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First Step Three, Then Step Four

Of the seven steps to living a fully surrendered life to God, perhaps none is more vital than the fourth— offering ourselves, specifically our bodies, as a living sacrifice to Him.  But this can only be accomplished after we have done the hard work of denying ourselves and dying to self, which was the point of the third step (Matt. 16:24).  Death and denial must take place before we present our bodies (flesh) to Him as an act of worship and sacrifice.  You will ultimately fail, horrendously, if you try to reverse the order.  We must have died to ourselves first in order to present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice.  Otherwise, we’re dealing with a two-headed monster.  And it ain’t pretty.  Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice means taking our body, our flesh, with all its desires and ambitions, and laying it down before God as an act of worship and submission to His Lordship.  And this, as they say, is where the men are separated from the boys.  It is not for the faint of heart.

To be more exact on what step four entails, Romans 12:1-2 reveals what we are to do to submit to Him and what He does for us in response to our submission.  What we give is all we are— and what we receive is all He is.  Pretty good exchange if you ask me.  We give Him rocks, and He gives us diamonds.  Not too shabby.  So read the passage slowly and take note of each word and promise.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – Romans 12:1-2.

Let’s look at this passage a little closer.

I beseech (urge, beg) you therefore, brethren, (on what basis) by the mercies of God, that you (our responsibility) present your bodies a (what) living sacrifice, (seen by God as) holy, acceptable to God, (and why should we do this) which is your reasonable service (based on the mercies of God).  And (implied, you) do not be conformed to this world, but (implied, you) be transformed by the renewing of your mind, (for what benefit) that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The essence of the surrendered life is knowing, for certain, the perfect will of God.  And this is the promise given to those who offer their bodies (flesh) to Him, unreservedly.


Why is this So Important… and Seem So Extreme?

Why is this so important?  Because our flesh is the source of so much pride, sin, and selfishness.  And therefore, our flesh has to die (see step three).  Our natural instincts are to gratify our own wants and needs first, before anything else, including God.  We are born self-centered creatures, seeking our own advancement and comfort above all else.  But God calls us to live differently, to put others before ourselves and seek His kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).  And this requires denying the flesh and crucifying it along with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).  In a word, we must die to self so that we can live fully to God.

And what do we do once we have denied and died to ourselves?  We offer ourselves, our bodies (flesh), the seat of our lust and sins, to the Lord as a living sacrifice and act of surrender.  But this surrender is more than just a mental acknowledgment or verbal profession.  It requires action.  So we demonstrate surrender by taking our body and making it a “living sacrifice”— by placing it on the altar before God to say, “I am no longer my own, but Yours to command and do with what You wish.”  Or, in the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).


Submit Each Member of Your Body to Him

This means consciously taking the members of your body— your eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet— and presenting them to God for His purposes instead of your own:

Eyes – Our eyes reveal much about what captures our attention and focus.  Are we looking at things that could lead us into lust, impurity, and sinful desire?  Or are we keeping our eyes fixed on the glory of God’s creation and His Word?  For instance, we can actively look away from provocative images online that could awaken wrong passions.  Instead, we can choose to focus our eyes on Scripture to meditate on God’s truth and see the hurting people around us who need Christ’s love.  Keeping our eyes on the Lord, and His purposes, helps us live surrendered lives.

Ears – What we tune our ears to also impacts our walk with God.  Are we quick to listen to edifying truth that builds us up spiritually?  Or do we give our ears freely to gossip, slander, and other vain talk that tears us and others down?  For example, we can get in the habit of listening to uplifting sermons or podcasts that teach Biblical truths rather than media hosts who angrily attack and slander others.  What we listen to is a choice each of us makes daily.  And as we submit our ears to wholesome speech and the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, we grow in living out the surrendered life in Him.

Mouth – Our mouth reveals the state of our heart, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).  Do our words bless others and build them up in Christ?  Or is our speech filled with words that drag people down?  We demonstrate surrender when we let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouth, but only what is helpful and aimed at God’s purposes (Eph. 4:29).  For instance, by God’s grace, we can speak words of love and encouragement to our spouse even when we feel irritable inside.  We can refuse to pass along juicy rumors that tickle our ears yet tear others down.  Our mouth becomes an instrument of worship when we praise God through song and prayer.  So, keeping a careful watch over what comes out of our mouths is a key aspect of living out a surrendered life.

Hands – Our hands can either be used for righteous purposes or defiled by sin.  It’s our choice to make.  Are we using our hands primarily to serve others and care for those in need?  Or are we defiling them through violence, immorality, greed, selfishness, and other wicked uses?  For example, we can use our hands to rock a crying baby at church to help relieve a tired mom.  Or God may call us to lay hands on the sick and pray for their healing and comfort.  The selfless use of our hands reveals a surrendered life, as we lift up the weary rather than promoting ourselves.

Feet – Where we go with our feet also speaks much about our walk with God.  Are we careful to avoid places and environments that could compromise our testimony or pull us into sin?  Do we allow the Lord to direct our steps to unexpected places and people who need His touch?  For instance, we demonstrate surrender by walking away when friends pressure us to do or say or participate in something we know is not of God.  Or God may lead our feet to go visit someone lonely and forgotten rather than just sticking to our normal routine.   We can choose to avoid settings like bars and casinos where temptation thrives.   As we kneel humbly before God and follow where He leads, our feet walk out true Christlike surrender.

In addition to our body, we must also sacrifice our mind.  This means bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  We must submit our intellect, opinions, reasoning, and logic to God’s truth found only in Scripture.  And when we align our thinking to His ways and wisdom by having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), we will cease rationalizing and justifying our sin and move on from spiritual lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16).

Living as a surrendered sacrifice also means sacrificing our rights— what we feel entitled to or think we deserve.  We must release our rights to God.  This may mean sacrificing sleep to pray for someone, or sacrificing our plans to serve a need, or sacrificing our ambitions that may conflict with God’s will.  The key to surrender is selfless sacrifice— the sacrifice of ourselves to Him and those He places in our path.

Most importantly, living a surrendered life means sacrificing our will and fully submitting to God’s will in all things.  Just as Jesus said, “Not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), we likewise must surrender our will to the Father’s purposes.  It means to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him as an act of worship, yielding everything to Him.


The Key is Consistency

The key is consistency— doing this daily as part of your time with God.  It is not a one-time event that lasts forever.  Start each morning by presenting yourself as a living sacrifice, saying: “Lord, my body and mind belong to You and not myself today.  Have Your way in me and lead me to walk and work for Your Kingdom this day.”  This keeps us surrendered to Him, moment by moment.

When done daily and consistently, this act of surrender will have a profound impact on your life.  It will lead you to freedom from sin, the power to resist temptation, the grace to endure trials, and a renewed purpose to live all out for Christ.  In essence, it allows you to experience the Higher Christian Life or the abundant life Jesus promised.

So what does this look like in real life?  Here are some examples:

•   A husband sacrifices his pride and humbly asks for forgiveness from his wife even when he thinks she may be overreacting.
•    A wife defers a purchase she wants to give the money to someone in need.
•    A teenager skips a party to visit an elderly neighbor who is lonely.
•    An executive passes up a promotion that would require unethical choices or extended travel away from his family.
•    A middle manager speaks up for an oppressed coworker rather than remaining silent, even if it reflects negatively on him with his superiors.
•    A parent lovingly disciplines a child rather than ignoring misbehavior.
•    A church member serves in the nursery to free up young parents, preferring others over themselves.
•    A retiree uses their time to volunteer and tutor underprivileged kids in the community.

In all things, we can pause and ask: “How can I present myself as a living sacrifice in this situation?  What does God want from me right now?”  Then respond in obedience and watch how lives, including your own, are transformed by your surrender.


Conclusion

Surrendering our entire self— body, mind, and will— runs countercultural in our world today.  We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us life is all about gratifying our desires, fulfilling our dreams, and asserting our rights.  But as followers of Jesus, we are called to a radical, revolutionary lifestyle of surrender and sacrifice.

It’s not easy to lay down our agendas and give up control to God.  But when we take this step of faith and make ourselves a living sacrifice, incredible things begin to happen.  We find freedom from sin’s grip.  Anxiety loosens its hold as we trust the One who holds our future.  The purpose in our life is renewed as we align it with eternal Kingdom priorities rather than running after temporary earthly goals.

And most of all, immense joy comes from following a God who is good, loving, and infinitely wise.  Surrender unlocks meaning, blessing, and spiritual power beyond what we could imagine.  The Christian life ceases to be dreary and dutiful when we experience the abundant new life Christ provides to those fully devoted to Him.  In other words, our spiritual life becomes something we always hoped it would become, but just didn’t know how to make it happen.

As we continue on this journey of surrender through these seven life-changing steps, may the promise of God’s faithfulness give us the courage to lay ourselves upon His altar each day.  The sacrifice costs us much, but what awaits on the other side is so much greater.  By His mercies, let us offer ourselves fully to God and have our lives transformed by Him.

So what are you waiting for?  Offer yourselves to Him today.


Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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