To Try or To Surrender

Have you noticed that everywhere you look you find people trying different things to improve their lives? It seems like everybody is working on something! Some are trying to stop smoking, others trying to stop drinking, to stop watching pornography, stop masturbating. Some are trying to lose weight, to cease the arguments with their spouses. Others are trying to spend more quality time with their families, read the Bible more, pray more, get this or that promotion in their jobs, put on this and put off that according to the Bible, etc. We even have friends that acknowledge how hard we are trying. However, even as many of us have experienced great seasons of victories, we seem to lack the endurance necessary to go the distance. Over and over we experience defeat as we go back to do what we did not want to do.

            So, what is the problem? Why can’t we go the distance? Why is it that all the effort we commit to seems such a waste of time? It is because, we continue to try. I am sure you have heard the expressions: “I’m trying!” “I’m doing the best that I can!” “I did my best!” What we must realize is that “trying” is the work of the flesh. Trying is an arrogant mind-set that tells the world: “I can do this.” The emphasis here is on “I” or “Self.” This is the spirit of the Tower of Babel, when men decided to make a name for themselves apart from God (Genesis 11:4). That action and way of thinking caused men to lose the ability to communicate clearly with one another and to this day we are suffering the consequences of language confusion all over the world. (Genesis 11:5-7) “Trying” will never accomplish the work that is needed to be done; you will always end-up falling on your face because “trying” points the glory at self and not at God. You and I can’t do a thing; trying is an insult to God! Trying is also a good excuse for continual failure; after all, as long as we are trying, it is ok… right?

            And so we ask, what is the answer? Can we be cured of our sins? Yes, that is why Jesus died! The first thing we need to do is stop trying. Trying emphasizes in works of the flesh. The flesh can never live-out the Christian life; the flesh has no hope (Romans 8:3). What we need is one thing and one thing only: To surrender ourselves to God’s Word. This means that we must submit our will, our desires, our emotions and our feelings to God. When we surrender, we lift our hands high and we allow God to do the work. When we surrender we are in the process of learning how to get out of the way. The emphasis is no longer in Self’s accomplishments, but in God’s true transforming power. Surrendering to God requires obedience; we obey in-spite of how we feel just because God said so.

            Let me give an example: If a man has problems with pornography, an example of trying is praying without confessing; keeping things a secret. You know it’s wrong, you feel bad about it, you can even share this with someone you feel comfortable with, but you are not really serious about it yet; you are just…trying! However, when you approach this issue with a perspective of surrendering to God’s Word, you will then do the following:

  • You will not wait until you get caught to make changes.
  • You will confess your sins to God and to someone in spiritual leadership close to you; that also includes your spouse.
  • You will repent from your sin. (No camouflage!)
  • You will be willing to be accountable; that means that you will give your computer’s password to an accountability person for him/her to check your computer in an unannounced manner. You will also give that person the full information of your cable and phone bill, etc. You will do whatever is necessary to get rid of whatever struggle you are facing.
  • You will be willing to ask for help which includes engaging in Christian Therapy.
  • If none of those actions work, then you will go as far as cutting everything out of your life that causes you to sin. (Mark 9:43-45)


            The flesh hates accountability; accountability goes against our will, our emotions, our feelings and our desires. When self is offended and is showing resistance, it is then that you stop trying and you start surrendering to God. When you surrender to God you are no longer trying, but you are conquering; you are becoming an over-comer for the glory of God. When you are surrendering you are no longer trying to change; you are changing. Trying is the worthless work of the flesh; surrendering is the mighty work of the Holy Spirit.

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)


            The true Christian Life is constantly denying self. It is a constant growing in our faith and trust in God. It is a constant growing in the knowledge of our Lord. It is a constant learning of obedience and a constant increased wisdom in how to get out of the way by surrendering our lives to the only one that can truly change us and transform us to be more and more like Jesus. The Christian life is in pursuit of killing our opinions, the way we see things, our cultural ways, the ways of our parents, etc. As Paul said in First Corinthians 15:31 “…I die daily.” This is the heart of the Christian Life; we must die daily! So today it is up to us to choose trying or surrendering! To try is to do things with our own strength; to sit back arrogantly and sing: “I did it my way!” To surrender is to access the un-dryable fountain of God’s power and possibilities. So which way will you go; will you try or will you surrender? 


6 thoughts on “To Try or To Surrender

  1. It is my prayer that we will experience a new and fresh revelation from God so that we can give up trying to surrender in the flesh (It’ll never happen) and live and worship and pray from the resurrected life of Jesus within us. We really not only can but must forsake using our old nature to try to attain some place with God we can only get to through the life of Jesus in us.


      1. An arrogant mind set also undermines what Paul refers to in Philippians as “the mind of Christ” (2:5-11).  Before he describes what that mind looks like, he precedes it with a warning in 2:3 for us not to do anything out of “selfish ambition.” 

        When “it’s all about me,” it cannot be about anyone or anything else.  And Paul says, that is the opposite of the attitude which Christ had.  He did not count anything he had (e.g. equality with God) to be his own.  Instead, he put all that he was and all that he had at the service of God. So the essence of sin is not aberrant behavior, it is am arrogant mind set.  When we think that we are “in charge,” all sorts of actions ensue.  But even if we could imagine never again “doing” anything wrong, we would still have to confront the “disposition” which gave rise to the bad thing in the first place.  The damning disposition is “selfish ambition” —a condition which leads to all sorts of wrong conduct. 

        The first Beatitude reflects the cure for “selfish ambition” —to be “poor in spirit.”  It means not to claim our identity or our activity apart from God.  Poverty of spirit is the attitude which says, “If God is not the source of my life, I’m done for!”  It is the perspective which realizes that if any shred of egotism is allowed to have its way, we will not be the people God made us to be.  So, we align ourselves with Paul and live with the aim of “doing nothing” out of “selfish ambition.”   We leave the arrogant mind set behind and increasingly desire to have the mind of Christ.


  2. ” I surrender all” ..may that be our mental affirmation in the coming week. Once God has our whole heart, then miracles start to happen. If we “surrender some” or “surrender just a bit” God cannot work with us. God gave it all to us when He gave us His Son. Why not give Him our all?


    1. Good word Helen!The more we surrender to God, the more work He is able to do in us and the more we overcome by His power and for His glory. Little surrendering… Little change….


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