Bible Conversations: Romans 12

Romans 12  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Communications received from-G. K. B.,-Iota,-Nemie,—-Edo.,- S.P. T.
Rom. 12
S. P. T.-With this chapter begins the 'practical part of the epistle. As in all his epistles, Paul bases his exhortations on the doctrine he has before set forth; so here, in the relationship of the believer towards God (12:1-8), towards one another (xii. 9-24 towards powers (xiii.), and towards the weak (xiv.-xv. 7), he is always viewed as being in this world; and not, as in Ephesians, as being already in heavenly places in Christ. Ver. 1.-I do not quite understand in what sense "by the mercies of God " is used here. Could it be rendered " I beseech you therefore, brethren, because of the mercy which God has shown towards you "?
Iota.-Verse. 1. It may be helpful to the appreciation of the full force of this verse, to study the following list of the " mercies of God," as given in this epistle.
1.-We are called of Jesus Christ to be saints. (Chapter 1:6,7).
" It is rather called saints; i.e., saints by calling. Ed.
2.-God's righteousness manifested apart from the law, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all that believe. (Chapter 3:21,22).
3.-We are justified freely by His (God's) grace. (Ver. 24). 4.-God has set forth Jesus Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood. (Ver. 25).
5.-God is just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus (Ver. 26-30).
6.-He that worketh not, but believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Chapter 4:6-8).
7.-Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. (Chap. 1).
8.—By Jesus Christ we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. (Ver. 2).
9.-The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. (Ver. 5).
10.-When we were without strength, and yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Ver. 69).
11.-We shall be saved by the life of the Son of God. (Ver. 10).
I.-Through whom we have received the reconciliation. (Ver. 11, R. V.)
13.-The grace of God, and the gift by grace, has abounded unto many. (Ver. 15).
14.-God's free gift is of many offenses unto justification of life. (Ver. 16).
15.-For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they that receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Ver. 17).
16.-By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Ver. 19-21).
17.-Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed; that we should not serve sin. (Chap. 6, 7).
18.-H we be dead with Christ, we shall reign with Him. (Ver. 8, 9).
19.-Sin shall not have dominion over us. (Ver. 14.)
20.-We have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Ver. 22, 23).
21.-We are dead to the law, that we might be married to the Risen Christ. (Chapter 7:4).
22.-We are delivered from the law. (Ver. 6).
23.-There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the spirit of life in Him has made them free from the law of sin and death. (Chapter 8:1,2).
24.-What the law could not do, the Son of God did; and condemned sin in the flesh. (Ver. 3).
25.-God will quicken our bodies by His Spirit. (Ver. 26.-We have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Ver. 15.)
27.-The Spirit bears us witness that we are God's children. (Ver. 16).
23.-We are joint-heirs with Christ, and shall be glorified with Him. (Ver. 17, 18).
29.-All things work for our good, because God has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son. (Ver. 28,30).
30.-God is for us. (Ver. 31).
31.-He that spared not His own Son, will also freely with Him give us all things. (Ver. 32).
32.-Christ is making intercession for us. (Ver. 34).
33.-Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Ver. 35-39).
34.-God has called us, that He might make known the riches of His glory in us. (Chapter 9:23).
35.-The Lord is rich unto all that call upon Him. (Chapter 10:12).
36.-Through the fall of the Jews, salvation is come to the Gentiles. (Chapter 11:11, 30).
37.-The Gentiles being grafted into the good olive tree, partake of its root and fatness. (Ver. 17).
Since God's mercies are so numerous, is it not indeed. " reasonable " service to present our bodies a living sacrifice,. holy, acceptable unto Him?
G. K. B.-Verse 1. " The compassions of God" is another rendering. A "living " sacrifice, in contrast to the dead beasts_ "Reasonable " or " intelligent " service. God will be served now intelligently. It is not reason judging for itself without the word, but the Spirit guiding the mind by Divine revelation, understood growingly. There are three sacrifices to be offered by God's priests (a class that embraces every believer, young or old): 1st, their praises (Heb. 13:1515By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)); and, their goods (Heb. 13:1616But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:16))'; 3rd, themselves (Rom. 12
S. P. T.-Ver. I. " To present your bodies," &c.-Yes, what an immense deal is contained in this one verse! We, as priests, have to present our bodies to God, a living sacrifice, in contrast with the legal sacrifices, which were dead when offered; but as the latter had to be without blemish, " whole," so we must be "holy" to be acceptable-well-pleasing unto God. But the practical point is, How must we yield our bodies a sacrifice to God? Is it not in acknowledging Him in everything we do, even to the smallest details of our lives? The body obeys the will; therefore, if God's will reigns in us, and not our own wills, our bodies will be yielded to Him. Is not the idea of this entire devotion to God beautifully expressed in the following lines by F. R. H.?-
"Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King:
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my heart-it is Thine own:
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever-only-all tor Thee."
Is it intended here, by "your reasonable service," to mean, " not unjust service," but that which could be expected of you,. in the sense of " we have done that which was our duty to do"? or does it mean " an intelligent service; not that of the hands,. consisting in ceremonies which the body could perform." The Revised Version has " spiritual worship."
Ed.-We think, with G. K. B., it is intelligent service.
S. P. T.-Verse 2. " Be not conformed to this age: i.e.. to the world during the present order of things, in contrast with the age to come '-the period of Christ's blessed reign. Why, then, is the Christian not to be conformed to the world? For two reasons: first, because it is an evil world, from which Jesus died that He might set us free-' who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father' (Gal. 1:44Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)); and next,. because, being associated with Jesus in death and resurrection, our relationships with the world are broken, and the ground of our glorying now is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:1414But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)). But this is not an outward non-conformity; not the covering up of the unrenewed mind with the eccentric garb and manners of a professed separateness from the world; but rather that change which results from inward growth. For as the " eyes of the understanding are enlightened," and the "new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him," the effect will sooner or later become manifest in the walk; one thing after another being laid aside for Christ, as the mind comprehends their worldly nature. This gradual outward growth is the only real ground of separation; any that is not founded on it partaking more or less of the character of hypocrisy.
NEMIE.-Verse 2. " Be not fashioned " (R. V.) refers to that which is outward, on the surface. " Transformed by the renewing of your mind." An inward spiritual life of motive-power producing a corresponding outward manifestation. "God's plan," as one has remarked, " is to begin in the center, and work outward." Phil. 2:12,1312Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12‑13).-" Work out your own salvation for it is God which worketh in you," &c.
IOTA.-Verse 2. There is an important truth in this verse, viz., that we must first be "transformed by the renewing of our mind," before we can " prove what is that good and acceptable will of God."
G. K. B.-Verse 2,. " Highmindedness " hinders both the doing our own duty, and others theirs.
NEMIE.-To recognize that this transforming power is all of the grace of God, will keep us humble and sober-minded.
S. P. T.-Ver. 4, 5. This is the only reference in the epistle to the assembly as the body of Christ; and here it is in connection with the responsibility of the members individually, rather than as a church.
S. P. T.-Ver. 6, 8. Seven gifts of the Spirit:-Prophecy, ministry, teacling-, exhorting, giving, ruling, sheaving mercy.
G. K. B. -Verse 9. " Love unfeigned." Love is of God; therefore it is of the deepest moment that it should ever be genuine and uncorrupt. Love is the activity of the divine nature in goodness. It is not the same as " brotherly kindness," see 2 Peter, i. 7. Where love is real, there is and must be the detestation of evil, no less decidedly than the close attachment to good.
S. P. T.-Ver. 9-21. From ver. 9 to the end we have a list of twenty christian graces:-holiness, kindness, courtesy, activity, fervor, diligence, hope, patience, prayerfulness, generosity, hospitality, willingness to forgive, sympathy, humility, modesty, absence of revenge, honesty, peacefulness, compassion, goodness. All comprehended in the last little verse, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
N EMIE. -Verse 10. What is meant by "in honor preferring one another "?
G. K. B.-Verse 10. First, we have the call to tender interest among brethren mutually; not merely repaying the courtesy of others, but taking the lead in treating them with honor. Verse 11.-Then, instead of allowing slothfulness, the apostle insists on "zealous diligence." Lest this, however, should be only outside work, he immediately adds "fervent in spirit," and these with a blessed motive to both-" serving the Lord." Verse 1 2.-Further, the mention of the Lord and of His service appears to be the link in the mind of the Spirit with the bright future, " Rejoicing in hope "; as this again very simply connects itself with present suffering-" patient in tribulation"; and with the grand support of the soul, come what may meanwhile, " persevering in prayer."
NEMIE.-Verses 9-27. Is there not a tendency, in our zeal to maintain the purity of doctrinal truths, to overlook the importance of these practical exhortations relating to our everyday life? and we forget, in disregarding them, we dishonor our Lord and disobey His word as much as when we in any way associate with what is contrary to His mind and will as regards His worship and service.
G. K. B.-Verse 14. Practical grace to those who have the means of harassing the saints is urged with emphasis: "bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not." So did our blessed Lord Jesus. Verse 15.-Sympathy in joy or sorrow 'next finds its place. Verse 16.-" Going along with the lowly." What a contrast to the self-exalting and disdainful spirit of the world. Verses 16, 17, 18.-Self-confidence is another danger which would soon ensnare the saint in retaliation. In every way, contrariwise, we are called to be witnesses, not of the first man nor of the law, but of Christ; and hence to be above suspicion before all men, in providing things good or comely (for such is the true sense here), and this too, in a spirit of peace with all so far as depends on us. Ver. 19, 20-It is a solemn thought that wrath and vengeance belong to •God. It becomes us, instead of avenging ourselves, to bend before the blast, looking to God; nay more, to render service to an enemy in need and distress. This will bring him to a point. If he melt, so much the better for all; if he harden, so much the worse for him.
ED0.-Ver. 15. Jesus set us this example, at the grave of Lazarus. John xi. 33, 85. Also in the desert, in His compassion towards the hungry multitude, Mark 6:3434And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34).
G. K. B.-The Christian rule is " Christ," not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. So God with us and all who love Him, overcame our evil with His good in Christ Jesus our Lord and now also He gives us to be imitators of Him in grace, which wins the victory in His sight and to our own consciousness, even when we may seem most downtrodden before the world. For this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith-faith working through love.