This may prove to be a continuation of a yesterday’s message. You see, it isn’t enough to surrender to the Lordship and governance of Jesus, and you certainly can’t weep your way into our Lord’s heavenly place. You can’t study or work or will your way in. No, the only way to the throne is by way of living, what I called, a surrendered life, Paul calls being a living sacrifice! He wrote:
“I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.” (Romans 12:1).
And he is talking from experience! Here is a man who was rejected, tempted, persecuted, beaten, jailed, shipwrecked, stoned, and even left for dead. Along with all of the concerns of the churches laid on him. Yet, despite all that he was able to testify: “In every condition, I have been content.”
Yesterday I talked about “surrendering to God,” and to repeat Dwight L. Moody, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.” Now, some believers see surrendering to God as allowing Him to do whatever He wants in particular situations. But that is not it at all. Yes, our Father does use situations and circumstances to guide us into surrendering. But if we limit ourselves to surrendering to our situations, it will probably lead to other issues we don’t want to deal with. For instance, if I am ill, and surrender to my situation with the belief that He wants me ill . . . “I am suffering for the Lord . . .” Yeah well, if that is your mindset, you will remain ill and possibly, the illness will advance to something more serious. That is not what “surrendering” means.
Now, using my example, if I am ill, my Father does want me to surrender to His desire and ability to deliver me from my situation . . . however, He also wants me to surrender myself! What I mean, I am not to allow my situations or circumstances to determine my faith or my attitude. I am to maintain my faith in Him and my positive attitude despite my situations or circumstances! That is what I mean by surrendering ourselves.
By surrendering myself to God means that I will allow Him to do whatever is necessary to give Himself glory, and whatever is necessary to make me into the person He is desiring for me to be. However, I am not talking about standing back and simply letting Him work. No, no. I am talking about surrendering myself, who I am and how I react to situations and circumstances, to my Father, because frankly, He knows how to accomplish it better than I do! The whole issue revolves around my relationship with Him. I, my whole being, is falling into His hands so that He is able to cause me to become what He wants through the current situations.
Now, Paul was saying, “So, you want to know how I came into the knowledge of this heavenly walk? Do you want to know how I came to be content in whatever condition I was placed, how I came to find true rest in Christ? Do you? Well, here is the path, the secret to appropriating your heavenly position: (PAUSE FOR DRAMATIC EFFECT) . . . Present your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord. (Whoa! That’s it?) You will come into contentment only by sacrificing your own will.”
Now the Greek root for “living” here suggests “lifelong.” Paul is talking about a binding commitment, a sacrifice that is made once in a lifetime. Yet, don’t misunderstand; this isn’t a sacrifice that has to do with covering for our sin. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the only worthy propitiation: “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
No, Paul is talking about a different kind of sacrifice. Yet, make no mistake; God has no pleasure in the “old” sacrifices. Hebrews tells us, “With burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased” (10:6). Why weren’t these sacrifices pleasing to the Lord? Simply put, they didn’t require the heart.
The sacrifice Paul describes is one that God takes great pleasure in, precisely because it involves the heart. What is this sacrifice? It is one of death to our will, of laying aside our self-sufficiency and abandoning our ambitions.
When Paul exhorts, “Present your body,” he is saying, “Draw near to the Lord.” Yet, what does that mean, exactly? It means drawing near to God for the purpose of offering our entire selves to him. It means coming to Him not in our own sufficiency, but as a resurrected child, as holy in Jesus’ righteousness, as being accepted by the Father through our position in Christ. The moment you resign your will to him, the sacrifice has been made. It happens when you give up the struggle of trying to please God on your own. This act of faith is the “reasonable service” Paul refers to. It is all about trusting him with our will, believing he will provide all the blessings we need. And, as Tozer promised, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice – any choice will be the right one . . .”!
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