Previously we’ve looked at how the breaking process exposes and breaks the control of flesh over our lives. An essential aspect of this process includes God putting His finger on rights we are holding on to.
Though this will usually continue throughout our lifetime, there is an opportunity during the breaking process to commit our selves entirely into the hands of the Lord by relinquishing our rights in a conscious and tangible effort. Radical grace, having a relationship with God on His terms, requires us to give up our right to control on any level.
What Rights Are We Talking About?
We have all constructed our belief systems around what has worked for us in the past. These beliefs center around what we hold to be true, even though we may have never even looked at what these beliefs are or where they came from. These perceived truths or beliefs about ourselves, God, others, the purpose of life, etc., are all ways in which we subtly exert our right to control in each of these areas. Though these rights will line up with our flesh, based on our temperament, and so will vary from person to person, there are common elements that we will look at later. Some of these rights include the right to relate to God in a certain way; the right to control and prepare for our future; the right to make decisions about where we spend our time, effort, resources and emotions; and the right to control how others treat us. But claiming any of these rights denies the Lordship of Christ, Who alone has the only rights in the life of a believer.
Where Did We Get The Idea We Had Any Rights?
The idea that we have individual rights is the fundamental lie of the flesh. As a “being” separate from God, the flesh sets up its own kingdom, with its own rules, or rights. Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true. We may believe that God is under obligation to do such and such if we do such and such, but even under the Law System, the Old Covenant, exerting these rights DID NOT bring Israel into a grace relationship with God, because it did not change their basic (dead) nature. We have carried this idea into this present age, in an effort to continue to maintain control over how our needs are met.
But a fact is anything I can get you to believe; or in this case, a truth is anything that the flesh can use to maintain its control. Flesh makes us feel good, and gives us a sense of control. So our flesh has established a set of rules, or rights, that control how God and others are expected to treat us. This greatly affects our idea of fairness, justice, and right and wrong, which are all legalistic, or Old Testament, concepts. The idea that we have any rights is a fleshly idea; what we as sons have, based on our familial relationship with our Father, is so much more.
Our perceived rights are an expression of our flesh, and God lets our flesh flourish until we recognize its deceptiveness. The more we try to hold God to honor or respect our perceived rights, the more He will, and therefore leave us to our own devices, trying to get our needs met on our own. It’s not until we go through the breaking process that we discover by experience that our rights, even when exerted and honored, only bring more work on our part and a greater separation from the freedom that comes from resting in Christ. Then we are ready to relinquish our rights to His Fatherhood.
Because our rights are a part of the flesh, they are based on our personal strengths and weaknesses, or temperaments, that are a function of the way our soul (mind, will and emotions) is put together. Depending on our temperament, we will value rights in one area over another, depending on what makes us feel good or in control. So we actually idolize an aspect of our soul by giving it a greater influence in our lives than we give to God. For instance, we can idolize the mind by insisting on understanding something God is telling us before we accept and believe it. We reserve the right to understand. We can idolize the will by insisting it is up to us to choose, that we have a free will, or that God will not override our wills. We reserve the right to be the final chooser. And we can idolize the emotions, by believing that resting in God will feel good, or that we will be able to know a directive or teaching is from God if it makes us feel a certain way. We reserve the right to feel good about ourselves. But none of these are true or accurate ways of relating to God, and they are exposed through the breaking process to the point of our relinquishing our right to live by them.
Why Do We Have To Give Up Our Rights?
There are two main reasons we must give up our rights:
1) From our point of view, continuing to claim our rights keeps us in bondage, prevents our healing, and empowers the flesh, which separates us from enjoying our relationship with God. We cannot maintain control over our lives AND receive the life God has for us now. Relinquishing our rights requires that we “sell” what we have, or think we have (not just our rights to possessions, but position, gifts, ministries, rewards, happiness, peace, acceptance, comfort, control over our own destiny, past, present, future, expectation of getting something either now or later), and allowing God to give His life to and through us on His terms.
2) From God’s perspective, God will not allow our rights to infringe on His sovereignty. There can only be one Lord in our lives; God does not share His throne-rights with our self-rights. God does not even recognize our attempts to give up our rights to another, be it spouse, parent, child, boss, pastor, etc. Acknowledging Christ’s Lordship is not only an affirmation of what Jesus did at the cross, but agreement with Him that at His resurrection, and our acceptance of Him as Savior, we have now given up the right to determine our own destinies, act according to our past, or control our present.
What If We Don’t Relinquish Our Rights?
The consequences of refusing to relinquish our rights will be unique in every situation, but will fall into one of these broad categories: 1) Things will get worse. 2) Things will get better. 3) Things will stay the same. And because we so often judge how we’re doing by what’s going on in our circumstances, we will arrive at whatever conclusion supports self’s defiance and strengthens our resolve to maintain our rights.
But God will absolutely not be hindered by our misinterpretation of our circumstances. Remember, who you truly are, a spirit-being, has already fully and completely abdicated all rights to the Lordship of Christ. In truth, if you are a believer, you have already not only acknowledged the sovereignty of Christ, but submitted to it as well. It is this truth that is being made real to our souls, stripping the flesh of its power in our lives. So even if we don’t relinquish our rights, God patiently persists, not allowing anything to stand in the way of the freedom He has for us.
How Do We Give Up Our Rights?
Before we get into the specific steps we can take, here are a few reminders to encourage us along the way:
First, remember that who you truly are, a spirit, has already gladly given up all your rights. So this process is simply your soul (mind, will and emotions) entering into unity with God and your spirit in reality.
Second, know that God is committed to this process, and asks us to join Him in that commitment on a long-term basis. Though we may relinquish our rights at this time, eradicating the effects that exerting our rights have had on our lives will take some time, and we need to be both patient and diligent to follow His lead.
Third, don’t compare what you’re expected to give up with what others may be dealing with. God puts His finger on what’s most important at that time. God knows what He’s doing, and deals with every one of us where we are at any given time.
Finally, be involved in the process. The following list should help you get started in relinquishing your rights in specific areas. Don’t just rush through this, but let the Lord speak to you concerning specific instances or habits. Review the list before diving in, then you may want to go on to something else, coming back at a later time, after you have had a chance to think about some of the things on the list. In this way, you are giving the Lord time to bring to your mind those memories or habits which need to be addressed. When you run across a right that you find difficult to relinquish, know that this is normal and expected of God. This pulls the rug out from under the flesh, so expect resistance — remember, the flesh has a life all its own, and doesn’t want to die!
Relinquishing Our Rights
Acknowledging Christ’s Lordship is surrendering all of our soulical and natural rights and claims. Read through the following, then check the appropriate boxes as a way to surrender these rights to the Lord.
I agree with God and with my true spiritual nature that I no longer have a right to get my needs met through…
- The strength of my mind, ideas, or creativity.
- The strength of my emotions, compassion, or desires.
- The strength of my will, goals, inner drive or self-motivation.
And I agree with God that when I was co-crucified with Christ, and joined Him in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, as a spirit-being I gave up all rights. Now my soul (my mind, will and emotions) also acknowledges and relinquishes…
- My right to control the way my needs are met on the soulical and natural levels.
- My right to be unconditionally loved by those that I love.
- My right to be respected.
- My right to be successful according to earthly standards.
- My right to have pleasant circumstances.
- My right to know or presume on the will of God.
- My right to life itself.
- My right to beauty, strength, or a healthy, attractive body.
- My right to have friends.
- My right to be heard or understood.
- My right to be offended.
- My right to a good reputation.
- My right to be right.
- My right to see results.
- My right to plan my future.
- My right to live where I want to live.
- My right to be married — to have a mate, a home, children.
- My right to be single — to control how my needs are met.
- My right to choose my hobbies, diversions, recreation or entertainment.
- My right to be successful in my job or career.
- My right to cling to my past with its successes, failures, hurts.
- My right to have my habits.
- My right to live or think as a victim.
- My right to own or possess anything.
- My right to protect my time.
- My right to defy authority.
- My right to acceptance from others.
- My right to a happy marriage, home, family or work environment.
- My right to escape problems, difficulties or tragedies.
- My right to avoid reaping what I sow.
- My right to live according to the standards set by my past.
- My right to have visible security.
- My right to be used of God.
- My right to demand anything from God. He owes me nothing.
- My right to be equipped, prepared or ready for emergencies.
- My right to ______________________________ .
I give God permission to do anything He wishes to me, with me, in me or through me. Before I knew God, and I was dead in my spirit, my soul claimed these rights to be mine. Now that I am a living spiritual being, they all belong to God and are under His control. He can do with them and with me anything He pleases, and I willingly, trustingly and wholeheartedly join Him in what He does.
God does not want us to try harder, become stronger, or even better equipped. He wants us instead to be simply, totally dependent upon Him.
What Will Be The Effect Of Giving Up Our Rights?
From God’s perspective, Jesus is Lord not only in word but also in deed. Self no longer has any claim to control our lives, but is brought into joyful submission to His Authority. This brings life and rest to our souls, as our soul and body are able to function as they were originally created to. Over time, healing, confidence and the knowledge of God become integral aspects of every aspect of our being, and God is free to give His life to us, and live His life through us.
Evidence That God Has Relieved You Of Your Rights:
Once we relinquish our rights, it is in God’s hands, according to His timetable, as to when and how He removes these rights from functioning in our lives. It is generally only over time that we notice that we don’t react in a certain way, that we discover we are no longer exerting our rights in that area, that our flesh is no longer in control. Here are some of the ways that will be evident over time (you may want to review on a regular basis to encourage yourself that God is working as you are learning to depend on Him):
- I am willing to be and feel out of control.
- I plan for my future with flexibility and excitement.
- I am willing to fail, yet try again.
- I am willing to be weak, yet continue to depend.
- I feel discouraged without feeling guilty.
- I fail without condemnation.
- I succeed without seeking recognition.
- I enjoy friendship without strings.
- I give friendship without strings.
- I rest in chaotic circumstances, yet bring order.
- I am forgiving, and ask forgiveness.
- I am willing to be rejected, yet say “no.”
- I am transparent, willing to share my weaknesses, yet do not let my weaknesses control me.
- I am vulnerable, willing to share my failures, yet do not let my failures hinder my plans.
- I say “Thank You” a lot, as well as “You’re Welcome.”
- I give myself to and for others, knowingly and unknowingly.
- I am teachable, and willing to teach.
- I am willing to be misunderstood, yet willing to make myself understood.
- I am willing to be broken again, yet also willing to be strong.
- I accept that God meets all my needs, but also make my needs known to those around me.
Adapted from Practical Christianity by Dianne Thomas