I Surrender All (Or Do I?)

By Elizabeth Prata

I do hope your faith is growing and your trust in Jesus is too. He is so magnificent. Daily I’m awed by His sweetness, perfection, and power. I wrote on this blog a while ago about how the Spirit sometimes leads me through listening to hymns, and one example blessed me. I like the traditional hymns because they either directly quote scripture, or closely paraphrase Bible verses. This morning I awoke humming “I Surrender All.”

So that got me thinking on the word surrender. I was wondering, what IS surrender, exactly. How does one surrender? What does one surrender? I know we “surrender” because it’s a war between the flesh and the Holy Spirit who draws us. Even after conversion with the Spirit in us, we still struggle against the flesh. Our carnal nature still seeks to gain territory within us, making us less effective for Christ.

Self-surrender is defined in Galatians 2:20: Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Curious, I looked up the word surrender in the biblical encyclopedia. It’s defined as “the struggle between the natural human impulses of self-seeking, self-defence and the like, on the one hand, and the struggle toward self-denial, self-surrender, on the other. The Scriptures represent self-surrender as among the noblest of human virtues.” The following is an excerpt on surrender. Go to this link to read the short paragraph.

Some examples given in the Old Testament are Adam and Eve, In the Old Testament self-surrender is taught in the early account of the first pair. Each was to be given to the other (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 3:16) and both were to be surrendered to God in perfect obedience (Genesis 3:1-15).”

Also the faithful ones like Abraham are characterized by self-surrender. Abraham abandons friends and native country to go to a land unknown to him, because God called him to do so (Genesis 12:1). He would give up all his cherished hopes in his only son Isaac, at the voice of God (Genesis 22:1-18). Moses, at the call of Yahweh, surrenders self, and undertakes the deliverance of his fellow-Hebrews (Exodus 3:1-4:13). The prophets are good examples of self-surrender.

The International Bible Encyclopedia defines self-surrender as,

In the New Testament self-surrender is still more clearly set forth. Christ above all men was the prime example of self-surrender to the Father’s will. Christ’s teachings and example as presented in the Gospels, give to it special emphasis. It is a prime requisite for becoming His disciple (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24 Luke 9:23, 24, 59; Luke 14:27, 33). When certain of the disciples were called they left all and followed (Matthew 4:20; Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27 f). His followers must so completely surrender self, as that father, mother, kindred, and one’s own life must be, as it were, hated for His sake (Luke 14:26).

Do we surrender? As saved sheep of the Shepherd, we have been called to surrender our ego, our desires, our souls to Him, and we continue striving to do so. But how much territory does Satan gain back? He cannot take all of it because we are sealed for Christ and we’re His for certain. But satan can tempt us. I read recently that all one needs to do to conform to a secular world view, is nothing. We must work against the current and continue to swim upstream, every day. Part of that struggle involves surrendering ourselves to the cross every day. (Luke 9:23).

Meanwhile, I sing “I Surrender All” and consider it a privilege to ask the Spirit to guide me into ever deeper submission to His will. It is a good Will, working for the good of all those who love Him.

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