This week, I continue with a few more thoughts stemming from a book I’ve been reading, by A.W. Tozer.

“The Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God’s victory over him.” 

— A.W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man [1]

I must admit that, reading those words, I tend to cringe a little bit—especially as I read on and see Tozer’s continued use of the language: “humiliating defeat”, “conquer”, “invade”, “breaking”, “shattering”, “wiping out resistance”, “conquest”.

At points, I’m tempted to summarize his ideas by changing and softening the language—to talk about surrender instead of conquering. After all, isn’t “surrender” just as good? Doesn’t it have the same aspect of humility and submission?

The answer is: no.

If I embrace humility without humiliation, an aspect of pride still remains within myself. Yes, I have humbled myself—but only on my own terms. I have the power and right to discard humility when it suits me, to put back on my prideful cloak, and stand with puffed out chest, looking with the appraising eye of an owner over my rightful domain—the kingdom of my life.

My resistance to the term “conquered” is evidence that there is still much work to be done in my heart. There is still much in me that needs the “release from [my] own evil strength”. [2]

Until I accept once more that the truest victory comes through my weakness, not through my strength, I will remain locked in that old cycle of sin and decay; declaring independence from God; esteeming the approval of mankind; and living by sight, not by faith.

The reality is that all human beings must go through a form of spiritual death as well as physical death. We have no choice in the matter—only the ability to choose when and how it’s applied.

1. We retain full control over our lives, governing them as we please.

We esteem people of world reputation and rejoice to exploit our relationships with those rich and famous who enter our midst. We discard all thought of humiliation and weakness and strive for strength, influence, and power. Nothing is crucified with Christ, and we embrace life and living with what we classify as gusto but what is really a pale shadow of what might have been.

We have avoided dying to self, but a gruesome surprise awaits us. In avoiding the dying of now, we are subject to another death—one that will not last for a few decades, but for an eternity. Where one death—the death to self—embraced God, this death rejects Him entirely and in so doing is separated from Him forever.

2. The deceptive hybrid that is no hybrid at all.

We live in happy self-delusion, embracing temporary humility while comforting ourselves (either consciously or unconsciously) with the notion that it is still within our power to renege on our promises, to tear up the contract, to return to controlling at least some aspects of our lives. No, we don’t want to give up Jesus completely, but maybe we can share the ruling of our lives?

3. We give ourselves over fully to the conquering work of Almighty God during our lives here on earth.

Yes, there is much to break and shatter in our old, fleshly selves, and the sooner the better. We put the flesh to death by turning it over to our Blessed Invader who wipes out all resistance. He plucks up and breaks down, He destroys, He overthrows [3]. And when the breaking is complete, when the soil is rid of weed and rock and unyielding clay, He builds up and plants. He makes all things new.


[1] [1] A.W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1950), 81 of 214 in e-book.

[2] Ibid, 82 of 214 in e-book.

[3] See Jeremiah 1:10.

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