Live in Worship
Explore the Bible Series
Lesson Passage: Romans 12:1-8
Introduction: In the last few weeks we have considered the first eleven chapters of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This study has traced the major contours of this majestic letter, and we should briefly pause to reflect on Paul’s writing strategy.
Three Pivotal “Moments” in the Epistle to the Romans (Paul marked the important turning points of his letter with the word “therefore.”)
The little Study Guide Commentary, by Curtis Vaughan and Bruce Corley proved very helpful in defining these important developments in Paul’s thought.
The next unit of thought in our study will take us from Romans12:1-15:13, and the verses for our consideration, in this lesson, provide a marvelous introduction to this section.
General Overview of Romans 12:1-15:13
Basically, Paul answers the question,” What does a Christian look like?” “How do I recognize the Lord’s work of grace in my experience?” A person who has experienced the life-changing grace of God bears certain marks, and Paul gives a helpful overview of what are the marks of Christian life.
I. Paul’s Appeal to Practical Holiness (Romans 12:1-2)
A. The Passion of Paul’s Appeal (v.1): “I beseech you…”
1. (parakaleo): to plead, to admonish, to exhort--literally “to call along side” It is a military term used to describe a commander’s speech given before soldiers enter battle. Paul used the verb form of the word Jesus used of the Holy Spirit in John 14:16.
2. Paul utilized a strong verb to reflect his earnest desire for the Roman Christians. We find no dispassionate, indifferent discourse with the Apostle Paul. This wise leader impressed his readers with the supreme importance of their growth in grace and practical holiness.
B. The Ground of Paul’s Appeal: “…by the mercies of God…”
1. The Scriptures sometimes appeal to the severity of God as a motive for personal holiness (See Hebrews -17).
2. Here, Paul called upon the mercies of God to move his readers to live holy lives. “Mercies” refers to God’s pity and compassion for poor sinners. Paul devoted much of the previous earlier sections of Romans to explaining these mercies (See, for instance, Romans 5:6-11). An awareness of these underserved mercies must, Paul argued, move God’s people to live as holy, consecrated men.
C. The Substance of Paul’s Appeal: “…present your bodies as a sacrifice to God…”
1. “present”: This term reflects the language of the ritual sacrificial system of the Mosaic Code.
2. “a sacrifice”: Again, this term refers to the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament. Paul used three words to describe the nature of this offering: living, holy, acceptable. The “spiritual service to which Paul referred has the idea of “rational” or “reasonable.” The living sacrifice calls for the engagement of the mind, one’s rational faculties.
Application: Verse two expands the last phrase of the previous verse through two commands. First, the Christians of Romans must not be conformed (may have the idea of discontinuing a pattern of behavior already established) to this present age. The phrase has the sense of refusing to allow the present world to leave its impression on the believer. Second, they were to have their minds transformed; that is, they must see the world differently than their worldly counterparts. By the renewal of the mind these believers would discern the will of God for their lives. The distinguishing marks of the will of God are unmistakable.
1. “Good”: That which is intrinsically good (honorable and spiritually beneficial) , not just expedient
2. “Acceptable”: well-pleasing
3. “Perfect”: that which reaches its intended purpose
II. Humility and the Use of Spiritual Gifts (12:3-8)
A. An exhortation to humility (v. 3): Paul’s two-fold use of the word “think”
1. “..not to think more highly of himself than he ought…” Miserable people are the center of their own universe. It’s all about them. Their interests take priority over everything and everybody. They are their own agenda.
2. “…to think as to have sound judgment…” Believers must evidence a sound mind, reasonable sensibility, balanced proportionate thought.
B. The place of the believer in the body of the church (vv. 4-8): God has designed people of renewed mind to live in vital connection with an identifiable body of believers. The Bible does not teach disassociated, dismembered, “lone-wolf” Christianity. Each Christian must discern his/her own spiritual gift and exercise that gift for the edification of the body of Christ. Paul gives a representative (not exhaustive) list of spiritual gifts.
1. Prophecy: the supernatural gift of speaking the very words of God
2. Service: comes from the word from which we get “deacon
3. Teaching: the ability to expound the word of God
4. Exhorting: has the idea of making earnest spiritual appeals that move the hearts of people
5. Giving: those who possess this gift must exercise it with generosity and purity of heart and motive
6. Leading: means to stand in front, to govern, lead, direct
7. Mercy: a notable ability to have cheerful compassion on suffering people