A woman in white holds an open Bible where she learns the difference between surrender and submission

How are Surrender and Submission Different?

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Every step on the path of spiritual growth requires clarity of mind, the courage to be honest with yourself, and the strength to make choices that align with God’s will. It’s a profound, personal, and often challenging journey. Along the way, we encounter ideas that seem to overlap or may be misconstrued, leading us to reflect deeply on what they truly mean. Such is the case with surrender and submission in our walk with Christ—two terms that often require careful thought and understanding.  

Let’s uncover the layers of these concepts, understanding when to let go in trustful surrender and when to affirm faith through willing submission.  

Surrender vs. Submission 

Surrender, often misconstrued as a relinquishing of control, holds a far deeper meaning in the spiritual realm. It’s the act of releasing our attachments, dependencies, and prideful grips on various aspects of our lives, and placing them in the hands of God. True surrender is not a passive resignation but a proactive leap of faith, knowing that what we release to God, He redeems and transforms. It embodies an internal state of peaceful acceptance, grounded in the belief that God’s plan exceeds our understanding. 

A man in silhouette prays during a blazing sunset as he learns the importance of surrender and submission.

Submission, on the other hand, is the choice to align our will with God’s. It’s a recognition of His wisdom and authority. Unlike surrender, which may involve yielding to circumstances beyond our control, submission is an action we can take in the face of our everyday choices. It requires the humility to listen, the bravery to obey, and an unwavering dedication to the biblical principles we value. 

Each concept has its own role in our spiritual development. Surrender nurtures trust and humility, while submission serves as a lens through which we view our obedience to God’s Word. Both are integral to the Christian faith. Grasping their full meaning is essential for following the path set by God. 

Surrender: A Testimony of Faith 

The Bible has countless stories of individuals committed to God’s plan. Mary’s acceptance of her destiny and Job’s resilience in the face of adversity both depict the essence of surrender. True surrender requires us to mirror these acts in our lives, offering up our desires, circumstances, and fears to God’s ultimate care. 

Embracing a surrendered mindset is no small feat. It requires a constant renewal of our minds and hearts, and to consistently commit to surrendering everything to the Lord. To cultivate surrender, we must engage in prayer, reflect on the examples of the faithful, and practice letting go in various small ways each day. 

Submission: A Willingness to Conform to God’s Will 

Submission is not about suppressing our individuality; rather, it’s about finding our true selves in Christ. When we submit, we allow God to work through us, expressing His will in our lives. By willingly conforming to His ways, we set in motion the very blessing and transformation that surrender promises. 

James 4:7 tells us to, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When we’re tempted to go our own way, possibly into sin, submission to God will be a way of escape.

A critical aspect of submission is discernment. Not all situations require our submission, and this is where wisdom, prayer, and counsel come to play. We need to figure out if a directive comes from God or if it’s driven by our own wishes or societal expectations. Only then can we submit with a clear conscience and unwavering faith. 

Reflection on Surrender and Submission to God’s Will

Now listen to a short segment of this meditation from Abide based on Isaiah 30:21, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Let God speak to you about discerning and following His will.

To integrate these principles into our daily walk, consider the unique circumstances and choices we face each day. Practice discernment through regular prayer and study of Scripture. Seek counsel from other believers and spiritual leaders. Each decision offers an opportunity to express our devotion through the art of surrender and submission. 

Understanding the distinction between surrender and submission is an enlightening step on the path to spiritual growth. By actively engaging with these concepts, we draw closer to God. Let the Abide app help you in that journey. By downloading the app, you gain access to our entire library of guided meditations, Bible-based sleep stories, and daily devotions. Use this link for 25% off.