Romans 12

 Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

September 19, 2023. The Year of our Lord


“The gospel has two sides, the believing side and the behaving side.” (A. M. Hunter).


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 Paul begins chapter 12 with the word “therefore” He reaches back to the great doctrines set before us in the first eight chapters.  The apostle now will expound to us the kind of lives we ought to live in view of all we have in Christ.  He calls those fantastic blessings “mercies of God.”


A review of the first eight chapters reveals our enormous privileges as Christians; all of which are “free of charge”:


1.     Chosen by God to be His forever.

2.     By faith we accept our forgiveness

3.     Justified by faith and made the righteousness of God in Christ through the gift of righteousness.  We are consecrated.

4.     Removed from the Adam family (death) and placed into the Christ family (life).

5.     Received the Holy Spirit Who not only makes it possible to have direct fellowship with God but enables us to live Godly lives.

6.     Removed from under the Law of sin and death to live in the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ.

7.     We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of God.

8.     Sanctified by the Word.

9.     Regeneration, adoption knowing that we shall be saved from the presence of sin.

10. Guaranteed to appear with Christ in glory which reduces any earthly suffering to a trifle by comparison.

11. So secure is our salvation that nothing can separate us from Christ.

12. Glorification as Sons of God.


All the above is free of charge – deposited to our account when we receive Jesus Christ by faith.


However, Romans 8:18 has another “reckoning:” For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Before becoming a revelation of His glory, we must be prepared to participate in his sufferings, drink from his cup, pick up our cross and follow him.

Therefore, the Lord has every right to expect Christians to live on “higher ground,” becoming a living sacrifice.


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 (flesh and soul).   Why does Paul ask us to give our bodies to Jesus when we are now living in the enormous mercies and privileges as outlined in the first eight chapters?


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 body, the rest of the man would easily go with it.  So, our unredeemed body is the New Covenant 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 must use them for Christ and not for ourselves.  By denying ourselves the privilege of using our bodies to please ourselves (do our own thing); but instead devote them to the service of the Lord, we make the sacrifice Paul speaks of.  Observe that he appeals to us to do this.  Moses commanded the Israelites to make their sacrifices, but Paul speaking by the Holy Spirit asks 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 Jesus Christ.   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 are 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, New Testament 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.


12:2:  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:


1.     Rejection of the world and its ways.

2.     Permitting the Holy Spirit to renew our mind.


The world system rejects Christ and all Godliness.  The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants establish that the earth is the Lord’s!  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: 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 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 or death of a person (Gen. 6:13).


Heb. 2:15: 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 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) keeping the church spiritually blind and deaf to our 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 shot” 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.  We no longer take attacks from the enemy as 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.


Only grace will empower us to fulfill our allotment of faith.  Without grace, we all faint.  I can only pastor and preach according to the grace given to me.  In whatever manner each of us serve the Lord, it is according to the grace given to us.


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 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. 


12:6b-9: 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.


This list is sometimes described as the seven ability gifts:


1.     The gift of prophecy:  The owner of this gift can recognize and declare the revealed will of God.  Our “measure of faith” is the key to what we can receive from God and prophesy or preach under the impulse of the Spirit.  The gift of prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  A prophet is a gift to the Body of Christ by Jesus Christ.

2.     The administrator (deacon, staff members, etc.) the owners of this gift will joyfully serve in accordance with 1 Timothy3:8: Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience…  Doing whatever they see before them to do comes as natural as breathing.  

3.     The teacher has the gift of Bible exposition, He/she can teach the brethren how to recognize the difference between truth and error as well as uncover the treasures of the Word.  The Teacher is a gift to the Body of Christ from Jesus Christ.  

4.     The exhorter (preacher) also has the teaching gift.  All the gifts can overlap.  He/she is gifted in stirring people’s emotions.  He/she appeals to the heart and will (soul) rather than the intellect.  He/she motivates the brethren to act on the truths they learn from the Word.   This was one of the mandates I received when I started the church in Texas (1999).   The Lord said, “Carolyn it is time to stop talking about the gifts and do them.”

5.     The person who has the gift of making money is to share it liberally without any desire for praise or obligating people to him/her --- not reluctantly or with strings attached.  While quite a few seem to have this gift, not all have the wisdom to handle the gift.  There is a lot of pressure on givers by those who are takers. 

6.     The one with the gift of management can preside over people using authority with discretion.  This one is careful to give leadership by setting a good example.  The bossy spirit of Jezebel is not management.

7.     The one with the gift of mercy will do relief work cheerfully, brightening the lives of the unfortunate with their cheery spirit. 


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.\


One of the weaknesses in the Church today is those who have one gift or the other judge other ministries by their gifts and callings.   For instance, a ministry with the gift of mercy and feeds the poor, judges others by their ministry of ministering to the poor. Those who have the gift of healing judge others by their gift, etc.


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 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 when it comes to serving the Lord.  Keep our spirits burning with enthusiasm as we sometimes become a living sacrifice to keep the unity of the Spirit.   If we keep in mind what Christ has in store for us, that hope will enable us to patiently ride out any trouble coming our way.  Keeping ourselves 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.  The reward of glory will go to the one who overlooks an offense.  


Neither are we to become a doormat or victim.  When we face abuse or misuse, 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 and become a victim.   Unresolved anger becomes a spirit of anger.  We are to bless that person and not curse them out of our anger.  If we curse them, then we become the abuser.


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” (Lk. 6:31).  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.


He who has the rules over his spirit is better than the mighty.  God’s children may be asked whether it is not sweeter unto them than all earthly good, that God so enables us by His Spirit to be able to love those who are unlovable and those who do not deserve our love.  Tit-for-tat would only aggravate the situation and set up a vicious circle.


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.  If he is undeserving of our peace, then our peace will follow us.  However, we must stay in peace and have a confidence that we have not been responsible for breaking it.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

10115 West Hidden Lakes Lane, Richmond, TX.

Scripture from Key Word Study Bible unless otherwise noted.  I entered 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; teaching by Carolyn Sissom in 1987; 2010; 2018;   Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the view of those from whom I gleaned.

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