Will God accept you and me "just as we are"? How, exactly, does God expect us to respond to His workings in our lives?
On August 10, 1945, the surrender of Japan brought World War II to an end. After an atomic bomb was dropped on each of the Japanese industrial cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan had had enough. The nation sued for peace through the Swiss government, stating that the terms of the Potsdam ultimatum would be accepted if Japan's political structure could be preserved. On August 11, the United States transmitted a reply stating: "From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms." On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan made a dramatic broadcast, announcing the surrender to his people, It was unconditional surrender subject to the victor's dictates. Unconditional surrender — a complete capitulation signaling the end of hostilities, a total release of all rights, claims and privileges. It was this type of surrender that concluded the greatest war in human history. And it is exactly this type of surrender that God demands of true Christians! Do you realize what God requires from us? Complete capitulation — the end of all our hostilities toward God's authority and His way of life — total release of all rights and claims to our former, self-serving ways — absolute acceptance of all God's terms. However, instead of captivity and an uncertain future, which result from surrender in human wars, our surrender to God produces unlimited short-term and long-term blessings!
Two kinds of captivity
Humanity grows up in spiritual captivity, under an insidious yoke of bondage to sin and the death penalty sin incurs (Romans 6:23, Galatians 5:1). Humanity, in a very real sense, is at war against God and God's way! Humanity, though, does not know this, being blinded to its condition by Satan the devil, "who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). We all grew up in captivity to the works of the flesh, expressing the nature of Satan (Galatians 5:19-21). But God, according to His particular timetable, has guaranteed release for humanity from subjugation, beginning with a very few people at this time (Romans 5:6, II Corinthians 6:2, Isaiah 49:8). And one of God's major conditions for deliverance from Satan is unconditional surrender to Him. We actually come into captivity to God. We are to replace Satan's yoke of bondage with the easy "yoke" of Jesus Christ. God requires us to accept His way — the way that produces joy and every desirable blessing. God actually forces us to be happy. This "yoke" is indeed agreeable!
"Just as I am"?
Some will remember the old hymn that intones, "Just as I am, without one plea." The implication is that Jesus did it all, so there is nothing required from us. What heinous lies Satan foists on a deceived mankind! There is much we must do (I John 2:3-6). Our walk with God requires daily, willing obedience to His life giving laws. Rebellion or reluctance to wholeheartedly follow God is contrary to the submission required of us (I Samuel 15:23). God commands that we expunge the wrong ways of this world — those ways contrary to God's laws — the ways that produce death — from our thoughts and actions (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
The first steps
Jesus clearly explained to His disciples that it was His Father's sole prerogative to reveal Himself to whomsoever He will (John 6:44). And God is only revealing Himself to a small group at this time. We — you and I — did not "find" the only true God (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God found us! Within this context of our Father drawing us to Him, we heard God's call through His modern-day work through Herbert W. Armstrong, either by way of radio, television or the printed word. Further, we began to respond to the instruction to obey such basic commands of God as observing the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, eating clean meats and keeping all 10 of God's basic commandments (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 19:17)'. However, this does not mean we immediately or automatically come into complete accord with our patient and merciful Maker. To accomplish this requires experience and time — a total commitment to His laws, His principles and His ways and a desire to inculcate His will, His thoughts and conduct. This is all part of how we come to unconditionally surrender to our mighty Majesty on high!
Is any choice involved?
However, would God expect you and me to do all this unthinkingly, as automatons, without minds of our own? No! After we are called by God and start to follow His way, we must continue throughout life to choose to follow Him, to do exactly as His Word dictates. Remember, we have no choice what we obey — that is preserved in the Word of God, with Christ as the example of how to live the perfect way (John 12:49). Our choice is whether we obey God's dictates. Don't be deceived! And, as Mr. Armstrong has pointed out, the Bible does not contain a "Thou shalt" or a "Thou shalt not" for every single area of life in which we might find ourselves. It is in these areas that we learn how to apply the spirit of God's law — the give way — to obey God and continue developing His character. Satan would have you and me think that God is unfair not to let us find out for ourselves which is the right or wrong way to go. But God's laws keep us on the right path, off the "way which seems right" but ends only in death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).
Unconditional surrender the benefits
God's holy laws are designed to bless those obedient to them (Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Psalm 119:143,165). We have grown up in Satan's world (II Corinthians 4:4), held captive by the lusts of our flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God, through Jesus Christ's sacrifice, liberates us from our death-dealing sins (John 8:31-32, James 1:25). He gives us His Holy Spirit — His own mind and power — so that we can live His way and reap the benefits. God has given us several forms of encouragement to inspire us to unconditional surrender — spiritual atomic bombs, if you will. Two most positive ones include the blessings in this physical life that come from obeying God's laws (and that precede the gift of eternal, spirit life), and the positive example of Jesus Christ Himself, who never sinned. There is also a persuasive element that discourages us from reverting to our former ways: the prophesied lake of fire that one day will engulf this earth and purge it of anything left that opposes God (II Peter 3:7, 10). In that lake of fire the incorrigible — those who once knew the truth but discarded it, severing themselves from God by rejecting His Holy Spirit, in effect again declaring war against God — will be blotted out of existence (Hebrews 6:4-8, Revelation 20:14-15, Hebrews 10:27). God's great desire is to have us live forever. His gift of eternal life, however, demands the surrender of our wills to His. We must place God ahead of everything else (Luke 14:26). For those who would enjoy favor with God now, who would be under His protection in the evil days ahead and eventually would experience life eternal, unconditional surrender to our great, loving and merciful God is the only answer: "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). "And they [true Christians] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death" (Revelation 12:11). That epitomizes unconditional surrender!