Living Sacrifices: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 27th, 2009

Romans 12

Summary:
God's mercies must move us to please God.
No man must think too well of himself;
but everyone attend on that calling wherein he is placed.
Love, and many other duties are required of us.
Revenge is especially forbidden.

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.
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.

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.
12:4. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
12:5. so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

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;
12:7. or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
12:8. he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

12:9. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
12:10. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
12:11. not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12:12. rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
12:13. distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
12:14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
12:16. 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.
12:17. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
12:18. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

12:19. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,'' says the Lord.
12:20. "Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.''
12:21. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Comments:

The title for today is called 'Living Sacrifices', but if there are any written spiritual laws for believers to follow, this is one key passage that describes what your new life in Christ should be.

We are called to present our bodies to God in our spiritual service. Draw on the mercies of God and hold back on doing things that would cause our bodies physical harm.

Don't be conformed to the world. Don't allow ourselves to be put under the heavy pressures that would force ourselves to be molded into a shape that the world wants us to take on. Easier said than done. Often we don't seek the world, it just grabs us and sucks us in, chews us up and squashes us flat. We might not be able to entirely control the power of the world, but we can control our mind. Be transformed spiritually.

People are different. Some may seem to hold a more grand or important place. Be humble, again drawing on the mercies of God for strength. Remember that childhood poem about a lost battle. Something about for the want of a nail, a horse was lost, for the want of a horse, a battle was lost, for the loss of a battle a war was lost, for the loss of a war a kingdom was lost. What is more grand and glorious, a kingdom, or a nail? Yet because that small, lowly nail was missing, or lost, or malfunctioning, the course of great events might have been changed. Strive to do well, no matter how you fall in the big picture.

We all have unique gifts and purposes. Paul lists a few traits that we can only recieve through the spirit. Not on our own. Prophesy, sharing enlightenment from God with others. Service, tending to the needs of those who go out to do whatever bold works that God has granted them to do. Teaching, sharing knowledge and inspiring others to develop mentally. Exhort, woohoo! Be a cheerleader. Gives, maybe you can't go, don't know what to say, give what you can of your time, money or materials, and be generous in it.

If in a position of authority, be watchful and do things beneficial to God's children under your care. Show mercy, gladly rather than grudgingly. Love, but mean it, when loving comes hard, draw once again on God's mercies for strength. Hate, but only what is evil. Cling to good, be glue to God stuff and teflon to evil things. You may get it on you, but it doesn't have to stay.

Tenderly love your fellow believers. Prefer each the company of each other. Even ravenous wolves, when back at the den will romp and play together like puppies.

Paul begins to repeat some of these blends of attitude and actions. Diligent, fervent, serving, rejoicing, enduring, continuing, contributing. We are to do these things in spirit, to the Lord, through hope and troubles, in prayer, for the saints.

Ah, blessings and curses. They go together in a unique way. I have been blessed by parents who raised me in a godly way, but many times while growing up I felt cursed by their diligence in keeping me on the right track. I am blessed with being part in the kingdom of God, but cursed with a conscience that keeps me from acting on desires that the world promises to fulfill. I have been blessed with a house, a car, and other nice things, but cursed by the work and expense it takes to maintain them. See what I mean?

On another level, it is so easy to curse the enemies we have, but make an effort to bless them. Some enemies will never be swayed, but some enemies can become your friends. Develop relationships. If someone is happy, or is mourning, share in their happiness, or grief. Don't be cold or indifferent, and certainly don't take perverse pleasure in acting opposite to that person's emotions. Relationships are about building bridges, not tearing apart or driving wedges.

Especially with other believers, strive to be like minded. Unified. Rather than revelling in any accomplishments, or trying to stand on your own merit, include even those you perceive to be humble. Elsewhere in the New Testament it is said that the first will be last and the last will be first. Building up your own conciet automatically puts back down on the bottom rung of the ladder. That humble person may not have been out on the spiritual battlefield, and in the heat of things, but that person may just have been the prayer warrior that you never knew about. That person just might have been the nail that would have lost the horse. Their job might not be as dynamic and glamorous, but still just as important.

Always be honorable. Always strive to be at peace. If anger is called for, always let God handle it. His wrath will always be more far reaching and devastating than anything you might dream of dishing out. And if mercy is called for, he knows.

I mentioned earlier. Some enemies can be turned and become your friend. You'll never know until kindness is shown. That's the note to end on. It might be the hardest challenge of all. It is easy to love the lovable, but when your spiritual discipline is such that you can be fighting an enemy at one instant, and healing his wounds the next, that is what a spirit filled life is all about. Know when to do battle, and do it hard. Know when to show compassion, and do it just as hard.

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