–May of 2009
“You are a People Holy to the Lord!” (Deuteronomy 7:6)
All the great Christian truths are prefigured in the Old Testament; they are announced ahead of time and prepared for through symbols and prophecies. Easter is prefigured in the slaying of the paschal lamb, baptism in circumcision, the Eucharist in the manna and so on. The same is true of consecration. Consecration is the devoting or setting apart of anything or anyone to the worship or service of God. The race of Abraham, the nation of Israel and the tribe of Levi were thus consecrated. The Tabernacle and later the Temple were both consecrated to God. The Hebrews devoted their fields and cattle and sometimes the spoils of war to the Lord. According to the Mosaic Law the first-born both of man and beast were consecrated to God.
When anything was thus consecrated to God it became His special possession and was designated as “holy to the Lord.” When this designation involved places or things it carried with it certain restrictions upon their use. For instance, the Temple and all of its vessels and furnishings were set apart to be used exclusively for the worship of God. Any other use or purpose would defile them. When this consecration involved people, such as the nation of Israel, it carried significant behavioral and relational obligations. To be the special possession of a Holy God required the children of Israel to “love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their strength” and to “fear the Lord their God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul” (Deut. 6:5, 10:12). The book of Leviticus sets out the behavioral consequences of being God’s exclusive people in one oft repeated phrase, “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” (Lev. 20:26) This call to holiness is repeated approximately fourteen times followed by specific ways holy people are to behave.
The New Testament builds upon the teaching of the Old Testament to explain both the privileges and the responsibilities of being consecrated to the Lord. Peter uses God’s special relationship with Israel to illustrate that the Church is “a chosen race, a royal priesthood , a holy nation, a people for God’s own procession , so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (I Peter 2:29). Paul uses what we learned about the Temple to teach us that we “are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (II Cor. 6:16).
Though the New Testament uses symbolism, it moves beyond the symbolic to make the act of consecration very personal and real! The Apostle Paul does this in his appeal to the Roman Christians. He wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
This is an unconditional surrender to God of my total self and of God’s complete possession of that self for His own perfect will. It is surrender so real and so radical that Paul likens it to a “living sacrifice.” What does it really involve and mean?
It means a total surrender of my body to God.
The word “body” here means all of one’s life, since human life is lived in the body. Before we came to Christ, we used our body to “fulfill the lust of the flesh.” But now, as a Christian, our body is used for His glory. Our body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit . . . and we are not our own” (I Cor.6:19). Because of this we seek to “glorify God in our body, and in our spirit, which are Gods” (I Cor. 6:20).
It means a total surrender of my mind to God.
The mind is at the center of all my behavior. My body doesn’t know right from wrong, but my mind does. A mind transformed by the renewing of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment of Holy Scripture will resist the values, goals and activities of the world even though it exerts steady pressure from without to conform us to its way of thinking and acting. If the world can get me to think like it thinks, then it can get me to behave like it behaves. It has become so invasive that it now follows us into our homes and assails us with a world view that is diametrically opposed to God’s Word. It lures us to look at life through the lens of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I Jn 2:16). But a mind that is totally surrendered, Spirit renewed and Biblically armed, will be able to “keep my body under, and bring it into subjection” to Christ.
It means a total surrender of my will to God.
The mind controls the body but the will controls the mind. So it is all important that my will is surrendered to His will. The key to true inner strength and spiritual power lies in a totally surrendered will to the complete will of God. Oswald Chambers said it succinctly when he declared that “to be our utmost for His Highest is not a matter of wrestling, debating or reasoning, but of surrender.”
There is a very simple prayer, first prayed by baseball great Bobby Richardson, that I want each one who has read this article to pray before you lay this paper aside. It would be very beneficial to continue to pray on a regular basis. This is the prayer: “Dear God, Your will—nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. Amen.” Herein is both the heart and joy of consecration!