THE GOSPEL OF BEHAVING (2021)
THE GOSPEL OF BEHAVING
Preached by: Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Sunday, July 25, 2021; October 3, 2010
“The gospel has two sides, the believing side and the behaving side.” A. M. Hunter
Last Sunday, we had fun as I preached tongue-in-cheek about the motivational gifts and the flesh side of those gifts. We had so much fun, I decided to continue with Chapter 12 which is the gospel of behaving.
Romans 12: 1: I urge you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.”
When we see the word “therefore” we ask ourselves what is it there for? In this case the “therefore,” reaches back to the great doctrines set before us in the first eight chapters. The apostle expounds to us the kind of lives we ought to live in view of all we have in Christ. He calls those fantastic blessings “mercies” from God.
A review of the first eight chapters reveals our enormous privileges as Christians:
Therefore, the Lord has every right to expect Christians to live on “higher ground” to surrender ourselves to God’s marvelous mercies and to become living sacrifices.
The word ‘sacrifice” takes our minds to the O.T. ritual of offering dead animals to the Lord. In contrast, Paul urges the N.T. saint to regard himself as a believer-priest offering a living sacrifice to the Lord. What is the sacrifice? The believer’s own body (i.e., flesh). In the O. T. three of the five main offerings were the sacrifice of “fat” from the animal being offered. The “fat” of our flesh is our lusts and selfishness.
In Deut. 32;15, the Word of God tells us that when Israel grew fat in the days of his blessing, he forsook God, who made him and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. America has grown fat because of our great blessings. Many in our nation have forsaken God and scornfully esteem the Rock of our salvation. Deut. 32:19-20: When the LORD saw it, He spurned them, because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. He said, I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith.
Why does Paul ask us to give our bodies to Jesus when we are now living in these enormous mercies and privileges?
Why is the “body” the N.T. sacrifice rather than the believer’s spirit? In his Spirit, the Christian is ready to go all out for Christ. He bows in prayer repeatedly and affirms his desire to yield himself totally to Jesus. But then he doesn’t do it. Why not? “His spirit is willing, but his flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
If the Lord can get a man’s flesh, the rest of the man would easily go with it. So, our unredeemed flesh is the N.T. believer’s sacrifice. Now it is obvious we can’t offer our bodies as dead sacrifices. That would be dumb. Dead bodies would be useless. To make them a living sacrifice, we have to use them for Christ and not for ourselves. By denying ourselves the privilege of using our bodies to please ourselves (do our own thing), we make the sacrifice Paul speaks of. Observe that he appeals to us to do this. Moses commanded Israelites to make their sacrifices, but Paul asked for ours. The only way it is acceptable to the Lord is for it to be a loving, voluntary sacrifice based on our love for Him. That’s why he reminds us of the mercies of God.
The only way to make a sacrifice holy is to dedicate it to the Lord. We do this by offering ourselves on the altar of daily life. The place where we live, work, and carry out the duties of living is our altar. When we make Jesus, Lord we submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading in the smallest details of life. Unlike the O.T. priest, N.T. believers do not go into a physical temple with our offering. We live in our temple (1 Cor. 6:19). We enjoy intimacy with Christ in the true sanctuary of our spirit.
The living sacrifice is seen in the way we pay our bills; speak to our spouse, and about out spouse; serve our employer; speak to our co-workers; discipline our children; and love our neighbor. Husbands and wives when you trash one another, you trash your own bodies, because you are one body.
12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul now tells us how to make the sacrificial offering of our bodies to the Lord:
The world system rejects Christ and all Godliness. The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants establish that the earth is the Lord’s! It belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ. In one grand finished work, the cross of Jesus Christ destroyed the power of Satan and the first man, Adam! After Calvary, Christians are to give place to neither Satan nor Adam.
Col. 2:15 NIV: And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
On that awful day when the true Passover Lamb was sacrificed for us, Jesus bruised the head of the king of darkness. Like courageous Jael who put the hammer to the head of Sisera (Judg. 4: 18-21; 5: 24-27), Jesus mortally wounded our adversary at the cross. Iniquity came to an “end” (Ezek 21:27); literally it was “chopped off.” This word is used to denote the end of flesh or death of a person (Gen. 6:13).
Heb. 2: 14-15: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
1 Jn. 3:8: He that commits sins is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The day has come, the seventh day from Adam and the third day from Jesus (Hos. 6: 1-3: 2 Pet. 3:80). It is time to fully understand and appropriate the spoils of His eternal triumph!
The warfare is accomplished, but His Bride still experiences the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). We stand complete in our victorious Captain, warding off any thought or vain imagination that tries to rise above that understanding (2 Cor. 10: 3-6; 2 Thess.2:4).
The only way to overcome the mouth of the dragon is with the mouth of the Lord---a prophetic Church full of the living Word. The Greek word for “demon” is “daimon”, and it can be rendered as a “knowing one.” There are demonized intelligences sent forth to harass the elect. But we have been clothed upon with a higher intelligence---we have the Mind of Christ.
But the devil, like Goliath of old, still strides up and down the earth mouthing his obscenities. The dragon still has a mouth. He is like the chained lion in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress who is still able to roar. Men have given him incredible influence, but Satan is only a spiritual terrorist, a tyrannical bully. His taunts and intimidations are aimed to handcuff the saints, keeping them in a defeated, defensive posture. The adversary wants to hold back every believer in the dark (2 Cor. 4: 3-4); spiritually blind and deaf to the true identity in Christ as the seed of Abraham and David.
12:3: For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment. God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
Pride is a fundamental temptation of all believers. Vanity is the basis of all snobbery. Those going beyond their gift limit, get “big ego” notions and often feel called to “straighten out” their brethren---usually in doctrine and through discernment. The Gift of Discernment is exercised through maturity and wisdom. In the infant stages, we want to shun the person manifesting demons. Then the next stage is to judge the person. Once the vessel operating in the gift comes into maturity, it is just clinical and not personal.
As for our issues and pet doctrines, the person who is wise will not argue the scripture. There are some who do this for sport. If we are settled in what we believe, we will know why we believe what we believe and we won’t need to argue. Can it be found in the law, the Psalms and the prophets of the Old Testament? Did Jesus teach it? Is it part of the apostles’ doctrine in the Book of Acts? Does what you believe agree with the Pauline, Johannine, and general Epistles of the N.T.? Do your beliefs bring you into joy, peace and righteousness? This is the grace that will cause us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and have sound judgment.
12:4-6a: For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them accordingly.
This is the first mention of “Christ’s body,” in this letter. “Body truth,” as it is called was peculiar to Paul, since he was the one chosen to make it known. All of our body parts have different functions and tasks. Those who refuse to use their gifts to maintain the unity of believers on earth, fail to recognize the interdependence of the various parts of the body. Claiming great wisdom, they use their gifts to feed their own egos, and end up dividing those who should be working together for Jesus.
It is at this very point of differences of gifts that conceit and arrogance develop. That is why it is vital to see that the gifts have to do with faith (directed toward God) rather than knowledge (directed toward men). If we really have the Spirit of Christ
dwelling in us, He will seek to express Himself through us in some distinctive way. How he chooses to do it, is our particular gift.
I preached on 12:5b-8 last week. See the message, Motivational Gifts on the website, or let me know and I will send you a copy of the message. These gifts are sometimes called ability gifts, function gifts or motivational gifts.
12:6b-8: If prophecy, prophesy according to the proportion of your faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching. Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; and he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
One of the greatest joys for a Christian is to discover his gift and use it for the glory of the Lord. I believe all who are operating in their gifts and callings will have joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is the fulfillment of destiny and purpose.
12: 9-13: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer; contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Let’s have no pretense when it comes to loving one another. Hate evil with a passion and cling to that which is good. Be affectionate towards one another as love between brothers demands, and delight in letting the other brother have the place of honor. Don’t get lazy or become weary in well doing. Keep your spirit boiling with enthusiasm as you burn yourself out for Him. If you keep in mind what he has in store for you that hope will enable you to patiently ride out any trouble coming your way. Keep yourself in a constant state of prayer.
12:14-16: Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
The early church set as they were in naturally suspicious or hostile communities, needed wise and cool heads. It takes two to keep the peace. The mature Christian must not be responsible for breaking the peace. Also, maturity will cause one to act rather than react. Our maturity is measured by how we handle the immaturity of others. If we are dealing with a hot head, nothing will be resolved if we respond in like manner.
Neither are we to become a doormat or victim. When we face abuse or mis-use, then we should confront the abuser in love telling them of their fault. If we do not address the issue, then we will push the anger down. Unresolved anger becomes a spirit of anger. We are still to bless that person and not curse them out of our anger.
12:17-21: Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing, you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Never means never! No matter what is done to us two wrongs don’t make a right. It is called spite. The golden rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you is respect. Yes, we are not to be walked upon as victims, but neither do we take revenge. If we can walk away from our adversary in peace and leave our peace with them, we will see the Lord bring the correction. That is just a fact. What he wants from us is that we do not lose our peace and be overcome by evil. The goodness of the Lord in us will overcome the evil.
That does not mean that our enemy will ever agree with us or be our friend. He might and he might not. Either way, we are to stay in peace and trust the Lord’s perfect work.
Preached by: Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Scripture from Key Word Study Bible unless otherwise noted. I entered into the labors of Lovett’s Lights on Romans by: C. S. Lovett; Whose Right It Is by; Kelly Varner; F.F. Bruce Bible Commentary, by: Leslie Allen. Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the view of those from whom I gleaned.