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A reader asks: 

“I would appreciate a discussion of the concept ‘yielding’ in

Romans 6:13

Connected with this, I think, is the phrase in the prayer in the form for the Lord’s Supper, ‘ . ..that we may daily more and more with a true confidence, give ourselves up unto Thy Son Jesus Christ.’ I am interested in the object of the true confidence, and the ‘giving one’s self up’; is this active, passive, both or neither? Where does this fit into the experience of the Christian?” 

The entire verse referred to in Romans 6:13 reads: “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” As the reader suggests, this same thought is expressed in the prayer of the form for the Lord’s Supper. 

The key to the entire verse from Romans 6 is found in the words, “as those that are alive from the dead.” We are reminded that we were dead in trespasses and sins. We died in Adam. Now we live, for we are raised from the dead in Christ Jesus. 

The implication is that when we were created in our first father Adam we lived. We were created in the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. We loved God with our whole heart. We knew God in love and we served Him in love. Our whole inclination was to devote ourselves to God in praise to His Name. With our eyes we saw the wonderful beauty of the flower, the trees, the lion, and the stars of the heavens. With our ears we heard the song of creation arising from the birds in the trees, of the wind in the pines, of the babbling brook, and the joyful rushing of the waterfalls. With our hands we touched the silky petal of the flower, the furry animal, the luscious fruit. We used hands and feet to care for the garden. All the while our lips declared the exuberant joy of our souls, “My God, how great Thou art!” 

But sin came. Eve lent her ear to the deceptive lies and blasphemy of the tempter, allowed her eyes to look covetously on the forbidden fruit. Her mouth watered. Her hand almost spontaneously reached out and plucked the fruit. She set her teeth into it and ate it. She extended her hand with the forbidden fruit to Adam. He saw what she had, he listened to her, took it, and likewise ate it. Together they yielded their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. That is, they used the members of their bodies, which were given to them to use to the glory of God, to transgress God’s command, and thus to sin against Him. 

The result is that we are all born in trespasses and sin. We are by nature dead in sin. Sin is not a mere act which we can perform or not perform at whim. Sin is a power that enslaves us, rules over us, and drags us down ever deeper into greater sins under the righteous judgment of God, so that our end is everlasting destruction in hell. Because of our depraved nature we can only yield ourselves to sin. We hate God; we crave the works of darkness. We always stand in rebellion against God and all His commandments. The very command not to sin arouses in us the urge to do it. Our thoughts are enmity against God, the very imagination of our hearts is evil. We always try to exalt ourselves as if we were God. Therefore our eyes lust after sin, our ears are attentive to sin, our mouths speak evil continuously, our hands reach out for evil. In one word, we use all our members to transgress God’s commandments. We yield them as instruments of unrighteousness to sin. 

By the wonder of grace we are delivered from the bondage of sin through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The living Christ makes us new creatures, born from above by the work of regeneration. The Spirit of Christ implants in us the life of Christ, thus spreading abroad in our hearts the love of God. We love God. We hate all that is of darkness. That does not mean that our natures are renewed. Sin still wars in our members. Our natural inclination is still toward sin. But the power of sin is broken, so that sin no more has dominion over us. We recognize sin as transgression of God’s law. We can and must fight against it, also as it still wars in our members. The new man in Christ has a daily fight against the old man of sin within him. 

Therefore Scripture admonishes us to “yield ourselves unto God as those who are alive from the dead.” God does not deal with us as automatons. He works in us by His Spirit as in rational, moral creatures, who by the grace of God are able and willing to do according to His good pleasure. By the means of His Word, and in answer to our prayers He makes us sincerely willing to fight sin, that is, no longer to yield ourselves to the sinful inclination of our natures. Only then can we also use the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness unto God. Though our sinful nature draws our eyes to vanity, the new life in Christ causes us to look away. Though our natural inclination is to listen to the enticing songs of lust or the slanderous tongue of sinners, by the grace of God we close our ears to all that is evil. Though sinful words slip so readily from our lips, we pray: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, 0 Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). See also Psalm 141:3-4

Positively, we surrender ourselves in prayer and childlike trust to God, that we may bring forth fruits of righteousness unto Him. This is the idea of the prayer in the form of the Lord’s Supper. Our confidence is never in ourselves, but our confidence is in Christ, Who has begun a good work in us and will surely finish it. Therefore this act whereby we “give ourselves up unto Christ” is not a mere passivity, but is an act of faith, whereby we pray, “Have Thine own way, Lord, for Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.” Only in that way do we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ unto the perfect man in Him. 

Thank you for writing.