4. Surrender to the Power of God
At first glance, it would seem that to submit to the strength and power of God is something that everyone would gladly do. As Paul expresses it, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). On the contrary, man rebels against accepting his weakness or insufficiency. However, even if you acknowledge failures of the past, you will not necessarily acknowledge your inability to please God in the future. Man tends to feel that since he understands the reason for past failures, he can now do better. He tends to seek the answer to his sinfulness in two ways–to repent for past sins and to retain confidence in himself not to repeat past sins. He tends to retain his faith in self-discipline, willpower, training, self-sacrifice, and the like.
The tendency is to treat people as they deserve to be treated, rather than as they should be treated. To surrender to God implies a lifetime study of His will for every detail of your life. It means recognizing your inability to do His will apart from His power and your need to submit to Him daily for His power. To quote Paul further:
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7; compare also vv. 8-10).
Note three basic truths in these verses: (a) Christ is the treasure; (b) the earthen vessels are our bodies; (c) the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us. Therefore, this treasure is from God, and we experience the power of God in our lives as we recognize its source and submit to Him who gives it.
Yes, the power to please God comes from God. Paul says of the Lord Jesus:
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.'” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
The apostle’s prayer for the Colossians was that they “will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously” (Colossians 1:10-11). Note Romans 15:13; Job 34:29; Isaiah 32:17; 26:3; Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 1:2-7.
Again, turning to Romans 7:24-8:4, we read:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! …
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
To surrender to God is to seek His power in order to react to life as He would have you to–to want His comfort in tribulation (2 Corinthians 1:2-4) ; to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44); to be “kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).
One day the wife of a devout, dedicated young Christian man left him. There had been strains in the marriage, but this move surprised and hurt him. He was very unhappy over it. He lost interest in his business, had trouble sleeping, didn’t care what or when he ate, and was bitter toward his wife. His statement was that his first concern was to do God’s will. He would be most happy to see wherein he was out of God’s will.
It is God’s will that whatever we do, we do it heartily, as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Yet this young man was letting his business run down. It is God’s will that we go to Him for peace and comfort in all our tribulations. This man explained that it was hard to find comfort and peace in his circumstances. Is it too hard for God to give him peace and comfort? Granted that his wife had left him. Will not God provide comfort and peace under such circumstances? Is this too hard for God?
Here is a man who speaks in very general terms of surrendering his life to God, but he fails to bring the details and circumstances of his life to God. In a sense, he is dissatisfied with what God has allowed and doesn’t want to be happy.
To surrender to God involves both a crisis and a daily process. There needs to be a clear, definite yielding of one’s self completely to God, followed by day-by-day experience of that surrender. Note Paul’s word in Romans 6:13: “… present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” And again, in Romans 12:1-2: “… present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice … [and] be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What do these passages mean? Simply this: that we are to give ourselves–body, mind, and soul–unreservedly to God. This is a matter of the will. Are you willing? Then how is this to be accomplished?
Again the Word of God is clear about this matter. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit. We must not only thank God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (John 14:16-17; Romans 8:9), but we must heed the command of the Word that we are to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, emphasis added). Here is the secret of God’s power–the Holy Spirit expressing Himself through us! He works in us only as we let Him. This is the very reason that Paul has said, “Yield yourselves unto God” (Romans 6:13). The yielded life is the life of peace and victory.
Now one further thought: the Holy Spirit is a Person–One of the Godhead (Acts 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 13:14). As a Person, He can be grieved or pleased; rebuffed or obeyed; ignored or acknowledged. As one of God’s children, you are to be the vessel through whom He works. He will produce in you and through you His fruit–if you permit Him to do so.
A young woman was married to a man who refused to give her spending money. This disturbed her to the extent that she was always feeling sorry for herself and angry with her husband. She went to an older woman in the church who was known to be a calm, peaceful soul. The older woman said to the younger one: “Let me tell you my story. My husband keeps all the money. He rules me with an iron hand. I never can express my opinion. Now that the children are married, he gives all his time to them and has no room for me in his life. This has gone on for thirty years. It will probably go on as long as I live. All these years I have prayed daily for patience and every day God answers my prayer.”
Yes, to surrender to God is to bring each circumstance of life to Him and receive from Him the strength to face it by His Spirit. It is one thing to make a broad, thoughtless statement that you will submit to God, and another thing to surrender each detail of life to Him.
When you are impatient, you lack patience; when you are unhappy, you lack joy; when you are tense and anxious, you lack peace. You must continuously go to the Source of supply. Comfort, mercy, grace, peace, joy, patience, long-suffering with joyfulness will be yours only when you recognize that you lack them and when you let God give them to you.
Just as you need your food and water supply daily, so also you need your supply of joy, peace, and other spiritual qualities daily. Read Psalm 103:5; 2 Corinthians 4:16. Ten years from now you will still need to draw your strength and power from God just as you will need to eat food and drink water.
To understand this and to act accordingly is the key to a life that will enable you to love your neighbor as yourself and to do it consistently.