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.”