Sometimes Romans 12 is called the Little Bible or the Christianís Manuel because it covers a lot information on how we are to live our lives toward God and toward others. From this chapter I will be preaching several lessons that will help us gain a much deeper understanding of this beautiful chapter and that will cause us to examine how well we are doing as servants of God. Let us begin with verse 1:
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Everything Paul has been talking about in the previous chapters about Godís mercy and His grace has built up to this one. The word beseech means to beg or to plead so Paul was begging or pleading these Christians to commit themselves to God. The reason he gives for this is the mercy of God. Godís justice demands that our sin be punished, but because of His love for us and His great mercy He withheld His punishment and has given us a chance to be redeemed as taught in:
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.† 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.† 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.† 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
God is the Father of mercies (2 Cor. 1:3). While we deserved death, He gave us His best, His only begotten Son. When we remind ourselves of what God has provided for us through His Son it should cause us to want love God enough to sever Him with our entire being. His mercy has been granted to everyone according to:
Romans 11:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Godís mercy and His grace had made it possible for us to have the forgiveness of our sins and to avoid the wrath of God. It has also offered us the hope of eternal life in heaven instead of eternity in hell.
In order for us to embrace the mercies of God so that we can go to heaven we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. The word present means to give something over to another. We are to give our bodies to the Lord and use them to serve Him. Notice it is a living sacrifice, which means it is spiritual and not physical as was under the Law of Moses.
Under the Law of Moses, the priest would kill the animals, but their deaths were only a temporary solution because more animals had to be killed. Thanks to Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, animal sacrifices were rendered obsolete. The writer of Hebrews explains it this way:
Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.† 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.† 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,† 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and He made the covenant for Jews and Gentiles come about. The first step in making ourselves a living sacrifice is to die in Christ. Paul explains how this is done in:
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?† 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?† 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?† 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.† 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,† 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.† 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.† 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,† 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.† 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.† 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Unlike the animals that were physical killed and did not come back to life, when we submit ourselves to will of God and obey His Word, then we sacrifices ourselves in spiritual sense. As Paul points out, when we are baptized in water, is the point that we die with Christ and our sins are removed. When we are raised up out of the water, we are alive and it is this beginning of lives as a saved child of God. We have become dead to sin, but alive to Christ. Hence, we are a living sacrifice.
Paul also tells that we are to be ďholy, and acceptable to God,Ē As I said, obeying the gospel by being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins is just the beginning of presenting your body as a living sacrifice. Under the Law of Moses an animal without a blemish was to be used as a sacrifice. In similar way, we are to live our lives to best of our ability without a blemish. As Paul Said:
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?† 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
So, being a living sacrifice is something that we continue to be as we give ourselves to God. It like this story I read about some natives whose village was flooded. Those upstream heard of the disaster and decided to help. They drew a large circle in the dirt and everyone brought gifts and placed them in the circle. One man, having nothing to give, simply stepped into the circle and gave himself.
That is what we must be willing to do daily when we become a Christian because we must offer our whole body as living sacrifice. For example:
We must sacrifice our eyes so that the lust of the eyes must be replaced with the study of Godís Word so that we can be guided into all truth and know how to use our eyes for pure things and know when to turn them away from evil things. As David said:
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
We are to sacrifice our ears of the ears so that they do not focus on gossip or evil words. Instead they must be trained to hear the Word of God because through hearing is how our faith grows:
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We are to sacrifice our bodies from getting involved in the works of the flesh:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,† 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,† 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
As Paul said, If we do not we will miss out on heaven. We are to replace the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,† 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.† 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
We must sacrifice our hands in that what replace doing evil
things with them with doing good as we labor in the
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
We must sacrifice our feet from running toward sin and use them to run toward righteousness because we must run the race of Christianity in order to make it to heaven:
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.† 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
We must sacrifice our tongue from speaking cruel angry words:
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Instead we must train our tongues to speak with love:
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
We must sacrifice our love in that we no longer just love ourselves, family or friends first because God must become our first love:
Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.† 38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
While I did not cover every part of the body, the message is clear. You must be willing to give your entire self over to God because anything less is not enough. We belong to Him, we are His servants, and we show that by our words and our actions.
Paul also says that this is our reasonable service. The word reasonable means rational, which means that our service that we reader to God is to be done intelligently by following the Word of God. We are not to blindly follow some manmade rituals, our service, which can include our worship to Him, must come from a heart that is trained by the Word of God.
Romans 12:2 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.
Paul is not offering us a suggestion here. He is commanding us to not be conformed with this world. He is not talking about this earth, but the people who live in it and the worldly ideas. Peter tells us to do the same:
1 Peter 1:14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;† 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
When we choose to obey the gospel and become a child of God, we undergo a change because we conform ourselves to Christ and His ways, which will cause us to become separated from worldly ways. As John teaches:
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.† 16 For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world.† 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
We can no longer love the world or be part of it is sinful ways. We must completely shift our love toward God and His ways. Sadly, sometimes Christians allow the world to get the best of them. When this happens disaster follows especial when it creeps into the church. I always hate to hear about a church that has chosen to move away from the Scriptures to conform to what is popular in the world. As John pointed out, if we stay committed to the will of God by living our lives by His Word and never compromising it for the sake of the world, then we will abide forever.
The best place for us to start is by transforming our minds to the way of Christ. As Peter said:
1 Peter 1:13 †Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Our minds is one first places that the devil will attack because our thoughts will determine our actions, which is why it is imperative that we learn to be spiritual. As Paul said:
Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.† 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.† 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.† 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If we ever hope to be pleasing to God, we have to train our minds with the Word of God and keep our attention focused on the ways of righteousness:
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.† 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,† 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Once we gain control of our minds and we bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, then we will have the foundation we need to live for God with our entire being. When we do this Paul says that it will ďprove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Ē
Once we have renewed our minds toward the way of Christ, we have the attitude to be able to see clearly that the Word of God is true. We will be able to gain a deeper understanding of what God wants from us and what the benefit are from doing so. As we reflect on Christian live, it will prove to us and it can show others that when you give your entire being over to God, that you will have to peace, happiness, and hope that God has promised. This will prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
As we come to the close of our lesson, let me ask you some questions:
1. Are you presenting your body as a living sacrifice for God?†
2. Are you willing to put God first in your life above your family and yourself?
3. Are you conforming to the world or are you continually transforming yourself toward Christ and His ways?
I want you think about these questions as you examine your own life. If you have been listening to what I have said, then you will know that if you are not presenting your body as a living sacrifice, willing to put God first in your life, or you are not transforming yourself toward Christ every day, then you are not living you life as should because have not learned to give all of yourself to God. I hope, this lesson will help encourage you to look at your life and change your ways if you are failing to be a living sacrifice because it worth it. When we give all of ourselves to God, then we can be confident of our salvation, and we can rejoice in Godís mercy and His grace.
This morning we began looking at Romans 12. We examined the first 2 verses, which taught us that we must be willing to be a living sacrifice for our Lord by not conforming to the world, but by transforming ourselves to be like Christ daily and by giving our entire being to God especially our minds. Tonight we are going pick up in verse 3.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Here we see a
continuation from verse 2 for the need to bring one mind under control. Notice
his charge is to everyone. It is easy for us to lose sight of being humble
especially here in
As Christians, we must learn to be humble because without humility we cannot receive the grace of God according to:
James 4:6 †"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Jesus is a great example of the kind of humility the we should have.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,† 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,† 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.† 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.†
Jesus was equal with God because He is part of the Godhead. Though He was equal with God, He never assumed a role that made Him better than His Father. Instead, He approached everything He did with humility. He submitted Himself to the Fatherís will and was obedient to the point of death.
In a similar manner, we are must realize that we are equal with those that around us. Not one of us is better than the other in the site of God. As Paul said:
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Like Jesus, we should be willing to respect those around us and keep our minds humble no matter how much people boast about us or no matter what great feats we might accomplish. If anyone deserved to have a haughty attitude it was Christ. If He could be humble knowing who He was and all that He could do, we have no reason for not being able to learn humility because who we are and we can do does not even come close to who and what Jesus could do. Paul further instructs us about how humble we are to be in:
Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,† 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.† 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.† 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.† 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
This is what being humble is about. When we can get to the point where we remove the selfishness from our lives and we can esteem others better than ourselves then we are following the example that Christ left us. This passage is not teaching that other are better than us, but it describes what being humble will cause us to do just as Jesus was to the Father.
Remember Paul said that we are not to think too highly of ourselves, so we can think of ourselves and even be proud of ourselves, but we are to do it soberly. The word soberly means: ďto be balanced, sane, in one's right mind." When we think of ourselves, we must do so wisely and accurately. Since the opposite of sane in insane it tells us that inflating our self worth over others is insane.
Earlier in, Romans 11, Paul also warned the Gentiles about being boastful about the salvation that had been given to them:
Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,† 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.† 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in."† 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.† 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.† 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Since the Gentiles were being saved and added to the church, they had no right to start boasting about their salvation over the Jews who had rejected God up to this point because if they boasted about this, He could easily cut them off.
With this principle in mind, we must also not find ourselves boating about the talents God has blessed us with. As Paul said in verse we are to think soberly ďas God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.Ē Some Christians are able to do more than others, but every Christian has something he or she contribute. Let us never use our abundance of talent to boast over those with less. Instead, we should be thankful for what God has given us and be thankful for what God has given others. Instead of looking down on someone who cannot do what you can, encourage them become many times those who start our with less talents can develop news one if they will simply put the time and effort in to do so.
Paul expounds on this in the next few verses:
Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,† 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.† 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;† 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;† 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.†
Many times, Paul described the church as body. How many bodies are there? There is just one. Each individual member makes up that one body. Every part that makes it up is equally important. Without all the members with their various functions in place, the body cannot function as it should. Paul talks more about this concept in:
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.† 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.† 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.† 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?† 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body?† 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?† 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.† 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?† 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.† 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."† 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.† 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,† 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,† 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. †26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.† 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Again we have the thought of equality within a diversity of talents that make up the body of Christ. One cannot function without the other. We are each taught to use whatever our talent is for the Lord and we are to be unified in thought and deed.
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
If we fail to work together for the unity of the faith and we fail to use the talents that God has blessed us with, then we make the body of Christ weaker and we do a great disservice to God. We cannot be the kind of Christians that do not use the abilities God has blessed us with. As long as we are able, we should use our talents to glorify Him and help grow His kingdom.
Can you image the apostle Paul writing in one of his letters that he was tired of serving the Lord and that he felt that he had done enough so he was going to let Timothy and Titus take his place? I cannot imagine because Paul said he was one of the hardest working apostles that there was (1 Cor. 15:10). There were certainly times were he longed to be with the Lord more than he did on this earth, but he knew his work would continue to benefit the church:
Philippians 1:23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.† 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.† 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,† 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.†
It wasnít until Paul was in prison awaiting execution that he said:
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.† 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Let us never be the kind of Christians that give up our fight of faith or using our talents for the Lord until we can no longer physical do it or we die. Doing this is part of offering up ourselves as a living sacrifice.
Let me ask you, are you doing your part? Are you using your talents for the Lord? I hope that you are because God deserve it.
Before I close out the lesson I want take a quick look at the seven different things that Paul said that we should be using for the Lord as found in:
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;† 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;† 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.†
Prophesy was a miraculous gift and at the time Paul wrote this there were still those that could† prophecy about things, but the ability to prophecy was only temporary, but while it was still being used it played its part in the growth of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.† 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.† 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
Paul deemed prophecy one the greater miraculous gifts because it was used for edification, exhortation, and comfort. While the gift of prophecy ended in the first century the gift of preaching Godís Word has not and continues to be a source of edification, exhortation, and comfort.
Ministry may not be what you think. It simply means to serve. This is one of those gifts that each Christian should strive for because serving God and serving others is basic part of Christianity.
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.†
Certainly some are much better at serving others and they should continue to develop their skill, but as I said, all of us should be working on this talent. As Paul said in:
Galatians 6:10-11 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.†
Teachers are also a must to help any church grow. A teacher has the ability to take Scripture and explain it in a way this is logical and easy to under. It is not that a person cannot understand the Scriptures without a teacher, but a teacher makes it easier. Of course not everyone can be a teacher of God truth in the church because James says:
James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.††
With the talent of teaching comes this warning because when you teach it means that you are supposed to know what the Scriptures teach. If you teach amiss and lead people astray then as a teacher you will be judged for that. While being teacher publically of Godís Word is limited, every Christian should be able to teach others about how to get saved and some the basic principles of Christianity. We even teach people about righteousness by how we live our lives and conduct ourselves around others.†
So, let us not be afraid to try and grow our talent in this area and get to the point where we know the Scriptures well enough that we can teach them. One thing I love about being teacher is that it causes me to dig deeper in Godís Word, and I love being able to teach others and open their eyes to the Scriptures.
Paul adds this about teaching:
2 Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,† 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,† 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.† ††
Part of teaching others involves being patient and not getting into useless arguments. Once again, we can see that it takes humility to effective correct someone that is opposing Godís truth. Notice, this is for everyone because everyone is a servant of the Lord. The wonderful benefit of teaching someone the truth is when they listen to it and turn back to God because you can know that you helped someone get right with God.
We have the gift of exhortation, which means that a person has the ability encourage, motivate, comfort, and warn people. For example, Barnabas was given his new name because he was great exhorter. His new name meant son of encouragement (Acts 4:36).† We defiantly need exhorters in the church today. While all of can should work on getting better at this talent, others have be blessed in the area and have the ability say the right words at the right time. As:
Exhorters are greatly needed in the church today, whether the exhortation is given on behalf of the lost, those who are sick, or those who are in sorrow.† The ability to use certain words at the right time is always important.† Solomon said, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Prov. 25:11).
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.††††††††††††††
Paul also mentions the gift of giving and that is to be done with liberality. Liberality means sincerely, not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity (Thayer). Again, everyone is to give of their means, but God has blessed some more than other with the ability to be able to give more. Without Christians who are willing to give the church suffers because it takes money to spread Godís Word and to be able to help those in need. Paul gives this charge to the rich:
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.† 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,† 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. †
Paul talks about the gift of leadership and says that those who lead must to do so with diligence, which means they will eagerly seek to lead. Not everyone can be a leader, but this is another gift that we need in the church. We need men that are willing to step up and be a great example for everyone else to follow. This would certainly include men to lead the congregations as elders. The Bible shows on several occasions on what happens when no leadership is in place, and it always end in disaster. So, those have are blessed to be leaders in the church need to use their talents.
Finally, the seventh gift Paul mentions is the gift of mercy and he says we are to give it with cheerfulness. This is person that is good at forgiving another and who full of compassion and shows great kindness to others. Again, this another one those gifts that we should all work on, but some Christians seem to naturals at this. Being merciful is definitely needed in the church.
Paul has just mentioned seven out many gifts that people may be blessed. Though the gift of prophecies was limited to the first century the whole idea is that we must use whatever gift we have been blessed with from God to glorify Him and to help build up His church and His people.
The question becomes, are you using your talents that God has blessed you with for the cause of Christ or are you allowing your talents to go to waste?
I hope if you have been holding back on what God has blessed you with that you will start using it for the glory of God. In this second lesson we have learned how we are not to think too highly of ourselves because we are not better than anyone else. We learned that each us have different gifts from the Lord that we are to use to help Godís kingdom grow. When we fail to use our talents and work together as one body, then the church suffers.†
If you were not here last Sunday, we begin looking at Romans 12 and we covered verses 1 Ė 8. We learned that we are to offer our entire being as a living sacrifice to God, and we are not to think to highly of ourselves because we are not better than anyone else. We also learned that each of us has been blessed with various talents that we are to use for the Lord and the furtherance of His kingdom.
If I were preaching tonight, I would have divided the remaining of verses of our chapter into two sermons, but since I do not have that privilege, I will simply make due with the time I have this morning. Let us read the first section we will be examining:
Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.† 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;† 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;† 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;† 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
The first observation you can make from this section of Scripture is that is a close parallel to the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It speaks of the proper attitude we are to have about ourselves, others, and our service to God.
Let love be without hypocrisy.
We cannot be the kind of person that has superficial type of love it that we tell people that we love them, but we donít really mean it. The idea of hypocrisy, play acting or pretending to be someone you are not. As Christians, our love must be genuine as John says:
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
As Paul teaches:
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.† 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.† 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.†
If we are not motivated by love for God and love for others than no matter how many good deeds we do, no matter how well we follow the commands of God, it is nothing and will serve no purpose. It like trying to win a car race with using water as your fuel, you not ever cross the finish line. We cannot replace a genuine love with anything else and make it into heaven. So, let us always do our best to be motivated by a genuine love and not a pretend one.
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Here we have a great contrast between our attitude toward evil and good. The word Abhor means to have ďa vehement dislike for something, to hate strongly, to have a horror ofĒ (BDAG, Thayer). Paul is teaching us to hate evil and despise it because when evil triumphs it means that more people have lost their way. This thought of hating evil was also taught in the O.T. as well:
Psalm 97:10 You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
One cannot love the Lord and love the evil way. No, we must hate evil, because God hates evil. If we become a student of Godís Word, we will have no problem understand what evil is and how ugly it is. We must have the same attitude as David who said:
Psalm 101:3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.† 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.
Hating evil does not mean that we hate the person that is doing the evil, we simply hate the sin they are involved in. When we can develop such a disgust of sin, it make it less appealing and will cause us to stay away from it and make it easier for us to want cling to what is good.
The word cling means ďto glue, to glue together, cementĒ (Thayer). Like our shadows are glued to us, we must be glued to the truth. We must stand firm in Godís truth and goodness so that the evil cannot pull us away. Paul summed it up this way:
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
When we bind ourselves to way of righteousness, the it will be easy to do what Paul says next:
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,
The word affectionate is a word used to describe the love that a parent has for his child. When we become Christians, we become part of a family. We are to have this same kind of affection that we have for our blood kin as we do for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are to honor them, which means to show reference or respect to them, and we are prefer one another just as we would one of our own blood kin. That is how close we are to be and the kind of love we are to have each other. When we love each other like this, it shows the world that we are disciples of Christ as John writes:
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.† 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Next, Paul said:
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord
We love God and are motivated by love then we are not going to be lagging in diligence. This carries the idea of not being a lazy Christian. In fact, laziness should not be part of any Christianís life. We are to be fervent, which means to boil with heat, be hot. In other words, we are to be on fire for the Lord, which is just the opposite of being lazy. We should be eager to serve the Lord for all that He has done for us. As Paul said:
Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,† 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Next Paul says:
12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;†
Every Christian should rejoice in the hope that God has made possible for us all. When we think about how God is involved in our lives, how much He loves us, and how we have the hope of living in heaven for eternity, it should be easy for us to rejoice. Knowing what we have to look forward to will make it easier for us to be patient even when we are under great tribulation.
Those in the first century, were able to keep their heads high even though they were being imprisoned and many times put to death because of their hope in God. None of us will probably every have to suffer that kind of tribulation. If these first century Christians could handle their tribulations, it shows us that we can handle our minor tribulations we might suffer today.
Whether severe or light tribulation comes our way, one thing that will help us through our trying times is continuing steadfastly in prayer. It is very comforting to know that we can pray to God and that He is listening and answering our prayers. While prayer is a great tool for dealing with tribulation, it is not the only time we are to use prayer because we are to continue to pray in the good times and the bad times. As Paul told the Ephesians:
Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;† 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --
†Every Christian should cherish the wonderful avenue of prayer and not take it for granted. Pray every day. Donít waste an opportunity to speak to God.
Next Paul says:
13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Again, this speaks of the care that we have for one another just as we would for blood kin. When our child needs help, we give it to them. When our mother or father needs help, we give it to them. In similar way, when our brother or sister in Christ needs help we give it to them. This was the attitude that the first century Christians had as we read in:
Acts 4:34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,† 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
We are also told to give to hospitality, which literally means to pursue the opportunity to host or serve others. This is not as common today as was back then because people can stay hotels and other places, but we should not shy away from being hospitable to others and we certainly should not shy away from serving others.
Now, letís take a look at the remainder of our chapter.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.† 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.† 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.† 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.† 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.† 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.† 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."† 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Much of this has to do with how we treat others who treat us poorly.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.†
This is where Christianity can become very difficult because when someone gets in your face and starts cursing at you and yelling at you, it almost seems natural to give it right back to them, but Godís Word says just the opposite. Instead of matching the sinfulness of the person in our face, we are to bless them that is to talk well of them. Peter teaches us the same thing in:
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;† 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Jesus tells us we should pray for them (Mt. 5:44) and even do good to them (Lk. 6:27). It is not an easy think to do, but that is to be our approach to those who oppose us.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.†
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul links this idea of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep with Christians. Some suggest that this also includes those of the world in our text, but if we link with the statement of being of the same mind in verse 16 it would also be limiting it to our fellow Christians† because we are not be of the same mind of the world.
Even if our text is saying to rejoice and weep with those of the world it would not mean that we rejoice when they excel in evil or weep with them when them fail at doing something evil, it would simply mean that we rejoice when something good happens to them such as them having a baby and weeping with them when they lose a loved one.
Mainly, I believe this talking about how we are to have compassion for each other and be concerned about others just as we would for own blood kin.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
When we view each other equally and realize that we are the same in Godís eyes it will help us to view each other the right attitude. When we use the Word of God as our source for living our life, then we can be of the same mind having the same goals.
Once again, Paul is emphasizing the importance of training our mind to be humble and not setting them on high things. He also understands the importance of the company that we keep.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."†
Knowing that hanging around worldly and haughty people can corrupt, no wonder he tells us to associate ourselves with the humble because that is the example we need to follow. That is the kind of influence that we need. When we train ourselves to be humble and we hang around those who are humble, then being wise in our own opinion will not be much of problem for us.
Sometimes being wise in our own opinion is hard for some because they feel like what they think is more important that other people think and if they donít get their way then they will walk away. There is no compromise with them because they feel that if things are not done their way then it will not work. Paul says:
Galatians 6:3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
While there is nothing wrong with having an opinion, we must not be the kind of people that think that our opinion is the only on that matters.
Finally, Paul says:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.† 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.† 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.† 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."† 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This is easier said then done. It is very tempting to do to others as they do to us, but as Christians, we are to do everything in our power to keep the peace and not to return evil for evil. This is not teaching that we cannot defend ourselves, but our first goal is to resolve all conflicts peaceably and we are to strive to combat evil with good.
Doing good to your enemy can strike a blow that is more effective than forceful revenge because it will strike them at the heart. For example, notice Saulís reaction when he found out that David could have taken his life, but didnít.
1 Samuel 24:16 So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.† 17 Then he said to David: "You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil.† 18 "And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the LORD delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me.† 19 "For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.
So, do your best to conquer evil with good. As Paul said in:
1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.† 16 Rejoice always,† 17 pray without ceasing,† 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In conclusion, we can see why this great chapter is sometimes called the Little Bible or the Christianís Manuel because it teaches a great deal about living the life of a Christian. As we have learned, Christianity requires a full commitment, and we cannot be lazy in the pursuit of righteousness. We must train our minds daily with the Word of God so that we can continue transform ourselves into being more Christ-like so that we can encourage and lead others to be faithful as well. We must work together for the unity of the faith with a humble spirit. We are even called to treat our enemies kindness and we are to pray to them.
None of these things we have studied in this 3-part series are optional, we must continue to grow stronger in the faith and put our trust in God and His Word as we continue add all these qualities mentioned in Romans 12 to our lives.