“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13).
In order for lasting change to happen in our lives, our whole heart must be given over to Jesus. Sin has caused us to be separated from God, and the Holy Spirit has described our situation in phrases such as: “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.” (Ephesians 2:1); “Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot— covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—without any soothing ointments or bandages.” (Isaiah 1:5-6); we “have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2 Timothy 2:26). God’s desire is to free us and to heal us, but since we are holistic beings, this change requires a complete transformation—a complete transformation of our will, our mind, and our heart—and we must submit ourselves completely to Him.
Changing our lives and our hearts is the hardest challenges that we will ever face. Submitting ourselves to God’s will, is the only way for lasting change to take place, and submitting ourselves to God is the only way we can be renewed.
God is not interested in us basing our trust and faith in Him blindly, or without any evidence. Satan makes this challenge and accusation of God’s government and rule often, but when we read the scriptures we see God appealing to our intellect and our conscience. “‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18). This is an invitation for discussion to us. God does not force His will onto us. He will not accept honor and respect that is not willingly, freely, and intelligently given. If He were to force us to submit to Him, we would become robots and lack all the true joy that free will and choice brings. God’s desire is for us to experience His love and the joy that is possible because of free will.
God’s purpose for us, the pinnacle of His creation, is to reach the highest level of development possible for us. With freedom of choice, and a sound mind, He places before us infinite blessings that can be ours with His grace. He freely invites us to give ourselves to Him so that He may work in our lives and our hearts; however, He leaves the final choice up to us to choose freedom from sin and sharing in His presence. Not choosing Christ will result in us staying in sin, and never reaching our God given potential.
In submitting ourselves to God, we need to consider that we must give up everything that would separate ourselves from Him. Because of this, Jesus says, “You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” (Luke 14:33). Anything that tempts our hearts away from Jesus—away from God—must be given up. The god called Mammon is the god of abundance. Loving money and desiring wealth is the golden chain that keeps them trapped to Satan. Desiring worldly honor and fame results in only short term rewards at the expense of eternity. The desire to take life easy and be free from responsibility is another common trap. We must instead reject all ties to Satan because we cannot be half devoted to God and half devoted to the world. “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). We will not ever be truly God’s children until we are devoted completely to Him.
Some people say they are obedient and submissive to God, while relying on their own willpower to obey His law and change their lives and character in an attempt to secure their own salvation. Their hearts are not moved by the love of Jesus, but instead they are more interested in fulfilling the list of requirements that come with Christian life thinking that this is what is required for them to gain a ticket to Heaven. This style of religion is worthless.
When Christ is in our lives, He fills us with His love and His significance. His love will attract us to Him, and because of this, our self-serving attitude will be forgotten. Loving Christ will be the catalyst for action. A mark of this transformation is that those who feel this love from God will not ask what is necessary to just get by; they won’t be interested in only doing the minimum, but they will instead aim at perfectly reflecting His will and His heart. With intense desire, they put all their wants aside and give a disproportionate focus onto the object that they seek—perfection in His Image, with His power, and with His love. Claiming to follow Christ without this deep love and desire is simply shallow talk, unattractive formality, and another form of religious bondage.
Do you ever feel that the price is to high—the cost of giving everything to Christ? Perhaps it would be better to ask yourself, “What did Christ give up for me?” Jesus, the Son of God, gave up everything—life and love, while enduring persecution and misunderstanding—and He gave it all up to save us from sin—to give us the true freedom of choice.
Next week we will finish our discussion on our freedom of choice.
P.S. As always, if I missed something, or if you would like to respond on this topic, join the conversation below!