www.christiancommunityconnect.com - Christian Community Connect
  • Christian Business Owners & Churches
Posted in Devotionals

Unconditional Surrender: The Indwelling Holy Spirit

Unconditional Surrender: The Indwelling Holy Spirit

Unconditional Surrender: The Indwelling Holy Spirit 

by Barry Delk                

 “Here lies your clay dear Father, I am yours and you are mine, have at me!!!” 

Old TV westerns, war movies, your older sibling holding you down, we have all heard of the term “surrender” or sometimes phrased, “Do you give up?”    With three older brothers who wrestled, I surrendered a lot! When we hear the term, we usually associate it with a giving up of our efforts of resistance against something or someone. In real life war situations, a surrender may mean the actual giving up of weapons, land masses and other. In all of these cases, however, although something from resistance to possessions and power are given up by the surrendering party, there is rarely, if ever, an expectation that the surrendering party would be giving over their heart or changing their affections towards the victor.  Instead, they were simply expected to stop resistance, not to love the victor. While there are historical examples of people being forced to convert religions and to reject old ideologies and traditions at the edge of a sword, at the echoed depths of the heart itself, there would never have been an expected change of the surrendering party’s passions towards the victor in the initial surrender. 

For Christians who surrender their lives to the Lord (Father, Son and Spirit) and are saved by God from spiritual death, it is expected to be an entirely different type of surrender and that is one entirely of the heart and to its echoed depths. While it is true there may be possessions, habits, lifestyles, built-up defense mechanisms and much more that eventually fall away from a person after a surrender to the Lord, these forfeitures are expected to fall away naturally over time due to the changing heart and desires of the Christian as they grow in a loving relationship with God. So, by heart, we mean the very driving force or passion that guides a person to live as they live, think as they think and love as they love, and it springs from the very core of their identity. 

Ah, but there often lies within such an initial surrender, a common problem or error.  A person cannot give up something they do not know they have, or even more likely, that they do not yet possess. A true Christian surrender is expected to be and really must be of their true heart. But what heart? The natural answer would seem to be the heart of the surrendering person, but again what heart? In truth, anyone not already in a relationship with God rarely even knows their own heart (Jer 17:9), and even if they may have some tiny grasp of it, it may deceive them on its way to a full surrender. Do not let this overly confuse you. It simply means the following:  All people without God (via the Holy Spirit) living in them live in some form of error or false truth and identity they have created for themselves and with that a “false heart.”   It is a heart (or driving life force) not set in God’s true reality. Therefore, it does not truly exist in a quantitative form as it has no real life in it, as “real” life only comes from God after surrender and a love exchange begins.  

That “false” heart is like an arrow without feathers with no hope of a proper direction. This is the natural state of man in a broken world. From that brokenness, people draw their own perceived identities. People may identify themselves by many things, “I’m a father, a mother, a banker, baker, widget maker, soldier, patriot, teacher, cab driver, liberal, conservative, name your sexual” and add 100,000 more to the list. You can also mix and match a few dozen personal identifiers together as most do in some way to form a person’s perceived concept of themselves. But in truth, none of those identifiers are the true identity or heart of a person even if they are what drives them before surrender.  They are not the true core of someone’s soul (but almost all people think their conceived self-image is their soul).   Likewise, unbeknownst to the surrendering party (as will be detailed hereafter), carrying any form of their perceived identity across the dividing line of the cross of Christ, limits God’s ability to create a brand-new heart and spirit within the person. Once someone accepts Jesus as Savior, there should be no reattaching of their prior core self-identifiers to the new self (or as the scriptures call it “old wine”), they only need attach those core identifiers now given by God himself and that is as a child of God and saint. (Romans 6:4, Eph 4:22-24) A person’s true soul or essence is made by God and only He knows it’s measure and worth (and they both are beyond man’s ability to grasp). This true self (heart) has been hidden from the person and inaccessible to them because of sin and their flesh nature. Therefore, it must be surrendered much as a vacuum tube, empty, blank and malleable for God to start His renewal project with His infilling Holy Spirit. It is a (heart) soul that was separated from God by sin that only God can give life and life overflowing by renewing it daily through the Holy Spirit. 

But that is not usually the heart that a surrendering party thinks they are giving up (or at least parts of it) when accepting Christ as their savior. Instead, they think they are giving up (or changing) “their old self” or “ways.”  That is a common error that can often be wrought with catastrophic consequences. Sadly, it is largely what is taught either overtly or implied by the Christian world at large.  A person’s Salvation or surrender to God is looked at as something primarily of our own efforts, when in fact it has far more to do with the Lord’s efforts than our own, but we will get to that later (Acts:26-27, John 3:16-17). Often, when a person gets baptized after accepting the Lord, they come out of the water thinking, “Now it’s time to clean up my act,” to “live better, live right, go to church, read my Bible, pray more,” etc., etc. It is a good deeds ladder to start climbing to get right with God.  That all sounds too familiar and is completely off course to a true unconditional surrender. In short, they are only giving over a false image of their heart, and even then, sometimes keeping much of it without understanding it’s deadly hold on them. 

When a person gives up what they perceive as their old self (or life), they think they are putting on (or more likely working towards) a new self. And, in the correct spiritual sense, that should be the case, but it will not and cannot happen if a “true” surrender (or heart exchange) is not understood. The second a person thinks they are going to remake themselves; they are lost (not unsaved mind you) but lost to the emerging of a real new heart.   This is because they are taking the reins of something that belongs to the Holy Spirit of God within them. So, they have merely exchanged one perceived identity (their old) for another, namely “a doing good (or better) Christian.”   I have heard this put in terms of being a Salvation without Renovation (meaning the heart) and that is a very sound way to view it. Please understand this is not being critical at all and it may actually be God’s necessary starting point for many who eventually figure out the deeper meaning of a true surrender, but it may be a painful journey and one many will never complete.  I would state again, that is mostly because it is not taught correctly. Also, to be clear, anyone who accepts Jesus as their Savior with a pure and honest intent finds salvation in Him, so we are not talking about an issue of salvation as much as the richness and freedom that can be known in that salvation (or relationship) “this side of heaven” after a true surrender. It is like they will be standing outside of the candy store their entire life and never tasting its sweetness, all the while craving it. As a result, in all likelihood there will remain a bitterness in their heart, spirit and on their tongue, it is inescapable.  They will also feel an incomplete connection to the Lord and/or differing levels of emptiness within them they cannot understand. That leaves them chasing things to fulfill the emptiness, especially things that may appear “good,” but all the while distracting them from a deeper indwelling and love 

of God. We can never fully attach to the vine of Christ with our old selves hanging on our backs, even if loosely. 

Truthfully, today we find many Christians suffering from burn out or a malaise in their walk with God and in their life in general after decades of being a believer, and they are puzzled why they have yet to feel the same emotional elation and good feelings they felt when they first accepted the Lord as Savior. This may happen for a number of reasons, a major one being that when they first asked the Lord into their hearts, they likely experienced Him through the Holy Spirit for the first time.    Quite literally, this would have felt like an adrenaline shot of love to their heart and soul. This Spiritual High should never really fade much if it is cultivated, but it will once a person starts “doing” instead of “trusting and resting” in the power of the Holy Spirit in their life. With that, a person must allow Him to lead them into the work of the God’s kingdom. That is truly “when the yoke is easy, and the burden is light” (Matt 11:30). If we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our life’s wagon and even carry it much of the time, our efforts should just be giving our passion and energy to His cause. The scriptures are so crystal clear that we are “to live by the Spirit” and not by the flesh that is almost beyond belief it is so missed (Rom 8:4-5, 8:13, Gal 5:25).  That missed concept though, dramatically impacts a person’s initial surrender and all of their life’s flow thereafter. 

The above seems so simple, but there must be an understanding that when we surrender to God, we are truly allowing the Lord to wipe our slate or hard drive (as I call it) clean and start anew (2 Cor 5:17). In many ways, it may even be more than a wiping away, it may be an entirely new hard drive, much different than the one we had made and tweaked for ourselves to survive in our days of brokenness. This is much the same as the Lord told Nicodemus, he was to be “reborn” of the Spirit (John 3:1-8). Reborn is about as new as it gets. Nicodemus did not understand this immediately of course and most do not today. Likewise, when the Lord urges the disciples to become like a child (Matthew 18:3-4), or they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which is largely what he means.  It demands an innocent trust to lay all of your emotional baggage, deeds, life’s victories, tragedies, learned thoughts, habits, trophies and all other down and saying, “Here lies your clay dear Father, I am yours and you are mine, have at me!!!”  That is when the Holy Spirit can fully take over as the master architect of the heart along with the Father and the Lord.  This is also the only thing that can sustain a person at full capacity in serving and growing in love with the Lord wherever life takes them. It is this very renewal that brings the peace that surpasses all understanding. You can eat all the candy you want from there and never get cavities! The bitter heart, spirit and tongue will be fading, replaced with peace, love and joy. Likewise, what was once empty within, is now overflowing. There is no need to chase life’s follies as you are made fully whole from within, and you will learn to rest in the freedom that wholeness brings. Now, do not confuse “rest” with inaction. In fact, you will be so moved by God’s love within you that you will produce spiritual fruit beyond anything you can measure or have imagined.

 In addition, to accomplish the above, a person must first know that they truly “know” nothing about themselves until God starts the heart’s renewal process. All notions they have held about themselves, any perceived identities (as noted above), good thoughts, bad thoughts, the whole package of what they think they know, and they hold within their core, must be laid down. Be very, very clear here, any “that’s how God made me” or “I was born that way” notions a person may hold about themselves, must immediately be yielded to the Lord.  We all leaned on our own understanding before Christ. But that by its definition, meant we were likely 100% wrong 100% of the time on spiritual matters and most of life’s choices as well as they would have been “self-serving” in some way.  People who are exceptionally gifted and skilled in certain areas most likely (most often innocently) misused such gifts prior to knowing the Lord to accomplish things, protect themselves, earn a living and other, but those gifts must be laid bare and resisted unless the Lord repurposes them within you for His use.   Even what you perceive as your greatest strengths will need to be cast away or yielded to God as they may not be what the Lord desires to bring forth from you moving forward and they may be the very thing that kept you from finding your true path to God all along or even a deeper path today. Your very cunning mind, physical prowess or good looks may have helped you survive, but with an ever dying and increasingly deluded heart. 

Imagine a long serving naval commander with 50 battleships of various types that have been under his command for 40 years (he started young).  He knows every inch of every ship, what each one can do in battle, how fast they move and turn, every gun aboard each, etc., etc. He knows the full ability of his fleet and draws comfort from its power. Initially, the commander is quite successful with his fleet, or at least he feels he is. After all, he has had lots of compliments and backpacks over the years from friends and others.  But soon after taking his first command, he was asked by the President himself and then often over the years, if he wants a new and better command, a much more powerful one?  But the commander always declined the President’s offer as he had grown so proud and comfortable with this fleet. Worse yet, he did this despite years of growing losses in battles and suffering great harm personally and to those he cares most about. Finally, after more years of increasing loses, the commander relents and says, “OK, send me my new command,” and the President says, “You have been floating right on top of it all along, it is a fleet of nuclear submarines, you just need to get on board. Better yet, I’ll (meaning God) drive.”  The force had long been there from the beginning, just waiting for the captain to relinquish the reigns and see power like he had never known or could imagine.  

In truth, the above is how most people come to the Lord and when they do surrender control, they usually only give up a few ships at a time. Also, they may try to restock their old ships or improve them, like we do certain behaviors, bad habits, etc.  The reality is one can never be at full spiritual fulfillment until all vessels of us are surrendered to God. These “vessels” are not referring to specific behaviors, but more importantly, the desires that drive all of our behaviors.  One needs to ask the Holy Spirit daily to exchange their desires for His own, quite literally. Likewise, it is surrendering to love God more, and that with God’s help. It means allowing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to love each of us more as well. And yes, there may be times (even in the far-off distance) when one is tempted to try and invite God onto one our old ships for His help in a battle. While that is not a bad idea if we have no other options, it is still limiting yourself and the Lord for His ability to work through you. Sink the darn ships and get on the subs!

So how does this play out in real life? When someone is never instructed about the critical need of the Holy Spirit’s aid and direction of their new life and identity, they simply try as noted earlier to put new wine in their old skin (Mark 2:22, Matt 9:17, Luke 5:37) and that does not work. In doing so, they are limiting their growth in love and relationship to the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They have merely created a new perceived identity for themselves that they may feel some comfort with for a time or even a lifetime, but it will be a sparsely bearing vine as it has only a loose grasp on the Lord through the Holy Spirit. This is the life of the 30–50-year pew sitters who only tacitly serve the Lord, those with negative and bitter spirits, legalists, busybodies and the walking masked malaise, or those Jesus called “whitewashed tombs” (Matt 23:27). (Quite sadly perhaps and slightly aside from this discussion, it can become the life of the 80-90% of Christian teenagers who leave home and abandon their faith within a few 

short months). This is not said with any disrespect, but with extreme sadness, as I have encountered so many of these people and maybe you have to.  You may even identify with these people or have similar feelings now or from time to time, feeling like you are not fully connected to the full current of God’s power. I know I have certainly experienced this for periods of time and at different times in my journey with the Lord.   That is OK, God loves you just the same, but it is time to enter the candy store and lock the door behind you. 

The candy we are chasing is the richness of a life so full of God’s love in us, that it overflows and covers all those around us to levels beyond our ability to control it. It is a life that the very love of God becomes our own nature, our old self buried forever for the life anew (Rom 8:13).  

So much of growing in this loving relationship and unison with Christ is based on the truth we learn about the process, much as noted in earlier examples. There is another concept that can be missed which I feel helps make the journey even clearer. We know Jesus often spoke about the kingdom of God and in Jesus’ reconciling the world unto Himself by His death and resurrection, he literally brought the kingdom with him, never to leave (Matt12:28, Matt 21:43, Mark 1:15, Mark 4:31, Luke 17:20, Luke 22:13, John 3:5).   Better yet, upon His departure, He sent kingdom reinforcements to indwell us through the Holy Spirit. The “kingdom life” then is merely walking under the full influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is not a doing on our part, but a continual surrender to God to let Him live through us by the Holy Spirit. So, the key nugget to grab here is “The Christian Life” is not measured by what you do or how you act, but instead how He lives through you. Anything good we do, will be Him doing it if we allow it. If we could have done it on our own, Jesus would not have had to die, but because He did, we can live through the power of the Holy Spirit for the Father’s glory.  

So, if it is so clear and this is what Jesus taught, why do so few find the gate to a full life? It is partly because no one is taught the simple concept of “competing kingdoms” as some call it. It has been taught more as a “flesh verses the spirit battle” for man and while that is a pretty good concept of the battle of the forces of good and evil, one’s approach to the battle will determine their success.   Everyone, prior to a relationship with Jesus is the master of their own kingdom which may be better described as the court jester as it really is folly they have mastered.  It is a false reality they live in as discussed earlier.  

Now imagine a sheet of paper with two circles on it, one represents a person’s kingdom (before accepting Christ), and one represents God’s. All of one’s life passions, wants, desires, job, family, possessions, etc., etc. are firmly in their circle. In the other is God’s kingdom, which is eternal, unchanging and is full of His perfect love, provision and care for all who join him inside. However, usually when a person comes to Jesus for salvation and new life they only try to move in part of their circle at a time into the God’s kingdom (or circle). Very likely, that is the way they think they need to do it.   They have no idea it’s an all-in deal and that not of their own making. As noted, before, they are trying to stair step their way to God. I think we can all identify with this at some point in our own journey with God. Other people just kind of slide their circle next to God’s and ask Him to join them in their circle and do not even know there is another circle (God’s kingdom).  They view life here on earth as the “full reality” of their existence, without realizing “real life” is actually abiding in spirit with God.  They are searching for earthly blessings, observable actions and earthly relationships instead of setting their minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:2). They honestly have no idea of the spiritual unity and wholeness they can have with God. Again, this is not about salvation, but it is about “The Life,” lived in the kingdom of their (or our) own or in God’s. This is very much a life in the flesh versus a life in the spirit. 

A full Christian surrender in effect, would be moving all of one’s circle into God’s, letting all of our previous walls of protection dissolve to the degree that one can no longer escape His kingdom, as it has become one with us and us with it, just as Jesus expressed his wishes for us when he said, John 17:20-23 “I am not asking on behalf of these (meaning His disciples) alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.  The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.” 

I have long wondered why this feature of unity and pure love with God in his kingdom is not taught in a clearer way. We are not behaving or acting or doing to get in the circle of God’s kingdom.   We literally are absorbed into it by His love and His Spirit until He is really part of our core being.  His thoughts become our thoughts by the natural expression of our heart as guided by God’s will through the power of the Holy Spirit. But if we do not first understand that the surrender is more than our actions, we will miss it all together. By grasping these realities as part of the Christian growth in fellowship with God, it allows one to make the concepts a living reality in their (and our) lives. Again, the candy store with no cavities. 

While growing in a deeper relationship to the Lord is always a continual journey, it should at some point find a more peaceful stream in its flow as a person is lead more and more by the Holy Spirit into the richness of God and His love of us.  There should emerge a kind of uniformity in a person’s life whereby who they “now” “are” is very evident to all around them. It is most evidenced by the light of God within them. Further, they do not change “who” they “are,” by who they are with. There is very little to no pretense left within them.  This is often called a person “walking in the Spirit” or with God, but ultimately it is just where a person has yielded enough of themselves that God has taken the lead in their life’s dance.  To be clear, everyone’s dance looks different as God lives differently through each person via their individual talents, spiritual gifts etc., but there will always be a certain beauty to each, and all will produce abundant fruit for the Lord. 

Conclusion:  So where does all the above leave us? What new things do we take away from the concept of Unconditional Surrender? How do the effects of a person’s initial approach to it impact one’s future relationship with the Lord? Here are a few key points that may still apply to us, but as importantly may help us recognize where others may still be facing roadblocks in their journey to a fuller and richer relationship with God. 

1.)  No one can truly surrender a heart they do not yet have or understand. Through prayer the Lord can begin to bring understanding and God can bring that heart to life and free it from the bonds of this broken world. 

2.)  Surrender is not an effort filled, focused change of behavior on the part of the surrendering party. It is instead, a handing of a now blank heart to the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father, as clay to a potter.

3.)  A person must recognize any previous self-held images (or those imparted by others) of themselves must be discarded. Further, at this point, any future self-conceived images of themselves must also be fully resisted and laid bare. Surrender is not a time for a person to lean on one’s own understanding as they do not yet have any “real” understanding. Quit hint…. We never stop surrendering.

4.)  The realization that surrender is truly only giving up the “nothing” a person had or has to gain the freedom in “everything” God has is a critical step into life and the life “abundant”.  It will be stepping into God’s reality and kingdom for the first time and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the scales that have blinded a person for their entire life will begin to fall off allowing them to see the loving beauty of our Savior and the beauty of themselves made and now molded in His image.

5.) Finally, for those of us (maybe all of us) that still have ships of our own to sink, we can seek Him in their sinking.  A good start may be: “Father, I pray that you sink even those ships of which I am unaware, as I know there are still anchors I have yet to release.”



Contact Editor

Contact Member