We don’t live surrendered lives because to do so is both inconvenient and difficult. Everything in our society and culture is designed to appeal to our worldly lusts and flesh. The culture calls us to surrender to its ways, enjoy the best of this life, and cast aside any restrictions on our pleasure and enjoyment.
Every part of our flesh desires to chase after the things of this world. So, when we surrender to Jesus as our Lord, an immediate conflict ensues. Will we bow to the King or give our allegiance to the dark desires of our flesh?
When we wake each morning, we must make a conscious decision to die to self. We must say “no” to our desires, and “yes” to living in obedience to Christ. In his Epistle to the Galatians, Paul writes he is dead, that he is no longer alive. The life he now lives is through Christ (Galatians 2:19-20). Paul’s surrender was so complete he considered none of his desires worth pursuing. There was Jesus and nothing else.
This is what it means to die to ourselves: it means to put away everything we love and desire. Those things belong to a dead person. None of them matter anymore because we have Christ! Whatever we can do to honor Jesus and build His Kingdom is what we desire to do. We cannot help but obey and seek His will. We love others because Christ first loved us. The stench of sin is repulsive to us because it is repulsive to God. The conversations we have, the activities we engage in, and even the thoughts we think will no longer be to elevate us, but to glorify God.
When we die to self, nothing that used to matter to us will matter any longer. Most of us will try to continue to live as we always have, but with an eye to making sure we don’t cross a line too far when it comes to our faith. That’s not surrender. That’s compromise, rationalization, and ultimately self-deception. Surrender is not a difficult word to define. It doesn’t require or accept nuance. Surrender means we give up everything. We’re done, and Christ lives.
It’s not so much asking, “What would Jesus do?” but more asking, what will you do now that Christ dwells in you? If Jesus is your Lord, you have no other option than to die to self. You cannot avoid taking up the cross and laying down your life (Matthew 16:24-26). Christians who think they can go through life living for themselves while proclaiming their love for Christ do not understand what love means. It is not hard to imagine them being turned away in dismay when they meet Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). Don’t let that be you.
If you believe Jesus to be the Lord that He is, you must surrender everything you ever knew, thought, hoped, or dreamed. There is new life in Christ, the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). Don’t cling to the dead things of this world; throw them away. Die to yourself and live for Jesus.