Thursday, May 16, 2013

Romans 12:1-8: Living Sacrifices for God's Glory

LINK: Romans 12


BACKGROUND




Today we turn the corner from the doctrinal to the practical. "Therefore" begins the chapter and refers back to God's mercy and compassion described in the first 11 chapters. The only reasonable response to His mercy is a sacrificial life. 


We know from our study of the Old Testament that an animal was killed, cut in pieces, and placed on the altar. Sacrifices were important, but God always made it clear that the submissive heart behind the sacrifice was what really mattered (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Amos 5:21-24). In Romans 12, he is not asking us to "make" a sacrifice but to "be" a sacrifice by offering our lives! This is not always easy as this unknown author once, humorously, put it:


"The problem with living sacrifices is that 
they keep crawling off the altar"!

Regardless, sacrificing our lives is our only response. The normal Greek word for "spiritual" is pneumatiokos coming from the Greek root word for "spirit", pneuma. The word in this verse is logikos from logos meaning "word" or "reason."  It means "reasonable." It means that this kind of worship is the only sensible and reasonable response to God's grace set forth in the first 11 chapters of Romans!

The way we sacrifice ourselves is by not letting the world (the present evil age, Galatians 1:4) "squeeze us into its mold" (J.B. Phillips New Testament) but to to keep on being transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) by renewing our mind (Ephesians 4:22-24). This requires that we put the Word of God into our minds (Psalm 119:9, 11, Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 4:12). This way we will do the perfect will of God. 

A sacrificial believer will not think that he is superior to anyone else but will want to think about how he can exercise his spiritual gifts so that God will be glorified rather than himself. A gift is a spiritual ability given by God that, when exercised, glorifies Him and builds up the Body of Christ. 

REFLECTION

About two years before the writing to the church in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 12, he first introduced that the church was like a body with many parts. These parts are the spiritual gifts. He covers the gifts in two chapters in 1 Corinthians, but he writes about it in Romans 12 in only five verses. The gifts listed in Romans 12 are prophecy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy. We will cover more of them when we get to 1 Corinthians 12 in about two weeks. 

APPLICATION

As preparation for further discussion about the gifts when we get to 1 Corinthians 12, here is a link to one of my handouts on the subject:


This sheet is the result of 60 hours of study based on the four primary chapters on the gifts: 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4.

Here is an online version of the test that I use in my workshops:



After you take the test, take the "Spiritual Gifts at a Glance" sheet to some of your closest friends and ministry partners to confirm your gifts. 

I call these people a "clearness committee" because sometimes we do not always see clearly the gifts God has given us but others do!

PRAYER

Lord, make our lives a living sacrifice to You for building up the body of Christ so that You might be glorified in all things. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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