"Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom"
2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
On October 17, 1781, the British Commander Lord Cornwallis formally surrendered to the American army. This signified the end of the Revolutionary War, a conflict that had been waging for roughly eight years. The act of surrender marked the end of the conflict between the two forces. The war was over. One had surrendered to the other, thus submitting themselves to the judgement and authority of the conquering party. Surrender means to yield to the power, control, or possession of another.
There is a war being waged inside of every person. It is a war between the flesh and the spirit. Even the great apostle Paul struggled with the flesh.
“But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind,” wrote Paul, “This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me” (Romans 7:23 NLT).
This war inside the apostle was a battle between the desire to live holy and the desire of the old fleshly, sinful nature to rule. When a person is saved by trusting in what Jesus did at the cross, a surrender must take place. When Jesus is Lord, the flesh must surrender to the rule of Holy Spirit that now lives inside the believer.
Actually, the reality of the internal war is a sign that the Holy Spirit is present. Where once an “old” nature ruled, now a “new” nature wants to rule and the two are in conflict. In victorious Christians, this resistance ceases as the old sinful nature submits to the authority of Jesus. This chapter will explore what a practical life of surrender looks like.
Surrender tends to be an unappealing thought for a lot of people. The liberty to control every aspect of life is perceived by most as a basic freedom. However, when the Holy Spirit brings illumination to the heart, a realization dawns that all this perceived freedom opens a door of bondage to the flesh. What follows is a desire for the Holy Spirit to turn surrender into real freedom. No longer is there a desire to control everything, but instead a willingness to submit to the leadership of Christ.
“Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you” (Job 22: 21 NLT).
You can’t really get any clearer than that. Job understood the freedom of surrender. The New Testament puts it this way.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Surrender means believers experience the true life that results from being in alignment with God’s perfect will. For example, an issue with an automobile necessitates a visit to a mechanic who has the tools and knowledge to repair the issue. Once the automobile is put into the hands of the expert, one very important step remains. The owner must hand over the keys. A refusal to release the keys (access) to the mechanic prevents the necessary changes from taking place.
The answer to the problem lies in easy access, so the keys must be surrendered. When believers refuse to surrender to God, issues cannot be fixed and blessings are cut off. However when surrender happens, the Holy Spirit of Jesus has access to make something more beautiful than could ever be imagined.
The growing believer with true faith recognizes the humbling reality that when the flesh is in control, it leads to a life of bondage. To experience fullness of life with God, a believer must totally surrender the old nature and give Jesus control of the new nature. The believer who gives God only partial control has not truly surrendered, and it is impossible for that individual to live the fullness of life that Jesus offers.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV, emphasis added).
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 43:31 NLT).
Those are just a few scriptures promising the future is better off in God’s hands, but there are many more. That being said, there is a cost involved.
Living a life for Jesus requires absolute surrender. Nothing should be held back. To hold back is to communicate to God distrust and unbelief. Remember, God’s great love for humanity compelled Jesus, His only Son, to die on to the cross (Romans 8:31-32).
Even though equal to God, Jesus submitted Himself and was obedient unto death. There can be no reserved heart when submitting to God. Nothing should be off-limits when it comes to obedience. Some areas of surrender are as follows:
To surrender these things does not necessarily mean getting rid of them. Living a life of surrender does not mean owning nothing, but that all things are surrendered to God to control and direct. The beautiful thing about living a life of surrender is that oftentimes, when all things are surrendered to God, He does not take everything away, but improves them and gives understanding how they can be used for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
A life surrendered to God means all things are held with an open hand. God is in control. Using the previous examples given, here are some practical applications of living a life of surrender.
Make sure to be generous with finances and faithful in giving to the local church, even when money is tight. “And my God will meet all of your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).
Maintain relationships that honor the Lord. Sometimes, to grow in Jesus means letting go of unhealthy, unequally yoked, or sinful relationships.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 NIV).
Be willing to make Jesus the top priority in the daily schedule. Set aside time to pray, study, worship, and just be in God’s presence. Spend time serving at the local church and being with other believers. Balance leisure time with time spent ministering to others.
“Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13)
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4 NIV)
A life of surrender will refocus old aspirations and may change the concept of what success looks like and what life’s ultimate pursuit should be. Surrender those areas to God, believing that the old dreams will be replaced with new ones that will not only prove relevant and fulfilling in this lifetime, but will reap eternal rewards.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
Surely when General Cornwallis surrendered all those years ago it was not a pleasant experience. While the concept of surrender is the same, the context is vastly different. God does not force surrender on anyone, but invites all into it.
The decision to live a life of surrender is a decision to stop resisting God’s will. It is relinquishing control, and placing all into the hands of the Creator of the universe who has plans to prosper and not to harm, to give a future and a hope!