Romans 12 - The Believer, A Living Sacrifice

INTRODUCTION: During the spring and early summer my schedule at work and at home has varied from my usual patterns, but the Lord has blessed in so many ways: I accept this course from His hand. My Assistant Superintendent was on medical leave from May 8th through July 1st which increased my work load; and all three of our adult children experienced major transitions resulting in some concentrated time spent with them. We upgraded our guest quarters in our home, and then hosted visitors on three separate stints over the past five months. Prayer activity for me personally, and with some in my close circle of friends has been sustained, with many answers for my family and for others, but I have missed my concentrated study time, with no MPN sent out since April. I have vacillated among three or four different passages for this MPN, before settling on one some two months ago, with my first step being to develop my own complete paraphrase by examining several translations, as well as referring to the Greek lexicon through Strong's numbers. To establish the proper setting for examining Romans chapter 12, I looked back at the concluding statements by Paul at the end of chapter 11, and I felt afresh the exhilaration that Paul must have felt as he penned them.
Romans 11:33-36 (AV) "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

NOTE: The reference verses in the intersperse comments were taken from the AV (authorized version) from the Online Bible


Romans 12:1-2 [my amplified paraphrase]

"1 Therefore, I insistently urge you, brothers, through God's mercy, to make presentation of your bodies as a living and lively sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, your reasonable and intelligent service. 2 And be not conformed, fashioned in likeness to, nor in agreement with this world: but be transformed, even metamorphosed, by the renovation to newness of your mind, that you may display as genuine what is the excellent, also well pleasing, even perfect, will of God."

COMMENTS: After Romans 11:34-36, Paul urges the readers (which now includes us) to respond in reasonable and intelligent action by presenting, or giving over to our incomparable God, our entire physical life which should be worthy to be called a sacrifice, as the type of the best animal for sacrifice was presented in the Old Testament. Now God, not man, created the animals from which were selected the spotless ones; and God, not ourselves, provides the way for us to become spotless through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, the perfect Lamb of God. Our mind renewal by infusion of the word of God, and rejection of the world system around us is the demonstration of our salvation, and the path for daily sacrifice. Paul understood the daily process as he said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."Other scriptures exhort us in similar manner, such as Hebrews 9:14 "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"2 Peter 3:13-14 "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."If we are a sacrifice, wholly dedicated to God, the world is secondary, and everything for us moves in the direction of the firm promise of the eternal state.


Romans 12:3-5 [my amplified paraphrase]

"3 For I say, through the grace continually given unto me, to everyone that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think seriously without exaggeration, according as God has bestowed to each the measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same function: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

COMMENTS: Paul underscores God's grace as he instructs us to check our thoughts of ourselves against the measure of faith we have in God, not in ourselves. Faith can be defined as confidence in integrity, ability, character, and truth; and who could surpass the Lord for having these qualities as our object of faith? How can we think of ourselves above others in the body, if we remember that we are only one part, and the body must be whole to function properly? We are members of each other, to constitute the body, which is the church of Christ. The body Paul speaks of requires complementary co-working and harmony because this body has spiritual work to accomplish, so each part must perform its individual God-designed function as unto the Lord. The differences we have are because of the choices God has made in bestowing the gifts, not because we have developed them ourselves, otherwise how could we call them gifts?


Romans 12:6-8 [my amplified paraphrase]

"6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; 7 or ministry, in the ministry; or teaching, in the teaching; 8 or the one exhorting, in encouragement; the one sharing, in liberality; the one in leadership, in diligence; the one showing kindness, with cheerfulness;"

COMMENTS: Since grace underpins every God-given spiritual gift, which might be listed, the exercise of those gifts should be in such a manner as to maximize the glory given to God, not to the one exercising the gift, and done through Christ who strengthens us.


Romans 12:9 [my amplified paraphrase]

"9 Let love and goodwill be sincere, unfeigned, and undisguised. Abhor, loathe, and reject vehemently that which is evil, immoral, wicked; hold tenaciously to that which is good, upright, honorable."

COMMENTS: The expression of affection or warm regard to other people by a Christian is to be of pure quality and best character, showing kindness with gladness because of the grace of Christ, and with the motivation of genuine love, as God loves. Love covers over a multitude of sin, but we must not accept those things that God rejects. Some times the distinction between that which we should strongly oppose and that which we should tenaciously grasp will be very evident to us because of study and practice of the Word of God, but other times we must ask for the wisdom he promises to give without chiding.


Romans 12:10-13 [my amplified paraphrase]

"10 Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; going before one another in honor; 11 In diligence, Not slothful, idle, lazy, inactive; fervent in spirit; serving (as a bond slave) the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope (confident expectation); patiently enduring in tribulation, affliction, anguish; steadfastly attentive and unswerving in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitable treatment of strangers."

COMMENTS: Take delight in honoring others, disdain your own slothfulness, and be willing to work enthusiastically in total service as a slave to Christ. Be glad for all that God plans in your life, with patience during trouble, and prayer continually. Whenever it is in your power to help fellow believers, be ready with food, housing, and other physical comforts, not just empty words. Paul says very similar things in Philippians 2:4 "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."& in Ephesians 4:32-5:2 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."Should we hesitate to do for others as unto the Lord, the same manner of things, which the Lord of Glory did for us?


Romans 12:14-16 [my amplified paraphrase]

"14 Praise or ask God's blessing upon, those persecuting you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and mourn with those in mourning. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another, not minding lofty and influential things, but carrying along those of lower standing; do not become wise in your own conceit;"



COMMENTS: When others persecute you because you are a Christian, do not curse them. Pray that they might receive the grace, which you have already received, even to some extent as evidenced by that very persecution. Enjoy the happiness of others by being happy with them, and show compassion by sharing also in the sorrows of those who hurt. Live in harmony; don't act as though you are more important than others, but rather carry along those who are weaker. Remember that you are only part of the whole, and God designed each part, so you have no reason for conceit.


Romans 12:17-19 [my amplified paraphrase]

"17 Repay no man evil for evil, Having commendable, admirable thought in the sight of all people. 18 If possible, as much as it rests with you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord."



COMMENTS: Whether we would consider some level of vengeance against a believer, or a non-believer, God's word has not changed: Leviticus 19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD."Deuteronomy 32:35 "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."
Messiah was to come to put things right: Isaiah 61:1-2 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;"So then, Messiah did come, and accomplished all that was before him, and to our benefit, because we were before counted among all those in the world who have sinned, Ephesians 2:3 "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."But because of grace, we look in expectation, and should invite others to accept the gospel of salvation, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"


Romans 12:20 [my amplified paraphrase]

"20 Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head."



COMMENTS: If those who have persecuted you are hungry, feed them, or thirsty, give them drink. This will leave the vengeance to God, the one who judges or saves, and the end of the verse quoted from Proverbs, tells us that the Lord will ("reward") restore our peace. Proverbs 25:21-22 "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee."


Romans 12:21 [my amplified paraphrase]

"21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with that which is good, upright, honorable."



COMMENTS: Verse 21 seems to summarize everything after verse 1 of the chapter, because The Lord conquered sin with his sacrifice, and now as living sacrifices we should emulate our redeemer by conquering evil with good. And in fact, Paul has already told us earlier in his letter that conquering is guaranteed, Romans 8:37-39 "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Jesus, my Lord, may I heed the insistent urging of Paul to present my body to you as a living and active sacrifice of service to you alone because of your compassionate mercy to me. Through your Word and your Spirit I want to resist all the influence of the world system, and my Adamic nature. Please direct my functioning within the body of Christ for the potential you desire of me, and prevent me from detracting from, or being envious of, the functions of others in the Body. Give me the highest purity of motive for my expression of Christ-like love, and guide me carefully in discernment and action regarding those things which you hate.

Cultivate within me kind affection for the brethren, seeking opportunity to honor them; and empower me to be diligent, fervent, and active in service to you. I desire the ability to rejoice in confident expectation; to patiently endure in affliction or anguish; to be steadfastly attentive and unswerving in prayer; and to share my material blessings with others.

Prepare my heart Lord to be able to bless those who curse me, to enter into the joy and the sorrows of others, to be of one mind with other believers, and to reject any haughty spirit within myself. Displace any thoughts I have to repay evil with evil, and direct me to seek peace with others as much as that lies with me. I do believe you will render vengeance and restore peace perfectly as your Word says. Now help me Lord to provide my enemies food and drink, to avoid the trap of evil, and to overcome evil through good. Amen.

Published 29 May 2004, first issued 14 August 2002