III. WHEN DID CHRIST COME TO LIVE IN US?
The overcoming life is only found in Christ. But when did Christ come to live in us? It was at the time that we were saved. At that time we received Christ, for "He who has the Son has the life" (1 John 5:12). "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name" (John 1:12). At the time we believe, we receive Christ. Second Corinthians 13:5 says, "Do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are disapproved?" Who are the ones who are not disapproved? "Him who comes to Me I shall by no means cast out" (John 6:37). Have we come to the Lord? Yes, we have. If we have come to the Lord, we will by no means be cast out. What then do we have? We have Jesus Christ in us. Therefore, if anyone says that we do not have Christ within us, even though we have believed in the Lord, and that we ought to receive the word of Christ, he is making a great mistake. If we are not saved, we should receive Christ, and if we are saved, Christ is already living in us.
IV. HOW TO LET CHRIST LIVE HIS LIFE OUT OF US
Now we know that only Christ can overcome. We also know that Christ is living within us. We know moreover that when we believe, we have Christ. Yet day after day we remain the same and nothing is changed. What should we do so that we can let Christ live His life out of us? There are two ways or, one may say, two conditions.
The First Thing to Do Is Surrender
It is true that Christ is in us. But if we do not allow Him to work, He will not work. We must submit ourselves to God. What is to surrender? Surrendering is to not promise God that we will do His will and do good; it is to not covenant with God to do what we cannot do. Surrendering is to let our hands go from our life. It is putting into God’s hand our good, evil, merits, shortcomings, our past, future, problems, life, and ourselves, and single-heartedly allowing Him to work.
If you do not let your hands go, God cannot live His life out of you. Suppose you are giving a book to someone. If your hand does not let go of the book, the other person cannot have your book. When you come to God, you should tell Him, "I am giving You all that I have, including my good, evil, what I want, what I do not want, what I will, what I will not, what I can do, and what I cannot do." Are you willing to do this? If you are not willing to do even this, God will not be able to do anything. Are you willing to hand over the "you" that has failed? You have to be responsible for this step. Today God only asks you to do one thing: hand over yourself, the sinner, to Him.
Surrendering is not an act in which God asks you to do what you cannot do. It is just handing over everything including your good, evil, merits, and shortcomings. I have read the story of a young man who said that he was willing to do everything except one thing: he was definitely not willing to preach to Catholics. Brothers and sisters, are we willing to hand over this heart of unwillingness?
There are two kinds of surrender. One is to surrender to God for Him to use us, while the other is to surrender to God for Him to work on us. Many people think that to surrender to God is just to allow Him to use us. Brothers and sisters, God is asking us to do one thing: to henceforth hand ourselves over to Him. This is the meaning of dying to the self. This is the meaning of being delivered from the flesh. You have to hand over yourself. Are you willing to do this? If you are willing, you will succeed.
It is very difficult to take your hands away from the people and things that you love. I can tell you frankly that it is very difficult to do this. The thing that will cost the greatest price to give up will be the thing which you hold most tenaciously. For example, you may realize that you fail most often in the matter of friendship. But in this very matter, it is very difficult to say that you give to God all your friends, good or bad, and ask for God’s deliverance in the matter. Take another example: suppose you pray about the sickness of one whom you know nothing about. It is very easy to believe that God will help him. If no one is going to help him or heal him, it will not bother you. But if it is your parents or your husband or wife that is sick, it will not be easy to commit them to God. If no one will help them or heal them, you will fear that they may die. This shows that the more you love someone, the more difficult it is for your hands to give them up.
Today God is not asking you to do any good works. He is only asking you to commit everything you have to Him. You have enough failures to make your heart tremble. I had one sin which, until a few months ago, I was not able to overcome. I did not have any faith to commit it to God. It was like this once, twice, three times, four times, and even many times. Finally, I decided to commit it to God just like that. Today, you do not have to care about anything else. All I want to ask you is if you are willing to commit yourself completely to God’s hand. Whether it be concerning a person, the world, some sin, or some matters that you cannot give up, all you have to do is to be willing to say to God, "I commit to You what I am reluctant to give up. Please work in me to the extent that I am willing to give up." I am not afraid of your reluctance to give up someone. I am not afraid even if you are a hundred times weaker than you are. I am not afraid that you would commit more sins than you do now. I am only afraid that you are not willing to commit yourself to God’s working. Are you willing to commit to God your loved ones, your sins, your problems, and the things that are displeasing to God? It is all right even if you have a thousand or ten thousand weaknesses or failures. The question is whether or not you are willing to tell God, "I commit everything to You."
Surrendering is not taking a bitter pill; it is not suffering to death. Surrendering is just allowing God to work within you until you become willing.
Surrendering does not require you to do what you are not able to do. It is just putting yourself in the hand of God and allowing God to work, to the extent that you become willing to obey God and give up everything. If you are willing, God will have a way. God does not worry about how many sins you have or how evil a person you are. God is only concerned that your heart be in His hands.
In short, surrendering is a submission of our will; it is committing ourselves into the hand of God and allowing Him to work to the extent that God can accomplish His pleasure.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 08: The Present Testimony (1), Chapter 31, by Watchman Nee)