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Surrender is a Lifestyle, Not a One-Time Event
When you surrender your life to the Lord, you will notice it is not a one-time event. You don’t just say a prayer or make a vow and it’s done. It is a process, usually full of ups and downs, that may take some time to master. But even as a process, it must have a starting point. And that point recognizes who God is and your responsibility to yield to His lordship. Everything follows this first step.
The seven steps of surrender are as follows (in Cliffs Notes form):
1. Recognize and embrace a truth greater than yourself (which is God and His lordship)
2. Confess and repent of any known sin in your life
3. Learn to die to yourself daily (or more often)
4. Present yourself daily as a sacrifice to God
5. Trust completely in God’s sovereignty
6. Rely on the Holy Spirit for daily guidance
7. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus
Today, we will look at the first step— the step where every springs from. And we will cover the subsequent steps in future broadcasts.
The First Step in Surrendering Your Life to the Lord
The journey of surrendering your life to God begins with one essential first step: recognizing God’s complete lordship over everything— especially you.
What does it mean to recognize God’s lordship? It means understanding that He rightfully deserves your full allegiance, devotion, and obedience. As Revelation 4:11 declares, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
Since God created you and gave you life and breath itself, He deserves first place in every area of your existence. Recognizing Him as Lord means enthroning Him as the supreme ruler and focus of your life. It requires willingly choosing to dethrone anything else that has occupied that rightful place— relationships, career, wealth, success, self-interests, you name it. And the operative word is willingly. You must be willing. God will not force His lordship on you.
Recognizing His lordship calls for an honest evaluation of who or what is currently on the throne of your heart and decisions. What do your priorities, schedule, entertainment choices, and bank statement reveal you worship? What consumes your thoughts and passions? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring conviction about any idolatry that may be hidden in your life. As J.C. Ryle wrote, “Where Christ rules in the heart, the whole course of a man’s life will bear witness to the fact.”¹ If God rules your heart, your lifestyle will clearly reflect it. So, how is your lifestyle measuring up to your confession of Christ right now?
Remember, this first step of surrender will lead you to reorder every area of your life— your plans, job, time, possessions, habits— and center them around God’s priorities rather than self-centered pursuits. It will mean letting go of anything He calls you to release or change. And it will mean embracing a purpose defined by His eternal impact rather than your temporary comfort. But I think you already know that, don’t you?
Ultimately, recognizing God’s lordship requires pursuing intimacy with Him like you may have never done before through heart-felt prayer, consistent reading of His Word, and obedience to Him as your highest aim, and not just an add-on for a temporary, spiritual high. He must become your supreme treasure and consuming passion.
Surrendering requires submitting your life completely to His authority, which is something you give up to Him. But you receive so much more. As J.I. Packer reminds us, “He does not exploit our submission, but gives us glory, joy, peace, and fullness of life” only found in Him.² Our sacrifice brings the blessing of His intimate presence, which nothing on earth compares. Nothing.
Surrendering our lives to God begins with the crucial first step of recognizing His complete lordship and willingly choosing to make Him preeminent in every area. Though sacrifice is involved, the blessing far outweighs the cost. For when we enthrone Christ as Supreme Ruler in our hearts, we gain incomparable treasure, namely, the intimate presence of the King of kings. And as A.W. Tozer said, “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free…to give them victory o’er the grave and grant them life eternally.”³ This is the glorious exchange of surrender.
And it is something we can experience this side of heaven, right now, when we surrender our lives to Him. So take the first step today.
Next, we will look at step two, the confession and repentance of sins that bring true freedom.
1. J.C. Ryle, Holiness (London: James Clarke & Co., 1902), 79.
2. J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.
3. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 15.