The humility of Christ defines true spiritual boldness, which is only found and and released by God when we enter the holiest place through the cross.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, (Hebrews 10:19)
When we look at the book of Acts and see the spiritual boldness that empowered great men like Paul, Peter, and even Stephen, it raises a pertinent question. How is it that some men and women of God seem to have this by the bucket-load and others do not? The Bible and observation both testify to the truth that having spiritual boldness is essential in the work of the kingdom. But how do we go about ‘acquiring’ or ‘learning’ it? To answer this question, we must first understand what spiritual boldness really is.
Natural boldness and spiritual boldness.
For those believers who aren’t ‘bold by nature,’ the good news is that natural boldness has nothing at all to do with spiritual boldness. They may appear similar, but that’s where it ends. Having natural boldness is no guarantee of spiritual boldness and visa versa. We can have one and not have the other, or we can have both or neither. They are two entirely separate things which may share an outward similarity but which have a very different source, manifestation, and consequence.
Natural boldness has everything to do with self. It’s an aspect of our nature, personality, conditioning, education, and all the things that go into making us who and what we are on a natural level. It’s the kind of boldness that is entirely dependent on our sense of worth, our confidence in our abilities, and our drive to achieve, succeed, and remain in control. Spiritual boldness has its source in God alone. We have no control over whether we have it or not, or how much of it we have. Nor do we get to decide how and when to exercise it.
Spiritual boldness has no respect for self.
A sure sign of genuine spiritual boldness is whether or not – and how much – self is involved. Consider Pentecost for a moment – arguably one of the most powerful and dramatic demonstrations of spiritual boldness on record. To grasp the nature of spiritual boldness we must see the ‘before and after.’ Before Pentecost, the believers were huddled in the upper room, afraid for their lives, adrift without their ‘leader,’ and the absolute antithesis of spiritual boldness we could ever describe. The closest claim they had to even natural boldness was that they remained in Jerusalem, waiting as Jesus had commanded, but it was waiting in fear and secrecy.
Then, along came the Holy Spirit. While the imagery of wind and tongues of flame is inspiring and wonderful, the real power of Pentecost lies in transformation. When we see that, we see the reality of spiritual boldness. Self, with all its fears, caution, reluctance, confusion, excuses, and failures is swept aside. Our natural inclinations vanish. It’s a supernatural transformation that has no patience or respect for self. Deep within, a zeal for God and His purposes flares up, burning with a pure flame that transforms from within. Whatever is of self simply cannot remain.
We cannot acquire or learn spiritual boldness.
This truth is what ultimately separates spiritual boldness from its fleshly counterpart. We can desire it and even ask for it, but we cannot learn or earn it. Spiritual boldness comes as a release from God alone, and it is always for the work of His kingdom. It is not intended to meet any of our personal, individual needs. Anything even remotely related to self has no need for spiritual boldness. This may be the reason why so few believers seem to ‘have it.’ If we approach it from the self perspective, it will never be released in our lives.
God is the sovereign source of spiritual boldness, and He will only release it to transform us and empower us in the work of the kingdom. We see this very clearly at Pentecost. The believers didn’t continue in the upper room, praying and praising and giving thanks that they were ‘set free from fear.’ They spilled out into the street in bold defiance of the very things that had kept them in fear and hiding. Their new zeal burned through their natural reticence and fears and catapulted them into evangelism and witness. That is spiritual boldness in action. It is always entirely God-focused.
The journey towards spiritual boldness.
Like all things of God, spiritual boldness is a journey. While Pentecost stands out as a dramatic, powerful, supernatural event, the believers had to journey towards it. They had to arrive at the place God designated for its release. Anyone who disobeyed and scurried off to, say, Samaria, would have missed out. The road to follow is one of obedience and waiting on God. This isn’t the ‘secret’ to receiving spiritual boldness, it’s simply putting ourselves where God wants us.
Today’s verse exemplifies this is the most beautifully simple way. Spiritual boldness for transformation and supernatural power for kingdom work starts with boldness to enter in to the holy place – the place where God is. This boldness comes only through the cross and the blood of Christ. It has nothing to do with what we want and can achieve, and everything to do with what God wants and Jesus has achieved.
Spiritual boldness is the humility of Christ.
Jesus is our way – the boldness to enter into the holiest place – because of His humility. His was a bold, audacious humility that challenged conventional wisdom and defied every other power. It was humility that dared to love God and man so much that it was willing to become ‘nothing and less than nothing.’ It ignored scorn, ridicule, torture, and death choosing entry into the holy place above everything else. Truly having the boldness to enter the holiest place means having the humility to do so in Christ alone. Real, lasting spiritual boldness depends on how deep we enter in. That, in turn, depends on how much we’re prepared to lose to do so.
Challenge us today, Lord, to follow Jesus into the holiest place, even knowing that this means sacrifice and the death of self. Keep us mindful of humility and obedience. Grant us the grace to desire it and the courage to pursue it. Forgive us for the times when we’ve mistaken natural boldness for the spiritual boldness only You can give. Teach us humility and obedience, and release in us the zeal that will draw us in to the holiest place, where You are all and we are nothing, and Your purposes become the nature of who we are in You.