Romans Chapter 12

Part 1

KLMX March 2010

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Intro]

[Prayer]

We are continuing on through a survey of Paulís letter to the church in Rome, and today weíre starting chapter 12 of that letter. Chapters 1-11 are usually considered "doctrine". In them, Paul lays out ideas or concepts of the gospel message. In Chapter 12 and on, he will discuss the application of those ideas. Concepts arenít much good unless we apply them- a person can have all the morals he or she wants, but if those morals donít get put into action then they are effectively dead. Hereís our passage for today:

Romans 12:1-3 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. (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. (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.

Paul is asking his fellow Christians to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. This recalls his earlier statement:

Romans 6:11-13 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

The idea of both these passages is that we should reckon ourselves dead to sin and dead to the worldís lusts and turn our energies to Godly activities and to things that please Him. Sadly, though, this is one of the greatest failings of Christians. Iíve talked to a lot of non-believers, read a lot of anti-Christian material, and a theme that comes up over and over is the fact that Christians so often say one thing, but do another. No one is perfect, of course, and at the same time, a person who claims to be Christian will often come under greater scrutiny than a non-believer. But thereís no question that Christians have often acted poorly.

The reason is that that they have taken their eyes of Jesus. They have been trapped by sin. Letís look at this passage for a minute:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The author of Hebrews says that sin easily ensnares us. He encourages us to run the race set before us and cautions that it will require endurance. And finally, he says that we must look unto Jesus, the author and finish of our faith for encouragement, strength, and example. This idea of looking unto Jesus for help and to keep from stumbling isnít a new one. Hereís Isaiah.

Isaiah 31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the LORD!

He says woe to those who trust in their own strength or the strength of others and do not look to the Lord for help. Daniel says it, too:

Daniel 9:13 "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.

Hosea and Amos say the same thing. Hereís Amos:

Amos 5:4-6 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: "Seek Me and live; (5) But do not seek Bethel, Nor enter Gilgal, Nor pass over to Beersheba; For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, And Bethel shall come to nothing. (6) Seek the LORD and liveÖ.

Back to our passage from Romans:

Romans 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.

You can see that what Paul is urging is nothing new- itís written all over the Bible. Seek God and live. Letís continue onÖ.

Romans 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.

This is a very famous passage. Letís read it carefully. "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of you mindÖ" Note the words used here- conformed and transformed. Conform is what you do with wet clay when you shape it- you conform it to a certain shape. Do not be conformed to the word- that is, donít let the world shape you to fit its idea of how you should look. Instead, be "transformed" by the renewing of your mind. "Transformed" means changed and itís what a caterpillar does when it becomes a butterfly. The process of metamorphosis transforms the slow crawling caterpillar into something very different- a butterfly. This is what Paulís calling for. Do not let the world shape you, but be, instead, transformed into a new creature.

This transformation is available to every believer in Christ and it, in fact, one of the characteristics of a truly converted person. Unfortunately, too many people fail to realize the power that is theirs in Christ. They fail to soar and to exercise their renewed minds. Theyíre like butterflies that donít fly but sit on the branch like the caterpillar they used to be. Again, hereís the passage:

Romans 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.

This transformation is not for your benefit. You benefit from it, yes, but the transformation is done so that "you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Another passage, from the letter the Ephesians says a similar thing:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We are transformed by a renewed mind so that we prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God and so that we may do the good works which God has prepared for us to do. You might say "Well, I donít need to be transformed to do the works! I can do them right now!" But weíre told in:

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him. And we just read in Ephesians that our faith is a gift of God, not of works, let anyone should boast. Therefore, it is God Himself who gives us the faith by which we can please Him and gives us the ability to do the works which He has laid out for us. This is why we can never boast of our faith or boast of the works that we do. And that, actually, is where Paul goes next in Romans.

Romans 12:2-3 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. (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.

Paul says "to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think, but to think soberlyÖ" Heís telling Christians to be humble. Donít think of yourself as high and mighty and "holier than thou". Donít boast of your faith. Donít boast of your works. And why not? Well, weíre back to where we were before: "Öas God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." It is, indeed, God who hands out measures of faith- a little bit here, a little more over there, and a whole bus-load of it over there. Sure, itís that personís responsibility to then act on that faith- itís their responsibility to be a butterfly that gets off the branch and flies- but it is God Himself who gives them the faith in the first place. This fact, has unfortunately, been overlooked in many modern presentations of the gospel. Modern presentations often give you all the credit for "making decision", but as I hope weíve just seen, our very faith comes from God and is given out by Him as He sees fit.

Here again is todayís passage:

Romans 12:1-3 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. (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. (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.

I urge you to think about these things and to not be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of you mind in Jesus Christ. As Paul says in:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

If you are a Christian, grasp that freedom and power! And if youíre not a Christian, I urge you to consider the message of Christ. Consider the authority of the Bible. Consider your humanness and compare it to Godís Holiness. Grasp Christ!

Join me again tomorrow as I continue through Romans Chapter 12 and look at the body of Christ.

 

Romans 12, Part 2