I am the oldest of three girls, and I am a stereotypical first child. I am a perfectionist, natural leader, loner, and caretaker. Although my sisters and I are the best of friends now, we had some epic fights as kids. I was a legitimate goody-two-shoes, but my mom often reprimanded me with some version of the words: “You are the oldest, you should be the least.” This used to drive me insane especially as I entered my teenage years. I could not understand why I always had to give up my will for the benefit of my sisters, even if they were clearly in the wrong.
Can you relate?
Innately, we all want to be the best and the greatest. Bestselling self-help books encourage us to “live our best life now”. And if you do not get or achieve what you set out for, you must be at fault, your faith must be weak. You must work harder, be stronger, believe more, and have more self-confidence. You must beat the competition and prove how awesome you are at all costs. We love reading these books and listening to these podcasts because they feed our innate desire for greatness. In this doctrine, there is little space for God and a lot of room for you. Even so-called Christian teachers tell us if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen by having more faith or praying more fervently.
The Word of Faith movement (or prosperity gospel) is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to introducing this “name it and claim it” theology to their version of Christianity (as I have mentioned before). Central to this teaching is the “force of faith”. Followers of this movement believe that our words can be used to manipulate the faith-force and that this force is independent of God’s sovereign will and God himself is subject to these laws. Gotquestions explains that “This is nothing short of idolatry, turning our faith – and by extension ourselves – into a god.” Furthermore, this movement teaches that God created humans in his literal image as little gods. Before the fall, humans could call anything into existence by using faith-force. “After the fall, humans took on Satan’s nature and lost the ability to call things into existence. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ gave up His divinity and became a man, died spiritually, took on Satan’s nature upon Himself, went to hell, was born again, and rose from the dead with God’s nature. After this, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to replicate the Incarnation in believers so they could become little gods as God had originally intended.” (See this link and this one for more reading).
If you know anything about the Bible, this is preposterous and heretical, but have you ever shared a quote by Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, or Paula White, to name a few? Have you felt inspired by messages by megachurches such as Hillsong and Bethel? Then you have probably promoted this theology on your timeline.
The first sin is our greatest sin
In complete contradiction to the false teachings mentioned above, we know that God designed humans to be co-creators and co-rulers with him in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were made in his image to be in relationship with him and for his glory. Mankind was not created as little gods, but representatives of God here on earth. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good“ (Genesis 1:31).
The only condition was that they did not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could enjoy everything else. Then Satan sowed the seed of doubt by asking Eve if she thought she would die if she ate from this tree. “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) From page 3 of the Bible, we want to be like God, knowing what he knows and wanting control.
From the earliest account of human history, we were dissatisfied with all the good God has provided for us. We wanted more.
Humans wanted to resist the plan of God for a perfect relationship by following their own will.
God alone is the Sovereign Creator of the Universe (Genesis 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:15) and does not need faith—He is the object of faith (Mark 11:22; Hebrews 11:3). God is spirit and does not have a physical body (John 4:24). Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27; 9:6), but this does not make him a little god or divine. Only God has a divine nature (Galatians 4:8; Isaiah 1:6-11, 43:10, 44:6; Ezekiel 28:2; Psalm 8:6-8). Christ is Eternal, the Only Begotten Son, and the only incarnation of God (John 1:1, 2, 14, 15, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:1). In Him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). By becoming a man, Jesus gave up the glory of heaven but not His divinity (Philippians 2:6-7), though He did choose to withhold His power while walking the earth as man.
Our hope is in the Lord, not in our own words, not even in our own faith (Psalm 33:20-22). Our faith comes from God in the first place (Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 12:2) and is not something we create for ourselves. (Source)
What is our response to God’s love for us?
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”James 4:7,10
God loved us before the foundation of the earth and sent his son to die for us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8 and John 3:16). There is no greater love than this. The fact that God wants us to be with him for time and all eternity should fill us with such humility that we cannot help but surrender our all to our Heavenly Father – our relationships, our health, our possessions, ambitions, and plans. We surrender it all to God because he first loved us.
How do we surrender to God?
In the weeks to come, we will study the following instruction of Jesus in-depth to examine how we should surrender to him.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 16:24-25
First, we must decide if we want to “come after” Jesus.
Do you want to be a disciple and follower of Christ? Do you want to allow Jesus Christ to be the master of your life, thereby surrendering to him as a follower and servant and not a co-master? This is both a once-off decision and a daily decision “to die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31) to our own self. This decision is paramount to the discussion of surrender.
Once the decision is made, we can learn how to
In the coming weeks, we will find out why the way of this sinful world completely contradicts the teachings of Christ and why many false teachers try to convince us otherwise.
But most importantly, you and I will hopefully grow closer to Jesus, filled with less of ourselves and more of him.
You know you are singing the song already.