Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? (Isaiah 45:9).
Since Christ is worthy of all glory, honor, and power (Revelation 4:11), who am I to try to lord it over the One I call Lord?
Every place I do this in my life shows a place I’ve not yet surrendered, a place where I am arguing, a place where I am not trusting and obeying. It is a place where I am either intentionally or unintentionally deceiving myself. This is an unhealthy way to live as a follower of Christ.
“Christian health is not defined by how happy we are, how prosperous or healthy we are, or even by how many people we have led to the Lord in the past year,” wrote Gary Thomas in Seeking the Face of God. “Christian health is ultimately defined by how sincerely we wave our flag of surrender.”
The white flag of surrender is an agreement with God about who Jesus is, what He has done to reconcile a broken relationship with God, and how nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin and make us as white as snow. God declares His authority over our way of life, including the thoughts we have about how to live through His Word.
Yet, I have denied Him with my own words that prevented me from acting in obedience.
Words like, “That’s just the way I am,” or “I’ve always been this way,” or “I’m just naturally _____,” or “That’s who I am,” or “It’s difficult to change.”
Words like these are in opposition to Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Words like these steal the joy described in Psalm 19:8-9:
…the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
A surrendered soul to Christ can no longer hide behind who it once was or who it thinks it is according to the world, to friends, to co-workers, to a spouse, or to anyone. To deny Christ access to change us fully according to His will and design is to admit we are not fully surrendered. While the uncertainty of change haunts me, when I feel it, I know I’m living in fear instead of trust – thus again, not sincerely surrendered.
When I boost myself up for obeying some commands, yet I ignore or downplay others, do I think I am exempt of these words, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10)?
Do I think I am working on a point system to go to heaven where those times I obey must outweigh the ones where I am disobedient? Certainly I know this is false, but I have at times tried to justify my arguing and disobedience by comparing the two with a thumb heavy on the good side of the scale, thus bearing false witness about myself.
Worst of all, by playing the point system I deny Christ’s work and the required process of sanctification as I mature as a Christian.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).
Christ’s work is my salvation, but my obedience to His will as I live is part of my sanctification and evidence of my surrender and my love of Him over myself. Jesus prayed for our sanctification in John 17:17 and points us to the way we can be sanctified by the Word.
When we read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word we grow more like He desires us to be.
Dr. Gary Smalley in Change Your Heart, Change Your Life shared the story of how memorizing and meditating on God’s Word, specifically Scriptures related to lust, allowed the defeat of the sin he practiced in his heart. He was in his seventies when this victory occurred. He said the process took about three weeks.
He knew the battle had been won, as I remember, when he and his young granddaughter were at a hotel soaking in a Jacuzzi. Two young women came in wearing the tiniest of bikinis (See “The Power of the Bikini” for some history and biblical advice on bathing suits).
“Granddaddy, they look just like Barbie dolls,” his granddaughter whispered. It wasn’t until a few moments later he realized his only thoughts about them were whether they were saved or not and whether their parents, especially their fathers, treated them with love and respect.
He cried with joy because of the victory God granted Him through the power of His Word.
Have you considered that dwelling in God’s Word regularly is the primary means by which we can learn more of God’s thoughts and ways and how to act in them?
Doing so is the solution to what Isaiah 55:8-9 says about God’s thoughts and ways not being our thoughts and ways. Doing so is how the living and active Word of God prunes from us the evil we call good and opens our eyes to the good we have called evil.
Romans 12:2 says it is by testing we can discern the will of God that is good and acceptable and perfect when we do not conform to this world and when we renew our minds in Him.
Where the Holy Spirit convicted me was with how my voice tone was often harsh and loud. “I’m naturally loud, and it's not really that bad,” I would think. “It’s not my problem that they don’t understand my heart.”
Yet, the perception of my words by others didn’t clearly represent the love God has filled my heart with, and thus misrepresented Him to those around me.
Scripture is filled with counsel and commands connected to the two greatest commands related to word choice, tone, and how it relates to loving your neighbor as yourself. It talks about the power of the tongue to do good and evil.
These Scriptures (see here and here) are the ones I’m working on now, meditating on many and memorizing a few. I pray for the habits I’ve had to be broken so God may be better glorified in word and deed in my life.
When we disobey God and conform to the world’s idea of who we are by saying, “That’s just who I am,” then are we dethroning the great I Am from our lives? Are we letting our “I am” have more authority in life than the great “I Am” has?
Does the clay tell the potter, “No, I’m not meant to be shaped that way. Don’t start over and reshape me until I comply with your hands and will for the design you have in mind”?
Our sincere surrender would go better for us and those around us if we followed the wisdom of Isaiah 64:8:
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
So, instead, let us acknowledge we are new creations through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who are committed to quit practicing sin through His power (1 John 3:9) by a renewed knowledge that we have been bought with the price of Christ’s suffering and resurrection (1 Corinthians 6:20) to glorify God with all of our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.
Let us dwell in His Word so His Word can dwell in and change our hearts and actions so the light of Christ shines through us to the dark and lost world in need (Matthew 5:16).
Let us also do this to encourage the fellow believers we are around (1 Thessalonians 5:11) so the intensity of God’s saving light shines brighter to all.