There is a twofold aspect to Christian living. One is that God is at work in us to make us what He wants us to be. The other aspect is our willing response to His work in us so that we are cooperating with what He wants to do in us and through us. Paul expressed it so succinctly in Philippians 2:12-13, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. The verbs in these verses show the commitment or the consecration needed on our part to enable that to happen. In verse 12 the word for “work out” is katergázomai which denotes the concentrated effort required to fulfil a task. Eagle eyed folk will spot the “erg” in the middle of the word and recognise immediately that “erg” is the unit of work or energy in physics. The prefix “kata” in the word adds intensity, so what Paul envisages is a “concentrated effort to work out” the implications of the salvation we have received by faith.
The verbs for “work” and “works” in verse 13 is energeō from which we get our English word “energy”. God is at work in us as believers. Our response is to work out in practice what He is inwardly working within us. We are to energetically work out through our lives what He is inwardly motivating and energising us to be and to do.
Let us look at a couple of ways in which that commitment might work out practically, or how we might be personally consecrated to do the will of God. But first of all a few comments on what is meant by consecration. We see the theme of personal consecration or commitment to God in the words of the well-known hymn by Frances Havergal, Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. In the hymn the worshippers offer themselves completely to God in these words as they ask God to take the following aspects of their lives, my moments and my days… my hands… my feet … my voice… my lips… my silver and my gold … my intellect… my will… my heart … my love … myself. The hymn concludes with the declaration coming from a total commitment, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
The word “consecration” is not used in the New Testament as such in most translations, but the concept is certainly there. There are many words in the Greek New Testament that come from the common root (hag). No, this is not a demeaning word for older females! It has the meaning to be “separate” or to “separate from”. Such words are hagios meaning “holy”, and hoi hagioi meaning “the saints”. Others are hagnos = “pure”; hagiosunē = holiness; hagiasmos = sanctification; hagiazō = sanctify. When you look at the context where these words are used, you find a common theme. It is separation FROM the world and its values etc, and separation TO God for His purposes. So a “holy” person is not just someone who tries to refrain from doing evil. Rather a holy person is someone who seeks God’s help to do that, but who also commits themselves completely to do the will of God, again with God’s help. Such consecration marked the life of Jesus and it must mark the lives of all His followers.
1). Consecrating Ourselves To Live Totally For God. Some theologians in earlier times have talked about a Divine Exchange. In simple terms it could be expressed in words such as these, “He died for us so that we might live for Him.” That is the theme of Paul’s teaching in 2Corinthians 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. The believer has a new focus in life, doing God’s will and not his or her own. If Jesus sacrificed His life for us in His death, then it means we should live for Him for the rest of our lives. He gave Himself, drawing His last breath for us. We must give ourselves for Him, drawing our last breath for Him. And all the other breaths till then.
2). Consecrating (Or Presenting) Our Bodies Into His Hands In Serving Him. As part of this total consecration to God it is necessary for the believer to give all they are and have to Him. Paul puts it like this in Rom 12:1-2, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. He had already used a similar expression in Romans 6:13 of presenting or handing oneself over to God, Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Of course this makes sense when we realise that our bodies are God’s gift to us. They really belong to Him. We realise they are doubly His because He redeemed us through His blood. His death brought us life. We belong to Him, lock, stock and barrel. Our bodies are His so that He can do in and through us (as we willingly respond to Him) what He wants to do.
Acting on this truth we can offer ourselves to Him in this way, “Lord I offer myself completely to You. I invite You to do in my body and through my body whatever You wish.” It also means that we can ask the Lord for healing whether it be in body, mind or spirit. We can pray an unselfish prayer for healing, “Lord heal me for Your sake so that I can do your will to your glory, for the rest of my life.” I continue to be amazed at what God does in the lives of those who pray such an unselfish prayer. They become more open to God as they pray. He heals them to enable them to fulfil His eternal plan and purpose for their lives, and not just to remove the pain.
Blog No.114. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 11th March 2013