Let Go and Let God?
Many groups—including Christians—take the phrase “Let go and let God” to heart. The idea of getting out of the way and letting God take over is appealing and has a spiritual sound to it.
In that spirit, many people believe that God calls them to surrender with the hope that this surrendering will allow God to clean them up.. I can remember as a child regularly singing “I surrender all.” The problem with “surrendering” is that it is not a Biblical concept. How exactly would we do this? Without doubt, we must submit, humble ourselves before God and be obedient to Him. Submitting is not easy because it is not passive. It is active. It is echoing the attitude of Jesus, “not my will but yours be done.”
So then, does the Bible teach “Let go and let God”?
Not exactly—look for yourself. You could start with this sermon by John MacArthur. Here’s a quote: “In fact—you see—if you take the view that it’s all just let go and let God, what are you going to do with all of the New Testament exhortations? What do they mean then?”
“Put off and Put on”
We would do well to set aside the exhortation “Let go and let God,” in favor of “Put off and put on” as in “put off the old man” and “put on the new man.” (Ephesians 4:17-24 and Colossians 3:5-11).
Overcoming lust is a good example of how this works. Merely putting off or letting go of sinful behaviors associated with lust and even attempts to purge it out of our hearts are not enough. Unless we faithfully fill the void in our lives with God’s love and new habits of righteousness the success we achieve will be temporary. Old sins or new ones will rush in.
Here are fourteen biblically mandated things that you—not God—can start doing right now to overcome lust. Some of these actions involve putting off bad behavior and some involve putting on godly behavior. There is no easy shortcut in how this works.
What about God?
If we aggressively take action, heeding Paul’s teaching to put off and put on, does that in some way leave God out of the mix? Are we moving to a “works” based system? Not at all!
You can look to Paul, who vigorously fought the good fight as an example. Like him, you too can fully trust God to work “powerfully” in you even as you exert maximum effort to please Him (Colossians 1:28-29).
Indeed, without God working powerfully in us we could not let go, put off or put on. It is His life living in us that makes this all possible. He is the one who has provided the way and the one who empowers us so that we can attain victory.
Do not underestimate what this will require from you. If you have fallen deeply into lust you have your work cut out for you.
The problem with making “Let God” the focus is that it pushes the burden back on Him. If things don’t work out, will you blame Him? Overcoming lust is within reach. God is looking for you to step out in faith and obedience.
Note: Previously, the following paragraph was included in this post. As you can see by the comments, it caused offense, which was not the intent.
Those who seek to overcome compulsive behavior are often exposed to this thinking. For example, imbedded in the 12 steps in the form that most recovery groups follow are the powerful assertions that one who is overcome by sin is “powerless” and needs to “turn their will and lives” over to God. This letting go allows God to “restore their sanity” and “remove their defects in character.”