(Note: this study has been edited/updated on the website since originally published on October 27, 2021.)
Our last study opened the 12th chapter of Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1 - 21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
. Whereas Israel was commanded to follow the Law, Exodus 20:1 - 171 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
; Exodus 35:1 - 41 And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.
2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.
4 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying,
, etc., individual members of the Body of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, having been saved by God’s Grace, are beseeched, i.e., “exhorted, encouraged, admonished, instructed or summoned” to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service.
Following these opening verses, Paul proceeds to explain the specifics of what it is to present one’s body a living sacrifice, which is the believer’s reasonable service. These specifics are the good works God has ordained for Members of Christ’s Body. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1010 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
. Specifically, believers during this age of Grace:
1. Are to recognize they are members of Christ’s Body; humbly consider they are not higher or better than another member; soberly exercise self-control because God has dealt each a measure of faith (indicating some may be dealt more or less faith than others.) And just as the human body has many different members to carry out different functions, so each individual member of Christ’s Body has different functions for the good of the body, Romans 12:3 - 83 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
2. Are to love others sincerely, without hypocrisy; abhor or dislike what is evil; cleave or fasten to that which is good, meaning “useful, agreeable, excellent, honorable, etc.” Romans 12:99 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
3. Are to have reciprocal tenderness or affection, brotherly love and honor for others, Romans 12:1010 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
4. Are not to be slothful, backward or indolent in their earnestness; they should be fervent or zealous in spirit, serving, i.e., obeying or yielding to the Lord, Romans 12:1111 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
5. “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Romans 12:1212 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
. This “hope” in which believers are to rejoice or be glad in is not something they just hope will happen, it is the joyful expectation of what they know will happen. To be patient in tribulation is to persevere, endure, bear bravely and calmly the distress or afflictions that present themselves; and to constantly continue in prayer to God.
6. Are to share the needs of fellow believers; to seek after or pursue hospitality, entertain strangers, Romans 12:1313 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
7. Are to speak well or bless those who persecute, trouble, harass them; to bless or speak well and curse not, Romans 12:1414 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
8. Are to rejoice with them who rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:1515 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
, that is, have sincere empathy for others.
9. Are to be likeminded with other believers, not attempting to strive to the lofty, exalted in this world but condescend to the lowly and humble, not in one’s self-interest, Romans 12:1616 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
10. Are not to wrongly treat another because they are wronged, to take care to be honorable and good before all people, Romans 12:1717 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
11. Are, as much as possible, to live at peace or keep harmony with everyone, Romans 12:1818 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
12. Are not to act in revenge toward someone who has wronged them, but let their wrathful temper cool, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:1919 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
, quoted from Deuteronomy 32:3535 To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; 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.
. “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:2020 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” Romans 1:1818 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
13. Are not to let evil overcome them but overcome evil with that which is good, Romans 12:2121 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
14. Are to subordinate themselves to the powers or authorities over them because those powers are ordained by or under God. Therefore, those who resist those in authority are resisting God and will receive the penalty for their resistance, Romans 13:1 - 51 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
. (If you want to argue whether the citizens of the 13 colonies were obedient to the Word of God when they rebelled against the rule of England’s King George in 1776, go ahead and do so. It’s a moot question now and the Lord will sort it all out some future day with those true believers who lived in 1776.)
15. Are to pay the taxes due the government, Romans 13:6 - 76 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
. (Those who claim to be believers and call themselves “Constitutionalists” or something else to avoid paying taxes will answer to God. Somehow the idea of them standing before Almighty God and arguing their case seems ludicrous. As for now, they are very poor testimonies for God.)
16. Are not to be in debt to others (we know most people today could not buy a house unless they took out a loan, so the question; is this exhortation/admonishment against any debts at all or an admonishment to those who get themselves into situations beyond their control or those who are habitual flakes? The Lord will judge.) On the other hand, this verse states an exception to owing, that being that believers owe it to others to love them because doing so fulfills the Law, Romans 13:88 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
We know from the teaching of Romans that Christ fulfilled the law for us. However, that does not give us license to go about violating the principles of the Law, as the following verses make clear.
17. Shall not “ … commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9 - 109 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
And so, all 10 commandments except that to honor the Sabbath apply to believers today; however, believers are beseeched, i.e., exhorted, encouraged, admonished, instructed or summoned to abide or live, in accordance with all but the Sabbath as part of their reasonable service. Believers are forgiven and have Christ’s righteousness on their accounts. Under the Law of Moses, those who violated the Law paid one way or the other; on a scale ranging from being stoned to death to having to bring an animal or bird to the Tabernacle/Temple as a sacrificial offering, with faith that God would forgive. (Nowhere in the Pauline epistles are we instructed to keep the Sabbath; it has no place for believers today according to Galatians 4:9 - 119 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
. Under Paul’s ministry, the early churches met on Sunday, the first day of the week, Acts 20:77 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
; 1 Corinthians 16:22 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
18. Are to be wide awake to the fact The Lord Jesus Christ could come to take believers up at any time; thus, they are to put away fleshly impulses and put on the armor of Light (Christ is the Light of Life, John 8:1212 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
; John 12:4646 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
); i.e., believers are to put on The Lord Jesus Christ and not make provision for the lusts of the flesh, Romans 13:11 - 1411 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Paul expounds these teachings further in his epistles following Romans. He reminds the Corinthians and all believers since, that although people may not read his epistles, the life of the believer is his epistle: “ … Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:2 - 32 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:11 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
. See also Galatians 5:13 - 1613 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
& the 4th, 5th and 6 chapters of Ephesians. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:11 - 1311 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Believers cannot lose their salvation, but all will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and give an account unto God, Romans 14:10 - 1210 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
. There, all their works will be laid bare and tried, so as by fire, resulting in some work being rewarded while some will be burnt up, 1 Corinthians 3:12 - 1512 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:1616 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?