Why Is Surrendering Our Lives and Making a Commitment to God Important?

"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.”

Romans 12:1 NKJV

“God desires to heal us, to set us free [from the tyranny of our ego and the bondage of sin]. But since this requires an entire transformation, a renewing of our whole nature, we must yield ourselves wholly to Him.”1 Our ego is offended, jealous, annoyed, resentful, etc. God wants to free us of these attitudes.

“He [God] invites us to give ourselves to Him, that He may work His will in us. It remains for us to choose whether we will be set free from the bondage of sin, to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”2

God answers our basic commitment with rebirth (John 3:1-21). After that it has to do with staying surrendered (John 15:1-17). We’ll talk about this more in the third section.

Morris Venden says about surrendering our lives to God: “There is no such thing as a partial surrender. It’s no more possible to be partially surrendered than it is possible to be a little bit pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t. There is no middle ground."3

Ellen White said the following about daily surrender: “Only those who will become co-workers with Christ, only those who will say, Lord, all I have and all I am is Thine, will be acknowledged as sons and daughters of God.”4 So a person can be in the church and still be lost. How tragic! (The parable about the 10 virgins and the message to the Laodicea church also illustrate this.)

Why Is Carnal Christianity So Difficult to Identify?

Since a carnal person’s life is filled with “religion”, he often doesn’t realize that he is missing something vital: an intimate and saving relationship with God. If Christ isn’t allowed to govern our whole life, then He is standing in front of the door knocking (Revelation 3:20). And He says: If this doesn’t change, then I will spit you out.

And something else plays a part. Through a strong doctrinal foundation based on the Bible, we have strong convictions. (At the same time we still want to stay open to further insights.) We have the certainty that we believe the truth; that thrills us. We have a lot of good knowledge. We say the right things. That is what makes it so difficult to identify the carnal problem. Doesn’t it play a role if I have ever really lived with the Holy Spirit? If not, then can I even notice the difference?

A pastor wrote: “I just received a call from a sister who is taking part in our 40 Days prayer time. She said that it has changed her life. She had wondered her whole life what was missing in her spiritual life and now she knew — the Holy Spirit. I wish you could have heard her testimony. She said that she noticed for the first time in her life that she has a relationship with God. Others have also already noticed the change in her life.”5 We can see that a person can notice that something is missing, but doesn’t know what. Many have a desire for more and don’t know what it is or how to get it.

I am thankful that 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 uses the word “still” three times. “For you are still carnal.” This shows us that it is possible for the carnal person to become spiritual. No one has to remain carnal. As long as a person takes time for matters of faith he has a good chance to realize this and change it. We will talk later about how you can become spiritual.

Another aspect to consider is envy and strife or as the NLT says: You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other.This behavior proves to Paul that the carnal church members are not living through God’s Spirit, but rather acting carnally — just like other people. They can act just like natural people; albeit in religious packaging. Does this mean that tensions in the church stem mainly from carnal minded church members? (See Jude v. 19) In Jesus’ day, didn’t the Pharisees and Sadducees compete with one other? This means that already back then there were tensions between the conservatives and the liberals/progressives. One group was very particular and the other interpreted things more loosely. But both were convinced that they had the correct Bible interpretation and attitude. But Jesus showed us that both groups were carnal, meaning: not filled with the Holy Spirit. The same thing is possible today — conservative Christians can also be carnal Christians.

Unfortunately, people today often look through the glasses of “conservative or liberal/progressive”. The advantage is that the observer comes off well. However, with the biblical classification of “carnal or spiritual” we are challenged to take a spiritual inventory. We should do this for our own good. Consider what God clearly tells us in Galatians 6:7,8 “… whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For 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.”

The carnal person wants to follow Jesus and please Him, but he hasn’t surrendered his whole life to Jesus or if he has, then he has backslidden somehow. (Galatians 3:3; Revelation 2:4,5) That means that he, maybe unconsciously, wants to live according to God’s will and his own wishes simultaneously. But that doesn’t work. Ultimately he is carrying his own life in his hands. As the saying goes, there are two souls dwelling in his breast. Can God send the Holy Spirit in such a case? James 4:3 gives this answer: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss.” I have come to the conclusion that it means asking with a carnal attitude. Wouldn’t an answer to such a request only boost the ego? Consequently, this church member is living through normal human powers and abilities. In Revelation 3:16 this is called “lukewarm” and in Matthew 25 “foolish”.

Why Does Jesus Call the Carnal Church Members Lukewarm?

Why is it that so many Christians are lacking an experience with the Holy Spirit? In order to answer this question, we will first have to take a look at the Laodicea phenomenon. Why did Jesus call the believers in the Laodicea church lukewarm? He gave us a clear indicator: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Revelation 3:20) Jesus wasn’t the center of the lives of the believers,
but rather outside. He was standing outside in front of the door. Why didn’t He go in? Because He hadn’t been invited. He doesn’t force His way in, because He respects our free will decision.

Why do believers leave Jesus outside in front of the door? There are different causes and reasons for this. Some only move on a purely intellectual and cognitive plane in their spiritual lives, like the scribe Nicodemus, and don’t understand what the Christian life is all about. (Compare with John 3:1-10). For others the “price” of discipleship is too high, they have to give up too much, like the “rich young ruler”. (Compare with Matthew 19:16-24) To follow Jesus requires self-denial and the willingness to change one’s life (compare with Matthew 16:24,25) and completely surrender oneself to God (Romans 12:1). Leaving Jesus outside can be caused by pure negligence — insufficient time in personal fellowship with Jesus.

I repeat: the reason for the lukewarmness in Revelation 3:20 is: “Behold, I stand at the door.” Jesus is not in the center of their lives, but rather outside or on the sidelines. So, the lukewarmness relates to the personal relationship with Christ. In other areas the person concerned definitely doesn’t have to be lukewarm.

For example, a man can invest a lot in his vocation and at the same time neglect his wife. He is committed to his job, but lukewarm in his marriage relationship. A person can even be a committed church member, a diligent church leader or pastor or president and still be lukewarm in his relationship with Christ. The person is so dedicated to accomplishing a lot of tasks, that he neglects his personal relationship with Christ. This is the lukewarmness that Jesus wants removed. It is tragic that a person can be so busy with God’s work (in the church and mission work) that He neglects the Lord of the work.

Call to Prayer/Action

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you want to remain in me through the Holy Spirit. Thank you that through daily surrender our trust and love relationship is growing. Lord, help me to get to know the Holy Spirit and His work better. I long to know what He wants to do for me, my family and my church and how we can have the assurance that we can receive the Holy Spirit when we daily ask. Thank you for this. Amen

The above is an excerpt from Steps to Personal Revival.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  1. Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1892), 43.
  2. Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1892), 43.
  3. Morris Venden, 95 Theses on Righteousness by Faith (Pacific Press, 1987), 63.
  4. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1898), 523.
  5. Email H. Haubeil received on February 15, 2012

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