Romans 12:1

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 16, 1999

Introduction

Paul has been talking about how we are saved not because of our works, but because of Godís grace, because of God providing for our sins even when we donít deserve it. We receive this salvation by trusting in God, believing in Jesus, believing that He was crucified for our sins.

Paul has been talking about Godís work with the Jews and the Gentiles. God had in times past called the Jews His chosen people, and though as a whole, they do not believe in Jesus, God is not finished with the Jews. In fact, it was their unbelief that led to the gospel being preached to the Gentiles. Their unbelief opened the door for us Gentiles to receive salvation:

(Rom 11:30-31 KJV) For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: {31} Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

Just as their unbelief has led us to a place of being able to receive Godís mercy, so we ought to be allowing Godís mercy on us to be touching the hearts of unbelievers so they too might receive Godís mercy.

:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,

beseech Ė parakaleo Ė to call to one's side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to encourage, strengthen

mercies Ė oiktirmos Ė compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity. This is actually a different word than the one translated "mercy" in Romans 11:31-32.

The word translated "mercy" in Romans 11:31-32 (eleos) carries more the idea of the acts that characterize mercy, while here (oiktirmos) the word carries more the idea of the inward feeling of compassion that is in the heart of the person showing mercy.

The point is, Paul is actually summarizing ALL of chapters 1-11 here, not just drawing a conclusion from chapter 11.

He has shown us how utterly sinful we as humans are.

He has shown us how God has reached out in His mercy and though we were totally helpless against our own sin, He still took care of it.

Heís made salvation so easy, forgiveness so easy, that all we have to do is simply trust Him. All we have to do is believe.

Heís shown us Gentiles that though God had no obligation toward us as He has toward the Jews, He still has reached out to us, offering to us salvation, full and free.

Paul is now going to start into the practical part of his letter to the Romans.

Up to now, heís been kind of theological. But heís now going to get practical.

Lesson

Theology leads to practice.

Theology isnít supposed to be just a bunch of boring, difficult words that we donít understand and that puts us to sleep.

Understanding correctly who God is, who we are, and what God requires of us ought to change the way we live.

And so Paul now draws a conclusion regarding Godís mercies towards us, that we ought to give ourselves to Him.

Lesson

We serve Him because of His mercy.

Itís pretty interesting that Paul doesnít say, "Because God is angry with you and is about to throw thunderbolts at you, you should therefore serve Him".

But itís because of His mercy.

I love that song we often sing at the end of the Sunday evening service, "I will serve You, because I love You, You have given life to me". That says pretty much the same thing. Itís not because we are totally afraid of God that we serve Him, but because we love Him so much.

Illustration

David Livingstone wrote in his journal on one occasion concerning his "selfless" life: People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paying back a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind and a bright hope of glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.

-- Giving and Living, by Samuel Young, Baker Book House, p.71

Even though weíll be talking about "sacrifice" tonight, itís really more of a privilege to serve the Lord.

Marriage Ė since the relationship between husband and wife is often a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His church, I think we ought to be careful that we learn to serve one another not because we "have to", but because we love each other.

:1 that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice

present Ė paristemi Ė to place beside or near. This is actually a technical term used to describe the offering of a sacrifice (Josephus, Ant. IV. 6, 4). You "present" the sacrifice to your God. ("I will offer up my life, in spirit and truth Ö")

bodies Ė soma Ė the body both of men or animals. Heís talking about our physical bodies.

Hereís what John Gill writes:

"not barely that part of them commonly so called, for this is not to be understood of a mere presentation of the body in public worship: for though this ought to be, yet not without the heart engaged therein, otherwise bodily exercise will be of no avail; nor of a bare abstinence from grosser sins done in the body, and against it, and which defile and dishonour it; much less of a maceration (to cause a person to waste away by or as if by excessive fasting), and keeping under the body, by watchings, fasting, &c. and still less of an offering of the body at death in a way of martyrdom, though this ought to be cheerfully complied with when called for: but by their bodies are meant, themselves, their whole souls and bodies, all the powers and faculties of their souls, and members of their bodies; and the presenting of them, designs a devoting of them, with all readiness and willingness, to the service of God for his honour and glory, without putting any confidence in, or placing any dependence upon them;"

Itís not about public displays of being religious. Itís not about giving just a part of yourself to the Lord. Itís about giving your WHOLE self to the Lord.

sacrifice Ė thusia Ė a sacrifice, victim

living Ė zao Ė to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead)

This is a picture of an altar being set up and the victim is laid out, perhaps even tied to, the altar.

Hereís a BAD example of a sacrifice:

Illustration

Christian Bear

A country preacher decided to skip services one Sunday and head to the hills to do some bear hunting. As he rounded the corner on a perilous twist in the trail, he and a bear collided, sending him and his rifle tumbling down the mountainside. Before he knew it, his rifle went one way and he went the other, landing on a rock and breaking both legs. That was the good news.

The bad news was the ferocious bear was charging at him from a distance, and he couldn't move. "Oh, Lord," the preacher prayed, "I'm so sorry for skipping services today to come out here and hunt. Please forgive me and grant me just one wish: Please make a Christian out of that bear that's coming at me. Please, Lord!"

That very instant the bear skidded to a halt, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and began to pray aloud right at the preacher's feet: "Dear God, bless this food I am about to receive."

:1 holy, acceptable unto God,

holy Ė hagios Ė most holy thing. This speaks of something that has been set apart for Godís own use. It speaks of a sacrifice that is pure and "unblemished". Itís not talking about us having to clean up our lives before we can give them to God, but itís talking about not having mixed motives for the things we do. Why are you giving yourself to God? Is it because you want something from Him? Is it so others might be impressed by you, perhaps even like you? Or is it because He is God, and you must give yourself to Him?

acceptable Ė euarestos Ė well pleasing, acceptable

This reminds me of how God viewed the sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament:

(Lev 1:9 KJV) But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

When we learn to truly worship God, to do "worship" as He likes it, then the result is something that is a sweet fragrance to Him.

Think of how the Old Testament sacrifices would smell! Think of the smell of a great piece of steak on the barbecue, or fresh bread baking in the oven. Those are the smells of Godís favorite sacrifices.

:1 which is your reasonable service.

reasonable Ė logikos Ė pertaining to speech or speaking; pertaining to the reason or logic; spiritual, pertaining to the soul; agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable, logical

Lesson

Itís logical to worship.

When you look at how God has been so merciful to us, the best way we can respond to Him is in worship.

Chuck Smith:

"To commit my life to God for Him to direct is logical, because God knows the end of a matter from the beginning. God's wisdom is so much greater than mine. He has never made a mistake and never will. I have made many mistakes and still do. It makes good sense to seek His counsel and guidance and to give my life to His direction."

service Ė latreia Ė service rendered for hire; any service or ministration: the service of God; the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law; to perform sacred services.

What is worship?

There are several Greek words that could be translated "worship", different words that give us a fuller idea of what "worship" is all about.

Lesson

Worship as "Loving Adoration"

worship Ė proskuneo Ė to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

We see this word used in:

(John 4:24 KJV) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. They got to talking about how the Samaritans did worship differently than the Jews did. The Samaritans had their temple in another place, they did things differently.

The bottom line that Jesus was saying is that the worship of God doesnít depend on the place youíre at, but whether your loving adoration of God is coming from your spirit, and whether or not you are following Godís truth.

Lesson

Worship as "Service and Sacrifice"

Thatís the word thatís used here in Romans 12:1 (latreuo), a word that carries the idea of how the Levitical priests would "worship" God in their duties, which included the offering up of sacrifices. It carries both the idea of offering sacrifice as well as the actual work involved in serving God. Itís the kind of work that the priests and Levites performed in their duties in the tabernacle and temple:

Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service [of God].

We are no longer required to offer up animal sacrifices because Jesus fulfilled the need of sacrifice by giving Himself as the ultimate, complete sacrifice.

Yet there are still a couple of sacrifices that we need to give.

a) Praise and Thanksgiving

(Heb 13:15-16 KJV) By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. {16} But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

One of the kinds of sacrificial offerings we make is through our vocal praise, our thanksgiving to God. This is one of the things that we hope happens during the time of the service that we call "worship", when we offer our love and thanks to God through our songs.

Note: Sometimes praise is really a sacrifice. It doesnít always come easy. Perhaps youíve had a tough day at work. Perhaps youíve been arguing with your wife on the way to church. Perhaps youíve backslidden into a particular sin. Perhaps youíre just tired. Thatís when our praise to God is most like a "sacrifice", when it doesnít come easy.

When David found the spot where the temple was to be built, the owner of the property offered to just give it to David. But David insisted paying full price:

(1 Chr 21:24 NASB) But King David said to Ornan, "No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing."

Sacrifice involves cost. Otherwise it wouldnít be a "sacrifice". Donít just praise Him when you "feel good". We need to praise Him even when everything looks bleak.

b) Giving of self, serving others

Part of this is seen in the passage in Hebrews 13:

(Heb 13:16 KJV) But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Doing good and sharing (King James Ė communicate) are not always easy things to do. They are often a sacrifice.

These are things we do for others, whether ministering to your neighbors, cleaning the church, teaching a Sunday School class.

Part of this is seen in our passage here, that we are to present ourselves, our very own bodies as sacrificial animals would be laid out on an altar, we are to give our own bodies to God as sacrifices.

An animal that was to be sacrificed on an altar was called a devoted thing. When you decided that you were going to sacrifice that animal to God, you had already decided to give it to God, and it was now Godís property.

(Lev 27:28-29 KJV) Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD. {29} None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.

When you "devoted" it, it belonged to God, and it must be sacrificed. God wants you to "present" yourself to God. You canít take the gift back.

We are to be living sacrifices.

We arenít supposed to kill ourselves. We are a sacrifice that is given to God, but remains alive on the earth. But we are still His property.

Just like those sweatshirts that used to be so popular that said, "Property of UCLA" or stuff like that. We ought to have sweatshirts that say, "Property of Jesus Christ".

Of course, there is a problem with a "living sacrifice". They tend to crawl off the altar.

Lesson

You are not your own.

The bottom line of this is that you no longer have the right to do what you want with your body. You donít own it anymore.

(1 Cor 6:18-20 KJV) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. {19} What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? {20} For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Heís paid a great price for you. Treat His property with care.