What does it mean to surrender my life to God?

"Surrender" is a military term which refers to ceasing resistance to an enemy or opponent and submitting to their authority. In the spiritual sense, we are in a battle between our will and the will of God. Since we are born sinful, we will always struggle with wanting to do the sinful thing (Romans 8:20-22; Romans 5:12). Just look at a 2-year old who doesn't get her cookie. No one taught her to throw a temper tantrum, but she will do it anyway because human beings are selfish and self-centered at the core.

When we reach the age when we can make moral choices, we must CHOOSE. We have to decide if we will follow our own sinful desires and impulses or to follow God's will instead (Joshua 24:15). God promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). When we find Him, we have a choice to make: do we continue following our own sinful will, or do we surrender to HIS will? Thus, giving up the fight against the sinful nature (Romans 6:13).

The First Surrender

If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you have already begun to surrender to God (John 6:44; Acts 2:21). When you decide to stop doing things to earn God's grace and rely totally on Jesus's work for our salvation, then you've surrendered to becoming a part of God's family (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

As you continue your life as a new creation, you can continue surrendering parts of your life to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you with God's Glory instead (Ephesians 5:18). When we're filled with the Spirit, we start acting and talking more like Jesus (Galatians 5:22). The more we surrender to God, the more our old sinful nature is replaced God's nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25). What He's saying is that if we follow Him, we WIN the struggle—we are victors in the battle against sin.

Surrendering to God in Day-to-Day Life

Surrendering to God is not exactly about giving up total control over every single little thing. Obviously we still need to make choices about our daily lives and plan for the future. Surrendering to God is more about aligning what you want with what God wants and being willing to follow Him as He guides you in your life.

When it comes to schoolwork, mending a broken relationship, obeying your parents, or whatever, it can be hard to visualize what it means to surrender these things to God. Think of it this way: When you're deciding what to do in any given situation, you must CHOOSE to allow God to take the lead on what happens.

Yes, study hard for your exam. Yes, take the time to speak in love to your friend. Yes, listen to your parents and respect them. But in the end, TRUST God with the results of those efforts. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."

The Point of Surrender

Surrendering your life to Jesus is about choosing HIS way over yours. It's about TRUSTING that He is in control of the outcome. It's about deciding that your sin is not as important as fulfilling God's will. If surrendering still sounds scary to you, take heart—Godís plan for our lives will always benefit us (Jeremiah 29:11), unlike our own plans, which often lead to self-destruction (Proverbs 14:12).

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit' - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." —James 4:13-17

The whole goal of the Christian life can really be summed up by Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." God loves and honors a life that is surrendered to Him, and He rewards that life with the greatest fulfillment you could ever imagine (Luke 6:22-23).

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Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.