In Part 1 of this message, I mentioned some of the most prominent fruits of the unsurrendered and of the surrendered life. So, I ask again, where do you stand today in following Christ? Have you completely surrendered your life to Christ, or are you still holding on to some things and refusing to let go of them even if you know they are the very things which are blocking you from the wondrous blessings of God?
My child in the Lord, if you have not completely surrendered your life to your Savior, you will find that certain troubles – certain sins and weaknesses, certain entrapping circumstances – continuing to afflict you mercilessly and prevent you from total peace of mind. All your pleas to God to release you from this prison of afflictions are not to make any difference to your life if you have not made an unconditional surrender. If you are facing serious persistent troubles in your life that never seem to go away, no matter how much you prayed to your Deliverer, then it is only because you want God to deliver while you are still wanting to hold on to something in your life that is detestable to him.
What is keeping you from the peace of Christ? What is that secret sin you may be committing regularly, even though you know in your heart that it is not pleasing to God. Is it pornography that you are secretly watching? Is it a drinking or gambling addiction? Is it stealing from your company, or some other form of dishonesty? Is it fornication or adultery or homosexuality, or some other sexual sin? Many Christians do not indulge in deviate acts in practice but they indulge in them to the full perverted extent in their imaginations. In God’s sight, a person who never commits adultery or any other sin in physical act but entertains it in his thoughts, is just as sinful as the one who practices it outwardly. Is it resentment in your heart toward someone who has done you a great wrong? Or covetousness, which means desiring something that you are not legitimately supposed to desire – perhaps someone else’s property, or his business, or, perhaps, even his wife? Perhaps you are obsessed with making money or becoming successful, which when done without first surrendering your life to God, becomes idolatry? What is the accursed thing in your life that is preventing God from releasing you from your trouble?
Whatever it may be, your God and Savior has only one desire in you: ‘Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings’.
Once you make up your mind to put away that hidden evil, the full force of the Omnipotent Power is released to enable you to surrender it and follow Christ. If you have tried to give it up in the past and could not, there is a definite reason. Here, let me now reproduce for your encouragement one of the greatest insights on dealing with a sinful thing in your life. It’s a passage from the book ‘The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life’, by Hannah Whitall Smith. This is a book which every person desiring to live the abundant life of Christ should read. It is available free online, and you may find it by writing that title in your search engine. But here I want to give you an extract from that book relating to the subject I am sharing with you.
‘And now, having shown the way of deliverance from failure, I want to say a little as to the causes of failure in this life of full salvation. The causes do not lie in the strength of the temptation nor in our own weakness, nor, above all, in any lack in the power or willingness of our Savior to save us. The promise to Israel was positive, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life”. And the promise to us is equally positive. “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it.”
‘The men of Ai were ‘but few’, and yet the people who had conquered the mighty Jericho ‘fled before the men of Ai’. It was not the strength of their enemy, neither had God failed them. The cause of their defeat lay somewhere else, and the Lord Himself declares it, “Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them; for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs upon their enemies”. It was a hidden evil that conquered them. Deep down under the earth, in an obscure tent in that vast army, was hidden something against which God had a controversy, and this little hidden thing made the whole army helpless before their enemies. “There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel; thou canst not stand before thine enemies until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.”
‘The teaching here is simply this, that anything allowed in the heart which is contrary to the will of God, let it seem ever so insignificant, or be ever so deeply hidden, will cause us to fall before our enemies. Any root of bitterness cherished towards another, any self-seeking and harsh judgments indulged in, any slackness in obeying the voice of the Lord, any doubtful habits or surroundings, any one of these things will effectually cripple and paralyze our spiritual life. We may have hidden the evil in the most remote corner of our hearts, and may have covered it over from our sight, refusing even to recognize its existence, of which, however, we cannot help being all the time secretly aware. We may steadily ignore it, and persist in declarations of consecration and full trust, we may be more earnest than ever in our religious duties, and have the eyes of our understanding opened more and more to the truth and the beauty of the life and walk of faith. We may seem to ourselves and to others to have reached an almost impregnable position of victory, and yet we may find ourselves suffering bitter defeats. We may wonder, and question, and despair, and pray; nothing will do any good until the accursed thing is dug up from its hiding-place, brought out to the light, and laid before God. And the moment a believer who is walking in this interior life meets with a defeat, he must at once seek for the cause not in the strength of that particular enemy, but in something behind, some hidden want of consecration lying at the very centre of his being. Just as a headache is not the disease itself, but only a symptom of a disease situated in some other part of the body, so the sin in such a Christian is only the symptom of an evil hidden probably in a very different part of his being.
‘Sometimes the evil may be hidden even in that, which at a cursory glance, would look like good. Beneath apparent zeal for the truth, may be hidden a judging spirit, or a subtle leaning to our own understanding. Beneath apparent Christian faithfulness, may be hidden an absence of Christian love. Beneath an apparently rightful care for our affairs, may be hidden a great want of trust in God. I believe our blessed Guide, the indwelling Holy Spirit, is always secretly discovering these things to us by continual little twinges and pangs of conscience, so that we are left without excuse.
‘But it is very easy to disregard His gentle voice, and insist upon it to ourselves that all is right; and thus the fatal evil will continue hidden in our midst causing defeat in most unexpected quarters.
‘A capital illustration of this occurred to me once in my housekeeping. I had moved into a new house and, in looking over it to see if it was all ready for occupancy, I noticed in the cellar a very clean-looking cider-cask headed up at both ends. I debated with myself whether I should have it taken out of the cellar and opened to see what was in it, but concluded, as it seemed empty and looked nice, to leave it undisturbed, especially as it would have been quite a piece of work to get it up the stairs. I did not feel quite easy, but reasoned away my scruples and left it. Every spring and fall, when house-cleaning time came on, I would remember that cask, with a little twinge of my housewifely conscience, feeling that I could not quite rest in the thought of a perfectly cleaned house, while it remained unopened, for how did I know but under its fair exterior it contained some hidden evil. Still I managed to quiet my scruples on the subject, thinking always of the trouble it would involve to investigate it; and for two or three years the innocent-looking cask stood quietly in my cellar.
‘Then, most unaccountably, moths began to fill my house. I used every possible precaution against them, and made every effort to eradicate them, but in vain. They increased rapidly and threatened to ruin everything I had. I suspected my carpets as being the cause, and subjected them to a thorough cleaning. I suspected my furniture, and had it newly upholstered. I suspected all sorts of impossible things. At last the thought of the cask flashed on me. At once I had it brought up out of the cellar and the head knocked in, and I think it is safe to say that thousands of moths poured out. The previous occupant of the house must have headed it up with something in it which bred moths, and this was the cause of all my trouble.
‘Now I believe that, in the same way, some innocent-looking habit or indulgence, some apparently unimportant and safe thing, about which we yet have now and then little twinges of conscience, something which is not brought out fairly into the light, and investigated under the searching eye of God, lies at the root of most of the failure in this higher life. All is not given up. Some secret corner is kept locked against the entrance of the Lord. And therefore we cannot stand before our enemies, but find ourselves smitten down in their presence.
‘In order to prevent failure, or to discover its cause if we have failed, it is necessary that we should keep continually before us this prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.
‘Finally, let us never forget for one moment, no matter how often we may fail, that the Lord Jesus is able, according to the declaration concerning Him, to deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, that we may “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life”.’
But it is very easy to disregard His gentle voice, and insist upon it to ourselves that all is right; and thus the fatal evil will continue hidden in our midst causing defeat in most unexpected quarters.
You may have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, and may be sincerely striving to live a life fully pleasing to him, but at the same time there may be some or many troubles that have been clinging to your life for a long time, which, no matter how sincerely and earnestly you wish to be released from, refuse to leave you. Then, very likely, there is a detestable thing in the sight of God that you are keeping hidden in your heart. And he is not going to lift even his little finger to release you from your persistent problems until you surrender that habit or obsession or whatever that accursed thing may be.
Oh, it may not look that detestable at all to your sight. Perhaps it is just a harmless habit of taking in a few puffs of a cigarette after an enjoyable meal. Or, as was my case, taking some chilled beer in moderation on hot weekend afternoons only. What’s the big deal in having a couple of chilled Carlsberg cans, anyway? Not a big deal for most people. And I reasoned that the Bible does not actually prohibit drinking in moderation – despite what the pentecostals think. And besides, Jesus drank wine so often he gained some notoriety as a winebibber among the teetotaling Pharisees (Luke 7:34). All true…except that in my specific case I knew deep in my soul that alcohol even in Godly moderation was an unbeneficial habit for me. Alcohol, even in ‘safe’ quantity, produced subtle psychological changes in my thought processes. I was aware of the slight changes in the kind of feelings and imaginations I had when there was alcohol in my blood. But I kept on this seemingly harmless habit for years, using my logical reasoning and the Biblical sanction for doing so. Again and again, God warned me through my conscience that if I don’t stop this habit it could become an unshakeable addiction, or cause me to speak and act in a way I wouldnt when my body is totally alcohol-free, or even lead me to a sinful act.
Let me be more specific. Often when I took alcohol during a social function or even when fellowsipping with my Christian friends, including pastors, I would tend to speak words that I wouldn’t speak when there was no trace of the spirit in my body. Then when I slept that night, strange and disturbing dreams took over my reposing mind. I was finally convinced that drink – even in moderation – was having a reaction in me that it did not in my fellow Christian winebibbers. Now that realization came several years before I actually gave up the drinking habit. For several years after this conviction, I kept postponing stopping this habit, which subtly grew to become an accursed thing in my life. And my spiritual troubles grew, along with a host of physical, mental and financial woes. I realized with horror that I had become an addict and I just couldn’t stop this habit no matter how hard I struggled to free myself from it – and I had always been absolutely sure I could stop it anytime if I really wanted to. It took me some painful years of fervent beseeching God to enable me to break free from this enslaving spirit of alcohol before God finally gave me the strength to cast off this accursed thing completely from my life.
What is it that is preventing your release from whatever has been afflicting you for long? If you are not sure, go on your knees, and pray like David did, ‘Lord, look deep into my heart, and see if there is any little accursed thing that is offending you, and show me what that is’.
Once you are convinced there is something hidden in your life, or something obvious which you are postponing giving up, then act immediately without a moment’s delay. Make a firm decision then and there to give it up. That is the point you begin to cross the Jordan. Now there is no more turning back. You will soon reach the other side of the great river of your life and be fully liberated. The crossing may take a while, perhaps a few days, a few weeks, a few months, perhaps even a few years in some extreme cases, but the victory is sure. God’s release begins the moment you put your feet into the waters of the transition to the new life.
Hear what Oswald Chambers says to all people of God:
‘But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide – for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.’
Don’t slacken on your determination to remove that accursed thing. Even if you fall several times during the crossing, do not lie in the waters but get up quickly and keep going. Even if you fall 70 times 7 in a day while crossing the Jordan of your life, God encourages you to get up and get going (Matthew 18:22). The devil will howl at you that it is in vain and you can never give his accursed gift back to him and that you have to carry it with you to your grave. Tell him that your Savior has already carried it to his grave with him and you have been forever released by his blood. You say exactly that to the Great Discourager each time you fall, my child, and see how he flees with his tail (if he has one) flung between his legs at the mention of Christ’s blood.
If you continue to hold on to what you know you have to surrender, God is not going to give up on you. He is even ready to afflict you 2 or 3 times more, if necessary, until you surrender to him unconditionally.
‘Behold, God works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.’ Job 33:29-30
Why prolong your suffering and continue your bondage to sin? Surrender absolutely the first time itself, and enjoy your liberation earlier.
Once you have surrendered unconditionally, you have passed the greatest test in your life, and thereafter any trials are just minor finishing touches to your life. This is the point where God releases you from his seemingly heavy grip on your life. Actually it is not God who is keeping captive those who refuse to surrender unconditionally to him, but that great Kidnapper who snares God’s people to make them do his will, not God’s will (2 Timothy 2:26).
When you surrender your life to God without holding on to any accursed object in your thoughts or acts, he immediately liberates you through his Son Jesus Christ.
‘Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’ John 8:36
‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.’ Galatians 5:1
If today through this message our heavenly Father is calling you to surrender your life to his Son Jesus, then, chosen child of God, don’t postpone your decision for another day. That’s exactly what the Enemy wants you to do – postpone your decision – so this message will lose its impact in your consciousness as you go about the cares and chores of your daily life. The seed of understanding you have received today may either be plucked away from you as soon as you finish reading this message and get up to do something else, or it may last for a few hours or days and then be forgotten, or it may from today start to bear fruit in your life (read the parable in Luke 8:5-18). It all depends on how fervently you desire and decide today to surrender your life unconditionally to God.
‘Therefore take heed how you hear.’ Luke 8:18
Lord God, bless this son or daughter of yours who has read this message! Amen.