Victory Through Surrender #2 Independence

 

Victory Through Surrender #2 Independence

 The only way to spiritual victory is through surrender (Matthew 16:24).  In the Kingdom of God, surrender secures our victory. The victory entails knowing God, living your life to the full, conquering the challenges of life (John 12:50, John 10:10, Philippians 4:13).  Surrender is how we grow up spiritually, becoming mature and complete in Christ.  In this teaching, we are going to examine the characteristics and the challenge of adolescent-like faith.

 The first surrender event is your response to the good news of the gospel.  If you missed our last teaching Surrender #1 on Dependence you can find that information on our website www.hbcc.life or our YouTube channel HBCC Life. 

The gospel can be stated in one verse of scripture:

John 3:16 (MSG)

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

 Why would anyone be destroyed?  Well, to have eternal spiritual life one has to be united with God who is life eternal.  Without being united with God you invite evitable spiritual destruction.  The origins story of Genesis informs us because of one man’s sin, human beings are born estranged from God (Romans 5:15).  The solution to this problem is reconciliation.  God incarnates in Jesus, who is therefore fully God and fully human.  Look at Jesus and you see what it means to be human.  Look at Jesus and you get to see the heart of God.  Jesus lives his life as human beings were always intended to live.  In total communion with the one Jesus called Father, Jesus accomplishes what the man Adam did not, staying faithfully obedient to the will of God.  Where Adam chose self above God, Jesus sacrifices self to God (Romans 5:18).  This sacrifice atoned for Adam’s sin, making it possible for anyone who believes that Jesus accomplished this is reconciled to God (John 5:24).  When we acknowledge our estrangement from God, believe Jesus opens the door for reconciliation, by committing to live as a follower of Jesus, God accepts our faith, and we become united with God, partakers of whole and lasting life, we start living lives set apart for the glory of someone greater than ourselves.  We start living holy lives.   

 Donna York posted this analogy:

 

“When God wanted to create fish, He spoke to the sea.

When God wanted to create trees, He spoke to the earth

But when God wanted to create man, He turned to Himself.

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.”

Note:

If you take a fish out of the water it will die, and when you remover a tree from soil, it will also die. 

Likewise, when man is disconnected from God, he dies.

God is our natural environment.  We were created to live in His presence.  We have to be connected to Him because it is only in Him that life exists.”

If this gospel resonates within you, now is the time to act upon it, declare yourself a believer, surrendering your old way of life to open up this new way of living life to the full (Ephesians 4:22-23).  Let me know if that is your decision, I want to help you grow up in your new life, show you the ropes. 

 Last time we learned that when we first come to believe Jesus likened the experience to being born.  As newborns, we are dependent on our caregivers to provide everything we need.  That is exactly what Jesus does for us in our child-like faith stage of our spiritual development.  We ended that session by introducing a spiritual malady called SAD- spiritually arrested development (1 Corinthians 3:2).  It’s SAD when you don’t grow and remain in this baby-like state, where all you can do is eat and make messes (Hebrews 5:12).  Just as a newborn develops, Jesus' word picture informs us that we are to mature spiritually.

 To avoid suffering from SAD, spiritually arrested development, make the daily practice of the 7 habits of a disciple a priority.  A “can’t do without daily priority.”  That’s going to cost you the surrender of time, and the surrender of whatever would keep you away from immersing yourself in the habits.  It’s the cost of growth, of transformation, the price of maturity in the faith.

 The church family here at HBCC knows that the 7 habits are bible reading and study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation.  If you don’t know how to do any of these let me know and I’ll show you how.  It takes about 3 months of daily practice to in-graph these disciplines into your life, to where they become not something you have to do, but something normal for you to do, hopefully, like brushing your teeth.  The habits are invitations for God to meet with you.  In those meetings, Truth will be revealed.  As you experience Truth your Life will change as you align yourself with the Way of God.  Your heart gets in sync with the heart of God.  You will grow up in the faith. 

 Spiritually we move from dependence, a child-like faith, where everything needs to be done for us, to independence where we can start doing things for ourselves.  We can call this adolescent-like faith.  When a child transitions to adolescents physically, one of the common characteristics emotionally is the struggle for independence.  Parents, have you ever argued with your teenager?  Ever try to help them out with some wisdom only to have your sage advice go unheeded?  Ever discover your teen not doing the simple things, like their chores or keeping their rooms clean?  It seems house rules are meant to be broken.  One of the physiological difficulties in adolescence is that complex decision-making and impulse control haven’t been fully developed in the brain yet.  So crazy-making things can happen.  A teen is working at discovering who they are, developing an identity.  Spiritually we discover who we are in Christ during this adolescent period.

 [Again be encouraged to check out Neil Anderson’s Who I Am In Christ

ANDERSON_WhoIAmInChrist (vintagelawrence.com) ]

 When we look at the chosen disciples immediately after the resurrection we see adolescent-like behavior.  Just a note without a bodily resurrection from being stone cold dead there is no Christianity.  If God did not raise Jesus from death, then our faith is wasted on false promises (1 Corinthians 15:14). 

 Children need constant supervision.  Adolescents do not.  As they grow up they get to take some initiative in caring for themselves.  They make their own choices.  Adolescence is about learning how to do it.  During the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension, the Resurrection is when Jesus rose from the grave (Matthew 28:1),  the Ascension is when Jesus returns to the Father (Acts 1:9), the scriptures reveal that Jesus came and went, leaving the disciples on their own to make their own decisions.

 Acts 1:3-5 (MSG)

After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but "must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

If Jesus had stayed with the disciples over those 40 days, they would never have an opportunity to venture out on their own, to act upon their knowledge that Jesus was alive, they would have stayed dependent.   Jesus was not constantly with His disciples, He left them on their own.  (E.S. Jones, Mastery, p. 44).  Instead of being taken by the hand and shown how to live the life they began to work things out for themselves. 

 The disciples needed to be weaned off Jesus doing everything for them to them so that they could mature.  We get a glimpse of this in the first chapter of Acts.

Acts 1:6 (NKJV)

 “…when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Notice the disciples ask WILL YOU LORD?  Will you restore the kingdom, will you do it? 

 Jesus says that restoring the kingdom is not up to Him to determine.  Then He says something amazing:  Verse 8—“But you shall…” The disciples “had been looking to [Jesus] to do everything—‘Lord, will you?’ –and now He was going to look to them –‘But you.’ (E.S. Jones, Mastery p 43)

 “Up to this point in time, they had watched Jesus do everything, heal the sick, preach the Good News, feed the multitudes, die, rise again, instruct them.  He was taking the initiative” (ibid.).  Now Jesus was expecting the disciples to take the initiative, it was their turn to “do”.  It is in doing that you become an individual, it is in doing that you form your identity discovering who you are, what you are all about, strengths, weakness, likes, dislikes, ambitions, and there is a lot of trial and error.

 During those 40 days, we read that Jesus came and went.  While He was gone we see the disciples trying to live in their new independence.  They make a few mistakes in the processes.  Left on their own they were bound to make mistakes.  Ever make a mistake as a teenager?  I have said “If I only knew then what I know now…”  Consider the disciple Peter.  There seems to be a disconnect. “Hey Peter, Jesus has proved to you that He has risen, you now know the He is the son of God, He is the Messiah.  What are you going to do?”  Peter decides to go fishing and influences the whole group to go with Him.  Of course, they catch nothing until Jesus shows up the next morning.  Chalk that one up to an adolescent blunder.  But notice Jesus takes the mistake, the misjudgment,  and turns it into a blessing (John 21:3-13).

 After the Ascension Peter takes the initiative again to replace one of their comrades, Judas, who is no longer on the scene.  So Peter does what the world did at the time and flips a coin between two guys (Acts 1:21-26).  Heads its Justice, tails its Matthias, the coin reveal is tails; Matthias you’re now one of the 12.  Peter did what he thought was right.  The disciples even prayed for the coin toss.  That’s the way of adolescents, doing what you think is right, trying to accomplish God’s will, in your way.  Later Peter would learn that Jesus had picked a guy named Saul. 

 Through the blunders the disciples grew, they exchanged dependence, that Child-like faith of Jesus doing it all for them, for independence, that adolescent-like faith, learning to do it on their own they gained an understanding of who they were.  Through their independence, they were getting it right and getting it wrong, both experiences necessary to form their new identity in Christ. 

 The defining characteristic of adolescent-like faith is trying to accomplish God’s will our way.  We want to live in sync with God, we want to live devout and holy lives set apart for God’s glory, but the desire is not enough.  We choose one way only to discover we ended up doing something else entirely.  Our willpower doesn’t cut it and we realize this.  The scriptures describe this adolescent problem:

 Galatians 5:17 (NLT)

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

 The sinful nature is egoism, the self-centered on the self, doing what we think benefits us the most, what will create the most satisfying life for ourselves.   The evil that egoism creates is a failure to fully love God and to love others, instead, we put ourselves self-first (Matthew 22:37).  The Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, God within you.  Sometimes getting it right, and sometimes getting it wrong, because we’re following Jesus on our terms.  To mature we have to surrender following Jesus on our terms; doing what we think is right in our own way.  If not you stunt your spiritual growth, stay immature in the faith, sometimes there is victory, sometimes defeat, up and down, highs and lows, Godliness followed by selfishness.  This is another indication of you suffering from SAD—Spiritually Arrested Development, you live for God one moment, then completely blow it the next.  This is not how God intends for you to live.

 “The spiritual adolescent is met by an offer.  ‘If we will give our all, Jesus will give His all.  If we will give ourselves, He will give Himself…’” (E.S Jones, Mastery p.45).  To give one’s all, you have to surrender control.  God’s will, God’s way, must become our informing authority, no longer is it “what I think is best,” now it is living a holy life through the obedience of the heart, being the person God created you to be and doing what God has called you to do.  To defeat

SAD, that new identity forming in the time of adolescent-like faith must be surrendered to God. 

 Romans 12:1 (MSG)

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

 You present your new self to God as a living offering through your contrition for demanding following Jesus your way.  Contrition is Godly sorrow over your behavior, contrition is motivated by the desire to never hurt your relationship with God again.  When you experienced child-like faith, you repented of your old way of life, now you are repenting of your attempts and inability to live your new life in Christ under your terms.  Then present yourself to God for His glory.  “If we will give our all, Jesus will give His all” and the result will be that you will always be free to choose how you will respond in obedience to God.  Your best intentions to live a devout and holy life will no longer get hijacked back into the old pattern of following Jesus when it’s convenient. 

 If you have realized that you are stuck in an adolescent-like faith, suffering from SAD, spiritually arrested development, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into an adult-like faith.  You supply the desire, the contrition, the willingness, and the presenting of your new self, God answers your act of faith with the how-to. 

 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (MSG)

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!

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