EXPERIENCING THE SPIRIT BY EMPTYING OURSELVES
Many Christians today do not know the Holy Spirit. They have the terminology, but not the experience. When you are about to worship God or do something for God, you must be reminded not to do these things in yourself. Then you should repudiate yourself and set yourself aside. If there is nothing left after you put yourself aside, then there is nothing of the Holy Spirit in what you are about to do. But if there is something left after you put yourself aside, what remains is the Holy Spirit. This understanding of the Holy Spirit does not come from theology; it comes from experience.
Suppose a bottle is filled with dirt. The more the bottle is emptied of the dirt, the more air will get into the bottle. The amount of air depends upon the degree of emptiness. Likewise, in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to empty ourselves. If we empty ourselves, the Holy Spirit will fill us immediately. If we put ourselves aside when we are about to pray, worship, or do something for God, we shall find that the Holy Spirit will be there as the remainder. There is no need for us to speak in tongues in order to have the Holy Spirit. As long as we have a heart for God and the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit is with us. But in order to experience the Spirit, we need to empty ourselves.
BEING "DOGS" IN THE EYES OF GOD
Do not worship God in your natural life. One who does this is called a dog by the Apostle Paul. A dog is someone who tries to worship God apart from the Holy Spirit. If we see this, we shall be fearful and pray, "Lord, have mercy upon me. When I pray, I don’t want to be a dog, someone who prays in himself."
Some may wonder how anyone can pray to God and still be considered by God as a dog. Have you never accused others in your prayers to God? In the past I have done this many times. I prayed, but as I prayed I accused others. This kind of prayer is certainly not by the Spirit of God. When Saul of Tarsus was persecuting those who called on the name of Jesus, he certainly must have prayed. He might have said, "O God, I am zealous for You and for Your law. Help me to arrest everyone who calls on the name of Jesus." Saul’s prayer was like the barking of a dog. Therefore, Paul knew what it meant for the Jewish religionists to be dogs, for he used to be one of those dogs himself. In fact, he was a "top dog" in the Jewish religion. Like Saul of Tarsus, many times our prayers are not by the Spirit of God. This means that we also can be praying dogs. When some hear this, they may say, "No, I am a child of God. Every time I pray, I pray to my heavenly Father." However, the question is by what do you pray, by your natural life or by the Spirit of God. If you pray by your natural life, you are a dog. We should not pray without the Holy Spirit. Neither should we worship God apart from the Spirit of God. We need to be careful regarding our prayer and our worship. We need to pray and worship not by our natural life, but by the Spirit of God.
When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He did not deal mainly with the Gentiles, but with the Jews. Moreover, He mainly dealt with them concerning their worship of God. On one occasion the Lord even called them vipers, something worse than dogs (Matt. 23:33). Do not think that as long as you worship God or pray to God everything is all right. Everything is all right only if you worship and pray by the Spirit of God.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)