Charles Stanley - Living a Surrendered Life
As best you know your heart, are you fully surrendered to Jesus Christ, who is not only your Savior but your Lord? Can you say, "Yes, I'm surrendered to the Lord". Or would you like most people have to say, "Well now, back yonder I can tell you when I got saved". Well, we're not talking about salvation. We're talking about living a surrendered life. A life that's willing to be honest and open, willing to believe the Word of God, willing to honestly and truly acknowledge that when Jesus went to the cross He took all of our sin debt in full, willing to acknowledge that God has a will for all of our lives, and willing to acknowledge that God has the right to expect us to say, "I surrender".
You see, that phrase, I surrender, is demanding. It requires something. It's one thing to say it to somebody, but to say it to God, I surrender, I surrender what? I surrender myself, all that I am, all that I have. Lord, I surrender everything. Listen carefully. That's what He's listening for. That's what He is expecting. That's what He died for. That's His perfect will for all of us, to be able to say, "Lord, I surrender". What do I surrender? I don't just surrender this or that that I have. I surrender my will to You. I want You to have your will in my life. I yield everything. I don't have my grip on anything. I want Your perfect will in my life.
Now what we surrender wouldn't be the same for all of us. Some people have to surrender this, some people have to surrender that. Only you know what is in your life that maybe God has been talking to you about for a long time, maybe a short period of time. But you know when you get down to pray, this thing keeps cropping up. There's something you keep thinking about. So, what do you do? You tell God about it. You ask Him to forgive you of your sin and you move on your way.
You say, "Well, I know I'm forgiven. Right". And yet, two weeks later, two months later, next day, you're still dealing with it, whole issue, am I surrendered? Surrender is not easy. It's the giving up of my right. It's the giving up of something. It's the giving up of an attitude, some thing. It's giving up some opportunity. But surrender is not easy. And when Jesus in those last hours of His life was seated with His disciples around the table and we celebrate the Lord's Supper and we talk about what a beautiful scene that was and so forth.
But that wasn't such a beautiful scene. Because listen to what the Scripture says, "And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation.' And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, 'Father, if You're willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but Yours be done.'" Jesus was dealing with this whole issue of the surrender of His will to the Father.
You say, "Well, He grew up surrendered to the Father. He's always known. At the most critical moments of His life, He's asking the Father, "If it's Your will". And we know that it was the Father's will for Him to be crucified. And that's exactly what happened. But He was willing to ask the Father, "If it's possible for this cup to pass from Me, yet not My will, but Your will be done". When is the last time you ever said to God, "Lord, I want Your will, not my will but Your will. Whatever You want in my life's what I want. Whatever You want out of my life, I want it out of my life. But if, above everything else, I want Your will to be done in my life". See, for a general, that means defeat. For a follower of Jesus, it means absolute victory.
So, think about your own life for a moment. When's the last time in your prayer time you've said, "Lord, full surrender". It's one thing to say, I believe in Jesus. It's one thing to say, my name's written in the Lamb's Book of Life. It's one thing to say, I believe the Word of God. It's one thing to say, I'm trying to live a Christian life. It's something else to say, "Father, I surrender". What is it that needs to be surrendered? Many people trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, but He never has all of them. They never come to the place of surrendering themselves to the Lord. Because you see when you get saved, it's a matter of forgiveness of sin, and my name's written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and now I belong to the Lord God.
What an awesome, wonderful feeling that is, but what about the other side of that? And here is Jesus speaking with the Father. He's committed to the Father, but in these last moments before His crucifixion, what is He saying? He's saying, "Not My will, but Your will be done". When is the last time you prayed that prayer? Father, not my will but Your will be done. Maybe He's brought something up into your life that you have been clinging to, not necessarily hiding, but you've just over there. You've never surrendered it to God.
When is the last time you said, "Lord, open the door to the closets of my life, and let's see everything that's there. And let's be sure when I close this door, the closet is empty. I'm fully surrendered". So, I ask you this question. What is there in your life as a follower of Jesus you're still clinging to? Listen, it may not even be a sin, but it's not the will of the Father for you. It may not be something you've done, it's something that you're holding on to.
So, you say, "Well, I'm not guilty of this and I'm not guilty of that". But is there something in your will that you've never surrendered? Can you say as best I know my heart, I'm totally yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. Whatever He wants is what I want. Whatever He wills is what I will. I yield my will to Him. I want Him to have all of me. Most people would have to say, "Lord, You can have all of me, but I know this over this, it's really not that wrong, God. And nobody's perfect.
So, I just want to thank You. I yield myself to You, except everybody has some weakness in life. Lord, that's mine. Thank You, Father, for, thank You understand". No-no-no-no-no-no. That's not the way God operates. And the reason so many people are living hindered in their Christian walk, is simply because they've never yielded themselves totally to Him. You say, "Well, what do you mean, yield him, yourself"? I mean you come before the Lord, you open your heart to Him and you say to Him, "Whatever is in my life that does not please You, not please me, please You, I want You to take it out. I'm willing to confess, repent, walk away, give it up, lay it down. I want to be totally yielded to You".
Because, listen. You can never become the person God wants you to be holding onto something that doesn't fit you. You can never enjoy the blessings of God as long as you're holding onto something that blocks a blessing. And I think about people who live, maybe saved early in life but never fully surrender. And they will boast about their name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And I think about all of these wonderful songs we sing and how beautiful they are. What is there in your life that God's put His finger on, so to speak, He's brought it to your mind. It's the one thing that when you pray and you, you bless God and praise Him and sing and wonderful, hallelujah. You go home after church and you talk about what a fantastic music program we have and how you love standing up and singing the songs over and over and over again.
What about the thing that you've not talked about? What is there in your life that's keeping you from being able to say, "Yes Lord"! Everything, not most things, not some things, everything. Put Your finger on anything and everything You see in my life that doesn't fit Your perfect will, I surrender. I think about people who live their whole lives, never fully surrender themselves to the Lord. Maybe you got saved early in life. I was only twelve. I never heard the word "surrender" when I was twelve years of age. And so, I think about people who are saved early in life. They get baptized. They go to church. They join the church. They do all the things that church members supposedly do. They go to a church where the gospel is sort of preached, you know. Not really fully, but just sort of, so nobody gets upset.
And so, they never hear, they never hear, "Are you surrendered to Jesus Christ"? We say, "Well, He's the Lord of my life". Now think about that. You can say, "Jesus is the Lord of my life," and that can mean different things to different people. He is the Lord and He is in my life but is He the Lord of my life? Am I fully surrendered, am I yielded to Him? When a general says, "I surrender". What does He do? He gives up freedom, liberty, and all rights, everything. That's what Jesus was doing. He was making the final surrender of Himself to the Father and to the cross, crucifixion and death. It's easy for us to paint a pretty good picture of what the Christian life's all about.
We talk about answered prayer. We talk about our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We talk about all of these beautiful songs. We talk about all of the promises of God in the Bible. We can go on and on and on. But what about surrender? Can I honestly say, "Lord Jesus, in my total life I want full surrender. No grip of anything, full surrender. Send me where You want to send me. Take what You want to take. Send what You want to send. Full surrender. That's what Jesus was doing. In the shadow of the cross, He was saying to the Father, "Whatever You want. Not My will but Yours be done".
When is the last time you honestly said personally to the Lord, "Father, in every area of my life, I want Your will to be done. Not my will but Your will. Whatever pleases You is what I want to... that's what I want, Lord". He wants you to trust Him absolutely, fully with your life, believing that He will guide you, lead you, enable you to become the person God wants you to be. And I think with so many people who have talents and abilities and skills that never give them to God.
And I think about people who have reached, and I'm probably the oldest person here this morning. But I think about people who have come a long ways in their life. They've been blessed in many ways. But they've never said, "Lord, I fully surrender myself to You. No strings attached. I'm not holding onto anything. I want what You want. Take what You want to take. Here's my life". That's what discipleship's about. That's what Lordship is about. If I should ask you, "Is Jesus Lord of your life"? The natural tendency would be to say, "Yes". Well, if He's the Lord of your life, that means He's in charge of everything. Our conversation, our character, our conduct, all submissive to Him.
What would happen in your life if you absolutely fully surrendered yourself totally to Him, no strings attached? Lord, here's my life. What would happen in your life? What would happen to your prayer life? What would happen to your giving? What would happen to your conversations with other people? What would happen to your heart for people, whether in your family or you work with or whoever it might be, that you know are not saved. What would happen in your life if you fully surrendered yourself to Jesus Christ? Fully surrendered, holding nothing back. I surrender everything, I yield everything, Lord.
In your mind, if you were to say today, "Lord Jesus, yes, I surrender everything in my life to You". How do you think God would respond? He doesn't want what you own, He wants you. He wants the surrender of yourself. God can take anything we have anytime He gets ready. That's not the issue. The issue is does He have me? Does He have you? What is it that you hold back on? What is it that's keeping you from being able to sing with all your heart? All to Jesus I surrender, watch that, not some, some to Jesus I surrender. No. All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. Have you ever said that to Him in prayer? I want You to have everything, Lord. Yield myself to You completely.
And Jesus had been seated around the table with His disciples and you remember when you read these passages that the disciples were thinking about other things, and they were arguing with each other about who's the greatest among them, and here's Jesus facing the cross. Can you imagine what God would do in your life if you said, "Lord, I've been playing Christian long enough. I've been touting that I'm a child of God long enough. I want You to have everything. Starting today, I want You to have everything. I surrender all that I am to You".
Do you know why most people won't do it? It's the devil's trick. But do you know why they won't do it? They're afraid that God is going to take something they want, that they're holding onto. And they'll say, "Well suppose". And I've had people tell me. Suppose God takes my son. What kind of God do you think He is? Suppose He, suppose He does this. This idea of God that He's just waiting to do something that's horrible and painful. That's not who God is. He just wants you to surrender yourself to Him so He can bless you, bless others through you and give you the opportunity of enjoying a side of the Christian life that most people will never enjoy.
The Christian life is a way of life led by the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives within us, who has the very, very best from God's point of view. Does that mean no sickness, no sorrow, no heartache, no wants, no needs? That's not what that means at all. Because some of those things that we don't want in our life, God wants them in our life for the simple reason He knows that's what it'll take to finish off, to sand out, to carve out of our life things that are hindering us, keeping us from being the person He wants us to be.
If you had to surrender yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, fully, completely, no strings attached, no, nothing, nothing withholding from Him, what would that mean in your life? What is it that you're holding onto you know in your life already that God doesn't want there? Is it somebody? Is it some thing? Is it a way of life? Is it a habit in your life? What is it that's keeping you from being fully, totally surrendered to Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? Because we know this. He has the best plan. You can't improve on God's love. Can't improve on eternal life. What will it take to bring you to full surrender to Jesus and discover what He would do in your life if you gave Him full charge? Say, "Lord, here's my life". Do you want to live your life and just wonder what would happen?
See the Christian life is not what most people think it is. And some people will tell you, "No, I'm not going to be a Christian," because they have an idea if you become a Christian, you give up all fun. You give up your rights. You have to love even the wicked, and on and on and on they go. But the truth is, when you surrender your life to Christ fully, life begins at its best. That's when life begins at its best. So what will it take to get you there? What change would you have to make this morning if you said, "Before I walk out of this building, I'm going to be fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior".
What would it take? What would happen in your life if you really and truly surrendered your whole being to Him and just said, "God, whatever You want is what I want. Whatever You will is what I will and I'm listening, ready to be obedient". What changes do you think He'd make in your life? You may be surprised, He wouldn't make as many changes as you think. But I have to think about this. I can either fully surrender my life to Jesus or I can keep playing this game that I'm going to do the best I can, Lord. I'm going to do the best I can. Nobody's perfect. I know You fully understand, God. Yes, He does. He fully understands what you're missing, but He's not going to force you into life at its best.
Life at its best is a life fully surrendered. Life at its best is a life that discovers just how much God truly loves you. He forgives us of our sin. He writes our name in the Lamb's Book of Life, never be erased. He's fixed it so that whenever we die, we're going to heaven. And He's also made it possible for us to live this life here with difficulty, hardships, troubles and trials? Yes. But anchored to eternal life. Anchored to the God who is in control of all things and who will get us to heaven one of these days.
Now listen carefully. If you don't have Jesus, what do you have that gives you any assurance about anything today, tomorrow, next year, until death? If you don't have Jesus, what do you have? If I should ask you, "Do you believe the Bible? Oh yes. How much of it do you believe? Genesis to Revelation". If you really believe that, surrender your life to Him. Give your whole self to Him. Give Him the privilege of blessing you to the maximum of your potential, surrender to God. When you breathe your last breath, what matters? Only one thing, your relationship to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, you surrendered your life to Him.
So nobody can answer that question for you but you. But I pray in Jesus' name that you will be honest enough with yourself. When you get home, whatever it might be, to say to Him, "Lord, maybe I don't understand it all, but I'm surrendering everything to You, everything. And so, I hear this, "But suppose God does this and..." No, no, no, no, no. May I inform you that God's trustworthy? He's trustworthy. You can trust Him. He's not going to pull any tricks. He's not going to deny you anything He's promised. He's going to do exactly what He said.
And for all of us who are believers and children of God, He says, "Absent from the body, what? Present with the Lord. Safest place to be is surrendered to Him. And I trust that you'll think seriously about it. Can you honestly say fully surrendered? You may have to say it today, tomorrow and the next day and the next week, the next month, next year. Because we don't always stay fully surrendered. But have you ever come to the place where you've said in your life, "Fully surrendered". Amen?
Father, we thank You for loving us. We thank You for being patient with us. We thank You for Your forgiveness. We thank You that You wrote our name in the Lamb's Book of Life. Thank You for the assurance of heaven, But right now, Lord, we want You to work in our hearts, so when we think about every aspect of our life, we can honestly say to You, "Oh Jesus, I want to be fully surrendered". We want to be able to not just sing it, but to testify of it. All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, and in His presence daily live. Make that our prayer, Father, In Jesus' name, amen.