THE BASIS AND MOTIVE OF CONSECRATION
Consecration is spoken of not only in Romans 6 but also in Romans 12. Why do we have to consecrate ourselves? Paul exhorted us through the compassions of God. What are God’s compassions, and what are God’s mercies? Romans 1 through 8 speaks of God’s compassions and mercies. Doctrinally speaking, chapter twelve immediately follows chapter eight. God’s compassions and mercies are covered in the first eight chapters. Formerly we were sinners, and God’s Son came to shed His blood for our sins. Chapters three and four are on the blood; chapter five is on forgiveness, while chapters six through eight are on the cross. On the one hand, the blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins; through the blood we are forgiven. On the other hand, the cross is for the crucifixion of the old man; through the cross we are released. Thank the Lord that He was crucified on the cross to die in our place and He is now also living in our place. Based on these compassions and mercies, we are exhorted to consecrate ourselves to God.
Brothers and sisters, God created us with a purpose, and He also saved us with a purpose. God’s intention is that we express the life of His Son and partake of the glory of His Son. In eternity past God had a purpose; He did not want just an only begotten Son, but many sons. Hence, Romans 8:29 says, "Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers." God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son. Then He bought us and redeemed us so that He could gain us. He gains us in two ways. On God’s side, He sent His Son to die for us and to redeem us. As far as our redemption is concerned, we are His slaves. Thank God that He has bought us! We are those who have been purchased by God. God said to Abraham, "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed" (Gen. 17:12). Hallelujah! We have been begotten of God, and we have been bought by God.
We have been bought by God, and we belong to God. Yet He allows us to go free. As far as His sovereign right is concerned and as far as redemption is concerned, we belong to God, but He does not force us to do anything. If we want to serve mammon, He allows us to go, and if we want to serve the world, He does not stop us. If we want to serve our bellies, God does not stop us, and if we want to serve idols, He allows us to do so. God does not make any move; He waits until one day we say, "God, I am Your slave not only because You bought me, but also because I want to be Your slave willingly." Romans 6:16 speaks of a most precious principle of consecration. Please remember that we are not God’s slaves merely because of the fact that He purchased us. "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, his slaves you are whom you obey?" On the one hand, we are His slaves because He has purchased us, but on the other hand, we are His slaves because we want to be such voluntarily. Brothers and sisters, as far as the law is concerned, we became His slaves the day that we were redeemed. But as far as our experience is concerned, we become His slaves only after we consecrate ourselves. As far as God’s sovereign right is concerned, we became His slaves on the day we were redeemed. But as far as experience is concerned, we become His slaves the day we willingly tell the Lord, "I consecrate myself to You." "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, his slaves you are whom you obey?" (v. 16). Therefore, no one can be God’s servant without being conscious of it. We have to consecrate ourselves before we can be His slaves. This consecration is a matter of our own voluntary choice. God does not force us, nor does Paul force us. He exhorted us and beseeched us. God will not force us at all. He wants us to willingly consecrate ourselves to Him.
Brothers and sisters, the overcoming life has much to do with salvation. When we were saved, we spontaneously had the desire to consecrate ourselves. The life we received compels us to consecrate ourselves. Every saved person has the feeling that he should live for the Lord, yet he does not have the strength to do so. Many things ensnare and frustrate him from living for the Lord. But thank God that He has given Christ to us so that we can consecrate ourselves to Him. When we were dead in sin, we could not consecrate ourselves to Him. If we continue to live in sin after we are saved, we still cannot consecrate ourselves to Him. But now that Christ has become our life and our holiness, we can willingly consecrate ourselves to God.
Mr. Panton once told about a black slave girl who was about to be auctioned. Two men were bidding for her, and the price was going up. Both of them were evil men, and the slave girl knew that she would suffer no matter whose hand she fell into. She wept and grieved. Suddenly another man showed up and joined the bidding. The first two men could not offer as much as the third one, and the girl was eventually bought by him. Immediately, he called in a blacksmith and broke her chains and declared that she was free, saying, "I did not buy you to be my slave. I bought you to free you." At that word, he walked away. The girl was bewildered. After two minutes she came to her senses, and she ran up to the man and said, "From this day forward until the day I die, I will be your slave." Brothers and sisters, this is the love of the Lord towards us. We are constrained by this love to tell Him, "From this day forward, I will be Your slave." Brothers and sisters, God has bought us, crucified us, and raised us up. Since we have tasted of His compassions and mercies, we should consecrate ourselves to Him.
Romans 6 tells us to consecrate ourselves, that is, our members to God, while Romans 12 tells us to consecrate our bodies to Him. These two consecrations include many things. During the past eleven days, we spoke about letting go and believing, and we pointed out that we will meet God’s requirement and live out His life when we do these things. God’s requirement is that we consecrate ourselves absolutely to Him. This requirement is an all-inclusive requirement. But we cannot do it by ourselves; we can only do it by the Christ who lives within us. Formerly we could not do it, but we can do it now because of Christ. We have received His mercies; therefore, we can consecrate ourselves.
When a Hebrew man bought a slave, the slave had to serve the master for six years. In the seventh year, the slave could go free. However, if he said that he loved his master and would not go out free, the master would bring him to the judges and the doorpost and bore his ear through with an awl. Then the slave would serve his master forever (Exo. 21:2-6). Brothers and sisters, God has saved us and bought us with the blood. He did not purchase us with corruptible gold but with the precious blood of His Son. Many Christians feel that they have to serve God for their conscience’s sake. But when we see the Lord’s preciousness, we will voluntarily and willingly consecrate ourselves to Him. When we tell the Lord that we are willing to be His slave, He will take us to the door and the doorpost, and He will bore our ear through with an awl. The doorpost is the place where the blood of the Passover lamb was applied. Today we are being led to bleed there as well; we are being led to the cross as well. We love the Lord and choose to be His slave forever. Because we know that He loves us, we are willing to serve Him forever. We have no choice but to declare, "Lord, You have loved me and saved me and released me! Lord, I love You and cannot help but serve You forever!"
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)