The Warfare of the Spirit is a collection of 41 editorials written while Tozer was editor of Alliance Life Magazine. In one of them he comments, “Sin is a poisonous weed that throws the whole nature out of order. The inner life disintegrates; the flesh lusts after forbidden pleasures; the moral judgment is distorted so that often good appears evil and evil good; time is chosen over eternity, earth over heaven and death over life.” Here Tozer shows the difference between religious ritual—where the person “pretends to religion but refuses to come under its total domination“—and the presence of the indwelling Christ.
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Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963) was born on a small farm in what is now Newburg, PA. His family moved to Akron, Ohio, when he was just a young boy. At the age of 17, Tozer heard a street preacher, responded to the calling of Christ, and began his lifelong pursuit of God. After becoming an active witness of Jesus as a lay preacher, he joined The Christian and Missionary Alliance and was soon serving as the pastor of West Virginia’s Alliance Church, in 1919. He transferred to the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago in 1928, and his ministry continued there for 31 years. During that time he preached on the Moody Bible Institute’s radio station. In the 1940s Tozer was invited to speak at Wheaton College, and seldom a year passed after World War II that he didn’t preach in the college’s Pierce Chapel. In 1950 he became the editor of The Alliance Life magazine and served in that capacity until his death.
Self-taught, with no formal Bible training, Tozer has been called a twentieth-century prophet within his own lifetime. Through years of diligent study and constant prayer, he sought the mind of God. A master craftsman in the use of the English language, he was able to write in a simple, cogent style the principles of truth he had learned. For Tozer, “there was no substitute for knowing God firsthand.” He wrote many of his books with one idea in mind—that his reader would achieve the heart’s true goal in God and maintain that relationship with Him.
Tozer moved to Toronto in 1959 and spent the final years of his life as the pastor of Avenue Road Church. He and his wife, Ada, lived a simple, non-materialistic lifestyle and let much of the royalties from his books go to those in need. The Tozers had seven children, six boys and one girl. James L. Snyder, said of Tozer that his “preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life. He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them.”
“Something within the heart of the normal man revolts against motion without progress.” (Page 66)
“The vast majority of our Bible conferences are dedicated to the obvious. Each of the brethren (usually advertised as ‘widely sought after as a conference speaker’) ranges afar throughout the Scriptures to discover additional passages to support truth already known to and believed by 99 percent of his hearers. If the speaker can show that some elementary truth had been hidden in an Old Testament ‘type’ and not before noticed, he is hailed as a profound Bible scholar and eagerly invited back next year.” (Page 65)
“A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped. People simply run true to their nature; and after all the church is composed of people.” (Page 10)
“To court a Christian for his financial contributions is as evil a thing as to marry a man for his money.” (Page 8)
“The simple man who lives close to the earth lives also close to death and knows that he must look for help beyond himself; he knows that there is but a step between him and catastrophe. As he rises in the social and economic scale, he surrounds himself with more and more protective devices and pushes danger (so he thinks) farther and farther from him. Self-confidence displaces the feeling of dependence he once knew and God becomes less necessary to him.” (Pages 13–14)