January 1, 2014

Giving All to God

What comes to your mind when you hear the word consecration? Perhaps you think “letting God take control” or “giving yourself to God.” You might define it as “to surrender” or “to dedicate.” Those are good explanations. However, when you hear about the need to consecrate or dedicate yourself to God, do you ever wonder, Exactly how do I do that? How do I dedicate myself?

In order to understand what consecration is and how we consecrate ourselves, we first need to establish what consecration is not. Consecration is not necessarily a specific action. Though God may ask specific actions of us, we cannot say, “Those who refrain from eating for three days are consecrating,” or “Those who go to every church service for five weeks in a row are consecrating.” There is no universal deed or specific exercise that comprises consecration; it takes place on the inside. For that reason, it can be difficult to explain. Nevertheless, we need to grasp the nature of consecration because it is an essential part of our walk with God. It is not just an option for some “elite” group; it is for all Christians.

Sometimes people talk about consecrating in connection with praying for salvation. However, repentance, not consecration, is the requirement when one is seeking salvation. In turning away from his life of sin, a sinner may say, “God, I give You my life,” but that is a statement of surrender, not consecration. A sinner has nothing to give God except his sins.

Once an individual has been born again, however, he must consecrate himself as he seeks to draw closer to God. Although there can and should be a moment in every Christian’s life when consecration is complete, that attitude of yieldedness must also be maintained. We sing, “I need Thee every hour,” and those words are very true. We consecrate as we seek the foundational experiences of sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Even after we have received those experiences, consecration does not end. There will be lessons to learn as we mature as Christians, and circumstances to face that will test our commitment. God requires His people to submit to Him continually in consecration.

Overcoming lives made possible

It is through continual consecration that we are able to live overcoming lives. In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul speaks of the victory over sin that believers experience. Many people like to quote the first verse of that chapter, which reads, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” We also should read verse 2 which says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” That is why there is no condemnation—we have stopped sinning! We have submitted ourselves to a new law: “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” There is no condemnation because God has given us freedom to do right.

Chapter 8 ends with the words, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a beautiful assurance! Yes, we can choose to turn away from God and backslide, but why focus on that? God’s Word makes it clear that nothing can come between us and God. If we want to serve Him, we can serve Him. And the way we continue to serve Him is by keeping our consecrations on the altar, making sure that we stay yielded to Him.

When we consider the subject of consecration, perhaps one of the first Scriptures that comes to mind is Romans 12:1, in which the Apostle Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Notice that Paul did not begin by saying, “Present your bodies…” He said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies…” In today’s language, we might say, “I implore you by the mercies of God…” The Apostle’s wording indicates how vitally important he considered consecration to be.

How do we go about presenting our bodies as living sacrifices? First, we must understand that consecration is voluntary. We find many examples of this in the Bible. In Judges 5:2 we read, “Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” In 2 Chronicles 17:16 we read, “And next him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the Lord; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour.” We cannot be forced to offer ourselves to God; that commitment must come from the heart.

Consecration is not doing God’s will because we have to do it but because we want to—we delight in doing so. In Psalm 40:7-8 we read some prophetic words referring to Christ: “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Jesus’ whole delight and purpose on earth was to do His Father’s will. Sometimes people ask, “God can do anything, so why did Jesus have to die on the Cross?” Calvary was not about what Jesus had to do; it was about what He wanted to do, and that was to submit to the will of His Father.

We have to surrender our wills in order to truly say that we want the will of the Father. That is consecration, and it is not always easy to get to that point. Sometimes people describe consecration as “letting go.” What do we let go of? The classic answer is that we relinquish our right to our time, talents, possessions, etc. It is true that we find many examples in Scripture of people who consecrated these things. However, sometimes people sift through aspects of their lives, selecting what they are willing to yield. In essence they are saying, “I will give this to God, but not that.” They are willing to let go of the negative parts of their lives or the aspects that burden them, but they cling to some things that they want to retain control of or enjoy. That is not real consecration. True consecration is letting God have complete control. We must give Him everything.

The question is this—do we trust God? Or are we concerned that He might require us to yield something we want to control if we give Him all the power?

The question is this—do we trust God? Or are we concerned that He might require us to yield something we want to control if we give Him all the power? Sometimes consecration takes a while because we need to examine our hearts to find out the depth of our commitment. Anyone can say the words “I trust God,” but to actually relinquish control, come to that moment of complete surrender, and then rest in the assurance that God will do what is best is another matter.

Complete relinquishing is necessary

I have a friend who was in a rock band and very absorbed in music when he got saved. As he began to draw closer to God, the thought came to him that music was such an important part of his life that perhaps he should give it up. So he did—completely. He gave up playing, singing, listening, and writing music. He was willing to let go of it all! One day, God gave him a song. He wrote it down and titled it, “There is Hope in Jesus.” In time, he composed other Gospel songs that led many people to Christ. When he consecrated his love of music to God, my friend had no idea he would ever play or write music again, but God had a plan. Don’t try to figure out what to give God and what to hold onto; just give it all to Him. He knows what is best for you.

In Philippians 3:7-8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” The things that were “gain” in Paul’s life were not wrong; they were included his Jewish background, education, and his material possessions. These would have been considered an advantage. However, none of them could justify Paul, give him peace, or bring him into fellowship with Jesus Christ, so he relinquished them and said he did not miss any of them because he had Christ who was everything to him.

We find examples of the same wholehearted spirit among people in Old Testament times. For example, we read in Numbers 32 how God’s anger was kindled against the men of Israel, with the exception of “Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua, the son of Nun.” What made the difference for these two men? They “wholly followed the Lord” (Numbers 32:12). The Israelites who failed to trust God ended up perishing in the wilderness, but Caleb and Joshua were spared. Our decision as to whether we will consecrate everything and wholly follow God or not matters! It could determine whether we survive or perish spiritually.

When we are fully consecrated to God, our focus is on God, not on ourselves.

A focus on God

When we are fully consecrated to God, our focus is on God, not on ourselves. John the Baptist exemplified this. When John’s fame began to spread throughout Judaea, the Jews sent priests and Levites to question him about who he was. John could have said, “My father was Zachariah the priest, and my mother was Elizabeth….” However, he simply told them, “I am not the Christ.” The men of Jerusalem questioned him further, asking if he was Elias or a prophet, and he answered, “No.” When they kept asking, he finally replied, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” John was not interested in drawing attention to himself; he was submitted to God and simply wanted to fulfill the assignment given him. Later, when some of John’s disciples reported that all men were flocking to Jesus, John told them, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John’s willingness to decrease shows humility. He was consecrated! Do we have that spirit?

Consecration requires earnest prayer, and sometimes those prayers may be accompanied by fasting. Fasting is not abstaining from food to earn points with God. It is not done to force Him to act in a certain way. Fasting is abstaining from food for a time because we are focused on praying.

In Matthew 17, Jesus explained to His disciples why fasting is important. A father came and knelt before Jesus, pleading with Christ to have mercy on his son, “for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.” Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of the child. Later, the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to cast the devil out. Jesus spoke to them of the necessity of faith, and then He added, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

There are problems that will never be resolved by a brief prayer. You may say, “I thought God’s promises were true. I don’t understand why nothing seems to happen when I pray.” God’s Word is true, but there may be times that deep and persistent prayer and fasting are needed. That type of earnest petition involves consecrating. If you are carrying such a burden that you do not eat, you are not just casually saying, “God, please solve this problem.” You are searching your own heart. You are asking for God’s will and purpose to be fulfilled. You are letting God refine you from the inside out. You almost forget the problem in the intensity of your prayer. You are saying, “God, purify me. Mold me. Shape me. Whatever it takes…” You are consecrating!

Consecration brings change

Consecration is powerful and it affects great change. An event in the life of King Josiah is an example. In 2 Kings 23:3 we read that the king made a covenant with the Lord, to keep His commandments and to perform the words of His covenant. Following the king’s example, all the people stood to ratify the agreement. Josiah was just eighteen years of age at that time, but through his commitment, a nation was transformed. He inspired a whole society to consecrate themselves and to covenant with the God of Heaven to serve only Him and to obey His commandments continually. And God can use us as well to impact those around us.

We start to consecrate to God in the same way that Abraham started. In Genesis 12:1 God told him to leave his country and his kindred, and go to a land that He would show him. Like Abraham, we obey. We get up and go where God tells us to go. We do what He tells us to do. Abraham did not know where he was going, but he obeyed anyway. God may not tell us what lies ahead when we begin consecrating ourselves to Him. It is not important for us to know; it is only important for us to follow one step at a time. God will lead us step by step. We do not need to figure it all out. Consecration is simply making sure that our lives remain yielded to Him, and obeying Him all along the way.

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