Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How Can I Gain Assurance When I Struggle to Surrender to Christ?

Some background

Today I wrap up our dialog on the assurance of salvation.

It started when a Reader shared her doubts, struggles, and questions about assurance.

I responded by explaining the biblical understanding of assurance of salvation — and answering questions  about specific scriptures.

I was deeply encouraged by her response

  • Her questions about assurance were answered.
  • She saw that, for her, the attempt to find assurance by looking to her past gave her an excuse to not trust Jesus now.
  • She sees that to gain assurance the most crucial step is to turn from all else to trust Jesus Christ now.
  • She recognizes that what holds her back is her unwillingness to give-in 100% and surrender to Christ.

So here’s my answer

Dear Reader,

Thank you for letting me know what God is doing in your heart.  Reading your response deeply encouraged me.

I am grateful for the wisdom and honesty God is giving you — especially in discovering that focusing on the past gave you an excuse to not trust Jesus in the present.

And I appreciate your humility in admitting your battle to give-in 100% to the Lord and surrender to Christ.

But that raises a crucial question —

How can you gain assurance when you struggle to surrender to Christ?

This is crucial to ask — because every believer faces this struggle.

So what’s going on when we struggle to surrender?

Struggle to surrender means there’s something else we want more than Jesus Christ.

It means there’s something else we are trusting more than Christ to satisfy us — like money, fame, or entertainment.

But this poses a problem —

If assurance depends on trusting Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and all-satisfying Treasure — but I’m trusting something else as my all-satisfying Treasure — how can I gain assurance?

What not to do

Maybe this is not what you are tempted to do.  But in the past, I would try to change my own heart BEFORE turning to Christ.

I would try to fully surrender, and stir up trust in Him as my all-satisfying Treasure, by my own will-power.

But this doesn’t work — and Jesus has a better way.

Turn to Jesus and trust Him to change your heart

Everything we need is found in Jesus Christ.

  • The unbelieving man didn’t overcome his unbelief before coming to Jesus — he brought his unbelief to Jesus and prayed “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)
  • Paul didn’t say we must first transform ourselves and then we will behold Jesus’ glory — he said we are transformed by beholding Jesus’ glory (2Cor 3:18).

So we should not try to change our hearts BEFORE coming to Jesus.

Our hearts will only be changed BY coming to Jesus.

We must come to Jesus as we are — confessing our sin — asking Him to change us — and looking to Him by faith.

As we come to Jesus in this way we can be fully assured that we are saved — because only saved people do this.

And as we come to Jesus in this way, He will —

  • show us His all-satisfying glory
  • give us desire for Him
  • strengthen our trust in Him
  • give us hearts that fully surrender to Him

Everything we need is found in Jesus Christ.  What a Savior!

Thank you

Again, thank you so much for your questions, your honesty, your interaction.

I have grown through it — and others have as well.

In Christ,

Steve Fuller

Comments?  Feedback?

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(Picture is from everystockphoto by megyarsh.)

Category: Stories about Other People, Strengthening Your Faith


13 Responses

  1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Hi Steve,

    I am concurring with you completely. For we cannot change our hearts by ourselves, we shouldn’t look at our incompetence to do this or to do without that, but to re-look at our almighty Savior as soon as possible.

    You said, “Everything we need is found in Jesus Christ.” Yep! Indeed, I would argue that He is the answer to every question which may arise as for our spiritual and daily life. Sounds easier than it is, isn’t it…The closer we come to Him (beholding His glory), the stronger our hope can be; we are transformed by continually looking at Jesus, i.e. praying to sustain and help us in every area of life in which He previously has shown us that we need Him. Because I know that He is the one who always points to another part of my life He wants to take over and guide, I’m always only begging Him, “Help me, please!” And he does…He is the one who makes all my dreams come true by pouring out His heart transforming Spirit all the more if I wish – I think He wants to be asked; and we all need a hero to save us, don’t we 😉

    Many Blessings,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Well said, Susanne. As you put it — what we always need to do is re-look at our almighty Savior as soon as possible. Exactly.

      It’s not complicated. But — because of our sin and pride it’s not easy.

      But the good work HE started — HE will complete. So He will give us all the grace we need — the comfort we need — the faith we need.

      Which is why at the end of history we will gather with all the redeemed and cry out with a loud voice — “Salvation to the Lamb! — because every bit of our salvation came to us from Him.


  2. Chris Keener says:

    Hi Steve,

    Normally I don’t read blogs because I try to manage my time carefully. But I found this discussion to be very encouraging and captivating.

    Related to I John, one of the key verses that assures believers of salvation is I John 5:13. In context, the next verse even uses the word assurance (NIV) about God hearing our prayers. I John is framed by John’s purpose of writing–5:13 and 1:3-4. He writes to proclaim the Word, and we know from 1:1-2 and the parallel passage in the Gospel of John (John 1:1-14) that Jesus is the Word and the Gospel is that He gave up His life for us so that we can live, and that He rose again to life.

    All this is to say that our salvation depends on what Jesus did on the Cross, not on what we do. That’s why we can be assured, because His work is finished (John 19:30). If we depended on ourselves, we would be on shaky ground. But trusting in Jesus is rock solid ground.

    It’s easy to get confused when the Bible speaks of the results of salvation. We know the tree by its fruit. So, having received grace from Christ, our lives inevitably and naturally demonstrate that grace in good deeds done in love. That is how we know what He has already done in us. But the salvation and the fruit all depend on Him. There’s no pressure on us to perform. Instead, serving God is always a joy, even when it leads to difficulties.


    • Steve Fuller says:

      So glad you stopped by and enjoyed the blog, Chris. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Reading your comments made me think of the song that goes — “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

      I appreciate your emphasis on His finished work on the Cross — surely He is our solid rock.

      And fruit will flow as we trust all that He promises to be to us.

      What a rock-solid Savior — and Salvation.

      Onward, brother,


  3. Jamie says:


    I just found this via google. Earlier tonight, God called me out on my lack of surrender to Him. I was faced with a mirror of my own depravity and hypocrisy, and realized that I have been holding back and not fully surrendered to Christ. After praying and giving up myself fully to The Lord, I did a google search on this subject and came across your blog. Thank you! I had been making the mistake of trying to change my own heart, instead of letting Jesus do the changing. I believe that God led me to your blog because I needed this message. Thanks again!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Jamie,

      I am so glad this was helpful for you. And you are so right that it’s not our own power that changes our hearts. It’s when the Spirit enables us to see and feel the glory of Jesus — that’s when we turn from everything else to Him as our all-satisfying Treasure.

      Of course, there are steps we can take to experience this precious work of the Spirit — like turning to Jesus just as we are, asking for more of the Spirit’s work, and setting our hearts on Scriptures describing who He is and what He’s promised to be to us.

      Keep us posted on how God is working in your life — and thanks for your encouraging comment!

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Staci says:

    This topic hit me pretty hard, I’ve struggled many years with doubts about my salvation. Many of the answers given are very encouraging. My biggest struggle is how do I know if it is head knowledge or heart knowledge. Sometimes I wonder if I’m sincere or just a pretender. After returning to Jesus after backsliding the fire and passion I first felt never returned. I try to do what I’m supposed to do, living my life in a way to please and honor God, but am I really saved, or just a fake?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Staci,

      I’m glad this gave you some encouragement. And thank you for sharing some other questions you have.

      Here are my thoughts:

      Is it head or heart-knowledge? Again, I would not take too much time trying to figure that out. Everything we need, including heart-knowledge, comes by looking to Him by faith.

      So turn to Him, set your mind on who He is, ask Him to give you heart-knowledge, and pray over the truth of who He is. As you do that, asking for more faith, and confessing whatever sin might need to be confessed, He will strengthen your faith and give you heart-knowledge.

      And regarding whether you are sincere or just a pretender, I would encourage you to trust Christ to give you love for who He Himself is. Look to Him, see your need of a Savior, and trust Him to forgive, change, and satisfy you. He will.

      I hope that helps some. Thanks for asking such important questions.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Apryl says:

    Hello Steve,
    Thank u very much for posting this. When u stated that the struggle to surrender is because there is something else we r still after other than Jesus, tears immediately streamed down my face as this truth pierced me deeply. I definitely needed this. I too, just happened to google an inquiry& found your blog. Thanx again & keep up the great work!!!! Continue to be blessed!

  6. ann says:

    This too is my struggle. Its so easy to say just put your trust in the lord &everything will ok. I know in theory this is true but in practice its a whole different thing. I too backslided I regret it with my whole heart & long to have a loving, deep passion for christ again but ive not found it so easy to return & to put my full trust back into God, although I long & ache for it. I pray I believe Lord help my unbelief. I miss my intimacy I once had with him & I hated what I had done to his name, I had misrepresented him. I would rather not br known as a Christian then to bring shame to him. I long for my first love & will by his grace keep on until I find him again.

  7. Warren says:

    Hi Steve,
    I’m thanking the Lord that he has used you to help me on this topic. As an ex-Catholic I’ve struggled with doubts about my salvation for years and have had all different thoughts regarding to my faith.
    I’ve have been to altar so many times worried my diversity wasn’t enough or my faith want real because I got caught in a web that spiraled down worrying is my faith in whay I say meaning is it only in the fact I say I believe or do I really believe. Another way is I read a book saying you cannot have faith in your faith but you need an object to your faith Jesus. So I starting questioning my faith after that and this started questioning everything. It wasn’t until I realized that the Lord knows everything including all my thoughts and patterns and was calling me to rest in Him and His finished work on the cross for me. I was lead to 1 John 3:20 ” if my heart condemns me God is greater than our hearts and knows all things” this was so helpful because I didn’t need to hide from God anymore. But even so I still struggle with God excepting me or even the fact if He choose me. That was very hard for me to try to understand because I went through so much wording that if God hadn’t chosen me How could I convince Him otherwise. It is only by what I know to be true in His word and all that He has done for me and not my thoughts or my feelings of what I think it is. It can be hard sometimes to think after all I have done and all I have seen and all the doubts and fears in my life that God still loves me and has called me to Him regardless of my fears that even now He brought me here.
    Thank you brother please pray for me as I will you and those who struggle to find peace in Jesus alone. And you know that is the true answer- Jesus alone.
    Christ bless you brother

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I’m praying for you right now, Warren. And may the Lord richly bless you in Christ!

      Steve Fuller

      • Warren says:

        Thank you Steve I’m praying for you and your ministry. I know that I can do all things through Christ and I know Christ always has the answer we need. Thank you again for your encouragement. I know the enemy does not want us to rest or trust Him but Our God is faithful. Christ bless

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