I have been guilty of collecting books on my Kindle, putting off reading them, and then getting sidetracked and forgetting all about them. Lately, I found a gem just waiting for me to rediscover it, and the timing was perfect. It’s another book by Andrew Murray (I highly recommend any book he authored!) titled “Spirit of Christ”. In it, he teaches us to remember that when we were born again the Holy Spirit came to live in us. This is taught throughout the New Testament. He further addresses the fact that in most of our lives we fail to see the impact one should expect from the Spirit of Jesus taking up residence inside us. We tend to trust He is there in some sense, but don’t expect Him to really make a difference in how we live. We try to please Him, do what’s right, and meet the expectations of the Christian lifestyle as we see it. But in honesty, we don’t see the power, holiness, peace, or joy that the New Testament describes as our rightful portion.
We might blame ourselves and live in condemnation, or we might become convinced that God doesn’t really expect us to live that well. We think it’s all fine in theory and in position, but not really meant to be lived in our everyday lives. I’m convinced this isn’t the case.
What the Lord has promised for our lives is meant to be the normal state for a believer to live in, and Andrew Murray does a beautiful job of explaining how this works. We need to know, first of all, that He has indeed promised His abiding presence within the repentant, obedient life. His presence lives deeper in our being, below our personality, our thought life, our reason, our efforts, or our human soul.
We tend to think if we apply our minds to learn and then practice the right strategies, we have mastered a life skill we need. But in spiritual matters that only amounts to human effort. This life is to be lived by faith, not reason. We need to lay aside our human wisdom and tactics and recognize by faith that the Spirit of God is within and then wait on Him to meet us.
In Colossians 2:7 the Living Bible says this, “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thanksgiving.” That brings me to trees. I’ve written about trees before. I think they picture many aspects of life beautifully. If I picture my life as a tree, I need to look at the root system. Generally, a tree will have shallower roots along with deeper roots. If I live my life drawing on the shallow roots, it will be characterized by my personality, my good intentions, my preferences, my best self on good days, and my not so good self on others. It would be a life lived by what comes most naturally to me. But even if I’m trying to please Christ, it is still my human effort. Instead, I need to, by faith, recognize His presence deeper and send my roots down into Him like a tree sends down its deeper roots. It means I will need to stop, actively believe that He is within, and wait to establish that connection. Then I can move ahead into the next thing expecting that He is taking charge of my life and my day. This, again, is all by faith, not feeling. It is crucial that we realize the abundant spiritual life He has promised is, in fact, a PROMISE, and He cannot lie. The more I learn to draw my life and nourishment from that deeper source, the stronger the flow of life becomes. The fruit borne from that source will be the fruit of the Spirit rather than my own efforts. In addition, the less I live from the shallow roots, the more they will dry and wither. They won’t go away, but they will become less and less the source of my living.
It is important to obey in the little things that the Holy Spirit points out in our lives, but we need to realize that His conviction is very specific. He will point out something we say or think or do, or something we need to say or think or do. We need to quickly acknowledge and obey. That is the surest way to open the channels of those deeper roots. What the Holy Spirit does not do is generally condemn and guilt us for not being perfect and measuring up in every respect, driving us to try harder and work more feverishly at winning His favor. It goes against our nature to relinquish our own efforts, but it is when we realize that we cannot live this life as it’s meant to be lived that we begin to seek His life and provision to live in us.
Our lives, fed by those shallow roots, are exchanged for His life, the supply reached only by the deep roots. That is the life He has provided, His very own Spirit living in us. Let us dare to believe that what He promised He will do as we trust Him and walk humbly with Him.