Romans 12:1-8

GiftOfLifeI appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Observation

  • We are to present our bodies to as a living sacrifice to God.
  • God is merciful.
  • Paul refers to his readers as brothers.
  • Our spiritual worship is to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God.
  • The presentation of ourselves to God is to be holy.
  • The presentation of ourselves to God is to be acceptable to God.
  • We are not to conform to the world.
  • We are to be transformed by renewing out minds.
  • We are to determine God’s will by testing.
  • Determining God’s will is an intellectual exercise.
  • We are to determine what is good, acceptable and perfect by testing.
  • No one is to think of themselves more highly than they should.
  • Everyone is to use sober judgment when thinking about themselves.
  • We are to use the faith that God has given us to think soberly about ourselves.
  • God has assigned an about of faith to everyone.
  • The amount of faith God has given each person may be different.
  • We do not all have the same function in the body of Christ.
  • There is one body in Christ.
  • There are several parts in the body of Christ and they each have different functions.
  • Our gifts differ to from each other.
  • Our gifts are based on the grace given to us.
  • We are to use the gifts given to us.
  • We are to use the gifts given to us to their fullest, and to their extreme.

Interpretation

Paul has laid out that we are sinners. We rebelled against a holy God and it is only through His grace and mercy that we receive salvation. That leaves us with the question, “What do I do with this knowledge?” So now Paul turns to what our reaction should be.

Paul exhorts us to give ourselves sacrificially to God, not out of fear or even out of a since of duty but because God has been merciful to us. Unless we realize our utter depravity, we will never understand the mercy God has shown towards us. That was why Paul started his letter by demonstrating our sinfulness. Once we realize the mercy God has shown us, our gratitude will be stronger than any fear or since of duty.

Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, this is the beginning of good works. Our good works then are not the basis of our justification but the result of it. Recognizing what we have been given forces a since of gratitude and gratitude demands good works. Our holiness is to be lived out and expressed in demonstrable ways.

Paul says first that we are to present our body as a living sacrifice which indications that we are not our own we have become the property of God. Second, Paul indicates what type of sacrifice this is to be, holy and acceptable to God. When we fall into sinfulness it is nothing else than to profane what is consecrated to God.

Paul ends verse 1 by saying that presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice which is holy and acceptable to God is our spiritual worship. The New King James translates it, our “reasonable service.” The word the ESV translates spiritual is logikos which Srong’s Greek dictionary says means pertaining to reason or logic that is, agreeable to reason and pertaining to the soul. Worship is not a church service but service to God. Therefore, Paul is saying presenting of bodies as a sacrifice, i.e. doing good is our only logical way to serve God.

We are not to be molded and conform to the way the world thinks is right. According to the thinking of the world, you have to look out for number one. This is re-enforced with “reality” television shows. It is the ruthless and schemers who win those games. Thus proving the only way to get ahead in life is to be self-centered and focused only on winning. That is the wisdom of the world. But here the apostle says we are to be transformed. How are we to be transformed, by renewing our minds. Nothing pleases God except what he has commanded. In order to do as He has commanded we must have renewed minds.

Paul reminds us of his apostolic authority when he says, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you…” This is to say these are command directly from God, “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.” Some may understand this to mean that we are to be humble and not think proudly of ourselves, while that may be contained in the meaning, the actual meaning is far more. Paul is meaning that, as our reasonable sacrifice we are to surrender ourselves in a meek and teachable spirit. We are to be ruled and guided by God. In setting faith against human judgment, Paul restrains our own opinions and at the same time specifies the correct amount of it.

We are all called to bring glory to God. But we do not all play the same part in bringing glory to God. We all work together, in union to bring God glory. But we do not all do the same things. Paul uses the analogy of the human body. This is not the only time he does this. He compares the roles we all play to the functioning of the body in 1 Corinthians 12. While we are one body or unit, no one plays all the roles. We need each other. Nor are we to assume the role of another. We are to think soberly of ourselves and the role we are to play within the body of Christ.

Not only does everyone not have the same role or gift, but how we play a role or use the gift depends on the amount of grace God has given us. We should never seek to be independent of the other members of the body. Paul here, as in 1 Corinthians, is attempting to beat back the natural man who will covet whatever he does not have. Because someone else has a gift, that does not mean we should have it. We should serve with the gifts we have been given.

Paul mentions specific gifts, obviously this is not intended to be an exhaustive list but only representative sample. Additionally when Paul mentions gifts such as prophecy, he is not referring to miraculous gifts but rather the ordinary gifts we use to minister to the church daily.

Application

Until we really understand and appreciate how much we owe to the mercy of God, we will never worship God rightly. Without a correct understanding of our debt we will not be satisfied in the role God has placed us.

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