Romans Chapter 12

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship.

Some people think that worship is saying wonderful things to God. But this is probably the best verse that defines worship. This verse says that we worship God by presenting Him with our body as a sacrifice.

What does that mean?

It means that when we are tempted to sin we deny our body the pleasure of yielding to temptation. Instead, we offer it to God as a holy (i.e. separated from sin) sacrifice. It is a sacrifice because of the suffering involved. It is a living sacrifice in that you feel the pain – a dead person doesn’t feel any pain no matter what you do to his body.

This is the kind of worship that is acceptable to God – not merely singing wonderful things.

When we remember the mercy that God has shown us in saving us from sin we become willing to make such a sacrifice.

So the next time you are angry and want to give someone a piece of your mind, remember that you can worship God by keeping your mouth shut. Or if you are tempted to speak evil of someone who rubbed you the wrong way, keep your mouth shut and worship God. It is truly amazing – we can worship God by actually keeping your mouth shut!

Notice that Paul begins with a ‘therefore’. His point is that after we realize what God has done for us through the gospel we become willing to suffer in our flesh to please God.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let me say that a little differently: God’s will – for me – is good and acceptable and perfect. Even when I don’t understand it!

It is when things around you don’t go your way that you must remember that what God has arranged to happen around you is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is perfect in the sense that it cannot be improved upon. We may think that we are wiser than God and organize it differently, but we are not.

It is acceptable in the sense that we don’t want to try and improve upon it but simply accept it.

It is good in the sense that we realize that it will work for our good because we love God (Rom 8:28).

Now it is true that God’s will – for us – is good and acceptable and perfect. But how do we prove this?

We prove it by renewing our mind. That is, we change how we think about things. We start from the point where we accept things without grumbling. Instead of grumbling we seek to understand what God is trying to say to us through the things that He allows to happen around us. Instead of taking our advice and values from the world we take it from God’s word. As we do that we begin to see the fruit of it – the blessing of God upon our life. Then, when we look back, we can clearly see that obeying God was the very best thing that we could have done. That is the path of the man who has really understood the gospel.

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Paul was a guy through whom God had accomplished a lot. But Paul never really saw God doing anything. It seemed as if Paul himself did it. But Paul believed, by faith, that it was God who gave him the grace to do it, and that without God’s grace he would not have been able to do the things he did.

That is the kind of faith – and attitude – that you and I must also have. That is, when we do some terrific things we must really understand and believe and internalize that we couldn’t have done it without God’s grace.

Jesus Himself acknowledged that He could do nothing without God’s help (Jn 5:19). If only we believers could believe what He said, and then connect the dots and realize that we too can do nothing without God’s help, how real our believing would be!

Perhaps it is easy to accept that God did some mighty thing through you – something equivalent to splitting the Red Sea. But what about realizing that we can do nothing of eternal value without God’s help? Do you have faith for ‘nothing’? That is, do you have faith that you can do nothing of eternal value without God’s help?

4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;

8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Some people tend to be insecure. To make themselves feel secure and confident they try to convince themselves that what they have is the most important thing. Further, they try to downplay what other people have. That way, they can feel important.

When they get born again, their insecurities don’t automatically disappear. They still want to feel important and useful in the church. So they tend to downplay the gifts of others and consider important the gifts that they have.

However, when our minds are renewed, and we actually begin to believe that God loves us, our insecurities go away, and we no longer need to downplay the greatness of others. We can then accept what God has willed to give them is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is wonderful to come to that place, because that’s when you know you have learnt to love.

9 {Let} love {be} without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Then you can love without hypocrisy. To love without hypocrisy is to have a sincere and genuine love rather than pretending to love someone and then speaking evil behind their back when they contradict you or disagree with you on some point.

10 {Be} devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,

13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

A lot of good things come out of a person who is secure in God’s love.

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 be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath {of God,} for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

20 "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD."

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Paul seems to be describing the fruit of the gospel here. When you are able to overcome evil with good and leave vengeance to God, while praying for mercy on those who have hurt you, you have begun to realize the power of the gospel for salvation. You have begun practicing the ‘obedience of faith’ that Paul talked about in Chapter One.


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