In the Way of the Cross

From “Signs of the Presence of the Holy Spirit in Us, True Christianity III.17 (1605) 

When the Holy Spirit enters into our soul, that is to say, manifests his presence by his operations, in the first place, he forthwith reproves in us everything that is not divine, such as “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16), giving us a sort of loathing and abhorrence of them. Whosoever, therefore, lives a carnal life, without such inward admonition of the Holy Spirit, may assure himself that that Spirit is not in him; inasmuch as it is peculiarly his office and character, at all times, to persuade, draw, and invite everyone that will give him room to act freely, to the duties of a Christian life. Thus the Holy Spirit reproves sin. But everything is sin, that opposes our obedience to the will of God. And every such act of disobedience, or inclination to it, the Holy Spirit reproves wherever he enters. 

Hence, in the second place, arise spiritual sadness, grief, and inward terrors of mind. Of this the children of this world have little experience, though it is one of the surest signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul. But they that are utter strangers to this godly sorrow, who run on with delight and satisfaction in the way of the world, upon whom all things smile, and who find here their enjoyment, and never meet with any cross; these men, I say, are in a very dangerous state, and, being destitute of God’s Spirit, are without God in the world. On the contrary, they that are afflicted of God, and are reproved in their consciences by the Spirit of God for every act of disobedience to his will; and are led in the way of the cross, being brought under the discipline and correction of wisdom, are those in whom the Spirit of God prepares himself a habitation. And this is the second sign of the presence in us, of the Holy Spirit. 

The third sign is, that the Divine Spirit takes away from us all the glory of our own merit and righteousness, so that before the righteousness of God it falls as a flower of the field, and “withers as grass, when the spirit of the Lord blows upon it,” (Isa. 40:6-7). For the Spirit of Christ shows us that we have no other solid and stable foundation upon which to rest, but the merits and righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Woe to our own righteousness,” says St. Augustine, “if it were to be tried and judged without mercy by God.” For this reason, Isaiah compares it to “filthy rags,” (Isa. 64:6.) 

The fourth token of the presence of God’s Spirit, is when a man looks upon his neighbor’s faults with compassion, not rudely censuring or condemning him. For a haughty desire to judge others is diabolical, proceeding from nothing but pride, contempt of our neighbor, and admiration of ourselves. And where these reign the Holy Spirit cannot abide; but wheresoever he is, there a man is careful – 1. Not to reprove his neighbor but upon urgent necessity. 2. To do it in the proper time and place, after the example of our blessed Lord. 3. Not to do it in severe terms, but with meekness and humanity. 4. Not to despise his neighbor, nor expose him to the scorn and contempt of others, but to do all from a pure principle of charity. Let these things sink deeply into thy heart, that you may abide in humility, and in the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that he may dwell in you. 

Johann Arndt (1555-1621) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, best known for his devotional writings, which drew from medieval and Reformation sources to emphasize Christ’s union with the soul and the call to holy living. His works, especially True Christianity, deeply influenced the Pietist Movement that began shortly after his death 


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