KNOW THE TRUTH
The first imperative is to know that the crisis is available to all. In the sixth chapter of Romans, Paul underscores four times over the importance of "knowing." If a man in prison is convinced that a friend with a ring of a man in prison is convinced that a friend with a ring of keys stands ready to open his cell and set him free, hope will rise within him, and he will call confidently for help. If, on the other hand, he believes that he is doomed to rot away in the bowels of the dungeon, he is doomed to rot away in the bowels of the dungeon, he will do just exactly that. A young person tied up on the inside, with the surging tide of impurity smothering his soul, must know beyond all doubt that there is One who is ready and willing to be his emancipator.
Surrender is the next step. I can hear someone say, "Wait a minute. I surrendered the day I got saved." But there is a vast difference between surrendering to BECOME a saint, and surrendering AS a saint. There is much more involved in the latter than in the former. Let me illustrate.
Some years ago I decided to transfer from civilian status to military status. I had a choice before me. I could enlist in either the Army, the Navy, or the Marine Corps. I chose the Navy. One day I sealed my choice by signing a piece of paper at the recruiting office. From the moment of my reception into the Navy. I was its property. I had gone out from the jurisdiction of one form of government, and under the sway of another. I had ceased being my own boss. I had ceased being a civilian and have become a sailor. I had SURRENDERED, in a sense, to the United States Navy. But I soon discovered that what I had "signed away" on paper had a great many more implications than I had ever suspected. I found that I had to salute even the lowliest petty officer. I had to make my bed according to new orders, eat my food according to orders; clean my clothes according to orders, get to bed according to orders, and even get out of bed according to orders. Every phase of life was involved, and I was robbed of every vestige of my cherished independence. Well, in that kind of situation the word "surrender" begins to take on new dimensions. Some men in the Navy refused to order that kind of surrender, and were either discharged or sent to special "corrective" camps. But other men realized that this type of life was to be expected, and they submitted to it--they surrendered anew.
I think the point of the illustration is obvious. When a sinner submits to Jesus, his submission must be wholehearted and complete, or God cannot save him. But, having so submitted, he must realize that every facet of his life must be gathered together and offered in a once-for-all surrender to his newfound Master.
The third step to sanctification is often the hardest for people. The Bible says, "God ... purifying their hearts by FAITH" (Acts 15:8, 9). Nevertheless, most people feel that it cannot possibly be as simple as all that. "Faith to be sanctified must be different from faith to be saved." But it is not. What was the last step you took in order to get converted? You reply, "I just trusted Christ to save me." All right, use exactly the same trust for this need! God has said, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification …" (I Thess. 4:3). Now you know Jesus died to make it possible, the Spirit has come to make it available, and you must surrender and trust the Holy Spirit to make it REAL TO YOU.
I shall never forget one of the students who attended the school here some years ago. He was one of our biggest problems for some time after he came. It was plain to him and plain to us that he was still chained in inward selfishness. Then one morning I met him in the doorway of the dining room and he looked me squarely in the eye and said, "I'm clean over Jordan." It was figurative language, but we knew what it meant. The wilderness of his former Christian life was behind him at last, and the blessing of a new clean life was ahead. He had experienced the greatest crisis of the Christian life. Have you?