER. 197

is material, to lift it up into His own Spirit nature,
and so to develop what will be the highest type of
perfection, a spiritual body.

This view of the Spirit's work is essential to the
understanding of the place He takes in the Divine
work of redemption. In each part of that work
there is a sj)ecial place assigned to each of the
Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. In the Father
we have the unseen God, the Author of all.
In the Son God revealed, made manifest, and
brouoht ni"h ; He is the Form of God. In the
Spirit of God we have the Indwelling God : the
Power of God dwelling in human body and working
in it what the Father and the Son have for us. Not
only in the individual, but in the Church as a
whole, what the Father has purposed, and the Son
has procured, can be appropriated and take effect
in the body of Christ only through the continual
intervention and active operation of the Holy Spirit.

This is specially true of intercessory prayer.
The coming of the kingdom of God, the increase
of grace and knowledge and holiness in believers,
their growing devotion to God's work and power
for that work, the effectual working of God's power
on the unconverted through the means of grace, — all
this waits to come to us from God through Christ.
But it cannot come except as it is looked for and
desired, asked and expected, believed and hoped for.
And this is now the wonderful position the Holy
Ghost occupies, that to Hhn has been assigned the
task of preparing the body of Christ to reach out



198 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

and receive and hold fast what has been provided
in the fulness of Christ the Head. For the com-
munication of the Father's love and blessing the
Son and the Spirit must both work. The Son
receives from the Father, reveals and brings nigh,
as it were, descends from above ; the Spirit from
within wakens the soul to come out and meet its
Lord. As indispensable as the unceasing inter-
cession of Christ asking and receiving from the
Father above, is the unceasing intercession of the
Spirit within, asking and accepting from the Son
what the Father gives.

Very wonderful is the light that is cast upon
this holy mystery by the words of our text. In
the life of faith and prayer there are operations of
the Spirit in which the word of God is made clear
to our understanding, and our faith knows to express
what it needs and asks. But there are also
operations of the Spirit, deeper down than thoughts
or feelings, where He works desires and yearnings
in our spirit, in the secret springs of life and being,
which God only can discover and understand. Of
this nature is the real tliirst for God Himself, the
Living God, the longing to know the love * that
passeth knoivledge,' and to be * filled with all the
fulness of God,' tlie hope in * Him who is able
to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or
think,' even * what hath not entered the heart of
man to conceive.' When these aspirations indeed
take possession of us, we begin to pray for what
cannot be expressed, and our only comfort is then



THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER. 199

that the Spirit prays with His unutterable yearnings
in a region and a language which the Heart Searcher
alone knows and understands.

To the Corinthians Paul says, * I will pray with
the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding
also.' Under the influence of the moving of the
Holy Spirit and His miraculous gifts, their danger
was to neglect the understanding?. Our danger in
these latter days is in the opposite direction: to
pray with the understanding is easy and universal.
We need to be reminded that, with the prayer with
the understanding, there must come the prayer with
the Spirit, the ' praying in the Holy Spirit ' (Jude
ver. 20 ; Eph. vi. 18). We need to give its due
place to each of the twofold operations of the Spirit.
God's Word must dwell in us richly ; our faith
must seek to hold it clearly and intelligently, and
to plead it in prayer. To have the words of Christ
abiding in us, filling life and conduct, is one of the
secrets of acceptable prayer. And yet we must
always remember that in the inner sanctuary of our
being, in the region of the unutterable and incon-
ceivable (1 Cor. ii. 6), the Spirit prays for us
what we do not know and cannot express. As we
grow in the apprehension of the divinity of that
Holy Spirit who dwells within, and the reality of
His breathing within us, we shall recognise how
infinitely beyond the conceptions of our mind must
be that Divine hummer with which He draws us
heavenward. We shall feel the need of cultivating
not only the activity of faith, which seeks to grasp



200 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

and obey God's word, and from that to learn to
pray, but its deep passivity too. As we pray we
shall remember how infinitely above our conception
is God and the spirit-world into which by prayer we
enter. Let us believe and rejoice that where heart
and flesh fail, there God is the strength of our
heart, there His Holy Spirit within us in the inmost
sanctuary of our spirit, within the veil, does His
unceasing work of intercession, and prays according
to God within us. As we pray, let us at times
worship in holy stillness, and yield ourselves to
that Blessed Paraclete, who alone, who truly is, the
Spirit of Supplication.^

' Because He maketh intercession for the saints'
Why does the apostle not say for us ; as he had
said, * We know not liow to pray as we ought ' ?
The expression, the saints, is a favourite one with
Paul, where he thinks of the Church, either in one
country or throughout the world. It is the special
work of the Spirit, as dwelling in every member,

' 'Mystics will, on the one hand, take their stand on the incom-
prehensible intercession of the Spirit, without there being anything
which would admit of being apprehended even by faith. School-
men, on the other hand, depend too much on that which has been
reduced to logical definitions, and obscure to themselves their dim
perception of the incomprehensible, by putting over it the veil
of their multifarious definitions. Paul keeps the golden mean
between that which we may know by faith and that which
transcends all knowledge, when the Spirit alone, in accordance
with the inmost purport of creation, knows what we pray. Both
that which we utter in words of faith, which we understand, and
the unutterable things of the Spirit, must co-exist in the heart, if
the heart is to be stablished.' — Steinhofer on Rom. viii. 26.



THE SPIRIT OF TKAYER. 201

fco make tlie body realize its unity. As selfishness
disappears, and the believer becomes more truly
spiritual minded, and he feels himself more identified
with the body as a whole, he sees how its health
and prosperity will be his own, and he learns what
it is to ' pray at all seasons in the Spirit, watching
thereunto in all perseverance for all saints.' It is
as we give up ourselves to this work, in a large-
heartedness which takes in all the Church of God,
that the Spirit will have free scope and will delight
to do His work of intercession for the saints in us.
It is specially in intercessory prayer that we may
count upon the deep, unutterable, but all-prevailing
intercession of the S23irit.

What a privilege ! to be the temple out of which
the Holy Spirit cries to the Father His unceasing
Abba ! and offers His unutterable intercession, too
deep for words. What blessedness ! that as the
Eternal Son dwelt in the flesh in Jesus of Nazareth,
and prayed to the Father as man, that even so the
Eternal Spirit should dw^ell in us, sinful flesh, to
train us to speak with the Father even as the Son
did. Who would not yield himself to this blessed
Spirit, to be made fit to take a share in that mighty
Intercession work through which alone the Kingdom
of God can be revealed ? The path is open, and
invites all. Let the Holy Spirit have complete
possession. Let Ilini fill you. Let Him be your
life. Believe in the possibility of His making your
very pei'sonality and consciousness the seat of His
inbeing. Believe in the certainty of His working



202 THE SPIKIT OF CIIMST.

and praying in you in a way that no human mind
can apprehend. Believe that in the secrecy and
apparent weakness and slowness of that work, His
Divine Almighty Power is perfecting the Divine
purpose and the Divine Oneness with your blessed
Lord. And live as one in whom the things that
pass all understanding have become Truth and Life,
in whom the Intercession of the Spirit is part of
your daily life in Christ.

Most Holy God ! once more I bow in lowly
adoration in Thy Presence, to thank Thee for the
precious privilege of prayer. And specially would
1 thank Thee for the Grace that has not only given
us in Thy Son the Intercessor above, but in Thy
Spirit the Intercessor within.

my Father ! Thou knowest that I can scarce
take in the wondrous thought, that Thy Holy Spirit
in very deed dwelleth in me, and prays in my
feeble prayers. I do beseech Thee, discover to me
all that hinders His taking full possession of me,
and filling me with the consciousness of His Pre-
sence. Let my inmost being and my outer life all
be so under His leading, that I may have the
spiritual understanding that knows to ask accord-
ing to Thy will, and the living faith that receives
what it asks. And when I know not what or how
to pray, Father, teach me to bow in silent wor-
ship, and keep waiting before Thee, knowing that
He breathes the wordless prayer which Thou alone
canst understand.



THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER. 203

Blessed God ! I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
I yield myself for Him to use me as the Spirit of
Intercession. May my whole heart be so filled
with the longing for Christ's honour, and His love
for the lost, that my life may become one unutter-
a])le cry for the coming of Thy Kingdom. Amen.

1. Now we can understand how the Lord, in the last night, could glue us
those wonderful prayer-promises, with their oft-repeated 'What ye will.'
He meant us to haue the Holy Spirit praying in us, guiding our desires and
strengthening our faith. He expected us to glue our whole being to the
indwelling of the Spirit, that He might haue free scope to pray in us ac-
cording to God. Let us take up the holy calling, and give ourselves to the
Holy Spirit to pray in us.

2. ' We know not what to pray as we ought : ' how often this has been a
burden and a sorrow ! Let it henceforth be a comfort. Because we do not
know, we may stand aside, and give place to One who does know. We may
believe that in our stammerings, or even sighs, the Mighty Intercessor is
pleading. Let us not be afraid to believe that within our ignorance and
feebleness the Holy Spirit is hidden, doing His work.

3. 'As we ought.' The great ought of prayer is faith. The Spirit is the
Spirit of faith, deeper than thought. Let us be of good courage, our faith
is in the keeping of the Spirit.

4. Here, as elsewhere, all leads up to one point: the Holy Spirit's in-
dwelling must be our one care. In faith that holds the promise, in tender
watchfulness that waits for and follows His leading, in the entire sur-
render of the flesh to the death, that He alone may rule and lead, let us
yield to our Beloved Lord to fill us with His Spirit : the Spirit will do His
work.



204 THE SPIKIT OF CIIKIST.



Twenty-first Day.






THE SPIEIT OF CHRIST.

EJe J^olg Spirit anti Conscience.

' I gay the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also hearing
me witness in the Holy Ghost.' — Rom. ix. 1.

' The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit.' — Eom.
viii. 16.

r^ OD'S highest glory is His Holmess, in virtue of
VX which He hates and destroys the evil, loves
and works the good. In man, conscience has tlie
same work : it condemns sin and approves the right.
Conscience is the remains of God's image in man,
the nearest approach to the Divine in him, the
guardian of God's honour amid the ruin of the fall.
As a consequence, God's work of redemption must
always begin with conscience. The Spirit of God
is the Spirit of His Holiness ; conscience is a spark
of the Divine holiness ; harmony between the work
of the Holy Spirit in renewing and sanctifying
man, and the work of conscience, is most intimate
and essential. The believer who would be filled
with the Holy Spirit, and experience to the full the



THE HOLY SPIUIT AND CONSCIENCE. 205

blessings He lias to give, must in the first place
see to it that he yields to conscience the place and
the honour which belong" to it. Faithfulness to con-
science is the first step in the path of restoration to
the Holiness of God. Intense conscientiousness will
be the groundw^ork and characteristic of true spirit-
uality. As it is the work of conscience to witness
to our being right towards our sense of duty and
towaids God, and the work of the Spirit to witness
to God's acceptance of our faith in Christ and our
obedience to Him, the testimony of the Spirit and
of conscience will, as the Christian life progresses,
become increasingly identical. We shall feel the
need and the blessedness of saying with Paul, in
regard to all our conduct : ' My conscience also bear-
ing me witness in the Holy Ghost.'

Conscience can be compared to the window of a
room, throuoh which the li^ht of heaven shines into
it, and through which w^e can look out and see that
heaven, with all that its light shines on. The
heart is the chamber in which our Life dwells, our
Ego, or Soul, with its powers and affections. On the
walls of that chamber there is written the law of
God. Even in the heathen it is still partly legible,
though sadly darkened and defaced. In the believer
the law is written anew by the Holy Spirit, in
letters of light, which often at first are but dim,
but grow clearer and glow brighter as they are freely
exposed to the action of the light without. With
every sin I commit, the light that shines in makes
it manifest and condemns it. If the sin be not



206 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

confessed and forsaken, the stain remains, and
conscience becomes defiled, because the mind
refused the teaching of the light (Tit. i. 15). And
so with one sin after another the window gets
darker and darker, until the light can hardly shine
through at all, and the Christian can sin on undis-
turbed, with a conscience to a large extent blinded
and without feeling. In His work of renewal the
Holy Spirit does not create new faculties: He renews
and sanctifies those already existing. Conscience
is the work of the Spirit of God the Creator; as
the Spirit of God the Redeemer His first care is to
restore what sin has defiled. It is only by restoring
conscience to full and healthy action, and revealing
in it the wonderful grace of Christ, ' the Spirit
bearing witness with our spirit,' that He enables
the believer to live a life in the full light of God's
favour. It is as the window of the heart that looks
heavenward is cleansed and kept clean that we can
walk in the Light.

The work of the Spirit on conscience is a
threefold one. Through conscience the Spirit
causes the light of God's holy law to shine into
the heart. A room may have its curtains drawn,
and even its shutters closed : this cannot prevent
the lightning flash from time to time shining into
the darkness. Conscience may be so sin-stained and
seared that the strong man within dwells in perfect
peace. When the lightning from Sinai flashes into
the heart, conscience wakens up, and is at once
ready to admit and sustain the condemnation. Both



THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CONSCIENCE. 207

the law and the gospel, with their call to repentance
and their conviction of sin, appeal to conscience.
And it is not till conscience has said Amen to the
charge of transgression and unbelief that deliverance
can truly come.

It is through conscience that the Spirit likewise
causes the light of mercy to shine. When the
windows of a house are stained, they need to be
washed. * How much more shall the blood of
Christ cleanse your conscience! The whole aim of
the precious blood of Christ is to reach the con-
science, to silence its accusations, and cleanse it,
till it testify : Every stain is removed ; the love of
the Father streams in Christ in unclouded bright-
ness into my soul. * A heart sprinkled from an
evil conscience,' * having no more conscience of
sin' (Heb. ix. 14, x. 2, 22), is meant to be the
privilege of every believer. It becomes so when
conscience learns to say Ainen to God's message of
the Power of Jesus' Blood.

The conscience that has been cleansed in the
blood must be kept clean by a walk in the obedi-
ence of faith, with the light of God's favour shining
on it. To the promise of the Indwelling Spirit, and
His engagement to lead in all God's will, conscience
must say its Amen too, and testify that He does it.
The believer is called to walk in humble tenderness
and watchfulness, lest in anything, even the least,
conscience should accuse him for not having done
what he knew to be right, or done what was not of
faith. He may be content with nothing less than



208 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. -

Paul's joyful testimony, ' Our glorying is this, the
testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and
godly sincerity, by the grace of God, we beliaved
(>urselves in the world' (2 Cor. i. 12. Comp. Acts
xxiii. 1, xxiv. 16 ; 2 Tim. i. 3). Let us note these
words w^ell : 'Our glorying is this, the testimony of
our conscience.' It is as the window is kept clean
and bright by our abiding in the light, that we can
have fellowship with the Father and the Son, the
love of heaven shining in unclouded, and our love
rising up in childlike trustfulness. ' Beloved ! if our
heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward
God, because we keep His commandments, and do
those things that are pleasing in His sight' (1 John
iii. 21, 22).

I The maintenance of a good conscience toward God
I from day to day is essential to the life of faith.
The believer must aim at, must be satisfied with,
nothing less than this. He may be assured that
it is within his reach. The believers in the Old
Testament by faith had the witness that they
pleased God (Heb. xi. 4, 5, 6, 39). In the New
Testament it is set before us, not only as a command
to be obeyed, but as a grace to be wrought by God
Himself. ' That ye might walk worthy of the Lord
unto all wcll-'pl easing, strengthened ivith all might
according to His glorious power.' ' May God fulfil
all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work
of faith with power.' ' Working in us that which
is well-pleasing in His sight.' (Col. L 10, 11;
2 Thess. i. 11 ; 1 Thess. iv. 1 : Heb. xii. 28, xiii. 21).



THK HOLY SPIiai AND CONSCIENCE. 209

The more we seek this testimony of conscience that
we are doing what is well-pleasing to God, tlie more
shall we feel the liberty, with every failure that
surprises us, to look at once to the blood that ever
cleanses, and the stronger will be our assurance that
the indwelling sinfulness, and all its workings that
are yet unknown to us, are covered by that blood too.
The blood that has sprinkled the conscience abides
and acts there in the power of the Eternal Life that
knows no intermission, and of the uncliangeable
Priesthood that saves completely. * If we walk
in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellow-
ship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ
cleanse til us from all sin.' ^

The cause of the feebleness of our faith is owing
to nothing so much as the want of a clean con-
science. Mark well how closely Paul connects them
in 1 Tim. : ' Love out of a pure heart, and a good
co7iscience, and faith unfeigned ' (i. 5). * Holding faith
and a good conscience, which some having thrust
from them, have made shipwreck of the faith ' (i. 19).
And especially (iii. 9), ' Holding the mystery of the
faith in a pure conscience.' The conscience is the seat of
faith. He that would grow strong in faith, and have
boldness with God, must know that he is pleasing
Him (1 John iii. 21, 22). Jesus said most dis-
tinctly that it is for those who love Him and keep
His commandments, that the promise of the Spirit,
with the indwelling of the Father and the Son, the
abiding in His love, and power in prayer, is meant.

' See Note L.




2 1 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

How can we confidently claim these promises,
unless in cliildlike simplicity our conscience can
testify that we fulfil the conditions ? Oh, ere the
Church can rise to the height of her holy calling as
intercessor, and claim these unlimited promises as
really within her reach, believers will have to draw
nigh to their Father, glorying, like Paul, in the
testimony of their conscience, that, by the Grace of
God, they are walking in holiness and godly sincerity.
It will have to be seen that this is the dee[iest
humility, and brings most glory to God's free grace,
to give up man's ideas of what we can attain, and
accept God's declaration of what He desires and
promises, as the only standard of what we are to be.
And how is this blessed life to be attained, in
which we can daily appeal to God and men with
Paul : ' I say the truth in Christ, my conscience
bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost ' ? The first
step is : Bow very low under the reproofs of con-
science. Be not content with the general confession
that there is a great deal wrong. Beware of con-
founding actual transgression with the involuntary
workings of the sinful nature. If the latter are to
be conquered and made dead by the indwelHng
Spirit (Piom. viii. 13), you must first deal with the
former. Begin with some single sin, and give con-
science time in silent submission and humiliation to
reprove and condemn. Say to your Father, that in
this one thing you are, by His grace, going to obey.
Accept anew Christ's wonderful offer to take entire
possession of your heart, to dwell in you as Lord



THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CONSCIENCE. 2 1 1

and Keeper. Trust Him by His Holy Spirit to dc
this, even when you feel weak and helpless. Ee-
niember that obedience, the taking and keeping
Christ's words in your will and life, is the only way
to prove the reality of your surrender to Him, or
your interest in His work and grace. And vow in
faith, that by God's Grace you will exercise yourself
herein, ' alway to have a conscience void of offence
toward God and toward man.'

When you have begun this with one sin, proceed


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 13 of 27)