Who do we choose?
Sin and surrender have more in common than their first letter. Sin has at its core the stubborn resistance to surrender oneself to the authority and rule of God. Remember Adam and Eve?
We all have used the excuse, “the devil made me do it” but someone had to open the door and invite him in! As a child I accepted Jesus as my savior. I bought the fire insurance but lordship? That came much later in my adult life. After much sinning and denying Jesus’ rule in my life, I surrendered to His lordship. Thank God for His mercy and His glorious grace (Ep. 2:1-6).
Often time we fail to see the spiritual reality of two conflicting influences in this world—God and Satan. Each day we, unknowingly or knowingly, choose the one we will surrender to. We give them rule, control, and influence in our life. Paul makes clear this truth to the church at Rome (Rom. 6:16).
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
The surrendered life in Christ, is by far the best choice. But as Jesus cautioned, it is important that we consider the cost.
“Everyone need not apply!”
Jesus in His teaching on the cost of discipleship was brutally honest about His expectation of His followers. There was no mincing of words or changing of position to make the offer more appealing to His listeners (Matt. 16:24; Luke 14:33).
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
Deny or forsake? It’s still good-bye!
Intimate relations with Jesus require that we “deny self and forsake all”. Such was the case during His earthly ministry 2000 years ago. Jesus’ ministry continues today with us as His disciples. His expectations have not changed.
Deny has two meanings: (1) to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone and (2) to lose sight of oneself and own interests. Matthew uses the second definition to explain Jesus’ rebuke to would-be disciples unaware of the cost to follow Him.
Luke chose to express the same idea using the word forsake. To forsake adds further to the ideal of departure from one’s old self and habits. It means to renounce or bid farewell to.
As we deny our own interest and forsake our past self, we must also reject our love for this world—“the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). All these create within us a divided heart which cannot love Jesus well nor surrender to His leading.
The surrendered life
The world, Satan, and our flesh are not big on “denying or forsaking.” They encourage us to place our desires above the Lord’s. They deceive by whispering, “You can have it your way right now. Jesus can wait another day.” Jesus replies, “I am The Way” (John 14:6) and offers instead His love (John 3:16), salvation (Heb. 2:10), forgiveness (Ep. 1:7), freedom (Ps. 146:7), and peace (Col. 3:15).
The surrendered life in Christ results in great joy and wisdom. There is great confidence in knowing we have made the best choice in choosing “the Pearl of Great Price” (Matt. 13:46).