Surrender is bad. It means you’ve given up. Maybe you just can’t fight any more, or perhaps you could fight, but you don’t want to. It’s just not worth it. About the only time that surrender is applauded is when a military leader does so to save the lives of the remaining troops. Even that is seen negatively by those convinced that death is better than surrender.
So why would I suggest that you choose to surrender? Admittedly there are quite a few verses which invite us to “resist” (1 Peter 5:9), to “stand” (Ephesians 6:14), to “hold fast” (1 Thess 5:21), to “fight” (1 Timothy 4:7) and so on. At the same time, other verses tell Christians to “reckon yourselves to be dead” (Romans 6:11), to “submit” (James 4:7), to “be subject to” (Titus 3:1), to “obey” (Hebrews 13:17) and such. Are these ideas contradictory? Are they opposite ends of a continuum? How can we reconcile them?
Understanding the context of specific verses is crucial, but I want to draw a general principle which will help us to understand how surrender is the path to victory. Did you catch that? Sounds counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Surrender is the path to victory.
If we resist, stand, hold fast, and fight spiritual battles of any and all kinds in our own strength, we will fail. Defeat is as sure as anything can be. All of our spiritual enemies are more powerful than we are. However, if we first surrender to God, submit to Him, place ourselves within the authority structures He has ordained and reckon ourselves to be dead, we can begin to hope for victory.
All of Romans 6, Colossians 2:12, 2 Timothy 2:11-12, among other passages, explicitly refer to the fact that the Christian has died with Christ. Sometimes we so emphasize the idea that “Jesus died for us” that we forget that in Him, we died. Dead people don’t have aspirations, resent insults or worry about being treated fairly. They have passed the reach of these things. Whatever their eternal state, they are not in time as are we who are physically alive. In particular, Christians who have passed into eternity are enjoying the presence of Jesus in an environment where pain, sin, insults and injustice cannot reach them.
As Christians, even though we still live physically in this world tainted by sin, spiritually we have died in Christ. Paul put it this way: “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.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
Let’s choose just one thing to serve as an example. Most of us struggle with feelings of anger from time to time. Typically, anger is a problem for one of two reasons. Either we explode and hurt others or we internalize it and harm ourselves. In either case, damage of some kind is inevitable.
Next time you feel anger surge up within you, ask yourself why you’re feeling that. It will probably be because of one of a few common reasons.
You’ve been thwarted in some area you were seeking fulfillment.
You’ve been undervalued or despised by someone who should have positive regard for you.
You’ve been treated unfairly, suffering some kind of injustice, at least from your point of view.
Understanding both aspects of your salvation will help you respond correctly to that negative emotional reaction. Remember that Christ died for your sin (and the sin of the person you’re angry with), but also remember that, spiritually speaking, you died with Christ on the cross. We’ve already seen that the dead have no ambitions, suffer no pain from insults, and are free from the negative effects of any injustice. There is a direct parallel with those who have died spiritually with Christ. Safely “in Christ” nothing can harm us.
I would not suggest that coming to the place of regularly applying this truth in our lives is easy. I am not remotely suggesting that this is a one time victory moment. We take up our cross daily. I have to go back to the cross several times a day and each time I do, I find the spiritual composure that comes from a fresh appreciation that in Christ, I died. (See 2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Though it may seem to be a daunting concept, we can take comfort in Paul’s words to Timothy, “…if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.” (2 Timothy 2:11 NKJV)
My friend, Ron Hughes, is the host of Family Bible Hour. FBH International is a Christian media ministry with a multilingual outreach around the world. www.familybiblehour.com. This article is copyrighted 2009 and used with permission.