The Life Surrendered
From Notes of Addresses on Mark 10:46-11:11
When first we came to the Lord Jesus Christ, we came because we had a need of Him: that is the thing that brought us. We had a need that only He could meet. We have an illustration of this in the well-known instance of Bartimaeus. It says, they brought him to Jesus.” He was not long in making a decision when he heard who was passing by. He cried out in very great distress, and the cry of distress always gets an answer from the Lord. It does even today. Bartimaeus came for what he could receive from the Lord.
Now in the incident concerning the colt it is just the other way about. You notice the expression, “the Lord hath need of him.” Did it ever occur to you that our Lord has a need that you can meet? I think I might also add that He has a need that only you can meet. What a wonderful privilege is ours, who have come to Him and had had our desperate need met, that we should have an opportunity of meeting a need that He has.
The story of the colt is very simply told. First, it was standing in a very significant place, “where two ways met.” It stands, as it were, at a crisis, just as we reach a spot where we must make up our minds—we must come to a decision one way or another. We come to a spot where the road divides.
Secondly, it was a colt, “whereon never man sat.” It had never before been controlled. It was unbroken, self-willed, and thus fittingly illustrates the natural wilfulness of man in the flesh. The mind of the flesh “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
Thirdly, it was tied. It was in bondage and needed to be liberated before it could be of any use to the Lord.
These three things, which were true of the colt before ever it was requisitioned, supply us with features which we shall without difficulty recognize as applying to ourselves.
If this little colt was the firstling of an ass, it had been at the fork of the road before. In Exodus 13:13, you find that the moment it was born the question had to be decided if it was to live or die. It was dependent upon the death of another, a lamb; otherwise it could not live. There was that crisis in its very earliest history. We have to face a similar crisis, for a more significant than flattering statement follows, “all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.” It is not very flattering that we should be put along with asses! Yet, redeemed we must be by the blood of the Lamb of God if we are to live and be of service.
It is useless, my dear friends, your attempting to take up Sunday School work, or any other kind of “Christian” work, until you are in the benefit of Christ’s redemption work. That is where we begin, and having begun we come to a place where we have to decide whether we are going in God’s way or in our own.
The question is, how is this colt to be used, and who is to use it? There is a life that has been spared, and given for service. Who is going to get that life of service? There are two that are putting in a claim for that life of service. There is the old master and a new One.
Who is the old master? Not exactly Satan this time. There is another bondage that Scripture speaks of: there is the bondage of SIN. So we find people who have been redeemed, who would like to be of service, yet they are in bondage. They have to confess, “When I would do good, evil is present with me”; until out of bitter distress the cry is raised, “Who will deliver me?” We read of that in Romans 7.
Sin, then, is the old master. In the space of about sixty verses (Rom. 5:12-8:3) you find the word “sin” occurs about forty times, Look, for instance, at verse 14 of chapter 6, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” It is “sin” you notice, not “sins”; not the wrong things that we do, but the evil principle within us, from which springs every wrong thought and word and deed. So we read, “Ye were the servants of sin.”
How can we get free from the dominion of sin? There is only one thing that can set me free, and that is death. “He that is dead is freed from sin,” as Romans 6:7 says. A slave dies and you say, “What a relief”: for his death has secured his deliverance from unbearable conditions. The biggest slave would not be troubled by sin if he died, for there is an end to that state of things. But in what way can that apply to us who are not actually dead? How can a man die and yet be living here? Can a man’s history close without actually dying?
Yes, it can. Let me use this illustration. I met a young lady one day who said to me, “I am going to see the end of Miss —,” I said, “I did not know that she was ill.” She replied, “She is not ill, she is going to be married, and therefore won’t be Miss — any longer.” Her history as Miss — was terminated without her actually dying. Just so our history in connection with Adam, and with sin, that overbearing master, can terminate without our actual death.
The death of Christ has terminated our history in connection with our old master, for, “our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” This is how God takes account of the situation. Our “old man” signifies all that sticks to us as coming down from Adam, all that we were as connected with him. So closely were we identified with the cross of Christ that His death was our death in God’s reckoning. He died to end sin’s rule and authority over you, so that you may have a right and title to say, “I have no more to do with that old master.
You may perhaps say, “But I don’t experience that!” No, neither did you experience His dying for your sins. But He did both. The Word of God assures you that in His death you died. If your faith enables you to say, “He died for me,” it should enable you to say, “I died with Him.” Then you are done with servitude to sin.
Not only have we died with Christ but we are risen with Him. So we are to reckon ourselves “to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). We now have a life that is beyond death and beyond the dominion of sin, and we have a perfect right to say so. Consequently we are to be loosed from all bonds and let go that we may serve the Lord.
“Yes, that may be all right to faith,” some may say, “but when it comes to experience sin does not seem to have done with me, for I find I often do just what I used to do when sin was my master.” You feel yourself tied like the colt, or bound with grace clothes like Lazarus was when brought alive out of the tomb. God is allowing you to find out how fearful a thing sin is in His sight. It is a terrible discovery.
What am I to do? As Romans 6:13 says, “Yield yourselves unto God.” In this verse the word “yield” occurs twice, and there is a change in the tense which is very difficult to render in English. If we are allowed to give a free translation we might put it, “Neither be yielding at any time your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but be yielded definitely to God . . . as instruments of righteousness.” If we have yielded ourselves to God as a once accomplished act, we shall find power to preserve us from daily yielding to sin.
Let us go back to the colt, as an illustration of this matter. It was loosed, set free for the Lord to use. Three steps can be traced.
The owners of the colt admitted the Lord’s claims. That clearly was the first step. What have you to admit? Well, you have sung before now,
“I love to own Lord Jesus
Thy claims o’er me divine.”
The One that loves you has a claim upon you. I ask you in His presence, Are you prepared to admit His claims paramount over you? Thank God! if your answer is, “Yes.”
Then the next thing is, submit. The colt was brought to Jesus that He might use it as. He pleased. What did you sing?
“Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee.”
Did you mean it? If so yours is a surrendered life. You have been brought to Jesus that you may go in the way that He pleases.
What is the last thing? They put Jesus on the colt. Once it had been an uncontrolled thing. Nobody had ever controlled it before. Now it is controlled by Him, and transmitting Him as He pleases. That was what He wanted the colt for.
Do you know what He wants your life for? He wants you to carry Him victoriously into the kitchen, into the workshop, behind the desk, into the workroom, behind the counter, into the Mission-field—anywhere that He wants you to go. You may have the honour of bearing Christ. He has got somebody working at your elbow. He wants you to take Him there. His name is on you. You may take the virtues of Christ with you.
Years ago I was having breakfast with a friend in Kent. One of his boys was misbehaving at the breakfast table. He said, “Come here, my boy. What is your name?” The boy replied, “Father, you know my name.” He said, “What is your name?” He replied, “Paul.” “What is your other name?” and he told him his other name. “My boy, that is my name. Paul, if you behave at school this morning as you have behaved at this breakfast table the last twenty minutes, you will get my name in the black books at school. Would you like that?” He said, “No, Father.” I was listening to that. Oh, I thought, many times I have to grieve over getting the sacred Name into the world’s black books. When you show an unchristian way or habit, they will say, “There’s your Christian!” The whole shame of that will come back on the sacred Name that you are carrying.
Take the name of Jesus with you. You could not do anything. He wants you to carry Him into the sphere in which He has set you to live and walk. May we all have grace to do so.