The Bible clearly teaches that we are to live a life of surrender.
Christ teaches us we are to deny ourselves and take up His cross (Matthew 16:24).
But the question then becomes, what does it mean to deny ourselves?
Is it simply stopping a sin that we harbor or refuse to let go of? Overeating, smoking, drinking, anger, pride, anxiety, negative feelings toward others, someone we have aught against, haven’t gone to that person and asked for forgiveness … where would this list end?
Aren’t there sins in our lives that we’ve all decided we’re okay with? They’re not really that bad, or, this is just who I am, or, I know God will fix me one day? Again, where does this end?
Is it not about sin at all? The sin in our life would be dealt with as we surrender to His will, not before? It would actually be a byproduct of total surrender?
But, didn’t the Master Himself say “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).
So, what is it to deny ourselves, what is surrender?
Is it to turn from the world and the love of the world?
The apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Where does that leave us?
Ha. I remember having a conversation like this with my brother-in-law and by the time we were done he wanted to go tell his wife that they were going to sell their house and become missionaries.
That would have gone over real well with my sister-in-law.
So, what is surrender?
In her book, “Surrender” Nancy DeMoss says “The terms of our surrender to the Lord Jesus are nonnegotiable and unconditional. What does He ask us to surrender? In a word, everything. Christian surrender means that we come to Him on His terms, as the conquering general of our soul, and say simply, ‘I surrender all.’ We lay down our arms; we hand over everything we have, everything we are, everything we hope to be.”
Everything we hope to be?
So then, it’s simply willing to do whatever He wants?
“Ah,” we say, “I am doing that! I am such a good little Christian!”
Are we? At what cost?
If at no cost, how would that be surrender? Ever seen an army, or nation, surrender with no cost on their part?
Fenelon puts it like this, “Live without any thought of the future. It is not enough to be detached from the world. We also must become lowly. In detachment, we renounce external things. In lowliness, we abandon self. Every shadow of perceptible pride must be left behind. What is more, the pride of wisdom and virtue is more dangerous than that of worldly fortune.”
He goes on to say, “Your true instruction is to be found in death to self, deep reflection, and silence of the whole soul before God. Renounce your own spirit and love lowliness, obscurity, feebleness, and annihilation of self.”
Annihilation of self? Really? Ouch!
More from Fenelon, “We must be lowly-minded in all areas of our lives. We must appropriate nothing to ourselves, least of all our virtue and courage. Have nothing of your own.”
We can’t even have virtue? Courage?
Ah, this all sounds so difficult. Besides, I have given up so much of my self-life already. Isn’t that enough?
No, no, and again, no!
God wants us to sign a blank piece of paper and He will fill in the details later.
What will be on that blank sheet?
Stop the overeating? Put down the cigarette? Stop worrying about what others think? Don’t ever look for the applause of man?
Will we be called to the ultimate sacrifice … death of our lives for His glory?
Perhaps none of these things. Perhaps all of them.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is our willingness to die for Him.
We can’t take that word “die” lightly.
He’s not asking for our comfort. He’s asking for death.
Oh, if we were to really look deep and honestly into our own lives, than this becomes a fearful and anxious message.
How would it be received on a Sunday morning? At the least – blank eyes staring up at the pulpit. At worst – the Pastor being removed (in love or course) from the sanctuary.
It’s not a feel good message, is it?
Oh, but it’s a necessary one. So very necessary.
But, there’s good news.
We don’t have to do it on our own power.
I love what Andrew Murray says:
“God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: ‘It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13)? And that is what we should seek for―to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.
So He does the work. He cleanses us from the sins that we so desperately hold on to, molds us into the person he wants us to be.
So we say yes, Lord. I’m willing to surrender wholly and completely to you.
What’s next then? How do we do that?
And that’s where brokenness comes in.
But I guess that’s another topic, for another time.