The Power of a Surrendered Life
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.
“Power belongs to God” (Psalm 62:11), but there is one condition on which that power is given to us. That condition is absolute surrender to Him. In Romans 6:13 we read: “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Again in Romans 6:22, we read: “Having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness and the end, everlasting life.” The great secret of blessedness and power is found in these verses.
“Present yourselves to God”- The whole secret is found in those words. The word translated “present” means “to put at one’s disposal.” Put yourself at God’s disposal is the thought. In other words surrender yourselves absolutely to God-become His property-allow Him to use you however He wills. This is the wise thing thing anyone can do for himself. It secures all the blessedness that is possible to man. Day by day, year by year, God’s blessings will be given to him in ever increasing measure.
If anyone asks, “What is the one thing I can do in order to discover everything that God has for me?” the answer is very simple: surrender absolutely to God. Say to Him, “Heavenly Father, from now on, I have no will of my own. Let your will be done in me, through me, by me, and regarding me, in all things. I put myself unreservedly in Your hands. Please do whatever You desire with me.”
Our great example, Christ Himself, has shown us the results of a fully surrendered life. Philippians chapter 2 provides this insight.
“Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”
In one of the translations it says, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…..” In other words, think as Christ thought. Let us see how this can bring us to a fruitful and God-pleasing life. First it says that though Christ was equal with God, He did not regard that equality as something to be grasped as if He were afraid of losing it. As we read of His life in the flesh, He constantly identified Himself as the Son of Man rather than the Son of God. As He worked the miracles, He drew no attention to Himself but pointed always to the Father. We will hear Him say, “Only what the Father gives me to say and only what He tells me to do will I say or do.” In another place He said, “Of my own self I can do nothing.” All that He did was to glorify and honor the Father. In John 17, that powerful priestly prayer, He declares that while on earth He had glorified the Father. Lesson one in the surrendered life is to learn to ask the question, “Father, am I bringing honor and glory to you by what I am saying, what I am doing, and how I am living?” We are not called to impress people nor to be impressive but to glorify God. Many good things are done without even once the thought of glorifying God occurs. Far too often like the Pharisee at the temple, we wish others to know how we are serving, giving, and working. Sometimes if someone is working in the kingdom of God and do not receive any recognition for their work by other humans they become offended, never realizing that if they have worked to honor and glorify God, He is the rewarder and when He comes we shall receive our reward.
Philippians says that Christ emptied Himself, temporarily giving up His outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity. The second secret to living a surrendered life is to empty ourselves. We then can find ourselves content to serve God without restraint, without need to receive accolades or even be recognized. Our reward is nothing more than the approval of God who one day will say, “Well done.” When self becomes less important, when working toward our own interest becomes diminished and when honoring God and glorifying Him on earth and in the church becomes our priority, our service to God and for God will become a delight and privilege. It will not matter if we have a title or if we are noticed and appreciated by others. We live only to please God and thus measure every action and every deed by that standard.
Now Paul in writing to us in Philippians tells us that after Christ emptied Himself of His position and person, He furthered humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the Father even to the death on the cross. We have read of Him in the Garden of Gethsemane praying the request to let the cup pass and then concluding that prayer with the words, “Nevertheless not my will but thine.” Here is the powerful secret of the surrendered life. It is ok to come before God and make your request for how you wish things to go or what you wish to do. God isn’t offended when we make such request. As a matter of fact we read that Christ Himself petitioned the Father three times to change the plan, yet on every occasion He sought the will of the Father over His own desires. Paul writes of petitioning God to remove the thorn in the flesh three times only to be told instead he would be given sufficient grace. He accepts that decision of God and responds by saying:
So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].
2 Corinthians 12:10
He understood that a surrendered life, completely dependent on God was truly the best life for instead of drawing on his strength, he now drew on Gods infinite strength.
Like Christ and Paul, we may find that to surrender isn’t easy and may require a lot of prayer. But I can assure you that it is the best life. Somehow even when God asks the difficult things, we find great joy and satisfaction in pleasing God. His approval seems to be more than sufficient.
The benefits of a surrendered life are immeasurable and we could never properly address them all, but I want to share a few.
The surrendered life opens us up to the knowledge of God. Torrey says, “Knowledge of the truth comes with the surrender of the will. Surrendering to Him opens our eyes to the light that He Himself is. It brings us at once in harmony with all truth.”
The next result is power in prayer.
1 John 3:22 says
“and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].”
It is important to recognize the condition upon which “we receive from Him whatever we ask.” The condition is that we “keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” In other words we live the surrendered life and God gives us our requests because we have first sought His will and our asking is according to His will.
The next benefit of the surrendered life is overflowing joy. Jesus found joy even in the cross as He completely surrendered His will for the joy of pleasing the Father eclipsed the suffering He was enduring. Torrey says, “The only way to find fullness of joy is through complete, unconditional surrender to God. There is no great joy in a half-hearted Christian life. Many Christians have just enough religion to make them miserable. They can no longer enjoy the world, and they have not yet entered the joy of the Lord. That is an unhappy place to be. The only way out is simple, absolute surrender to God.”
Two more benefits of the surrendered life are that Christ is manifested to us and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. At the Last Supper, Jesus said to His disciples:
“21 The person who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him [I will make Myself real to him].”
In other words, the one who surrenders his life to me I will reveal myself to. In John 20:20 we read, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” Torrey says, “You will be glad also, when you see the Lord. And you will see Him when you go to Him and say, ‘I surrender my life completely to You. Please manifest Yourself to me, according to your promise.’”
To receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit requires the fully surrendered life. There cannot be the fullness of the Spirit until we are emptied of self. The measure of the fullness of the Spirit is in direct proportion to the measure of surrender of self. Christ, who emptied Himself received the full measure of the Holy Spirit. The believers in the upper room emptied themselves and received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Yet we read that after that experience there were other occasions in which they were filled again by the Spirit. I think we can conclude for us that there must be a continuous emptying and a continuous refilling. Surrendering is a constant thing for self wishes to rise up an occupy our hearts again and again.
May we as believers strive to live a surrendered life to God. Do you see now how that the power of God is released through the Word, through the Blood, through the Holy Spirit and through the Surrendered Life? When you see the power of God in each of these, can you imagine the measure of that power in the combination of all these? May God grant us to experience such measure of His power working in us and through us.
Dr. John Thompson