Most of us don’t like the term “surrender”. It reminds us of our younger days when the playground bully had us in a headlock and taunted us to give up. On a much larger scale, wars rage between countries until one of them finally capitulates to the other. Surrender is always an admission of defeat. And no one likes to admit defeat.
But surrendering isn’t always a bad thing. It all depends on to whom I’m surrendering. It’s not a bad thing if it’s to God that I give in and stop fighting. Every Christ-follower experiences an internal battle between two opposing sides, his old nature and the Spirit of God. Notice what Galatians 5:17 says, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” There is a conflict, a battle, because my old nature is still proud and selfish and wants my will to be done more than it wants God’s will. Like it or not, life seems to be a series of lessons to teach me to surrender my plans and my will over to God so that He can accomplish His plans through me.
Lest you think it’s only the immature Christ-follower who has these internal conflicts, even the Apostle Paul admitted that he faced the same battle. He described it in Romans 7:19-21, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me [my sin nature] that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Just as Paul continued to face these struggles because of the presence of his old sin nature, I will never come to a point in this life that I don’t have this same conflict. I’ve found that the path to victory is not by telling myself that I should obey God, or by trying to convince myself that sin will result in adverse consequences. The way of victory is to talk to God, being honest with Him, admitting how strong the temptation is, and then making a clear decision to surrender my will to His. Jesus demonstrated this on the night He was arrested, when He said to the Father, “I really don’t want to go through this, but not My will, but Yours be done.” From a human perspective, Jesus did not look forward to the torture and crucifixion that awaited Him over the next 24 hours. But He chose to do the Father’s will so people could be brought into a relationship with God.
What are you facing today? Is your old nature telling you to fight for your rights, to tell someone off, to follow your urges into a wrong relationship, to cheat at work or school, to ruin someone’s reputation with gossip? Religion says, “Try harder to do the right thing.” Christianity focuses on your relationship with God, talking things over with Him and choosing to relinquish your will in order to do His.
I can’t end this blog without mentioning how thankful I am for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Since receiving Jesus as my Savior and Leader 47 years ago, there have been many, many times that I have chosen my way instead of God’s. I haven’t wanted to surrender. Gratefully, I’ve used 1 John 1:9 countless times,“If we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” I’m so thankful God can continue to forgive me because Jesus surrendered His will to the Father.