Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Romans 12 - Living as Christians

There is so much in this chapter – like every chapter in Romans.  Many sermons and comments can be made on each verse which would make this post tooooo long so I will try my best to hit some of the important lessons.  Paul has taught us biblical doctrines in the previous chapters, but now he’s teaching us how to live by those standards.

Romans 12:1-8 – Living Sacrifices

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”Rom. 12:1.

Paul tells us practical ways to live by God’s biblical doctrine.  We first need to totally commit ourselves to God, because we have experienced His mercy.  He showed us that we are all hopeless and lost in sin.  He showed that no one is righteous and no one does good.  But because of God’s mercies, He has given us Jesus on the cross, who died for all sinners.  We all deserve His judgment, but if we call on His Name we will be forgiven and saved.  That’s His great mercy.  He tells us that we cannot understand God or know His mind.  We can never repay Him.  All things are from Him, through Him, and to Him.

Proper response to receiving God’s mercy is to give yourself totally to Him out of gratitude.  You have to do this yourself.  No one can do it for you.  You have to make the decision to give yourself completely to God. 

How has God shown you mercy?
What is your response to God’s mercy?

The “bodies” refer to the total person.  That includes our physical bodies, our minds, our tongues, our hands, our feet, our hearts, our eyes and our ears. 

This sacrifice is living holy and doing what is acceptable to God.  He is not talking about death as our sacrifice, but how we live in this world.  We are to live sacrificing what the world offers.  We are to be holy.  Holy is to be set apart for God.  We are to use our mouths to speak encouraging words and tell others about Christ.  We are to use our hands to give help to others.  We are to use our feet and go where God wants us to go.  We are to worship not in habitual ceremony, but in true praise and thankfulness to God.

How are you using your whole body as a sacrifice?  Do you look at pornography or listen to or tell off color jokes?  Do you use your feet to take the gospel to others?  Do you gossip?  Do you watch TV and movies that use foul language and has nudity and sexual content?  Do you dress appropriately? 

Principle:  Give yourself totally to Him, because you have experienced God’s mercy.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”Rom. 12:2

The world tells us to think of ourselves by being proud and independent.  It tells us to think highly of ourselves.  It tells us if we drop the names of famous and important people we know somehow we are better than the average person.  If we come from wealth or have a powerful position, we think in some way it makes us better.

We must change the way we think.  We can renew our mind by loving God with all our heart, soul and mind.  We are not to copy what the world does, because we Christians do not belong to this world.  We are to behave differently than those who are not Christians.  Christians think differently about money and possessions.  We remember that it all belongs to God anyway.  We are more careful about what we watch on TV and what we read.  We listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us.  We pray and study our Bible often.  We want to obey God and do His will.  This doesn’t mean we get it right all the time, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we seek to please God.

How has the world affected your personal life?

Paul says don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think with sober judgment in accordance to the faith God has given you.  Each one of us has one body with many members and these members don’t have the same function.  We in Christ form one body with many different functions.  We all have different gifts.  Some have the give of serving, some to prophesy, some to teach, some encourage, some are generous, some leadership, and some show mercy. (Rom: 12:3-8).

One body refers to all Christians who make up the universal church.  Christians are one body and like the human body we have different members of the body (hands, feet, etc.).  God gave us each a gift.  Some have the gift of prophecy.  Meaning they may receive a message from God and can share it well with others.  Some have the gift of serving.  They are good at serving others and are good at recognizing those in need.  Some are good teachers.  Some are good at encouraging others.  Some are generous sharing their money, time and possessions in a generous way.  Some make excellent leaders.  Some show great mercy and kindness like in the Samaritan story.  Whatever your gift, Paul tells us we are not to be proud.  We are to be grateful and humble and use our gifts.

Principle:  We are to humbly function within the area of our own gifts for the benefit of the whole body.

Romans 12:9-21 – Sincere Love

Here it’s spelled out what God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will looks like.  “Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.”Rom. 12:9-13.

Sincere love is described in 1 Cor. 13:4-7“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 

Which of these is the hardest for you to obey?

We are to keep our “spiritual fervor” when serving the Lord.  What does that mean?  We as believers are to burn with desire to please God and do His will in every possible way.  You get excited about politics and sports don’t you?  So get excited when serving God and doing His work.  Christ’s death on the cross for you should excite you.  Even the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God should excite and stir your heart!  The fact that He rescued you from eternal fire should excite you!  Don’t be lukewarm, but serve Him fervently.

Where is your passion?  
Is it serving Christ?

Paul says to “practice hospitality”, but what does that actually mean?  We Christians should welcome everyone we meet spending time and energy with them.  Jesus welcomed strangers and outcasts like Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.  We can greet people and welcome them to church.  We can give people a ride to church or doctor appointments.  Invite someone to a meal in your home or even pay for the meal when eating out.  Use these mealtimes to build relationships.  Many of Jesus’ teachings occurred around meals.  Hospitality shouldn’t be just at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but a constant attitude and practice.  We should be ready to welcome people even strangers.  You never know when you will be entertaining angels.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.”Rom. 12:14-16.

When trials come, we must have the right attitude.  Rejoice in hope and continue in prayer that will sustain you.  Bless your persecutors and be sympathetic with them in their joys and sorrows.  When wronged by anyone, don’t take revenge, but bless them and pray for them.  This is done so Christ will be glorified as people see Him in you.

Do you sympathize with others in their joys and sorrows?

Paul goes on to say that we are not to repay anyone evil for evil, but to do what is right.  Live in peace with everyone if possible.  Do not take revenge, but leave it for God to deal with.  We are to feed our enemies when they are hungry and thirsty.  Do not be overcome by evil, but with good. (Rom. 12:17-21).

Because of Christ’s self-sacrificing love on the cross, we are to show self-sacrificing, caring commitment by seeking the highest good.  If you are not, you are not obeying God.  We may not like everyone, but we are to love everyone.  To love everyone is to genuinely care for them.  We are not to just avoid evil, but we are to hate evil.  So evaluate whether your attitudes, actions and words are in line with biblical love.

We are to never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  We are to never take revenge.  When someone wrongs us, it wounds our pride and we want to restore our honor.  Revenge doesn’t promote peace, but causes more hostility.  Revenge just keeps the vengeful cycle going.  When we take revenge, we are doing God’s job.  We can’t know the whys and the personal motives behind the person’s action, but God does.  If we let revenge take hold, our emotions get in the way which clouds our judgment.  Only God is the competent Judge.  Revenge is responding to sin with more sin.

When attacked it is natural to want to strike back, but we should respond with love.  This overcomes evil in the person by our good.  There are practical ways to overcome evil with good.  We cannot raise our voice in anger and not argue with others.  We can be kind and patient.  We can be forgiving.  We can pray for that person who is hurting us and pray for ourselves asking God to help us show love qualities to others.

When Paul says we should take thought for “what is right in the eyes of everybody”, he doesn’t mean we should determine our behavior by public opinion.  He means we should think about our testimony, because the world is watching what we do and how we handle situations.

Principle:  Sacrificial, transformed living calls us to love others.

Next time we will study Romans 13.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here again.  --  I encourage you to trust in Jesus.

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