By Doug Beacham
Many of us have heard and seen the military command, “Present arms.” If unarmed, it indicates a salute with the right hand.
I think of this in light of our church’s continued stance of attention when it comes to holiness and sanctification. The apostle Paul appealed to Roman Christians “by the mercies of God” that they should present their bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1, NKJV). He followed with this admonition: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (12:2).If armed, there is a quick snap as a rifle is moved from the shoulder to a vertical position in front of the soldier. It is a sign of respect and flows from the soldier (or soldiers) already in a position of “attention.”
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul referred to the “armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7). In the same letter he referenced “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (10:4, 5).
The goal of life is more than being delivered from the dominion of sin (although that is obviously important, according to Romans 6). The purpose of such deliverance is that we “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). Paul’s tenses in 6:13 are important. The first “present” in the first part of verse 13 (not printed here) is a present imperative.
The second “present” (printed) is an aorist imperative. As people redeemed by Christ and set apart for His glory, we do not continue to offer our “members” (any part of our body, a word used of weapons) for unrighteousness.
Redeemed, sanctified people must make a conscious decision of mind and will to stop living according to the dictates of our flesh and the spirit of the age. Instead, we present ourselves (the aorist denotes a clear point of determination) as being people who do not live as the spiritually “walking dead” but as those who are “alive in Christ”; therefore, our life in every aspect is surrendered to righteousness and God. That is an act of total surrender.
There may remain pockets of resistance to be transformed, or areas in life where the long conformation of the world is being confronted and straightened; but in the sight of God and in our inner person, we have taken our stand and made our decision.
The goal and focus of sanctification in our lives is thus towards living as “new creatures” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are a “new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15; 4:24; Colossians 3:10), manifested through the church, so that the principalities and powers of the world will know the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). God’s sanctifying work in us is to reveal His glory and the glory meant for all in Christ.
This is not a life unaware of, and immune to, the temptations and vulnerabilities we confront in this life; rather, it is a life that is profoundly grateful for the mercies and grace of God that have delivered us from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:12-14). We are therefore no longer children of darkness but now sons and daughters of God who walk in the light (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5).
Our emphasis on holiness this year is a clarion call for us to “present arms.” It requires our “attention” and ears to listen to the voice of the One who calls us. It requires us to have our spiritual “weapons” of truth, integrity, honesty, peace, grace and love ready to be used for the righteousness of God.
Over this summer several thousand IPHC teens and young adults from across the United States will gather in Daytona Beach, Florida. Hundreds from across Latin America will gather in Costa Rica, and many from Europe will gather in Hungary to pursue holiness.
Many of them are already struggling with patterns of the world that have ensnared them. Addictions from the chemical world and from the digital world have filled their minds, hearts and bodies. They long for genuine freedom, for authenticity, for hope and for love.
They long to know that God is real and alive. They long for more than a movie or catchy song. They, like all of us, want to experience the wholeness, the genuine humanness of what we are meant to be in the redeeming, sanctifying love of God.
I ask you to join me in praying that these young people will encounter the life-changing power of the mercies and grace of God. They will inherit most of this century and it will be their generational assignment to speak truth and love to a world far different than the world for which our generations were prepared.
Their minds are already wired differently due to growing up in the digital world. But the human condition, longing, and hope remain the same: the wholeness that comes from the transforming life of the Son of God, Jesus the Lord.
It’s time for holiness and sanctification to get our “attention.” It’s time for full surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It’s time to “present arms” with weapons of righteousness. It’s time. Regardless the language or culture, it’s time.
This article was published in the June 2016 issue of Encourage.