The Role of Consecration in Overcoming Sin
In this interview with Pastor Steve Gallagher, we look at what marks the life of a worldly Christian and what distinguishes a life truly consecrated and full of the Holy Spirit. (from Podcast Episode #451 - |Victory| A Life and a Soul Surrendered)
Nate: So Pastor Steve, throughout our Victory series, we explained that victory comes when we do God's will, which is mercy. We need to allow His love to dwell in our hearts and then go out toward other people. To do this requires that a man be willing to consecrate his will to the will of God. Can you explain a little bit about what it means to consecrate your life to God?
Pastor Steve: It boils down to exchanging my will for God's will. In the simplest terms, that's what it means. In daily life it’s hard for me to come up with examples. But I think you have to examine what fills up your time, whether it’s watching tv or golfing every weekend. You have to take those things to the Lord and ask Him if He is okay with those things being a part of your life. You have to earnestly take it to him. It can't just be a flippant, cheap, quick prayer. It needs to be something that is ongoing. When you do that, He will lead you.
He will do it usually through a feeling or a sense about a certain thing. He will either make you not feel right about it anymore, or He will give you a green light and you will be able to go out and really enjoy yourself and know that you're pleasing God in the midst of it. It works itself out that way. But beyond any of that, it really comes down to a consecration of your will. You need to get down before God in a very determined, intentional way, and you say “God, from now on, I am going to obey your will.” You need to tell Him you are going to seek out His will for everything in your life and determine to obey it and not just live your life the way you want.
Nate: One of the things that you said in one of the books you wrote is, “Until we come to the place of consecration where we abandon our wills and rights to God, we'll never really know what it means to be full of the Spirit.” Why did you say that?
Pastor Steve: You can't be full of the Spirit and be the king of your own life, it doesn't work that way. I'm going to beat up on some Pentecostals out there for a minute, although I am one. There are millions of Pentecostals out there who speak in tongues and think they're full of the Spirit. Yet Monday through Saturday they are totally in self-will. Those kinds of people are in delusion and are not full of the Spirit just because they speak in tongues.
They are full of the Spirit when God is living out the life of Christ through their lives and when the fruit of the Spirit is being exhibited and manifested in their daily life. That's what it means to be full of the Spirit. You can go out and do a few nice things for people, but that's not the same as Jesus Christ living His life of love and mercy towards others through you. When you feel Him doing that through you, it is such a tremendous thing.
Nate: So, let's talk about somebody who has truly repented of sexual sin. They really have told themselves inside “I am wrong, I know how I’ve been living is wrong. I believe I have experienced true brokenness.” Now they want to consecrate their life to God and to live out His love towards others. You already touched on this a little bit, but could you expound on that?
Pastor Steve: As far as I have seen, the majority of American Christians think of the Christian life in these terms: “I got saved, now I go to church, and one day I’m going to go to Heaven. They believe that it is as simple as that. But when you look at what the Word of God says, it sounds a little different. For instance, Christians love Ephesians 2:8-9,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
You hear that over and over in sermons, books, and on radio shows. Those are the kinds of scriptures they focus on. That may be one of the most quoted verses in Scripture, but it goes on in the following verses to say,
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
You're not saved just so you can feel like you have the assurance of going to Heaven one day. I'm not even sure if someone who thinks that way is saved at all. God is saving you by bringing you into a new life. It's a life that involves walking away from self-will, from sin, and it's a life that involves walking into a place where God is going to use you. Paul is saying that you were created as a new creature in Christ for a specific purpose.
It reminds me of Romans 10:9, where there is another verse that we hear all the time,
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
You hear that all the time, but usually when this passage is quoted you don't hear what verse ten says,
For with the heart, a person believes, resulting in righteousness.
You do not have one without the other. You do not receive justification without sanctification, and you do not receive salvation without a life of good works that follow.
I believe very strongly that every single true believer has a specific call on his or her life. An area of mercy and need that God wants them to focus on. The Lord will open doors up if you will seek Him with all your heart to find out exactly what His will is. He's got a plan and it's not the cheap kind of cliche you hear from people who say “God's got a plan for your life.” He does have a plan for your life, but it entails a life of sacrifice and giving yourself away to fulfill the needs of others.
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Nate: Yea, I think that really tests our consecration and our devotion. How many people want to get rid of sexual sin just because it's like this horrible scourge in their life. They want to be rid of all the consequences, the pain and the misery that follow sexual sin. When people have that kind of attitude, it doesn’t evoke a great response. On the other hand, there are some people reading who really want to surrender to Christ but are scared to say the words. They are either afraid of what surrender will really look like, or they're aware of their own weaknesses. They may have thoughts like, “Look at my track record. Look at how many promises I've made to God and not kept.” So, if a person is asking themselves, how can I know that I will really live this decision out? What would you say to them?
Pastor Steve: I would say that it is very common, typical and even normal for someone who has been addicted to sin to question whether anything is going to be different in their life when they try to change. There must be some kind of a breakthrough spiritually inside the person or they will not have any evidence they can point to where God began to change them. But if there has been a breakthrough, then they have every reason to believe because Scripture shows that when that happens things are going to be very different. When God is living inside of you that is a whole new ball game. It’s no longer just trying to white knuckle through temptations. Now you've got the Holy Spirit living in you who's going to help you say no. It’s a process of growing into freedom and a victorious life. You have your failures for awhile, but then you come into a full life in the Lord.
As far as the fear of surrender to the Lord, what is there to be afraid of? Afraid of a life of joy instead of the misery of a self-focused life? Afraid of a life of freedom instead of bondage? Afraid of a life of peace instead of the constant anxiety associated with self-will? Afraid of a life of fulfillment instead of meaninglessness? Afraid of people's gratitude? Afraid of hearing one day, well done my good and faithful servant? What is there to be afraid of?
I've lived a life of real consecration since about 1985, so I've got a few years under my belt and I can tell you, I have never regretted throwing myself in complete abandonment into God's hands and saying, “Lord do with me what you will.” Still, I’ve had times of suffering. I had a lot of opposition when raising this ministry up and even persecution in some ways. But how do I compare that to the life I would have had? There is no comparison. I've had a fulfilling, meaningful tremendous life and not because of Pure Life. It’s come through what I've developed between me and the Lord. All I can say is there is nothing to be afraid of. If you're experiencing fear inside, it's the enemy who's planting those thoughts and creating negative scenarios in your mind. That does not come from the Lord. My advice is to throw yourself into God's hands and watch what He will do.
Nate: Amen. I get a lot of comfort from looking at the disciples, because they really did try to follow Him even though they had obvious failures in their walk with God. Jesus still said to them, “Fear not little flock, it's my Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” And then He gave them the Holy Spirit to empower them to live that life. We're not on our own in this surrender.
Pastor Steve: And that's when the change happened at Pentecost. Before the Holy Spirit came, they were always questioning everything, arguing, or trying to be first and just doing everything wrong. After Pentecost, everything changed and it's the same for us.