"Yield yourselves unto God." Romans 6: 13
"Present your bodies...unto God." Romans 12: 1
"They first gave their own selves unto the Lord." 2 Corinthians 8: 5
"That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." I Peter 4: 2
What is the Surrendered Life? Or, rather, what is the act of surrender which opens the portals of the life of surrender, of consecration to God? The Scriptures quoted at the head of this article clearly and explicitly answer this query. Surrender, or consecration, is the voluntary offering of ourselves unto God to do His will instead of our own. Mark the terms, for each is significant, and all are simply gathered from the body of the texts quoted. A voluntary offering; ("yield;" "present;" "gave") of ourselves ("yourselves;" "your bodies;" "their own selves") unto God; ("unto God;" "unto the Lord") "to do His will, instead of our own." I Peter 4: 2. It is thus:
I. An Offering
The word consecrate means "to fill the hand." Just as the Jewish worshipper filled his hand with the best, richest, and choicest of his own, and brought it as an offering to the Lord, so is the redeemed child of God to offer himself to God as the highest expression of grateful worship he can possibly make to the Lord who has redeemed him. In the bygone days, when men were sold as chattels, a trembling slave stood upon the auction block awaiting the result of the last bid which was to separate him from wife, children, and all that was dear to him in his life of bondage on the old plantation. Higher and higher rose the bidding until at last it ceased, and the hammer of the auctioneer fell. A gentleman stepped up to the fettered slave and quickly said: "My man, I have bought you." "Yes, Massa," was the subdued response. "I have bought you at a great price." The bondman nodded a tearful assent. "But more than this," continued the purchaser, "I have bought you to set you free," and striking off his bonds he said, "Go. You are a free man." Thereupon, falling at the feet of his deliverer the overjoyed freedman cried out, "Oh, Massa! I am your slave forever!" Even so, redeemed one, is our Christ, who bought us with His own precious blood, waiting for us to fall at His feet and offer Him the life which He has purchased and set free. Thus does Paul, once the bond-slave of sin, now rejoice to call himself "the (voluntary) bond-slave of Jesus Christ." Very beautifully is the same truth set forth in our Lord's offering of Himself to do the will of the Father. The passage (Heb. 10: 5) in which He speaks of offering His body to the Father, even unto its cruel piercing on the cross, is quoted, from Ps. 40: 6. There the striking phrase for "a body didst thou prepare me," is "mine ear hast thou opened (or bored)." When a slave who had become free wished to remain a voluntary bondman in the house of the master he had come to love, he stood by the door-post while the master pierced his ear with an awl. Ever after the pierced ear marked him as one who, though entitled to freedom, had joyfully yielded himself to the loved master as a willing slave for life. The Holy Spirit uses this figure as a vivid picture of the absolute and loving submission to the will of Father of Him who said of Himself "I am come down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me," and "I am among you as he that serveth." Even thus would God have us, who are all "Sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus," offer ourselves in glad surrender to the Father.
Nor need any humble soul who has so offered himself to God ever doubt that he belongs to God. For all His children belong to Him before they offer themselves to Him. Consecration does not confer ownership, it presumes it. It is not in order to be His, but because we are His, that we yield up our lives. It is purchase that gives title; delivery simply gives possession. The question is not, "Do I belong to God?" but "Have I yielded to God that which already belongs to Him?" Writing once to a friend concerning this point, as to whether one surrendering to God could without doubt say, "I am thine," there came back this luminous statement: "You are God's already by purchase; now deliver the goods. How true, how simple. "Ye are Not your own." Why? Because "ye are bought." The text shows us clearly that the title to our lives is with God; the possession is with us. The offering to God is thus simply giving to God that which already belongs to Him by right of purchase. Wherefore we need never have any fear of non-acceptance; never any doubt that we are His. That was settled when He purchased us; yea "before the foundation of the world" He chose us in Christ Jesus. The question is, have we yielded possession, have we delivered the goods? You go to a jeweler and buy a costly diamond, paying him for it, and leaving it in his possession to be called for later. The next day when you call he refuses to deliver it. By law you are its rightful owner, but he unjustly keeps you out of possession. Even so God in His love rifled heaven of its rarest treasure to purchase us, yet we may refuse to yield Him the life so ransomed. And this brings us to the next thought, that surrender is:
II. A Voluntary Offering.
There is a threshold which God will not cross: human responsibility. He will press to its utmost verge to plead, woo, yea, even weep at the door of the heart that is refusing Him full possession; but He will never force an entrance. The most solemn thought about the offering of the life is that when the Holy Spirit has done His work of convincing us of God's call to it, He leaves it with us to yield or not to yield. Even while the very Christ of love stands and pleads for our lives, saying, "How often would I," it may be said of us, "but ye would not." Into that marred visage we may look and say "Yea, Lord, I know that Thou hast bought me at an awful cost; I know I am Thine by the highest and holiest claim that can be urged upon me, but I am busily engrossed in my own worldly plans, pleasures, and ambitions, and I do not care to yield my life to Thee!"
In I Samuel 10: :27, we read concerning king Saul, that "the children of Belial despised him and brought him no presents. But he held his peace." So our King left His throne in the heavens, took upon Himself the form of a servant, and died a death of agony and shame that we might be exalted to share His eternal glory. Yet we may in effect despise Him, and refuse to bring Him that gift of all gifts for which His heart is yearning--the gift of ourselves. Withal He will not coerce us; He does not clamor against us. He simply holds His peace. And why? Because love expects a voluntary return from the dearest object of its suffering and sacrifice, and when none is given, love in grieved and wounded silence holds its peace. Look not, unyielding one, for the Christ to cry out against you; to upbraid and reproach you; to vehemently command you to this step. The very delicacy of love forbids it. What wife who truly loves, after that she has toiled, and suffered, and sacrificed, and poured out her very heart's blood for him whom she loves, would not shrink from the thought of extorting a response to her devotion by commands, censure, hints and reproaches? The quick instinct of love looks for a spontaneous and voluntary response, and will grieve in silence rather than attempt to force it. What fragrance is to the rose, color to the sunset sky, spotlessness to the snow, voluntariness is to the surrender of the life. The very fragrance and sweet savor of Christ's sacrifice is that it was the free-will offering of love. He looks for the same from us. This is why the Word of God is not filled with command to yield the life. This is why, when Christ speaks, He cries, "I beseech you, brethren." It is love that is speaking. And every page that is crimsoned with His blood; every verse that tells of His sufferings; every line that chronicles His sacrifice, is love speaking to us. If these waken in us no response, then our King, is silent. For love would rather hold its peace than extort the response which the vision alone of its suffering and sacrifice should quickly prompt. Furthermore, surrender is:
III. The Voluntary Offering of Ourselves.
It is ourselves that God wants. No gift of money, time, service or talents will meet the yearning of His heart for ourselves. For God is love, and love would above all things have the heart. Thus surrender is a transaction between Redeemer and redeemed, and whatsoever falls short of the sacred gift of a yielded heart falls short of all. There is that in the heart of the poorest and most degraded which shrinks from money when it needs love. How much more so with the Lover of our souls. Silver and gold, time and talents, ministry and service, are acceptable to God as an accompaniment of surrender, but never as an evasion of it. There are those who will give wealth, time and effort, but who in their secret hearts have never yet yielded themselves to God. When in the silence and secrecy of their own communion with God, this issue rises before them they tremble and grow pale, and shrink back from this definite transaction with God. And yet if God is to be all to us, we must yield all to Him. Never can that confidential relationship between the Redeemer and His redeemed, which is the highest blessedness of the believer's life, be established until we give ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us. Without this yielding of ourselves to Him we have not, in the profound sense of the word, received Him as Lord, even though we know Him as Savior. Have we ever pondered this distinction? Paul calls Him "Jesus Christ our LORD." "Jesus" we know. "They shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." "Jesus; Savior." How much the word means! "He has saved us from the guilt of sin; He is saving us from the power of sin; He will save us from the presence of sin." We know the peace of remitted sin; we know the victory over defeated sin; we shall someday know the glory of vanished sin. As Savior we know whom we believe, and know that He is able to save unto the uttermost all them that draw near to God through Him. As Savior He never fails in time of need, has never lost a battle for the weakest soul who puts his trust in Him. However fierce the temptation to those who trust Him, He will always "with the temptation make a way of escape." Verily we rejoice in Him first of all as Jesus! So also do we know Him as Christ the Anointed One. For He has anointed us with His own Holy Spirit. And the anointing which we have received of Him abideth, and we need not that any man teach us. That Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, dwells within us. He comforts; He guides; He gives love, joy and peace; He purifies; He reveals the things of Christ; He makes us like Christ; He will unveil in us the very glory of Christ. But this Son of God whom we confess as our Savior, and joy in as our Anointer, do we also receive as our Lord (for LORD means Master), owner and proprietor of ourselves absolutely and forever, by right of redemption?
Beloved, is Jesus Christ Our LORD, in the fullest sweep of the term? Have we gladly yielded to Him the mastership of ourselves, our lives, our all? Or, have we accepted the privileges of redemption, in salvation and anointing, without acknowledging the claim of redemption, namely, mastership and lordship? Is He master of ourselves, our gold and silver, our affections, thoughts, time, talents? How can any one in this respect call Jesus Lord, save by the Spirit? Beloved, does that Spirit which witnesses to you of remission of sins, and sealing of the Spirit, also bear witness with exultant joy to the acknowledged ownership, the absolute, undisputed mastership of Jesus Christ as Lord of your life? "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" When Mary said "They have taken away my Lord"; when Thomas at the vision of His wounds cried out "My Lord!"; when in the gray dawn by the sea the disciples whispered "It is the Lord"; that word "Lord" was fraught with a significance which does not seem to be wrought into the fabric of our lives as it was in theirs. He was "the Master" to them by their own glad, grateful, voluntary choice. They crowned Him Lord of all, not merely in a flight of song, or a burst of sentiment, or in a moment of transient emotion. The master passion of their lives was to be wholly for Him who had given up all for them. They were in blood earnest in their dedication to Him. The scene in Acts 2: 44, 45, enigma as it is to an undedicated life, glows with the splendor of the very presence of Him who was so literally crowned as Lord of all, that in that remarkable multitude "neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own"! Beloved, is Jesus Christ, not only your Savior, your Christ, but also your LORD?
IV. The Voluntary Offering of Ourselves unto God.
Not to a calling, a field, an occupation, or a principle, but to God. We do well to note this. For with many the thought of the yielded life is always linked with the mission field, the Gospel ministry, or some other special form of service. Immediately that the claim of Christ upon the life is pressed home there comes up the test, "Can I preach the Gospel, or can I go to China, or India, or Africa?" Now God does not call us to surrender to a field or a calling, but to yield ourselves in blank to Him. The real issue, is not will I go to Africa, but do I trust God enough to place my life in His hands without regard to the particular place or form of service in which He may desire it. Paul says of the Macedonians that "They first gave their own selves unto the Lord, and then unto us by the will of God." (2: Cor. 8: 5.) That is, having settled in their own minds that they could "trust the Man who had died for them" and that His will was the best thing in the universe for them, they first gave themselves without reserve to Him. Thus yielding to God, the Holy Ghost, filling them with Himself, filled them with a glad and willing obedience to the particular acts of service or sacrifice which God, in His will, had for them. "First, . . . unto God; then unto us by the will of God." This is the divine order. The real battle is fought over this. "First, . . . unto GOD." The real victory is to trust His will without regard to what His will may be or where His will may lead; to yield ourselves to God, rather than to struggle to go to the foreign mission field against an unyielding will. When the struggle to give ourselves wholly unto God is settled then the battle is won. For the Holy Spirit fills the wholly yielded life with such a glad spirit of obedience as to make the after-doing of God's special will for us the joy and delight of our life. The true missionary, once yielded to God, goes to his field not with doubt and reluctance, but with unspeakable gladness, born of a free-will service to the God whose he is and whom he serves. Wherefore when such tests as above enter into the arena of our struggle to yield to God, let us meet them by saying, "Lord, I give myself wholly to Thee, to do all Thy will, and if this be Thine after-will for me, Thou wilt give me grace to do it with joy when that time comes." The grace to do some special act of God's will comes abundantly to him who has yielded himself to do all of that will. And this brings us easily and naturally to the last thought in the definition of surrender, that it is:
V. The Voluntary Offering of Ourselves unto God to do His Will, Instead of our Own.
This is the supreme aim and purpose of the yielded life. The will of the flesh and the will of God are in discord. Fallen man is in rebellion against the perfect will of God. The redemption of Jesus Christ would bring him back into perfect accord with that will, and looks forward to the day when that will shall be done as perfectly in a redeemed earth as now in heaven. Wherefore to do the will of God, and no longer do the will of the flesh, is the only attitude the child of God, who is to find joy in that will through all eternity, can possibly take in the fleeting years of his pilgrimage on earth. Surrender is simply the voluntary act which places him now in that attitude. Such surrender is not an act of merit or self-righteousness by which the yielded life wins or deserves more from God than the unyielded one. But that surrender is predicated upon the manifested fact that the God of all grace, eager to carry out His perfect will in the life of His every child, can do so only as that life is yielded to Him, His all-wise dealings in it, and His glorious purposes for it.
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