Surrender, Part II

When we are only committed to the cause, we are still in charge, for the most part, but we can still rebel. When we are surrendered, we cannot be rebels. When we surrender, we give up our authority, and we come under the authority of Another.

So, why do we not surrender? Fear could be one reason, but another reason is that we just plain do not know how. Commitment without surrender is what most people have been trying to do for the last 6,000 years, and this is why we are still here. It does not work any better now than it did the first time it was tried. It is insane to keep trying it, but we do just the same, perhaps because we do not know anything else to do. God, however, wants us to know another way—the only way that works.

The only way that works is so simple that we often miss the real meaning. It just does not sink in, but we cannot afford to miss it. Before we study it, though, we need to first consider how the mind works in the area of temptation.

The Bible presents, a number of times, the battle between the flesh and the spirit. Through the Spirit of Prophecy, we are told a lot about the higher powers and the lower powers of the mind. Think of your brain as being divided into sections.

Higher Powers

The higher powers are located where science calls the frontal lobe of the brain. That is where the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Romans 8:16 talks about how the Holy Spirit testifies to our spirits: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” This is referring to the frontal lobe of the brain where, Ellen White states, rests the higher powers. The Bible would call it the spirit. The higher powers contain the intellect, the reason, and the conscience.

The higher powers take in information and store it in the intellect. Then the reason takes that information and cogitates from cause to effect, based on your intellect or what you know. If you do such and such, what will or will not happen; if you do not do such and such, what will or will not happen?

You know what the conscience does. If you do not think or act according to reason and intellect, your conscience makes you feel bad. It is a warning signal. It makes you feel guilty. It pricks you.

Lower Powers

The lower powers would originate in the lower part of the brain, in what could be called the animal instinct part of the brain. It tells your heart to beat and your lungs to breathe without your thinking about those things. The lower powers are what the Bible calls the flesh.

The flesh contains the appetite, the passions, and the desires. God placed these things in you. In and of themselves they are not bad, but they are to be kept under the control of the higher powers. When Adam and Eve fell, the lower powers began to reign over the higher powers, and they have been in control ever since.

The appetite says, If it tastes good, eat it. The passions say, If it feels good, do it. Desire says, If you want it, get it. Satan knows how to work this system. Every temptation he sends to you enters through that channel—either through appetite, passion, or desire.

Galatians 5:16, 17 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” It does not say that you will not have the lust of the flesh; it says that you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to yield to the temptation. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The Will

These two things are contrary to each other, so when temptation enters, the flesh votes one way and the spirit votes the other. They never agree, because they are contrary one to another. In order for temptation to pass, then, we need to have a third representative—the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man.

I heard Stephen Vincent Wallace, several years ago, explain it this way: “This is the land of Me, and in the land of Me, the capital city is Mind. In the capital city of Mind is the House of Representatives, and there are three that sit in that House of Representatives. There is a representative from the kingdom of darkness (that would be the flesh). There is a representative from the Kingdom of Light (that would be the Spirit). Then there is our representative, the will.” For anything to pass, you must have a two-thirds majority, so the will decides if you are going to listen to the higher powers or whether you are going to listen to the lower powers. That is what makes the final decision.

This is why God gave us the health message and why the health message is so important. It is not just so we can be healthy, but it is to keep the frontal lobe of the brain clear. Things like drugs, alcohol, rock music, television, caffeine, and nicotine tend to numb the frontal lobe. When the frontal lobe is numb and it is supposed to be putting out an argument for righteousness, what kind of argument is it going to give? Not a very good one! The will may then listen to the lower powers.

The Will’s Authority

There are other verses in the Bible that speak of this, such as Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].”

We are not to make any provision for it, so unless your will is surrendered to Christ and is under the authority of God, it is not going to have authority over the lower powers. This is why it is so important to surrender the will.

You need to understand that this is not talking about willpower. That is what the world uses, and most of God’s people have tried using their willpower for the last 6,000 years, and it has not worked. It might work with sins that are not that appealing to you, but if you encounter sins that really appeal to you, ones known as besetting sins, then you really do not have any willpower. Willpower is not what is meant, but the right exercise of the will. We need to surrender our wills to God.

In Luke 17:20, 21, some people talked to Christ about the location of the kingdom of God. He told them, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” In Part I of this study, the word kingdom was identified as coming from two words, king and dominion. Dominion is where one king has complete and total control and authority. Your heart is to be that place, that dominion, on this earth for God. Your heart is to be like a branch office of the kingdom in heaven. In the kingdom of heaven, one King has complete and total control and authority, and He is to have that same dominion in our hearts.

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) and repeat the words, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” do you ever stop and think about what you are asking? You are asking that God’s kingdom come; His will be done here, on earth, in you, as it is in heaven.

It is of the utmost importance that you learn to surrender your will to God. You need to stop using the old willpower, grit your teeth, struggle and strain method, and start using the surrender method. When you do this, you will find that exercising your will with the higher powers of your brain will not be nearly as difficult. This does not mean you will have smooth sailing, but it will be a whole lot easier than the other willpower method.

You can read about the willpower method and how it works in Romans 7. That is the method of which Paul is speaking in this passage. You can just feel the frustration as he is describing it, because it does not work.

Born to Win

Christ had to deal with this problem too. He had a fallen nature with which to contend. (See The Desire of Ages, 112.) I personally believe that He was born with the equivalent of a born-again nature, and that is how He could win. This is the same nature we can have, and this is why we can win too.

When you are born again, you are born to win. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.” 1 John 5:4. Like Christ, you can have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, but to have it, it is essential that you learn to surrender everything to God, just as Christ did. You must learn to yield your will. If you do not, you are either going to get discouraged and give up or you are going to stay committed but not submitted and end up in the foolish virgin camp (Matthew 25:1–13) or the Matthew 7:21–23 camp: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Or you may end up in the 1 Corinthians 13:3 camp: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”


If you are not careful, you will learn to ignore the Holy Spirit’s promptings and pleadings. Romans 1:28 tells us that God gives such people over to a reprobate mind. “And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

The dictionary definition of a reprobate is “a thoroughly bad person.” I made up my own definition of a reprobate mind. You most likely will not find this in one of the more scholarly, theological resources, but it works for me, and I hope it helps you. To me, a reprobate mind means, “to have the brain in your head upside down.” In other words, letting the lower powers control the higher powers. So when God gives you up to a reprobate mind, He leaves you to being controlled by those lower powers. They will never be under the control of the higher powers. Your will will never be surrendered.

The best example of surrender and dependence, of course, is Christ. Just in the Book of John there are at least 30 verses where He says that everything He had and everything He did was totally surrendered to His Father. His will, His work, His words, His doctrine, His mission, and His decisions all came from the Father. They were all surrendered. Christ did nothing of Himself. “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5:30. How could He do that? Was it because He was committed only? It was because He was totally dependent and surrendered to the Father. When you are willing to be to Jesus what Jesus was to the Father, then Jesus will be to you what the Father was to Him.

Like Jesus

Philippians 2:5–11 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In other words, have the same attitude Jesus had. He made Himself of no reputation; He emptied Himself; He laid down His privileges; He took the form of a servant; He humbled Himself. You and I are to have the same attitude.

Verses 10 and 11 tell us that everyone in the whole universe, fallen and unfallen, will bow down and “confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” They will confess Jesus’ lordship and His right to reign, His sovereign authority, and His right to have sovereign authority. The whole universe, fallen and unfallen, is going to acknowledge this.

Prayer Life

How did Jesus keep His will surrendered to the Father? Oh, the secret seems to be in His prayer life. He spent time every day, before He did anything else, surrendering His will to the Father. Sometimes He spent all night in prayer. The best example of this is the night He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42.) Three times He had to yield His will to the Father. It was a struggle, even to the point of sweating blood. Nevertheless, He was able to do it, and you can follow His example.

Impossible on Your Own

The following statements are some of the clearest on the surrender of the will and of the heart. I hope they will be helpful to you.

“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ Job 14:4; Romans 8:7.” Steps to Christ, 18.

What an interesting statement! This is the part where I think a lot of people get confused and why they use that old method of willpower, which has been tried for 6,000 years. The next statement explains it. It says, “Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” Ibid.

“The Saviour said, ‘Except a man be born from above,’ unless he shall receive a new heart, new desires, purposes, and motives, leading to a new life, ‘he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ John 3:3, margin.” Ibid.

The word see means to “perceive with understanding experientially.” You know, when you have your own little kingdom going where you call your own shots and do your own thing, where you are in total and complete control and authority, you not only cannot see the kingdom of God, but you do not even want to know about it.

Ellen White continues, “The idea that it is necessary only to develop the good that exists in man by nature, is a fatal deception. . . .

“It is not enough to perceive the loving-kindness of God, to see the benevolence, the fatherly tenderness, of His character. It is not enough to discern the wisdom and justice of His law, to see that it is founded upon the eternal principle of love. Paul the apostle saw all this when he exclaimed, ‘I consent unto the law that it is good.’ ‘The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ But he added, in the bitterness of his soul-anguish and despair, ‘I am carnal, sold under sin.’ Romans 7:16, 12, 14. He [Paul] longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in himself he was powerless to attain, and cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ Romans 7:24, margin. Such is the cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in all lands and in all ages.” Ibid., 18, 19.

Have you ever longed for that for which Paul longed—that purity and righteousness? Have you figured out yet, as he did, that you are powerless to obtain it? The only way to receive it is to surrender your will to God. The quicker you figure it out, the better off you will be. “To all, there is but one answer, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29.” Ibid., 19.

To be continued . . .

Steve Currey is a Bible worker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.