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Sacred Surrender Part 3: A Lifestyle of Surrender

(Read Sacred Surrender Part 1 here)

(Read Sacred Surrender Part 2 here)

What does the surrendered life looks like? How does it actually play out in our normal, everyday, ordinary living?


Let's first explore a word that Scripture uses to describe the surrendered life: bondservant. Many of the New Testament writers called themselves bondservants of Christ.

  • Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus (Rom. 1:1)

  • A bond-servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10)

  • Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant (Col. 1:7)

  • James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1:1)

  • Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1)

  • Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ (Jude 1:1)

What is a bond-servant? In Psalm 40:6-8 we learn that God desires obedience over sacrifice. Even in the Old Testament, God wanted people who were willing to surrender to His will and obey Him above sacrifice. Notice the phrase, "You open my ears to listen." Most scholar agree that the psalmist, David, is alluding to something in Exodus, a practice of the ancient Israelites.

In Exodus 21:2-6 we learn that a slave who wanted to stay with his master was pierced through the ear with an awl (a small pointed tool used for piercing holes, especially in leather), symbolizing his willingness to serve the master for life. The slave realized that life under the care and protection of the master was better than life on his own.

In Psalm 40:6-8, David is referring to the custom of marking a bond-servant who wanted to remain in his master’s house and in his master’s service. He was marked with an opened ear. This is the kind of surrender God is looking for in us. A heart that recognizes that our life with the Master, Jesus, is far better than one we could ever construct on our own. A person that’s willing to say, “Here’s my ear. Pierce it. Mark me for Your Kingdom forever.”

And we need to know that Christ is not calling us to do anything He has not already done. In Isaiah 50:4-6 we read a prophecy about the Servant, which is Christ. Notice the phrase, “The Lord God has opened my ear.” This is referring to that same practice of piercing the ear with an awl in Exodus. This passage in Isaiah predicts that the Messiah will be a willing servant of God – willing to suffer death in order to bring redemption.

Then the author of Hebrews quoted Psalm 40. Hebrews 10:5-10 is a passage talking about Christ. But did you notice the difference? Instead of saying, “You have opened my ear,” it says, “You prepared a body for me.” Jesus did not only give His ear to be pierced, marking Him as a bond-slave of God, He gave His whole body to be pierced for our sins. An act of complete surrender. We are so thankful for this because there is no gospel without the cross.



There are many passages in Scripture that call us to surrender.


Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Surrender involves crucifying the flesh with all it's desires. We have died with Christ so that we can live with Him.


Jeremiah 10:23 says, "I know, Lord, that a person’s way of life is not his own; no one who walks determines his own steps." What can we do to continually remind ourselves that we do not control the course of our lives? We hold our plans loosely, live with flexibility, and respond with trust when our best plans inevitably get upended.


Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship." We are to follow the example of Christ, who gave His whole body as a living sacrifice. We are to be available to be used by God.


Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight." How do you know when you are starting to rely on your own wisdom instead of on the Lord? When we rely on our own wisdom, anxiety creeps in. But when we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, we have peace. We are to lean on Him fully in good times and in hard times. We are to trust that He hears our prayers and that He’s working even when we don’t see it.


1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body." What would change in your life if we truly believed that we are not your own, but that we belong to Jesus? I think we would be willing to sacrifice for the mission of Christ.


Luke 9:23-24 says, "Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it." This is the lifestyle of surrender.

 God has given us the privilege to choose a surrendered life. We are not forced to yield our lives to God. He will never make us surrender. Instead we choose to give control to God. It’s an act of faith.


1.Recognize your helplessness. 

The reality is, we are completely unable to control our lives. Any control we think we have is only an illusion. We are also completely unable to change. We need the Spirit of God to transform us into the image of Christ. Not only that, we are completely unable to make an impact in the kingdom apart from the Spirit of God. We can do nothing without Him, nothing of eternal value.

2. Remember God’s faithfulness to you

Look back over the course of your life and recall all of the times God has shown up. How has He been faithful to you? If you keep a journal read back through it. Think through all the times He’s answered prayers, provided for you, protected you, and demonstrated His love to you. Recognizing His past faithfulness helps you to trust Him more for the future.

3. Ask God to help you to trust Him more

Surrender is only made possible through trust. We will never fully surrender to a God we don’t fully trust. If you recognize a lack of trust in God, ask Him to grow that area of your spiritual life. That’s a prayer He loves to answer. Isaiah 46:4 says, "I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you; I will bear and rescue you." God has promised to be with you throughout your whole life, so believe that God is with you the whole way.


4. Accept that the path of surrender may involve suffering.

This is a hard truth about life in this world: everyone suffers. Everyone. But if we are going to suffer, we would rather suffer with Christ than without Him. And the beautiful truth is that as Christ-followers we can know there is purpose in our suffering. God can redeem it. He can use it, both in our lives and in the lives of other. And the other beautiful truth is that He is so close to us in our suffering – God is near to the brokenhearted. Acknowledge that surrender may lead you down a path of suffering, but take comfort in the fact that God is with you and He can use it.

5. Surrender to God in prayer.

Tell God in prayer that you are laying your life before Him. "God, I’m Yours. Do with me whatever You think is best.” Surrendering to God is not a one time thing. We can lay ourselves on the altar on day, but then the next day we find we’ve have crawled off the altar and we need to surrender all over again. Surrender is a daily thing because life continues to throw things at us and we need to continue to lay each new situation before Him.

As we walk with Christ, our lives are to be characterized by wholehearted surrender. This leads to ultimate peace and joy.


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