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“Pruning is not just the removal of sin. It targets our own religious activity that developed in the very act of bearing fruit. It is this that must be cut down and cleansed away. In working for God, we have to use our natural gifts of wisdom, or eloquence, or influence, or zeal. And yet they are always in danger of being unduly developed and then trusted in.
“And so, after each season of work, God has to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the consciousness of the helplessness and the danger of all that is of man, to feel that we are nothing. All that is to be left of us is just enough to receive the power of the life-giving sap of the Holy Spirit. What is of man must be reduced to its very lowest nature. All that is inconsistent with the most entire devotion to Christ’s service must be removed.
“The more perfect the cutting away of all that is of self, the less surface over which the Holy Spirit is to be spread. This allows a more intense concentration of our whole being to be entirely at the disposal of the Spirit. This is the true circumcision of the heart, the circumcision of Christ. This is the true crucifixion with Christ, bearing the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body.”