How do we know when we must try harder, and when we admit we cannot free ourselves and rest in Christ?

Hi Sam!

Thank you for your time in considering questions.

I’ve been reading a lot on SSA and came to the Living Out conference in London in June. I don’t struggle with this personally, but both your teaching and that of others has been really challenging. I agree that those who are SSA do not have a higher calling- we are all required to surrender everything to Christ, and I think it’s incredibly hypocritical of the church to apply a different standard on sexual sin to other sin, so I don’t want to take my own sin lightly. I think what I’m struggling with, and would value your thoughts on, is how we go about surrendering areas that we are not obedient in so we can live the radical life of a disciple. And how do we know when we must try harder, and when we admit we cannot free ourselves and rest in Christ? I am aware of so much idolatry in my life and areas that I’m simply refusing to allow Christ to reign. If these involved my sexuality then I’d be excluded from ministry and subject to church discipline, but because they’re “respectable sins” I’m not. I’m not sure if it’s ok that there is only snails pace progress evident in my life, since that wouldn’t be ok in most churches re sexual sin. Are there habits/support systems that you recommend to lay down areas of idolatry and stay away?

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Thanks so much for being part of this, Susie!

That’s a great questions. And the most immediate thing to say is that every single one of us struggles to some extent with the challenge to give all of life to Christ. None of us is there yet.

The call of Christ himself is very clear. When he calls the first disciples (see Mark 1:16-20) a few things are very clear: Jesus is calling them to himself — not to religion, not to morality, and not to church. They (and we) are to follow him. Next, we see that they are called to serve him in his work. We mustn’t think we can be devoted to Jesus while indifferent to his cause; nor must we think we can be committed to his work while not being devoted to him. We see too that their response is both immediate (they do not delay) and total: they are willing to put Jesus before their family and work.

This is the same call to which we must respond. Jesus is to come first, before everything else in life. For all of us, there will instinctively be aspects of life we want to hold back from Jesus; things we might be anxious about entrusting to him. Perhaps it is an area of guilty pleasure we don’t want to surrender, something we continue to hang on to. This is always going to be an impulse within us in this life. The old self will not want to let Christ in to each area of life.

So this is what helps me in my own battle to surrender all to Christ: to remember that no area of life will ever be improved by holding it back from Jesus, or ever ruined by giving it to him. He will always, always want what is best for me. There is nothing I know more about than he does. It is as simple as that. So it helps me to realise that giving all to Jesus is actually a mercy to me; it protects me from my self. Jesus is willing to be involved in and committed to each part of life. That’s actually a beautiful truth about him. Nothing in my life is irrelevant to him or beneath his interest. He’s not so big that he overlooks the details of my life, nor so small that he can’t do anything about them.

If you’d like to think a little more about this, this is a message I gave on it a few months ago.

Needless to say, it is a huge help to have other believers around us who are rooting for us to be doing this and who are needing us to root for them, too. This is not a solo project. We need each other.

The Lord bless you!