Romans 12:3-6

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 30, 1999


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things. Heís talked about how we are to give our bodies as living sacrifices, and we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:1-2)

:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me,

grace Ė charis Ė grace; good will, loving-kindness, favour

Paul is going to say in verse 6 that the gifts are different for each person according to the "grace" given to them.

Here, Paulís saying that because of the grace (gifting) that God has given him, he is now going to give us a word.

Heís demonstrating what heís teaching about.

:3 to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think;

think of himself more highly Ė huperphroneo (from huper, "over" + phroneo, "to think") Ė to think more highly of one's self than is proper; to be "over-proud"

than he ought Ė dei Ė it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper

"not to over think of himself beyond what is necessary"

to think Ė phroneo Ė to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty.


Getting your place right.

One of the problems we face is when we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. I think this can manifest itself in a couple of ways:

1. Looking down on others

I used to think that since I had been to seminary, and since I had been a Youth Pastor, and because I had a home Bible Study, that I could listen to certain pastors teach and think, "I can do better than that!"

There were times when secretly I used to think that Chuck Smith was kind of boring. I know God had used him mightily, but he kind of bored me.

What Iíve found out is that the more I grow in the Lord, the more I get from Chuck. The more I grow in the Lord, the less I find myself criticizing some of the teachers on the radio, and instead I often say to myself, "I sure am thankful that MY messages arenít being put out on the radio for the whole world to hear!"

Iíve found that many times my being critical of others and thinking I could do better was really just a cover for me thinking more highly of myself than I ought to.

2. Pushing your way into a place youíre not ready for.

I think thereís a fine line between having the faith to step out and make yourself available for a ministry, and pushing your way into one.

I donít think itís wrong to step out and say, "Hey, I think I can do something here". I remember years ago when Dave Dunagan set up to meet me in my office at Calvary Anaheim, and played his guitar for me, totally unsolicited by me. How else could I have ever known that Dave played guitar so well if he hadnít played for me?

But on the other hand, Dave also didnít tell me what he thought he ought to be doing at Calvary Anaheim. He played for me, and I took it from there.

I know that some of us in leadership positions need to work more at being more frank and not beating around the bush. I think we ought to be saying more to people, "I am not sure youíre gifted for this" or perhaps, "I donít think you may be as gifted as you think you are" or, "Donít quit your day job".

The places we have the most problems with this attitude are usually the "up front" ministries. Nobody seems to be pushing to help LuAnn out with cleaning toilets. But itís the places that are up front, where you have the spotlight on you, where this problem seems to surface.

Why do you want to do this? Whatís your motive behind your ministry?

We can say that itís because we want to serve the Lord, but Iím afraid that sometimes itís really just because we want attention.

How hard to we hold on to our spot? Do we see our ministry as just a gift from the Lord, or is it something we have to struggle to defend against all attackers? How would you respond if you were asked to share your position?

I think that sometimes weíre in places we donít fit. I think that sometimes itís okay for us to be in a certain place, but we need to be careful that we donít think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.

:3 but to think soberly,

to think Ė phroneo Ė to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty

soberly Ė sophroneo (from sozo, "safe" + phroneo, "to think") Ė to be of sound mind; to be in one's right mind.

Mark 5:15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

Paul is kind of saying that to have "self-conceit" is to have a form of insanity.

Frankly, for some of us, we get a little crazy sometimes just trying to figure out what our place in the body is.

:3 according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

dealt Ė merizo Ė to divide; to separate into parts, cut into pieces; to distribute

measure Ė metron Ė measure, an instrument for measuring; determined extent, portion measured off, measure or limit

faith Ė pistis Ė conviction of the truth of anything, belief

I think what heís saying is that the place you have in the Body is going to be ultimately based on what youíve had the faith to receive from Him.

Itís your faith that is going to lead to gifts, which is going to determine where you are in the Body.

This is nothing to be puffed up about, as if to say, "Well, Iíve had enough faith to be a pastor!"

But on the other hand, when God has given you certain gifts, which youíve received by faith, donít be hiding them either.

This is kind of the other boundary of how we should view ourselves. On one hand, we shouldnít make too much of ourselves, but on the other hand, we shouldnít hide what God has given us either.


Donít think too lowly of yourself either.

There are some of us who struggle with thinking too highly of ourselves and we perhaps need to get knocked down a bit from time to time.

For others of us, we need to recognize just what God has given us, and not be afraid to use it.


Attributes of faith.

1. Faith is a gift.

God is the one who has "dealt" or measured it out to us.

(Eph 2:8-9 KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2. Faith can be grown.

(2 Cor 10:15 NLT) Nor do we claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow and that our work among you will be greatly enlarged.

(Rom 4:19-21 NLT) And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. {20} Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. {21} He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised.

One of the best ways to grow your faith is through staying in the Word:

(Rom 10:17 KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

As you stay in Godís Word, you get to know Him more and more. You get to know His character more and more, you get to know that you can trust Him more and more.

:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:

one body Ė talking about our physical bodies. Our physical bodies are a picture of what the Body of Christ, the church, is like.

office Ė praxis (our word "practice") Ė a doing, a mode of acting, a deal, a transaction; a thing to be done, business.

Each part of our body has itís own function. There are some cases where two parts of the body have the same function (such as two eyes, two ears, two kidneys, etc), but as a whole, all the members of our physical body donít perform the same function.

Our "place" in the Body of Christ is determined by what our gift, administration, and effects of our gifts are:

(1 Cor 12:4-6 KJV) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. {6} And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

There are different gifts, special abilities given by the Holy Spirit. Weíll be looking at some of the different gifts over the next few weeks.

Each gift can have a different "administration" or ministry in which the gift can be used. Two people with the same gift of teaching might use the gift in different ways. One may use it in a counseling situation, giving instruction to the one theyíre counseling. Another may use it to teach a Sunday School class of 3 year olds, while another may use it to teach teenagers.

Each gift/ministry may have a different "operation" or "effect". This is the result of the teaching. I need to be careful that if Iím teaching a class of 3 year olds, that I donít expect the same kind of result from the kids that I see happening when Chuck Smith teaches.

Your place in the Body of Christ, unlike your physical body parts, does not appear to be totally static (stay the same). It appears that God may give gifts at various times in your life, and as He gives you a new gift, it kinds of redefines your place in the Body.

:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

There are lots of lessons you can learn about the church by looking at the human body.

:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us

gifts Ė charisma (a form of charis, "grace", this is literally a "working of grace") Ė a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own; the gift of divine grace; grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit

grace Ė charis Ė grace; good will, loving-kindness, favour

given Ė didomi Ė to give; to give something to someone

differing Ė diaphoros Ė different, varying in kind; excellent, surpassing


Spiritual gifts are a matter of grace.

They are undeserved. We donít earn them.

(Gal 3:1-3 KJV) O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? {2} This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? {3} Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The Galatian church had been struggling because after they had come to know the Lord, they had been swamped by false teachers who were telling them that they had to obey the Law in order to be saved.

Paul is reminding them that the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives didnít happen because of their legalistic works, it happened because they had trusted God.

When something is a matter of grace, there is nothing you can do to deserve it. All you can do is trust and receive it. Just like salvation.

Chuck Smith:

"There is a lot of teaching today that lead toward the concept that the Holy Spirit is received by the works of the law. As a child growing up in a Pentecostal church, I desired what they termed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And so I went to many of the "tarrying meetings" as a child. Quite often I would go with my father to the Saturday night menís prayer meetings. There I would wait upon the Lord, and pray that God would fill my life with this power. I loved the Lord as a child. I loved the Lord dearly. And I desired all of the power of God in my life that I could possibly attain. But as a child I had a problem with self-righteousness. Now, you may think it strange, that someone so young would struggle with spiritual pride, but I did. I loved the Lord. I memorized scripture. I could recite the books of the Bible and spell them. I could quote entire chapters of the Bible. I never went to a show. I never smoked a cigarette. I never went to dances, because the church that I was going to taught that all of these things were sinful. Now, the preacher's son used to pick up cigarette butts and smoke them when I was with him, but I wouldn't do it. No way. My other buddies in church were going to the matinee every Saturday. But I never would. But I had a great problem. God was blessing my buddies, even when they were smoking cigarette butts. I thought, "Lord, you know I am more righteous than they are. I've never done any of those evil things. Why bless them and not me?" It was a real struggle for me. Not only that, I heard people give their testimonies of how they were waiting for the filling of the Holy Spirit, waiting upon God, and the Lord showed them the pack of cigarettes in their pockets. The moment that they pulled out the cigarettes and laid them on the altar God filled them with the Holy Spirit. Well, I never did have a pack of cigarettes in my pocket to lay on the altar. But I would go through my mind and think, "Now Lord, I really got mad at my brother this week. Lord please forgive me for getting mad." Then I would wait for Him to fill me with the Spirit. They used to say, "You know God won't fill an unclean vessel. He is the Holy Spirit. And so you have got to be a holy vessel" so I would do my best to be holy. I confessed to God everything I could think of and even some things that I never even did, just in case. I finally said, "Alright Lord, I will go to China as a missionary. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit." I promised the Lord that I would go to China, Africa, South America, and India. But all of the time I was endeavoring to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit by works, by being righteous enough by the standards that I had set up. I went through every trick, earnestly hungering and desiring to be filled by God, to have His gifts. Growing up, I don't know how many nights I agonized before Him wondering why he never blessed me. Had I read Galatians and understand it, I would not have had to wait all those years to receive the filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit. But as I began to read and understand the Word of God, I came to Galatians, where Paul asked, "Received ye the Holy Spirit by the works of the law, or the hearing of faith?" I realized that this was a rhetorical question, with the obvious answer that they received the Holy Spirit by the hearing of faith. I had never been taught that before. By the works of the law, I had been trying to be holy enough or righteous enough, but I was never good enough to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. I didn't believe God could do what He promised to do. He needed my help."


God gives the gifts.

Itís okay to have a desire for certain gifts.

(1 Cor 12:31 KJV) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.

(1 Cor 14:1 NASB) Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

But ultimately itís up to God to decide which gifts we get.

(1 Cor 12:11 NASB) But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Some people have gotten the idea that if they have enough "faith" that God has to give you certain gifts. He doesnít. Heís God. Heís sovereign. He gives whatever He wants to whomever He wants. He knows whatís best for you. He knows what you need.


Receiving your gifts.

We see several things that we can do on our part to receive the gifts.

The filling of the Holy Spirit.

When individuals were filled with the Holy Spirit, this seems to be a time when new gifts manifest themselves. (Acts 2)

The laying on of hands.

By prophecy.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Itís okay to ask others to pray for you, to ask for God to give you His gifts.

Ask in faith.

Paul wrote:

(Gal 3:2 KJV) This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

We ask, but then we trust Him to give:

(Luke 11:13 KJV) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

:6 whether prophecy,

prophecy Ė propheteia Ė prophecy; a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events

:6 let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

With each gift, Paul gives a little word to describe how that gift is to be used. With some of the gifts, itís pretty simple, just use the gift ("he that teacheth, on teaching"). With others, thereís a little extra added (such as here with prophecy) to describe the manner in which the gift is to be used.

proportion Ė analogia (our word "analogy") Ė proportional; conformable

faith Ė pistis Ė conviction of the truth of anything, belief

(Rom 12:6 NLT) ÖSo if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.

It takes faith to speak for God.

Itís not just a matter of having a message from the Lord in your mind, but to be brave enough to speak it out in front of others, to risk being "wrong", takes faith.