Most who have seen a white flag being raised, know it to be a symbol of surrender. The white flag has been used for centuries as a means to signify the end of a conflict by giving up one’s quest to achieve victory. It is the admittance that one no longer has the will to fight and that the adversary that they have fought against is superior.
In our lives, we too are in a battle. Spiritually, you and I are caught between the enemy of our soul (Satan) and the love of a Holy God who wishes to commune with us in a relationship. Every day a war is waged for our mind, our freedom, and our eternity. Whether you realize it or not, your eternity is constantly being decided each day that you live. Whether you will spend it in God’s presence in Heaven, or in eternal damnation and separation with Satan in Hell – the choice you and I make can determine where we will spend our spiritual life after a physical death.
In Luke 9: 23-24 (NIV), Jesus is talking to His Disciples when he says:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
To follow Christ and to follow God’s will, you must do as Jesus said in verse 23, which is to “deny yourself”. Jesus uses the words, “take up their cross daily” which means to crucify the flesh and to bear the weight of the call into the body of Christ. He uses the imagery of the cross, because when Jesus was crucified He died so that our sins could be forgiven. After His death, He rose again which represents new life. Galatians 5:24 says in the NIV, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” So, we are to crucify our flesh by submitting ourselves to God daily.
The crucifixion of one’s flesh or self-denial is among one of the hardest things that we as humans can do. It is due to our sinful nature that our flesh is proud and unwilling to yield to the Spirit of God. Romans 7:18 says in the NIV, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” It is because of our sinful nature which was passed down by Adam & Eve, that we are unable to surrender without opposition.
Daily, there are many examples of those who fight in order to maintain what is believed to be “freedom” or “control”. However, with all of the chaos that our world portrays, there is hardly any freedom or control that comes when we fail to surrender to God. Much of the distress that is shown in our society, is because of unrepentance and pride. Humanity in its fleshly nature is too proud to surrender itself to God. A great example of pride is that of the common atheist.
Atheists are those who stand on the notion that God does not exist because there isn’t concrete evidence of His existence. However, the element of pride enters the picture because those who are atheists would rather avoid accountability to someone who is higher. Essentially, the idea that someone is higher than humanity is absurd in the mind of someone who doesn’t believe. As a result, a life without accountability is lived – however the danger in living as such is that consequences from sin result in both a physical and spiritual death.
Romans 8:7 says in the NIV, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Since we are born into sin, then the art of surrender does not come easily. To surrender, one must be willing to relinquish their pride, and admit that they themselves are a sinner. The difficult part is acknowledging any wrongdoing which is usually concealed through active denial and a continuation of sin. However, just as Jesus said to deny ourselves, there are two principles that He also references when we are at the crossroads of a decision.
After Jesus gives the command to deny oneself and take up their cross on a daily basis, Jesus also utters the phrase, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it”. To save one’s life means to believe that they are in control, or that they are their own savior. Secular humanism involves the thought that humanity has the ability to reason and conjure up solutions outside of any other deity (in this case God). It is the refusal to admit that one needs a savior or that one must bow in a surrendered position.
When Jesus mentioned the above phrase, He meant that anyone who was adamant about believing in their own ability to save would eventually lose their life. We cannot save ourselves because the remedy for salvation is Jesus Christ. If we as humans could save ourselves from destruction, then much of the chaos we have seen throughout the existence of life would have been solved a long time ago. However, it is because of the sin that remains within humanity, that we have mass casualties in war, violence that is uncalled for, injustice in societies around the world, and other sins which are a result of human pride.
However, Jesus offers the remedy in a second phrase when He says, “but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” What He means is that in order to receive salvation, the element of surrender must come into play. To lose one’s life in this context means, to give up their own way of living and thinking, to surrender everything to God through Jesus Christ. The reward of surrender is a life of stability, peace, and, of course, a life of eternal security with God.
To lose your life as Jesus says, is to give up everything for the cause of Christ. When Jesus called the original Disciples, he beckoned them from the lives that they had already known. Many of them were entrenched in their occupations and family lives. However, the call of Jesus was one that meant leaving everything behind to follow Him. In doing so, all of His Disciples were used mightily to accomplish the great commission. Even Judas who was the traitor who sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, he too was used in order to accomplish the crucifixion of Christ. Had the Disciples refused their calling, they would not have furthered the Gospel of Jesus Christ during their time or in future generations.
God is calling you to a life that is surrendered and free from the power of sin. There are so many tragedies and acts of sin that are plaguing our society today. In the mind of the person who is unrepentant, they can’t seem to figure out why so many things are occurring in our world. However, once your life is surrendered to God through Jesus Christ, then and only then will your eyes see the truth of why our world is the way it is. You will also be secured eternally, and your life will be a living testament of the power of a good and Holy God. Wave the white flag, and give your life to Christ to experience a life that is made new.