Surrendering Our Self-Centered Nature

Christians were asked in a poll: What keeps you from witnessing more?  The unexpected answer was: I am not proud of the way I live and I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite.  I might suppose if we were aware of the way many Christians live we wouldn’t be surprised at the answer.  Over the years I have witnessed Christians doing things that would make one wonder if they were even saved.  But it is not for any of us to judge.

Whoever said living a Christian life would be easy?  The Apostle Paul having written much of the New Testament said in Romans 7:15 – 16 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”

We must never underestimate the power of sin and never try to fight it without the power of the Holy Spirit.  We must understand we are surrounded by Christians trying to live up to Christ’s teachings and standards in their own strength, frustrated, disillusioned, depressed and close to giving up.

Romans 7:17 – 20 –  “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

It is so much easier to trust in our own strength, which is our comfort zone, than trusting in God or Christ.  Too often we fail to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit that God has given us, knowing we cannot surrender to our self-centered, selfish natures that seem to control our behavior.

Ephesians 1:13 – 14 – “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

When we are saved our proof is being sealed by the Holy Spirit.  It is our guarantee that we have been forgiven, redeemed and have become adopted into the family of God.  If we do not have the Spirit of God within us we do not belong to Christ.  The Spirit is the guarantee of coming immortality, a guarantee of our inheritance and the pledge given to believers by God to assure them that the glory of the life to come, promised in the gospel, will actually happen to them.

John 15:4 – 5 –  “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

That ought to be our clue that “apart from me you can do nothing”.  The next question may be: what does it take to get connected and bear fruit?

Many people try to live a moral, good and honest life.  However, Scripture says the only way this can be done is by following Christ and live as He taught.  We must be connected into Christ for our nourishment.  If not we could be missing the special fruits and gifts that He has available for us.  We are told we cannot, in most situations, live a holy and righteous life in our own strength.  It requires the Holy Spirit’s power that is available to us.  We are told without the Spirit we can do nothing to constantly comply with God’s commandments.  It is not possible to live a Christian life on our own.  There are millions who have proved this Scripture to be true.

Unfortunately, not everyone who accepts the Holy Spirit accepts Him without reservations and conditions. Many believers are not willing to stop living as the world lives. We are told we must repent and live differently.  However, many are not willing to surrender this carnal, selfish nature that we were born with.

We receive the Holy Spirit but are unwilling to allow Him control over our lives because we may feel surrendering our life would keep us from being the success we so desire. When the Holy Spirit checks us, too often we ignore Him, for what He’s bringing to our attention that needs changing interferes with our lifestyles or ambitions. When we want something, we deliberately do not pray about it because we don’t want to be told no. For example, a person buying a home in 2005 that they could not afford in 2009.  Then, when crises come and the home is undervalued from the mortgage, they wonder why God allowed the crises to happen. The Bible says we must develop the mind of Jesus and live as He instructed. That is not possible if we refuse to accept the Holy Spirit’s checks and guidance and refuse to surrender our selfish control with which we were created.

I have mentioned that over the past years our Bible study group meets every Friday.  We often discuss how difficult it is to stay in constant communication with the Holy Spirit.  Our self-centered nature assures us that we can make decisions on our own. We don’t need anyone’s help.  In fact, it seems we have a tendency to ignore the Holy Spirit except during daily prayer time.  Yet, we realize that God gave us a Helper to live the life God intended.  There are numerous Scriptures that tell us of the power of the Holy Spirit that is within us.  Then what seems to be the problem that allows us to ignore or refuse to ask the Holy Spirit for help throughout the day?  We believe it is either the unwillingness or inability to surrender and completely allow the power of the Holy Spirit to control.  Is this thinking that we can do what we do better than if God were to help?  Do we not believe that God can open doors and He can also close them?  Do we forget that God can control our destiny?  Do we think that God wants us to be failures and poor?  (Unless He has a plan for something greater in our future. Or we refuse His help!)

Recognize, we must surrender who we were?  It is our self-centered nature, out of control, that is capable of sinning.  We are constantly struggling with, should we do it my way or God’s way?  Our battle is whether we rely on our strength or trust in the Spirit of God that is within us.

Surrendering our self-centeredness is not something that is instantaneous as raising a white flag on the battlefield.  Surrender seems to become a daily struggle.  If there is such a thing as a complete surrender to the Holy Spirit it comes only when one becomes spiritually mature.  It would be like believing we no longer are self-centered, which will never completely happen.

I have met Christians who seemed to have totally surrendered. They appear to have a life of hope, joy and peace.  No situation seems to distress them.  They totally rely upon the Holy Spirit to meet their every need.  They never seem to worry.  They believe that all things work to the glory of God.  Whatever hand is dealt to them, they feel confident to play it out knowing God has a plan and purpose.

If you are a Christian struggling with life in general, you may want to assess whether you are surrendering daily more of your self-centeredness nature.  Shouldn’t we all be accepting the Holy Spirit’s guidance, doing life God’s way?  Surrendering may be the hardest part of living a Christian life.

Matthew 6:33 – 34 – “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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