“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near (to God) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22) The following quotes are excerpts from Tozer that highlight the message in chapter 3 of his book.
“The interior journey of the soul from the wilds of sin into the enjoyed Presence of God is beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament tabernacle. The returning sinner first entered the outer court where he offered a blood sacrifice on the brazen altar and washed himself in the laver that stood near it. Then through a veil he passed into the holy place where no natural light could come, but the golden candlestick which spoke of Jesus the Light of the World threw its soft glow over all. There also was the shewbread to tell of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and the altar of incense, a figure of unceasing prayer. Though the worshipper had enjoyed so much, still he had not yet entered the Presence of God. Another veil separated from the Holy of Holies where above the mercy seat dwelt the very God Himself in awful and glorious manifestation. While the tabernacle stood, only the high priest could enter there, and that but once a year, with blood which he offered for his sins and the sins of the people. It was this last veil which was rent (see Matthew 27:51) when our Lord gave up the ghost on Calvary, and the sacred writer explains that this rending of the veil opened the way for every worshipper in the world to come by the new and living way straight into the divine Presence. Everything in the New Testament accords with this Old Testament picture. Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies. God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day. This Flame of the Presence was the beating heart of the Levitical order. The greatest fact of the tabernacle was that Jehovah was there; a Presence was waiting within the veil. Similarly the Presence of God is the central fact of Christianity. At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His Presence. The omnipresence of the Lord is one thing, and is a solemn fact necessary to His perfection; the manifest Presence is another thing altogether, and from that Presence we have fled, like Adam, to hide among the trees of the garden, or like Peter to shrink away crying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” So the life of man upon the earth is a life away from the Presence, wrenched loose from that “blissful center” which is our right and proper dwelling place, our first estate which we kept not, the loss of which is the cause of our unceasing restlessness. To push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God. With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus’ flesh, with nothing on God’s side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God? What is it but the presence of a veil in our hearts, a veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close-woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross. To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.”
The self-life Tozer speaks of is the flesh-life seen clearly in Paul’s life in Romans 7:14-25 in contrast to life in (and under the control of) the Holy Spirit. Romans 7:22 shows us that in our “inner man” our deepest self (the new self in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17) we delight in pleasing and obeying the Lord. But sins of the flesh or what Tozer calls the self-sins of self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, etc., have to be exposed by the Word of God and convicted by the Spirit of God and then in our repentance (versus rationalizing and justifying our sins) we experience God’s love and forgiveness and experience His manifest Presence. A new Christian was describing this battle between the Spirit and the flesh saying, “inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good, and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins, I answer, the one I feed the most.” Paul says it this way in Galatians 6:7-10, “ Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (increasing Christlikeness). Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).”
God’s love and forgiveness are always a gift from Him that all born-again believers have but when we remain in our sins we consciously or unconsciously turn our backs on God and lose the joy of experiencing His loving Presence and incur His loving discipline to bring us back to Him. (Hebrews 12:5-11) When the prodigal son came to his senses and repented and went home to his father he experienced the joy and blessing of his father’s love that had always been there but the son had willingly chosen to forfeit it. (See Luke 15:11-24) This begs the deeper question of why we would choose the far lesser satisfaction of the fleeting pleasure of sin (along with the high cost of sin – bondage) over the superior joy of experiencing the pleasure of intimacy with God, the Lover of our souls. In a sense, Tozer tries to answer this question throughout the rest of the book and the Lord does the same throughout His Book – the Bible. (See Tozer’s book in its entirety on-line at http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/Tozer_Pursuit_of_God.pdf)
And even though I don’t have “the” answer for myself or others, the question itself needs to be a question I regularly ask myself and ask the Lord beginning with asking Him to help me explore the deep and sometimes hidden sins in my heart. “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24) I have found that the Lord will answer this question if I genuinely want to know (i.e., I am open to being convicted of sin) and give Him time (sometimes several hours) of being in His Word, sharing my heartfelt prayers, and begging for His grace to grasp and respond to His great love for me. And often my response to His love is a confession of some of the sins Tozer listed above as well as others. I call it “sweet pain” because although it hurts it always leads me back to experiencing His manifest (palpable/felt/touched) Presence. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)
“Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Until He comes again,
Len and Kristen