The late Billy Graham once wrote that 95% of Christians live spiritually-defeated lives. That means only 1 out of 20 Christians live the victorious Christian life. Why are so many blood-bought, born-again Christians being defeated? It is because they keep picking a fight with letting go of their own will. They refuse to surrender to the Holy Spirit.
When you read the famous but often hard-to-understand passage in Romans 7:13-24, it is easy to get the feeling that the fight against our flesh is futile. It would be had Paul ended his gospel to the Romans in such a manner. Thankfully, he did not.
Furthermore, Paul left a trail of biblical hints in his preceding six chapters in Romans. Particularly, notice what Paul writes here:
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Romans 6:5-6)
In verse 4, Paul says we should be walking “in newness of life.” How many Christians are still living their old lives, “shackled to the sin we hold so dear,” to quote an old Caedmon’s Call song? It is because we don’t understand that surrender does not mean being able to go back to the altar and remove our offering.
In the common English usage of surrender, the word means “to yield, to give oneself up, to abandon, relinquish, or resign.” The word surrender does not appear in the New Testament but is used numerous times in the Old Testament in the Hebrew yatsa. This word gives the idea of going out, to come out, to exit, or go forth.
Whenever I struggle in my Christian walk, I always try to remember to turn to Jesus. The simplest example yet most difficult point in Jesus’ life is in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.'” (Mark 14:35-36)
Jesus was not afraid of death; that was the only purpose of Him taking on flesh and coming to Earth. He was dreading the fact that God would be laying the weight of all of humanity’s sins on Him. Once this happened, Jesus knew that His “Abba, Father” would have to look away from His beloved, in whom He said He was well pleased.
Has God ever asked you to take on the weight of the world’s sin? Of course not! Quite the contrary, our Lord has invited us to give up the burden of sin.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
As my pastor has taught us the last two months, to give up our sin we must first hate it. To hate our sin, we must see in through God’s eyes. We so easily reconcile ourselves to our sins because it is so easy to rationalize its impact on our walk. If only we could see in real time the devastation it brings to us.
So how do I stop fighting myself in letting go? We do as the main verse we’ve studied at my church at the beginning of this year:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
Anyone stuck in a besetting sin would not defend it as being acceptable or reasonable. They might try to defend their inability to stop it. However, is it logical? Does it make sense? This is what Paul means when he exhorts us to surrender ourselves to Christ. My “reasonable service” is the logical step to take if I belong to Jesus.
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Copyright © 2018 David Jeffers
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