1. By viewing the mercies or God. In Romans 12:1 Paul urges believers, “by the mercies of God,” to present their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. This phrase, “by the mercies of God,” indicates that these mercies are the means of our surrender. The Amplified version translates this phrase as “In view of the mercies of God,” which indicates that these mercies, as we view them, are a motivation for our surrender. I think both ideas are true. When we view and experience His great love for us we are made ready and also able to love Him back by our willing surrender.
The first thing we ought to do then if we genuinely want to surrender our lives to God is to get a good view of the mercies of God, which are discussed in chapters 1-8 of Romans (as well as throughout the entire Bible). And there are so many things discussed in these chapters; I can’t mention them all. However, they may be simply outlined as such: Justification, sanctification, and glorification. Here then is just a glimpse of the mercies of God.
Justification. Justification is a gift by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is “God’s gift of pronouncing man righteous in spite of his guilt.” Hence, God recognized that we were full of sin and guilt (Rom. 3:23), but instead of judging us for our sin, He took great compassion on us and made His own Son who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Yes, “God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and made us His righteous ones. What great love! Now, because of our justification, we have peace with God, we have escaped God’s wrath, we are free from condemnation, we stand in His grace, and we exult in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5).
Sanctification. Westminster Catechism has defined sanctification as: “The work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness.” Sanctification first began at the cross where He baptized us into His death and then raised us up to new life (Rom. 6 and 8). And we now are being renewed by the Spirit of life in Christ through the washing of the Word (Jn. 17:17), and by His own intercession (Heb. 7:25). What a wonderful God we have!
Glorification. Glorify means, “The bringing of Christians to a heavenly condition and dignity (Rom. 8:30).” We don’t know much about what that life will be like; but we do know that it will be a life of learning and of experiencing the riches of His grace forever (Ephesians 2:7). What a life! What a God! What great mercy He has shown us and will continue to show us.
With this view of God’s mercy, we ought to be motivated, and strengthened to love Him back—to surrender ourselves to Him. But it is not a surrender that says; “Since you have loved me so much I suppose I owe it to you to love you back by my surrender.” No; it is rather a surrender that says, “You have loved me so much; I can not help but to joyfully give you all I have in return. I give you my life and all my service until I die.”
2. By the decision of my will to offer myself as a living and holy sacrifice to God. After we have viewed the mercies of God, then we must make a decision (as Paul urges us to do in Romans 12:1) to give our bodies to Him, “as a living sacrifice,” to obey Him—not just for a moment or for a season, but for a lifetime. As soon as we make that very important, lifetime decision He will aid us in what we have decided to do. For it is a principle of sanctification that if I dedicate my life totally to God, then He will help me to obey Him. For scripture says that if I present my self as a slave to righteousness (which is what surrender is), it will result in my sanctification (Rom. 6:19, 22). And sanctification is God’s work of grace in us, which enables us to obey Him.
Here are three ways in which our commitment to surrender helps us in our continued obedience:
a. When we decide to surrender we find a holy desire to obey Him. This desire comes from the heart of God as we continually renew our surrendered heart up to God. Yes, as we renew our vows to Him in love He changes our nature and makes us partakers of the divine nature. He takes out of us all reluctance to obey.
b. When we decide to surrender we are guided in our obedience. Duewel Says, “When you live in the sphere of God’s will, you can expect the Holy Spirit to unfold to you step by step the acts of obedience He desires from you and the prayers he desires to pray through you.”
c. When we decide to surrender we find new energy to obey. Within the realm of our surrender there is energy, a motivation to obey. It is a change that has taken place within us. This new nature that we have propels us to new heights of obedience. Since we have given ourselves totally to Him He gives Himself totally to us. He is our strength! Whatever He gives us a desire to do and whatever He directs us to do He gives us the power to do!
3. By renewing the mind. The third way God helps us to surrender is by the renewing of our mind. As verse two says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
So in review, the first way God helps us to surrender is through His many mercies when we view them; secondly, He helps us when we decide to offer ourselves to Him; now thirdly, He will help us as we renew our mind—because when we renew our mind, as verse two says, we will be transformed.
The last words of the verse, “good and acceptable and perfect,” are descriptive of a surrendered and obedient life—and also of God and His will. Therefore, when we renew our mind by a consistent study and meditation of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit then does a work in our mind and heart by transforming our thinking and our acting. Hence, He makes us more holy, and He gives us a better knowledge of His perfect will. Consequently, we become well equipped and empowered to surrender ourselves to God unto obedience.