Surrender: Key To Obedience
DISCLAIMER: Acts 17:11.
Let’s ENGAGE with the WORD and with each other about the WORD.
SURRENDERING is the KEY to OBEDIENCE. This is so because in order for you to do what God wants (obey) you have to give-up your desires(surrender) and the below texts set to prove the validity of this statement by examining “surrender” & “obedience”, which in-turn will expose their relationship.
Formally defined, surrender is:
Verb: Stop resisting to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.
: Give Up/hand over a person, right or possession on compulsion or demand.
Noun: The action of surrendering to an opponent or powerful influence.
Resist: to oppose(withstand) the action or effect of someone/something.
Authority: The power to give orders, make decisions and enforce obedience.
Submit: to give over(yield) to the power or authority of another
Powerful: having great power or strength.
Full: Containing as many as possible; complete; not lacking anything.
Power: the ability to act in a particular way or do something.
: the ability to direct/influence the behaivour of others or course of events.
Ability: possession of the means/skill to do something.
Skill: the ability to do something well; expertise.
The laymen’s definition of surrendering, give up your power to someone, is true because in order to fulfil someone’s request you have to give-up your desires. And this cannot be further from the truth in a Christian context, as one has to give up their desires when embracing God’s desires. But why though? Why must I as a Christian give-up my desires for God’s desires and wants? The answer is found in the term CHRISTIAN. This is so because this term refers to an IDENTITY and when it’s used one is expected to display the traits associated with this identity. However, to comprehend this identity we need breakdown God’s purpose for his creation (humanity included) as well as his purpose for those that he has chosen in Christ. His purpose must shape our identity as much as the maker of the gadget you are reading this from determines the identity (name) and the use (purpose) of the gadget. The reality is that the shaping of our identity is largely determined by the extent to which we understand and appreciate God’s will and purposes. And there is no other place we can run to where God has revealed Himself and his purposes apart from his written Word (Scripture) and his living Word (Christ). These we run to mostly through reading & studying our Bibles, through prayer and fasting to name but a few. Below we turn to scripture to breakdown His will (salvation and many more):
In Gen1:26-27, God creates man in His image and likeness(character) making man the climax and the greatest of his creation. This means that man is different from other created things and beings as man resembles God in his ability to think, communicate, understand right and wrong, be creative, be relational with God and other man. In Isaiah 43:7 we learn that God’s goal in creating man is for man to glorify Him. However, due to Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:1-13) man has fallen short in glorifying God (Rom 3:23). This is bad news because that means humanity has been separated from God and that is what is meant by spiritual death because a holy God cannot commune with a sinful humanity. Moreover, because God is a just God, he has to punish sin and the wages of sin is death Rom 6:23 (eternal separation from God). The lack of understanding the abovementioned leads to the disregarding the essence of why the Gospel is good news. This is why it’s important to preach not only the love of God but his justice too because he is a God who punishes sin and does not leave sin unpunished.
However, the beauty of the Gospel is that God being rich in mercy does not leave fallen humanity in the condition it’s in which is sinful and destined for eternal condemnation. Instead, He provides a Saviour in the person of Christ Jesus and his finished work on the cross. Christ being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin Mary (Luke 1:35-38) means he does not inherit Adam’s sin. But instead, he lives a righteous and a perfect life to the glory of God the Father (John 17:4) a life we were destined to live because remember we were created for God’s glory (Gen1:26-27). Being a lamb without blemish, Jesus makes for a perfect sacrifice because for sin to be atoned for, God requires a perfect sacrifice. No wonder John the Baptist bore witness to Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This good news about what Christ has achieved demands a response, and as Jesus began his public ministry, he called for that response (Mark 1:15). Repentance from our sin and turning to Christ alone in faith means that our sin is atoned for and God imputes Christ’s righteousness on us (1 Corinthians 1:30; Acts2:38-39 & Rom10:9-10) such that God now treats us as if we lived Christ’s life. In Christ Jesus, we have been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The purpose of this new creation is what Paul alludes to in Ephesians 2:10 when he says “we are God’s handiwork, ‘created in Christ Jesus’ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” It is the same good works that we are created for that lead to God being glorified (1 Peter 2:12). We were created for God’s glory, and we’ve been made a new creation in Christ (hence CHRISTIAN, Christ- like) for God’s glory and it is through understanding this purpose that our identity (Gen1:26-27) is shaped and this is why we must surrender to God. Thus, the knowledge of the abovementioned is and must be the reason for wanting to give-up your desires for God’s desires.
Now it is very crucial to note that surrendering is not a once-off activity it is a daily battle between our old sinful nature and our new self-created in Christ Jesus. Though we have been made a new creation in Christ, in this side of eternity we still have our sinful nature living within us, but more important God’s Spirit lives in us and it is through him that we are conformed to the image of Christ each day. This does not mean you will not fail along the journey; in-fact one preacher defines Christianity as falling and rising all the way up to heaven. And so, surrender is an important aspect of our sanctification as it requires us to surrender our lives totally to God’s purposes. Now,
Sanctification is the working of the Holy Spirit to conform one’s character into the image of God (2Cor3:18). However, this does not excuse the believer form doing any work. In-fact it is because God is working in our lives that we are required to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:13). This does not mean we work for salvation; this simply means we participate in our sanctification because we have been saved. The battle of our faith is mostly fought in the mind, this process of sanctification requires from the believer the constant renewing of their mind with the word of God (Rom12:2) by always meditating on and being rooted in it (Joshua1:6-8; 1Kings2:1-3 & John15:1-8). Now you may ask: Why do I need to help God with this sanctification process after all He is all powerful? The reason why your input is required in the sanctification process is that your choices and actions reflect for the most part that you truly belong to God and your life is surrendered to him. That is the reality that James 2:17 presents to us when he says faith without works is dead. We are not saved by works, but we are saved for works and those that are in Christ are conformed to His image daily as they surrender to doing good works which God prepared beforehand that those that are in Christ must walk in them (Eph 3:10). Furthermore, our actions and choices have consequences and our obedience pleases God. This is because it is in our obedience that God is glorified. But that obedience is a result of a transformed and renewed mind through faith in Christ. Our obedience cannot go further than our theology (knowledge of God). Thus, there is a direct link between faith and practice as our actions and choices are influenced by what we know about God. That is why we constantly need to spend time with God so that our knowledge about Him and his purposes can shape our identity, which then will affect the decisions we make and then motivate us to surrender to God’s commands.
Now OBEDIENCE is doing what you are told to do. In Christian terms, obedience is largely spoken in reference to God thus obedience to God is doing everything he tells you to do. And everything thing He wants us to do is written in the Bible (2Tim3:16-17 & John1:1-5 &14). The reason why one should obey God is because of one’s Identity, which is Christian (Gen1:26-27; Acts2:38 & Rom8:9-17). Subsequently, this requires one to live out this identity as this is who they are and obeying God is the only way you can do so. However, failure to obey God results in one not being Christ-like in spirit (Luke8:21) thus meaning you are of Satan.
There are many reasons for obeying and benefits of obeying of Him. However, we will expound on a few:
- Obeying God validates our faith in other words our acts of obedience prove to the world that we are Christian, see James2:14-26. In this passage, God informs us that faith without deeds is dead. Now dead loosely translated means non-existent thus further meaning one never had faith in God from inception. Now on the other hand, “Deeds” translated means actions carried out intentionally. So, by carrying out these Godly deeds you are reflecting your identity which is of God’s nature (Gen1:26-27) and thus corroborating your faith in Jesus Christ.
- Furthermore, obeying God results in people coming to the faith(salvation) as they are not only hearing but also experiencing the word as it becomes tangible through your deeds (1Peter 2:12). Now people start having a tangible reference of God’s mercy, forgiveness and many more of his goodness. In short, our obedience to God is a ministry on its own.
- Also, obedience to God proves that we love Him. In other words, obeying God is the only way we can love Him (1Jhn5:1-3; 1Sam15:22-23&24-26). This is true because God is love and by obeying Him you are being like Him, which is love, as you are performing Godly deeds which reflect his identity and character.
So, in conclusion, it’s clear that there is a relationship between surrender and obedience, especially in a Christian context, which is of obedience being the tangible fruit of surrendering whilst surrender being the seed for obedience.