Entire consecration to God is the seed bed of the life of holiness and growth in grace. In his book, The Secret of Spiritual Power, G.D. Watson defines the “zone of entire consecration” by highlighting the nature of consecration. He explains: 1. “…entire consecration has reference to our relation to the will and service of God.” 2. “Entire consecration is…the cordial yielding up of all our good things… to the perfect will of God, subject to His disposal at all times.” And, 3. “…the motive that prompts entire consecration is a longing for a better experience, a desire to be like Jesus.” Ultimately, he explains, that “consecration is of the nature of making a will, of giving ourselves up a free-will offering to God, of making a quitclaim deed of ourselves and all our effects” (60-61). Watson goes on to say, “The fullness of salvation (entire sanctification) is conditioned on perfect trust in Jesus as a present Saviour, and on the other hand this perfect trust is conditioned on the perfect yielding of self up to God. Hence, if there is any defect or shortage in consecration, it most surely blocks the way to the entrance into full salvation” (65). So, how do you know when you have entered “the zone of entire consecration?” Watson outlines for us “the three great lines of consecration” that ensure us when we have made a full consecration and can believe for full salvation (66).
1. Be anything the Lord wants you to be. Surrendering your life to be what the Lord wants you to be is a two part surrender. You must surrender all of your abilities and inabilities to Him.
In surrendering your abilities you are first letting go of your dreams. The plans that you have constructed for your life, you now lay at His feet. As the hymn writer testified:
“Though the way seemed straight and narrow,
All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
At my feet in ashes lay.”
(Margaret J. Harris. “I Will Praise Him”.)
Surrendering your abilities also means that you renounce any trust in your abilities. Psalm 20:7 is the theme of the consecrated heart- “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7 NIV)
On the other hand, surrendering to be anything the Lord wants you to be must also include surrendering your inabilities. This may seem counterintuitive and unnecessary, but God will require it of you. It seems natural, and even expected, for God to require his children to surrender their dreams, ambitions, abilities, and strengths, but why would He ask for your weaknesses? The reason is because God’s call will often require you to operate in areas of weakness. This idea is anathema to the current leadership culture. Popular leadership experts teach that you should forget your weaknesses and focus only on your strengths. They say that your calling will ALWAYS be in an area of strength or ability. For example, John Maxwell says this in his book, Leadership Gold, “…you cannot grow to your maximum potential if you continually work outside of your strength zone… do you know what happens when you spend all your time working on your weaknesses and never developing your strengths? If you work really hard, you might claw your way all the way to mediocrity! But you’ll never get beyond it. Nobody admires or rewards mediocrity” (59). Later on in his book he makes this emphatic statement, “I determined to stay with my strengths and not work on my weaknesses” (101). Examining his comments in light of worldly, human wisdom, I would say he is right. If it is up to me to grow to maximum potential, then it seems reasonable to abandon my weaknesses and focus only on my strengths. However, this is where spiritual truth is paradoxical to human wisdom.
God’s call to surrender your weaknesses is not about ability or inability, but who is operating in and through you. It is a matter of trust, dependence and control. God called Moses to operate in his weakness, not his strength (Exodus 4:10). He called Jeremiah to operate in his weakness and not his strength (Jeremiah 1:4-8). He called the Apostle Paul to operate out of weakness and not strength (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In each case, the Lord explained to these men why they had to surrender their weakness to Him. To Moses He said, “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:12). To Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Do not be afraid… for I am with you…” (Jeremiah 1:8). And, to the Apostle Paul He reassured him by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, God asked all of these men for absolute trust, absolute dependence, and absolute right of way to work through them in spite of their perceived weaknesses. When God has all of you, strengths and weaknesses, it is then that His power can rest upon you and work through you for His glory (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is then that you are able to accomplish far more for Him than if you had resisted and insisted on only doing what you naturally have the ability to do. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Most people are familiar with the hymn, I Surrender All. It has been translated into multiple languages and sung around the world. However, the story behind the hymn illustrates perfectly God’s requirement that you consecrate yourself to be anything He wants you to be. In his own words, the author of the hymn, Judson Van DeVenter, recounted the moment in which he surrendered to be what the Lord wanted him to be:
“The song was written while I was conducting a meeting at East Palestine, Ohio, and in the home of George Sebring (founder of the Sebring Campmeeting-Bible Conference in Sebring, Ohio, an later developer of the town of Sebring, Florida.) For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work…. For many years I had been studying art. My whole life was wrapped up in its pursuit and the thing farthest from my mind was active Christian service. My dream was to become an outstanding and famous artist. After graduating from college, I studied drawing and painting under a well-known German teacher. To help me financially, I taught school and eventually I became supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania.
“It was during this period in my life that a revival was held in the First Methodist Church of which I was a member. I became very interested in these meetings as a personal worker. The Spirit of God was urging me to give up teaching and to enter the evangelistic field, but I would not yield. I still had a burning desire to be an artist. This battle raged for five years…. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. I surrendered my all- my time and my talents. It was then that a new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. I wrote, I Surrender All, in memory of the time, after a long struggle, I had surrendered and dedicated my life to active Christian service for the Lord.”
This is the first part in a three part series. Please check back next week for part two.
When was that moment in your life, when you surrendered to be what the Lord wanted you to be. Leave your comments below.
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All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, unless noted otherwise.