There is freedom in dependency …

Surrender and Renewal

Bob George        

The essence of a life of faith is a thankful heart.

Christians of all camps agree that obedience to God is the desired goal.  It is the means of getting that obedience — the question, "How are you going to do it?" — that becomes the problem.  God has made it clear in His Word that legalistic obedience without a surrendered heart is worthless to Him.  Jesus twice quoted Hosea 6:6: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."  Both cases were in response to those who focused on keeping the letter of the law, but totally missed the spirit behind it.  Through the apostle Paul, God tells us the true way:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — which is your spiritual worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

Paul is describing an attitude of total surrender.  The motivation he offers is "in view of God's mercy."  What's that?  The love and grace of God that he has been discussing for 11 chapters!  Now, he says, the most reasonable, logical thing you can do is to offer yourself without reserve to a God who loves you beyond comprehension.

Notice that he isn't talking about commitment.  Commitment and surrender are two different things.  Commitment is what I am promising to do for God.  Surrender is placing myself and my life in His hands to do with as He pleases.  It's like those old World War I movies.  Furious trench warfare is going on, with bombs exploding and machine guns crackling.  Then a small white flag is raised on a stick and waved from a trench.  "We give up," they're saying.  "Do with us whatever you please.  We're sick and tired of being sick and tired."  That total release of giving up everything is what Paul is telling us.  But we aren't surrendering ourselves to an enemy.  We are surrendering ourselves to a loving God and Father, who will take charge of our lives in His perfect wisdom and control.  Why would we ever hesitate, once we have learned of His love for us?

After exhorting us to adopt this attitude, the first thing Paul mentions is, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  In other words, allow God to begin teaching your mind His truth to replace the error of natural thinking.  Based on His Word, begin to look at yourself and life from God's perspective, rather than from man's perspective.  That's why I have discussed so extensively the believer's identity in Christ.  Knowing who you are is essential.  You have to know that you're a "butterfly" before it makes any sense to think about flying.

Dependency Expressed in Thankfulness

One of the most fundamental things that we are surrendering to Christ is all claim to personal rights.  Now I'm not talking about civil rights, like the right to vote.  I'm talking about things we tend to demand from life — things like a right to happiness, the right to be noticed, the right for life to be fair, the right to be appreciated, the right to get my own way.

There's a very simple reason why this must be so:  You can't hold on to rights and maintain a thankful spirit at the same time.  The essence of a life of faith is a thankful heart.  That is a thread that runs through the entire Bible, Old and New Terstaments.  It is expressed concisely in a single verse:

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Why would God tell us to give thanks in all circumstances, even in bad ones?  Because giving thanks is a concrete expression of our faith in God — that our lives are in His hands, and that we are trusting Him to fulfill His promise in Romans 8:28.  The result of trusting God with our lives and expressing that faith through giving thanks is a freedom and peace that is supernatural.


excerpt from Classic Christianity by Bob George

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Additional Resources:

An Argument From Gratitude — When we consider the heavens and the earth beneath our feet, it should astound us that we are not more grateful than we are.

The Church as a Force — The job of the pastor is to teach everybody in the church how to minister.

Forgiven To Be Filled — By separating forgiveness of sins from the message of receiving the life of Christ, we have not only missed out on experiencing life, but we have lost sight of the purpose of forgiveness in the first place.

How Great is our God — The heavens declare the glory of God.  From Canis Majoris to Laminin, we see concrete evidence of God's power, majesty, and love.

Looking In the Wrong Places — There is only one way to determine your identity that cannot be shaken, one foundation that cannot be taken away from you.

Meekness — A story of power out of control that became power under control.

The Practical Power of New Identity — What do you do if you're a Christian and you are wrestling with temptations and desires that are obviously sinful?

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