By Bryan Hill
Being in control is something that I have always struggled with, a comfortable place to set up camp for me. Although control is comfortable, it is not always the healthiest place for me to be, especially in my relationship with God. Upon entering into a relationship with God, the first thing I needed to give up was seeking to have control over my life.
Romans 8:23 tells us that, although you and I make certain decisions of obedience in our walk with God in regard to the acceptance of salvation, the ultimate act of saving can only be accomplished through His work alone. The only thing we have to offer up to the Lord is our obedience, and in order to fully submit in obedience there are things that must be given up.
Think about the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He had kept everything the law required according to the religious standards, yet when Jesus told him the one thing to give up which was completely in his power and control to do, he turned away discouraged. The thought of doing everything he knew to do and still coming up short plagued this young man with spiritual blindness. Jesus understood this man in ways that the man did not understand himself—there could be no competition in his heart, money or otherwise, concerning the kingdom of God.
God has made His Son Jesus known to us in plain sight. He has offered us everything we need to know Him. When we make the decision to know and follow Jesus Christ on a personal level, we open a doorway to freedom that can never be experienced any other way. We not only come to know Jesus, but we receive the Holy Spirit––our helper, that Jesus sent for us so that we can operate with discernment and submit in obedience to God. Not only is the Spirit working within us just the beginning of what is to come as the kingdom of God approaches near, “but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
Paul is communicating that the salvation process we experience is real and tangible, but there is still hope for more which is promised to come when Jesus Christ returns—an outward transformation of what has been transformed inwardly. Paul understood that if we receive all God has promised at once, there is the tendency to become idle and flee hope, for the very definition of hope is expectation of that which is yet to be.
As we walk the Christian life together, let’s realize first and foremost that we cannot save ourselves. Our salvation was secured once and for all on the cross by Jesus’s obedience to the Father. Let us be a people that give up control, submit in obedience, and “eagerly wait for it with patience” (v.25).