What Does the New Testament Say About Surrender?

Not much!

We often hear that we should surrender our all to Jesus in order to live a Christian life. Is this something we should do? What does it mean? Do we do it so God can use us? So we can be more spiritual or holy? Hardly! He does it all, not us – so none can boast, is how Paul says it. That is grace. Besides, we could never surrender our all. We aren’t capable.

We are imperfect and would always leave something out. God doesn’t set us up to fail.

What does scripture say? Well, the word, surrender, only appears once in the New Testament, and that is in the New American Standard Bible. 1 Corinthians 13:3, And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. The King James Version says, “give”, by the way.

So where do we get this idea of surrendering to God? Romans 12:1 says to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (for there is no more killing of sacrifices) holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. We are now transferred into the kingdom, clean and holy. That is not exactly the meaning of surrendering. What Paul is saying is that in His mercy He gives us grace, so our lives are acceptable and He works through us. By His compassion and grace, this is the new and living way. He is not served by human hands, and His temple is not made with human hands.

We serve in the body of Christ. This is our logical way of service.

In the gospels, Jesus talks about a grain of corn falling to the ground and dying. In context, he was speaking of his own death, not our surrendering.

John 12:20-20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

In verse 25, the word for life is psyche, in the first instances, and zoe in the last, in connection to eternal life. Psyche is the breath of life, or soul. When Jesus lay down his life, the word is psyche.

He never lay down his eternal life, or zoe! Hallelujah!

Back to surrender, then. Where do we get that idea? When we believe in Jesus, our old life is exchanged for a new one. That is not surrender either. It is receiving zoe eternal. It is freedom. It is joy. It is grace in action. We have a spirit of adoption, where we can cry out, “Abba, Father”!

This is not surrender, but is coming home.

We come into the light and walk in the Spirit, as children of God – with Jesus as our brother. We are born again of the Spirit, our old man dies, and we walk in newness of life (zoe) and spirit.

Ro 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Ro 7:6 – But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Surrender? I think it is the powers of darkness that have to surrender – not that it is necessary, since they are defeated and triumphed over openly!

Christ is in us and we are in him. We live an exchanged life, not a surrendered one, and are more than conquerors in him. We do not surrender.

Surrender may sound good – but it is actually the language of religion, rearing its head. It is bondage, and this is key, for we can never totally surrender.

We can never do it, for we are not capable of total anything.

Like trying to confess all our sins – we could never remember them all! That’s why Jesus died to take them ALL away….. Surrender becomes a mindset that will defeat us every time. We merely rest in Him and trust Him to live His life in us.

An afterthought: perhaps we should choose our lyrics more carefully in the songs we sing. Real change begins with a renewed mind, and I do know that I often change the words when I sing. However, lyrics are poetry and express emotion. Our relationship with God is one of passion. If it isn’t passionate, something is wrong. But to say we have to cut out all songs that don’t match our theology is to become the very thing that we are not wanting to be – legalists.