The other night I read this sentence in Thomas Oden’s book Classic Christianity:
“The Christian life requires simple surrender of the will to God on a continuing basis.”
There is so much in that one sentence–so much that is true. How will you possibly defeat sin, especially those sins that seem to have your number? (You know, the ones that are really hard for you to actually give up?)
Well, the only answer I have discovered is, one moment of temptation at a time.
How will you trust God, live for him, witness for Christ, know what to say, be led of God, love people, bear fruit, handle heart break, press on, and make it all the way to your death bed or Christ’s coming–having remained faithful? One moment, one decision, one prayer, one act of faith at a time. By the power of the Spirit. One moment of dependence on God, in which he meets you with his life and power and guidance, at a time.
Simple surrender of the will, on a continuing basis.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” That’s how Paul said it; and doesn’t that “day by day” also mean “moment by moment”?
I really think we need to constantly remind ourselves of this–or we will lose heart. And we need to constantly remind each other too. We need to be encouraging each other to press on. “He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Press on, friends. Don’t grow weary. Reaping time will be here soon.
And here is that quote from Oden, in its full context:
Faith requires a daily attitude of being yielded–a full readiness to respond to the promptings of grace by the Spirit. By this daily yielding, one is enabled to become more fully conformed to God’s will ‘that we may share in his holiness’ (Hebrews 12:10).
One may grow in yieldedness to grace by daily surrender and obedience. ‘Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God’ (Romans 8:12-14)
Under the tyranny of sin we were previously committing our bodies daily to a kind of ‘slavery to impurity and every kind of wickedness.’ Now that grace has come in Jesus Christ we are free to commit our bodies totally ‘to righteous leading to holiness’ (Romans 6:19).
The Christian life requires simple surrender of the will to God on a continuing basis (Matthew 6:10).
In proportion as God’s will is done in one’s life, one is walking in the way of holiness. In proportion as one is able honestly to say ‘Nevertheless not my will but thy will be done’ (Luke 22:42), just in that degree is one receptively cooperating with maturing grace.