Here is how Christians ought to live; with a renewed and transformed mind.
The church is not a building but a body of believers called the Body of Christ, so what does God ask of His church? For one thing, it’s a great place to learn how to serve one another. That’s hard to do at home. If Romans 13 is the model of how Christians ought to relate to the world, then Romans 12 is how Christians ought to relate to one another in the Body of Christ, the church.
A Living Sacrifice: Romans 12:1-2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Put another way, our life is to be an ongoing, living sacrifice like those of the old sacrifices given to God in the Old Testament except they are to live out their lives for God’s glory and learn how to die to self. Our lives can be a sacrifice to God. We can offer our time, energy, love, money, and prayers to God. The word for “transformed” in verse 2 is the same word that is used for the “transfigured” in the transfiguration that is recorded in Mark 9:2-9.
Who is Paul talking about in verses 1 and 2?
What are the ways in which this can be lived out?
In what specific areas have you sacrificed something for God?
Where are some of the opportunities to live this out?
Finding Your Function: Romans 12:3-8
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Paul is saying that we are to esteem others better than ourselves and if we do, we’ll be serving within the Body and for the Body. We do this by serving others by the God-given gifts that He has given to each and every believer. There is not a believer who does not have at least one gift of the Holy Spirit or who doesn’t have a function in the church.
Who was Paul’s audience?
Are these also written to us, or at least, for us (2 Tim 3:16)?
What gift have you identified in your life?
Submitting to One Another: Romans 12:9-16
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in 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 the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 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.”
Love is expressed in service. It is patient, longsuffering, not accusing, honoring others, doesn’t brag, isn’t revengeful, is harmonious, and let’s God be God and allowing Him to be judge. God is no respecter of persons and so neither should we be. God rejoices with us in our triumphs, hurts with us in our losses, mourns with us in our mourning, and celebrates with us in our victories.Where does conceit show up?
What are the ways in which these commands can be lived out?
What is your natural response to non-believers persecution?
How does pride interfere with our fellowship?
God Will Judge: Romans 12:17-21
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
When we pay back others for persecuting us or hurting us, we sometimes take the place of God as judge and jury and executioner, but only the sovereign judge of the universe has the right and the authority to be judge over humanity. When we take matters into our own hands, we are nothing less than a one-man vigilante crew, and nothing good ever comes from the wrath of man (James 1:20). In fact, God loved us, called us, and saved us even while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:10), so when someone hurts us, we should love them, pray for them, and forgive them because this is exactly what the grace of God is all about. We don’t give them what they deserve…we give them what they need, and that is our unmerited, and undeserved love because that’s what we received from God.
Does it help to know you’re blessed when persecuted (Matt 5:10-12)?
What is your response to those who hate you because of your belief?
What happens when we try to respond in like manner to our persecutors?
Jesus said it will be by our love for one another, and the same kind of love Christ had for the disciples (and us), that “all men” will know we are His disciples (John 13:34-35), so how does this love work in proving we are His disciples (Rom 5:6-10)? By loving one another in and out of the church, by loving those who hate us, and by sacrificing our lives to God to serve others, and even by praying for those who hate us, and forgiving them who don’t deserve it. These things make us more like God than at any other time in our lives. By this love that we have for one another, and for those who decidedly don’t love us, they will know that we are the children of God. And that is a powerful magnet to draw others to Christ.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.