Thoughts On Surrender…
There’s so much about surrender in God’s Word
that I won’t be able to get more specific about.
It’s like studying a tree: to truly understand it,
you need to move out to see the forest & planet as a whole
& the tree’s role in it, & also move in to understand
one individual leaf of the tree, even one cell of the tree.
But there isn’t room in this post for all that regarding surrender.
My apologies in advance. You may be left with more questions
than answers. That’s ok! My hope is that the Holy Spirit
would move mightily & give all of us a hunger to know Him &
continue digging into His Word together regarding surrender &
everything else the Bible reveals.
You won’t find the word “surrender” in the New Testament
except in Luke 23:25 where Pilate surrendered the Lord Jesus
to the will of the people, to be crucified.
Yet surrendering to the LORD is foundational to Christianity.
The Bible describes humans as rebels fighting against God—
(please click HERE for verses from Isaiah)
whether consciously opposing Him or subconsciously ignoring Him—
we want to be our own god, to be in charge of ourselves
and live life our own way.
And so becoming a Christian isn’t primarily about
improving our behavior (though that happens over time)
but rather changing our allegiance.
Surrendering to Jesus reconciles us to the Father (2 Corinthians 5),
restores the relationship that was broken by sin.
Salvation is being moved from fighting against God
to fighting alongside Him,
we’re moved from working against the LORD
to working with and for Him,
the Holy Spirit moves us from NO-ing God to KNOW-ing Him.
As in all wars, true peace only comes
after death or unconditional surrender.
So it is with Christ, and so salvation is a kind of death.
Romans 6: Our master was sin—
we surrendered to it all the time willingly!—
& now our new Master is Christ Jesus.
Doesn’t mean we’ll never sin,
doesn’t mean we’ll never desire sin again.
But we have a new nature desiring holiness,
we have the Holy Spirit living in us
Who wars against our desire for sin.
Becoming a Christian is a dying of the old self &
a rebirth of the new person in Christ, & until heaven
we have an internal conflict.
Surrender is huge: we have a new flag & new purpose.
- When a person gets life-saving surgery, they surrender to
the hospital, surgeon, & diagnosis. He/she realizes
they cant heal themselves or figure out what’s wrong
by themselves; they surrender control & admit
we need another to show us our sickness & heal us.
- And so Christians, at one point in the past, by God’s grace
understood their sinfulness as well as Christ’s ability
to pay for our sinfulness thru the cross & empty tomb.
We surrendered at one point, trusting in Christ alone
to adopt & forgive & pay our debt & give us new life in Him,
to make peace between us & the Father.
For the rest of this post we will talk about
the surrender involved in living the Christian life,
following Christ, all that happens after the initial surgery.
Now when a person is done with the life-saving surgery,
they sometimes surrender to a physical trainer & dietician
in their new life of health:
if they continue to live the way they did before they received
their heart transplant, as an example,
their new heart becomes just as diseased.
So they surrender to a new way of living, a new menu of eating,
a new pattern of exercising. Sometimes they feel like kale,
sometimes they want French fries!
But they learn to surrender on a daily basis to grow in health,
& as they grow their habits & even taste buds change—
new things taste great that never used to,
some old things that were fun are disgraceful.
And so the new Christian learns to surrender daily,
not to get salvation,
but to live out his/her salvation.
Our initial surrender was part of our rebirth,
but our daily surrender is maturing as new creations in Christ,
not only giving Him our sins
but also giving Him control,
learning to walk in the Spirit & submit/surrender our wills/desires.
How do we know this?
How do we know that Christianity is a vocation & not a vacation?
How do we know that maturing as Christians
is more like an aircraft carrier
and less like a cruise ship where everything is easy?
Think of all the commands in the New Testament:
- turn the other cheek,
- forgive & pray for & bless those who persecute you,
- rejoice in all situations,
- wash others’ feet sacrificially,
- pray with out ceasing,
- don’t give up meeting together,
- deny yourself & take up your cross & follow Jesus, etc.
Sometimes we want to do those things & sometimes we don’t!
There’s a battle—what will we surrender to:
our feelings, or God’s Word?
Our will, or His?
There’s a reason the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
His will be done…thru us, in our daily lives!
That’s the battle we face,
that’s where we must learn to surrender daily.
But surrender to Christ—
giving up to Him instead of giving in to sin—
isn’t just drudging duty; it leads to delight & joy,
to a full-enjoyment of (holy) freedom—real life/ health!—
though the growth often feels difficult/painful
because it is a loss of (selfish/sinful) freedom,
which isn’t freedom at all.
Psalm 119:32: “I run in the path of your commands…”
Surrender/submission isn’t walking around on eggshells,
it’s running & leaping for joy in the path of God’s commands!
- For a piano, true freedom/happiness
is being properly tuned and then played by Mozart,
to have beautiful music produced thru it by a virtuoso master.
This requires a surrender by the piano. Same for Christians.
The Bible uses at least three pictures
to illustrate the Christian life:
the soldier, the athlete, & the farmer.
All three involve a daily surrender/submission:
- the farmer doesn’t always feel like doing the hard work
for a distant future harvest.
- the soldier doesn’t always feel like obeying the commander,
especially when the mission involves much danger.
- the athlete doesn’t always want to wake up at 0-dark 30
to run or to do more push-ups/sit-ups.
And so they all must learn to surrender in different ways
if they want to survive, grow, & enjoy the harvest.
Let me close with some intensely practical Biblical passages
to help us with daily surrender to the Lord Jesus:
- Change what we think about.
2 Corinthians 10:5: “Take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.”
Romans 12: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
This includes fasting/not doing things for a time
to focus on Christ
(e.g. food, internet, movies). Why?
The more we fill our minds with things
that have nothing to do with Christ (empty calories)
or are against Him & His Word,
the less we’ll surrender to Him & the more we’ll surrender to sin.
Stomachs are filled by what we eat,
minds are filled by what we look at.
Both move us toward or away from health.
- Training is involved, not just treating.
“Train yourselves to be godly…” (1 Timothy 4:7).
Please remember that the Christian life is compared to
a soldier, athlete & farmer,
not a retired vacationer.
- Christian fellowship is essential.
Romans 1:11-12:“I long to see you so that I may impart to you
some spiritual gift to make you strong—
that is, that you and I
may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Surrender is tied to faith. The more we trust Christ,
the more we’ll surrender to Him.
Don’t only get together with Christians to hang out;
strengthen each other’s faith to hang in there!
- Seek the LORD & Know Him, not just know about Him.
Psalm 139:23-24:“Search me, God, and know my heart,
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This was a man who sought to know the LORD personally,
and actively asked God to show him the ways that he was
surrendering to sin instead of surrendering to God.
- Follow choices, not feelings.
Each day, don’t wait to surrender to Christ til you feel like it.
Make the choice.
Don’t wait to read Scripture til you’re passionately pumped to do it.
Decide. Then do it.
The annual calendar has fun/exciting holidays thru-out,
but most days arent holidays (though all are holy days!).
Everyday wont have fireworks; that’s ok!
Enjoy the 4th of July, but rejoice in November 28th too. 🙂
With Jesus, the mundane is a miracle.
What you feed will grow/strengthen;
what yo starve will shrink/weaken.
Feed your desire for Christ, starve your desire for sin.
- Choose to read Christian biography,
- choose to play a worship song & sing it to the LORD,
- choose to get together with other Christians
to hear what the LORD is teaching them,
- choose to quietly read the Bible as a time to converse/be with God
(don’t look at it as just another textbook that you need to study,
look at it as a screen that you need to communicate with God!),
- choose to put your faith in Christ in practice
by serving other Christians and non-Christians in different ways, etc.
Even if you don’t feel like it, choose to do these types of things.
It won’t leave you with as much time to be on social media,
to binge-stream Netflix, but that’s ok.
On your deathbed you won’t regret missing episode 5 of season 7.
You really won’t…
Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Hebrews 12:11:“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it.”