Romans 12:1-2, 9-18
Central Theme: Living Sacrifice
Objective Sentence: We offer our bodies as living sacrifices by taking three steps.
Step #1- Being transformed. V.1-2.
Step #2- Loving authentically. V.9-13.
Step #3- Pursuing Peace. V.14-18.
Connection: (Introduce the subject and central theme to the audience)
- When you imagine the altar where a lamb was sacrificed what do you imagine?
- Stone, Wood, Fire, Blood…
- The sacrifice was a living animal that was brought to the altar and killed. The blood would flow from the animal and it would die.
- The picture of the animal as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people is a pretty vivid one.
- We know that this was a picture of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus that was to come. He was the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.
- He is the propitiation for our sins- the wrath bearing sacrifice- to appease God’s wrath for our sins.
- This picture of sacrifice is pretty bloody.
- But a sacrifice by definition is always dead.
Tension: (Help the audience desire the answer to the question you are raising.)
- Yet in today’s text Paul says something very interesting.
- He pleads with the believer in Christ to offer themselves not as dead sacrifice, but as a living sacrifice.
- Interesting language. What does he mean?
- He helps us to understand how we can present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice in this passage.
- I want to make the case that he gives us steps to take.
- The first step being the most critical. If we partner with God in the first step, the next two steps will logically follow.
We offer our bodies as living sacrifices by taking three steps.
Step #1- Being transformed. V.1-2.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1
- Let me paraphrase each part of this verse to help bring some clarity.
- “I beseech you”- I, Paul, plead with you. I beg you. I am putting the full weight of my influence into this next statement.
- “therefore, brethren”- Based on what I have said in these first 11 chapters, and because you gentile believers are my brothers and sisters in Christ…
- “by the mercies of God”– because of all that God has done for you in sending His Son to die, be buried, and rise again so that anyone who can call on Him will be saved whether they are jew or greek, wise or unwise, or any other human distinction…
- “that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God”- …I’m asking based on my influence, our family connection in Christ, and because of all that God has done so that you can be saved, that you offer your very bodies as a sacrifice to God. You should live in accordance with what God has done for you. You should live lives of holiness, separating yourself from sin. You should live so that you can offer to God bodies and lives that avoid sin and live in the way that He desires for you to live.
- “which is your reasonable service”– It is reasonable and right for you to live this way because of all that God has done for you and all that He will do for you. The least you could do is live for Him because He sent His Son to die for you.
- Because of all that God has done for you, what He wants to do in you, and what He desires for your future, choose to offer your body to Him as an offering and sacrifice to God. It’s the right response in light of all that He has done.
- What sin do you need to give up as a reasonable response to what Christ has done for you? What repentance needs to happen in your life today?
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:2
- After pleading with the reader to live a life of sacrifice to God in response to the mercies of God, the text commands us not to conform to this world.
- The idea here is not to pattern ourselves after the patterns we see in the world system.
- What is the remedy?
- He says a contrasting statement here. He says to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
- The world wants to control the way we think. It wants us to think like them.
- The plan of God in sanctification is to change our thinking, to change our hearts, and in so doing our behavior is changed.
- We must think differently.
- Thinking God’s thoughts leads to our minds being renewed.
- When our minds are renewed we are able to discern what God sees as good and acceptable. In discerning that we begin to live that out.
- This really is a pattern of what Paul has done in the book of Romans.
- He has made the case in chapters 1-11 of how God views us, our sinful state, and our need for a Savior.
- He has helped us take on a new perspective of our standing before God, and of God’s love for us.
- He has helped us see how we are justified by faith and not by works.
- All of these things are “the mercies of God” that he spoke of in verse 1.
- Now that our mind has been renewed about these things he challenges us to offer our bodies (v1) and our minds (v2) to God as a reasonable response of worship for what God has done.
- When we do that we are transformed and we live the way God wants us to live.
- The transformation does not happen from the outside in, but from the inside out.
- My behavior will not change if my thinking has not changed.
- My thinking won’t change if I continue to pattern my thinking after the way the world things.
- To think like God I have to know what God thinks.
- The incredible thing is that God wrote a book!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
- Is there a sin I’m struggling with today? What is that sin?
- Is there a scriptural passage that deals with that sin issue?
- What scripture should I dwell on, memorize and obey to help me think differently about my sin?
- What does repentance look like?
Step #2- Loving authentically. V.9-13.
(9) Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (10) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another. Romans 12:9-10
- After calling those who have been saved to right living through right thinking, Paul begins to explain what that looks like.
- In these verses he talks about love and what true love looks like.
- True love is authentic without a hint of hypocrisy.
- Dissimulation can also be translated hypocrisy.
- True love hates evil because of what evil does to people. Love also “cleaves” or joins itself to what is good.
- When our minds are not conformed to this world, but are transformed it will lead to a righteous prioritizing of relationships.
- It will lead to a selflessness.
- Recently I heard someone make the connection between the word kind and the word kin.
- When we talk of our “kin” we are talking about our family.
- To be kind is in a sense to treat someone like they are related to us.
- We treat them like we treat our kin.
- Paul seems to make a similar connection in verse 10 where he appeals to “brotherly love” as the flavor of our “kind affection” to one another.
- He also uses the word “honor”.
- The word is used in two distinct ways in the New Testament.
- The word is used for a fixed value, price, or sum.
- It is also used as it is here to speak of honor.
- There is a connection between the two ways it is translated.
- When we honor someone, we treat them with a certain value.
- Here you could say that Paul is calling us to honor people by placing a value on them in how we treat them as greater than the value we place on ourselves.
- We literally take the attitude that their welfare, preferences and desires are greater than and to be valued more than our own.
- For that kind of love to happen, the Holy Spirit must do a work of God in our hearts, minds, and bodies.
- This is not our natural inclination, nor the pattern of this world.
- We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind for this reality to pervade the church.
- In this text the meaning is closely tied to the application. So let us just make some summary statements:
- When our minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit love will be the fruit of that thinking.
- True love hates evil in the lives of those that are loved.
- True love clings to the good.
- To love our spiritual family by honoring them as a valued brother and sister is God’s will for our lives. We put their needs and welfare above our own.
- 3 Questions to help us respond:
- What thinking needs to change in our life for us to rightly love those around us?
- What evil in our life is being clinged to instead of abhored?
- What good needs to be rightly valued in our lives?
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; (12) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (13) Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Rom 12:11-13
- There is a sense in which the passage we have been studying this week is talking about godly priorities.
- The person who has been on the receiving end of the mercies of God should have their priorities and values change as they are transformed by the Holy Spirit.
- There is a renewing of the mind that takes place for the child of God.
- This leads to an authentic love for God and others as we saw in the verses 9 and 10.
- Now we see more values affected.
- These values are all flowing out of a genuine brotherly love for others.
- Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit lists them here:
- “not slothful in business”- The person who has a genuine brotherly love for others takes responsibility for themselves and others by working hard. They are not lazy. If they can provide for themselves and for others they do.
- “fervent in spirit”- This person also has a passion for the spiritual part of life. They are passionate about the things of God.
- “serving the Lord”- This person realizes that to show others love is to show the Lord love when done as God desires. They care about what God thinks first and foremost.
- “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”- This person looks to the confident assurance of their ultimate destiny in Christ Jesus, no matter the circumstance. They endure difficulty celebrating what awaits them in the next life.
- “continuing instant in prayer”- Praying is the natural course of this persons life as they respond to their circumstances whatever they may be.
- “Distributing to the necessity of saints”- They see their brothers and sisters in Christ as family to be taken care of, and loved. This happens through meeting the needs that they can help meet.
- “given to hospitality”- These people are ready to use their home and their possessions to meet the needs of those around them, even people who are new to them that need shelter and help, especially those of the household of faith.
- Not being conformed to this world and being transformed by the renewing of our minds has real world, every day implications.
- This list and descriptions are not theoretical “nice to have” values. These are the real character qualities and behaviors of those who are being transformed into authentic, others-focused followers of Christ.
- Look at the above list and pick out the top 3 that you need to grow in. Do something today to challenge yourself in that area.
Step #3- Pursuing Peace. V.14-18.
Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (17) Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:16-18
- The mistake that we can make in interpreting this passage of scripture is to interpret each sentence as separate statements that are unconnected items.
- It comes across as a list. But these sentences flow out of the context of the passage. These statements are the commands of the Holy Spirit of how we are to live as He transforms are thinking and behavior.
- “Be of the same mind one toward another”– There is a unity of mindset as believers put God and each other ahead of themselves. It doesn’t mean uniformity in every preference or circumstance. It does mean a unity in the Lord submission to each other.
- “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.”- The word “high” here means “esteemed”. The idea is not to look at the things that are esteemed in this world and judge men exclusively by those things. The person with the sharp clothes and the big business is not more valuable or more loved by God than the person with lower means. The person who has more isn’t automatically a bad or greedy person because they have more. Those human distinctions should not govern the way that we view each others value.
- “Be not wise in your own conceits”- Don’t let the way you view things be your only perspective. Try to see things from God’s point of view.
- “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” – The heart of the Christ follower is not to extract revenge on anyone that does us wrong. The right response is the respone of forgiveness. Forgiven people forgive.
- “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”- The idea here is to give regard for that which is good and honest in a public way. We honor good things wherever they are found, especially knowing that both our brothers and sisters in Christ and the lost world sees how we respond.
- “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”- Though this local body of believers were likely to be persecuted, maligned, and socially marginalized for their commitment to Christ, the admonition is to try to be at peace even with those who hate them. If there was a way to get along they, and we, are supposed to find that way.
- These items are at the next level of authentic love for those around us.
- Why? Because they speak not just of loving those with which we have values and priorities in common.
- They also speak to loving those around us who do not share our values and who set themselves against us.
- The only way that this kind of love happens in and through us consistently and genuinely is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.