Romans Chapter 12

Part 5

KLMX March 2010

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Intro]

[Prayer]

This past week, I looked at chapter 12 of Paulís letter to the Romans. As I pointed out at the beginning of this week, Chapter 12 is the beginning of a shift in the letter. The first part of the letter is concerned mostly with doctrine; that is, what we should believe and why we believe that. From Chapter 12 onwards, Paul is concerned with the application of that doctrine. Itís one thing to know what to do, itís another to apply that knowledge and actually do it. I think weíve certainly seen Paul exhorting application in the past few days. I finished up the letter yesterday but today I will review the entire thing and sum up some points. If you missed any of the messages and want to read them, visit our website at www.fbcdesmoines.org and youíll find all my messages from KLMX there.

Letís review chapter 12 of this letter. Itís a short chapter, so Iíll read the whole thing. As I discussed yesterday, there are 3 main points that jump out at me. They are:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God gives each member of the body a gift to be used for the strengthening of that body.

If it is possible, as much as in you, live peaceably with all men.

Watch for those points as we go thru the text and see if any others jump out at you. Here we go:

Romans 12:1-21 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. (4) For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (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; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (9) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (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. (17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (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. (20) Therefore "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD." (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And thatís the text of Romans chapter 12. Itís not a long section at all, but it does have some excellent points to consider. I really notice the different words that Paul uses in v. 2 when he says "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Conformed means to be molded, shaped, and made to resemble. The world tries to conform you but Paul says "be transformed". Transformed, according to Webster 1828 dictionary means "changed in form or external appearance, metamorphosed, transmuted." The difference between the two words is that "conformed" means more like "you need to be like me" and "transformed" is more along the lines of "be all that you can be."

I think this is a very liberating concept. Being converted from a man held slave by sin to a man who is free in Christ, means that you are metamorphosed. I used the example of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Thatís the sense that Paul is driving at when he contrasts "conformed to this world" vs "transformed by the renewing of your mind." Being converted by the atoning sacrifice of Christ means that we are set free to be all that we can be. Christianity isnít a stifling religion. To the contrary, itís a liberating faith. At least it should be, but unfortunately, many people donít take the time to read and study the instruction manual to see what theyíre capable of and end up using only a limited range of their features.

When I talk about this contrast between conformation and transformation, I canít help but think of this passage:

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, (5) casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The Christianís weapons are mighty in God and capable of pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. These are mighty weapons that reflect the capabilities of the Christian whose faith and strength lies in Christ and Christ alone.

The next point that jumps out at me is that all members of the body of Christ have a gift that is suitable and capable of edifying other members of the body. As with the previous point, this gift can do amazing things if youíll just put it to work. Everyoneís gift is different. Some are teachers, some are caretakers, some are leaders, others are hospitable, and so on. Some gifts are visible and evident, others are quiet and "behind the scenes". But everyone has been given a gift as God sees fit. Whenever I get someone new in our church, I start looking for their gift as I know theyíve got one and I know that God has placed them in our church for a reason. Paul says "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them". Amen! Let us use our gifts.

The last point that jumped out at me in Romans 12 is the one that instructs us on how to behave toward our enemies.

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:17-18 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Instead of cursing those who persecute us and instead of seeking vengeance, weíre actually to do the opposite. Weíre to bless them, live peaceably with all men, and feed and water our enemies. The final instruction is similar to the instruction to now conform but be transformed. Instead of being overcome by evil, weíre to overcome evil with good.

If only Christians would observe these instructions! I talk to a lot of non-believers and their perception of Christians is often far from these 3 points. Now, their perceptions donít always match my perceptions, of course, but the fact is that Christians give non-believers far too many reasons for criticism. We do, in fact, fail in all of these points, repeatedly, frequently, and often. Why is that so? I think itís primarily because we take our eyes off of Jesus. We donít walk in the light, but we walk in the darkness. We get too comfortable with our transformation and we donít keep growing. How different would a non-believerís perception be if Christians were all that they could and should be? What if we refused to be conformed to the world, but were transformed by the renewing of our minds? What if we all took our gifts and exercised as if we were athletes in training? How strong would the church be then? And what if we all fed and watered and prayed for our enemies, using spiritual warfare instead of fleshly warfare? Donít look at your neighbor to get started. It starts with you.

Romans 12:1-21 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. (4) For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (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; (7) or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; (8) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (9) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (10) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (11) not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (12) rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; (13) distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (15) Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (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. (17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (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. (20) Therefore "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD." (21) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Those are Paulís words, by the Holy Spirit, to the church in Rome and theyíre his words to us today. Please consider them.

 

Romans 12, Part 4

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