What Is the “Deeper Life”?


The term “deeper life,” or something like it, has been used at various times in church history to identify a revolt against the ordinary in Christian experience and the insatiable yearning of a few discontented souls after the deep, essentially spiritual and inward power of the Christian message.

The deeper life must be understood to mean a life in the Spirit far in advance of the average and nearer to the New Testament norm. There are many scriptural phrases that embody the meaning we are attempting to convey, but these have been interpreted downward and equated with the spiritual mediocrity now current. The consequence is that when they are used by the average Bible teacher today they do not mean what they meant when they were first used by the inspired writers. This is the penalty we pay for making the Word of God conform to our experience instead of bringing our experience up to the Word of God. When high scriptural terms are used to describe low spiritual living, then other and more definitive terms are indicated. Only by using terms previously agreed upon and understood can there be true communication between teacher and learner. Hence this definition.

The deeper life has also been called the “victorious life,” but I do not favor the term. It focuses attention exclusively upon one feature of the Christian life, that of personal victory over sin, when this is but one aspect of the deeper life. That life in the Spirit which is meant by the term “deeper life” is a far wider and richer thing than mere victory over sin, however vital that victory may be. It includes also the thought of the indwelling Christ, of acute God-consciousness, of rapturous worship, separation from the world, the joyous surrender of everything to God, internal union with the Trinity, the practice of the presence of God, the communion of saints, and prayer without ceasing.

To enter upon such a life, the seeker must be ready to accept without question the New Testament as the one final authority on spiritual matters. He must be willing to make Christ the one supreme Lord and ruler of his life. He must surrender his whole being to the destructive power of the cross, to die not only to his sins but to his righteousness as well and to everything in which he formerly prided himself.

If this should seem like a heavy sacrifice for anyone to make, let it be remembered that Christ is Lord and can make any demands upon us that He chooses, even to the point of requiring that we deny ourselves and bear the cross daily. And the mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit that follows will restore to the soul infinitely more than has been taken away. It is a hard way but a glorious one. No one who has known the sweetness of it will ever complain about what he has lost. He will be too well pleased with what he has gained.

—A. W. Tozer

Adapted from The Alliance Weekly November 3, 1954

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