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Pointers along the way #161

The danger of false surrender
- Jacob Ninan

Sincerity of heart or good intentions cannot guarantee protection from deception. God tells us to be alert, because the devil is out to get us (1Pe.5:8). He tries, of course, to get us to sin. After we fall he tries to lead us into condemnation, discouragement and hopelessness. He also tries to deceive us into believing what is false, about God, His ways, ourselves, others, etc. He is extremely good at this, being possibly the cleverest of all created beings (Ez.28:12), and having had thousands of years of experience. He is the father of lies (Jn.8:44), and he tries to deceive us by mixing lies with truth. One of the ways he deceives sincere Christians is through a false surrender.

Sincere people who want to be radical in obeying God, and especially those who believe in being led by the Holy Spirit (Ro.8:14) become susceptible to a special kind of deception. Such people have surrendered their lives entirely to God. They have understood that God wants them not to lean on their own understanding but to trust in the Lord (Pr.3:5), and they have decided to deny themselves, carry the cross and follow Jesus (Lk.9:23). The danger is when they translate all this to mean that they give up their power to reason, evaluate and choose, and allow themselves to be 'led'. Deceiving spirits will be only too glad to lead such people astray.

If we surender ourselves in this way, we may begin to act upon impulses, feelings, thoughts that come up suddenly, Bible verses that flash into our mind out of nowhere, etc. We may think that if we don't obey them immediately, we might lose the opportunity, or make God angry with us. If our commonsense raises its head, we would quash it by thinking that we must not lean on our own understanding. We may also have a feeling that God is calling us in a special way which others cannot understand, and think that we have to pay that price for following Jesus. But if we start along this way we will ultimately make fools of ourselves, ruin our testimony and lose out with God also.

Our ability to reason and 'judge' is one of the good things God has created us with. We are not to set that aside. A spiritual man is to judge all things (1Co.2:15). He uses natural and spiritual abilities together (v.13). Our reason is to be used properly, subject to the overall authority of the Holy Spirit. Even when we listen to 'spiritual' preachers, we are to judge whether what they are saying is from God (1Co.14:29;1Th.5:20,21). When verses come to our mind, examine if they are appropriate for us.

Since we are accountable to God, God wants us to be in control of our lives. We are to be subject to the word of God and the Holy Spirit, but we are responsible for making the decisions. When we subject ourselves to elders it must still be by our choice and not by being forced.

Be especially careful when there is a pressure on us to act, and when we are being tempted with thoughts of being someone special.