We cannot be truly effectual in our service to God unless we are wholly consecrated to Him in all areas of our lives. Every task, every word, even every thought, must be for His glory and not our own. This is probably one of the most difficult lessons to learn, particularly for myself; after all, it takes great presence of mind and a concerted effort. We must be sincere in our desire to serve Him and not double-minded. This takes a complete retraining of the mind.
We must receive the mind of Christ, but this does not happen in a heartbeat as soon as we accept Him as our Saviour. We are washed clean as soon as we accept Him into our hearts, and this may mean the immediate removal of certain besetting sins. Like when He took my desire to play video games away from me, or took the love of rock music away from a friend of mine. But in other areas of our lives, God gradually retrains us to think differently, speak differently, and act differently. We must, like newborn babes, learn how to live life over again, now doing things His way instead of our own way.
This is why we are so strongly encouraged to consecrate ourselves to the service of Christ as early in life as possible, and to raise our children with utmost care, for the longer we live in rebellion, the harder it is to retrain our minds to live in obedience.
Although I was raised as a Christian, I wasn’t especially obedient. It wasn’t that I started out in conscious rebellion, but I didn’t understand His will for my life. By the time I did, I had already trained myself to think and behave differently, and my initial efforts to change were not in the strength of Christ, so they failed, and I backslid even worse.
Actually, let me rephrase that. I didn’t just randomly backslide. I had made an effort to live in obedience, and although I did go about it the right way, I was certainly living better than I had in high school or college. Left to myself, I would have gradually learned better how to rely on God and He would have been able to work a more complete transformation in me eventually.
The devil wasn’t having that. Evil angels work very, very hard not to lose their prey. They fought hard to drag me back down, farther down than I had ever been before. They wanted me so deep in the world that I would give up on ever escaping it, and I almost did. But praise God that “Jehovah’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1)! Although we cannot forget the next verse, which says:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.
He was always reaching out to me, but not until I chose to abandon addiction to entertainment was He able to begin to work on me in earnest.
Well, now I am in that retraining process. I am learning to love Him better, and to love others better, too. I am learning how to work hard, but also rest in Christ. The life of prayer does not come easily! But I am “confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Over the past week, I have read a few relevant statements in the beautiful book I am reading—in conjunction with the Bible—for my morning devotions. I would like to share them below.
Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan? Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments, the promise of God is fulfilled, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls. A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle.E.G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 407
The religion of Christ is sincerity itself. Zeal for God’s glory is the motive implanted by the Holy Spirit; and only the effectual working of the Spirit can implant this motive. Only the power of God can banish self-seeking and hypocrisy. This change is the sign of His working. When the faith we accept destroys selfishness and pretense, when it leads us to seek God’s glory and not our own, we may know that it is of the right order. “Father, glorify Thy name” ( John 12:28), was the keynote of Christ’s life, and if we follow Him, this will be the keynote of our life. He commands us to “walk, even as He walked;” and “hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:6, 3.Ibid., p. 409
Love for souls for whom Christ died means crucifixion of self. He who is a child of God should henceforth look upon himself as a link in the chain let down to save the world, one with Christ in His plan of mercy, going forth with Him to seek and save the lost.
The Christian is ever to realize that he has consecrated himself to God, and that in character he is to reveal Christ to the world. The self-sacrifice, the sympathy, the love, manifested in the life of Christ are to reappear in the life of the worker for God.Ibid., p. 417
I hope and pray that you are also experiencing this beautiful, challenging, and all-important work of regeneration, friend! Let God hew you into a beautiful white stone for His temple, and you will shine to His everlasting glory!
Yours in the Way,
The Minnesota Warrior