I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice …
— Romans 12:1
During the Civil War, the troops of General Ulysses S. Grant were poised to capture a fort in Tennessee. The Confederate commander then sent this message: “I propose to the commanding Officer of the Federal forces the appointment of Commissioners to agree upon terms of capitulation of the forces and fort under my command.” But Grant famously replied: “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” And Grant became known thereafter for the phrase “unconditional surrender.”
It is not for us to begin to praise God until first we have surrendered ourselves unconditionally to Christ. This is the army of the conquered—those that have been conquered by Christ.
When our hearts have been won and our wills have been taken over by Christ, when the sword of our rebellion is knocked from our hands and we are brought to the ground, only then will we abandon all lesser goals and all lesser aims, and give ourselves over to the highest and the best. Those who are most thoroughly surrendered to Him are the greatest trophies of grace and will have the greatest victories.
Our will was created good, but in Adam’s fall, the will of man became rebellious and self-serving. Only when our will is submitted to God are we free again to offer ourselves as our spiritual worship.