The Dark Night of the Spirit

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the LORD;
Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
Lamentations 3:40-41

The Dark Night Of The Spirit
Minister Tracey L. Greene
We have described the dark night of the soul. Now, we are going to discuss the “dark night of the spirit”. Many ask, “What is the difference between the two or is there a difference?” The answer is a resounding “YES!” The dark of the soul deals with the Outer Man and WHY we do what we do. The dark night of the spirit deals with the Inner Man and WHO we really are. The dark of the soul deals with the sinful attitudes of the soul that conflict with the nature of God. The dark night of the spirit deals with those spiritual paradigms and belief systems in our hearts and minds that negatively affects how we relate to God. The dark of the soul deals with our horizontal interaction with others, while the dark night of the spirit deals with our vertical interaction with God. Thus, we look at the workings of the dark night of the spirit as Psalms 139:23-24 reflects the cry of the human heart, Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

In the dark night of the spirit, God pursues the REAL person of who we are. He shines the floodlight of His Glory upon the secret and hidden “root” things about us. He examines our habits, motives, and beliefs that promotes our self-centered ideals. It is in these ideals that provide the fuel for what we do in ministry and how we interact within our relationships. They are the foundation that upon everything about us is based – THE FLESH. As strong as this foundation may be, it can be the very thing that challenges the truths of God’s Word and standards. God challenges the parts of us where SELF rules. It is not that we do not love God and we are not serving Him faithfully. However, the dark night of the spirit represents His dealings with our efforts to live righteously before Him and the false securities that sometimes they give us. As believers, we can stand boldly and declare our righteous declarations and intentions in the height of a spiritual experience. Yet, even with the best of human intentions, there are still those unsurrendered areas that God exposes to us and brings back to the work of Calvary’s cross. It is in this posture of the heart that He wants to bring us from a position of independence to total dependence and confidence in His ability to know what is best for us. As with the dark night of the soul, He is kicking over all of our “sacred cows” and false support systems until all that is left standing is Him. As we submit to this refining process, we will come to know Him in such a way through these precious “workings” encounters that could not have produced maturity in any other way.

Job – Our Biblical Model

We all know the story of Job in the Old Testament. Job 1:1 describes him; There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. Here you have a godly man that becomes the topic of conversation in Heaven between God and the devil. His godly lifestyle becomes the righteous challenge and pawn in this discussion. The devil tells God that Job is only living righteously because of His protective hedge around him. Knowing what was in Job, God offers the devil a season to prove his point. So unknowingly, this godly man, renowned in the earth, becomes the victim of all that the devil could throw at him.

God Himself called Job perfect and upright – which meant a mature and godly man. Yet, it was through this encounter that God began to show Job what was truly in his heart. By the natural eye, Job did everything that he was supposed to do. He loved and feared God. He honored His laws and precepts. He taught them to his children and those around him. He was respected and honored by all men – young and old. He gave alms to help the poor. He had his own spiritual legacy to fall back upon. Nevertheless, he still could not comprehend the cause for the calamities that were befalling him and his loved ones.

But, it was in the midst of this “dark night” that God showed Job that he was not as “righteous” as he thought he was. Job challenged God in terms that he thought he could relate to Him. However, God skillfully addresses and undermines Job’s human efforts and conclusions in Job 40:9-13. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.

It is in this posture where Job realized his own frailties and need for the Almighty God. He recognized the work of pride and his “spiritual” ego had in his life and his own erroneous beliefs in the workings of God in Job 41:1-6: Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Job now had a testimony and a personal experiential point of reference. He no longer rested upon the precepts taught to him. But, he had encountered the Almighty God and his life was forever changed for the better!
God, through His loving masterful design, works to produce righteousness in the lives of His children; just as He did in Job.
BridgeBuilders Ministries International of Grand Rapids, MI USA

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