Most of the songs of my childhood church still ring meaningfully in my inner being. As a child, I would lift my voice loudly and proclaim,
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest,
and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.
Pastor Joe Fuiten teaches that Lenten fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are intended to bring our lives under greater control of the Spirit and lesser dominance of the carnal or fleshly self. When I focus on the spiritual issues in this season, I realize how little I allow the Spirit to have control of even the simple things. My self longs to be the influencer of my attitudes, desires, and decisions. Self control comes in at least two versions. One type of self control is godly and good and the other is self centered and anti-Spirit.
Godly self control is that experience of being under the Spirit’s leadership and influence and being able to do and be what you have decided to do and be. Sinful self control is the raising up of the self as The Ultimate Controller and, as a result, seeking to make the Holy Spirit serve the self. This is the essence of idolatry – for the one in control is your god.
The Spirit led life is one of yielded authority, power, and control. When we surrender the lordship of our lives to God, He takes control over what is rightfully His in the first place. After all, it is His world and we are the creation of His hands. All authority, power, and control are rightfully His.
From my perspective, the process of Christian maturity is best summarized as “the growing surrender of the self to the person, work, ministry, and demands of Jesus. Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are tools in the handbag of self-surrender to Jesus.
In surrendering to Jesus we are inviting the Holy Spirit to assume control of our lives. My theology allows for the idea that the Spirit is in control of our lives, but that we can have pockets of resistance. For example, the Spirit is in control of your life, but you are still bringing your habits under His control. Saved? Yes. Totally surrendered? Not yet.
I agree with Dr. Fuiten. Each day I am invited by the Spirit to yield further control. This invitation is for my good because yielding to the Spirit always produces Godly and Christ-like things.
Less of me. More of Thee.