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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
I bid you all a hearty welcome and I want to thank you for stopping by.
This is the third time I’ve taught the book of Romans and I have to tell you it’s still not as interesting or as much fun to teach as is the book of Genesis or some of the other books of the Bible. Genesis is filled with interesting stories about the LORD God interacting with His creation; helping them overcome life’s challenges, and helping them find their faith. Whereas Romans can be boring at times, this I freely admit.
I don’t mean to take anything away from this book. May it never be! The book of Romans is the clearest explanation of the Gospel by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. This book also contains the doctrinal foundation for the Believer’s faith, and it is for this reason that it was arranged first in order among the N. T. epistles.
Romans is a “must” read/study for Believers because an understanding of the Truths expressed in this book are essential not only to the salvation of every individual but also to the maturing (sanctification) and success of every Believer in Christ Jesus.
I found my Accounting Book to be dry as day-old toast too, but necessary on many levels; so it goes with Paul’s letter to the Believers in Rome.
Please open your Bible at Romans chapter 12.
Chapter 12 begins the practical or useful section of this letter. From Romans 1 until now we’ve encountered very few “commands” from the Creator God with the exception of certain instructions: know, reckon, yield, and the like found in chapter 6.
The emphasis of the early chapters has been on what God has done for the sinner and not on what should be the Believer’s response to God’s undeserved mercy and grace. Paul repeats this same pattern in many of his letters. He first teaches us what God has done for us through the Lord Jesus Christ and then he tells us what we should do in response to God’s love.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul spent the first 4 chapters explaining our freedom in Christ Jesus because we have been justified by faith, then Paul makes this statement at Galatians 5:1 – It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the first 3 chapters explain our position in Christ Jesus and then at Ephesians 4:1 he states: Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
Paul repeats this pattern here at the start of chapter 12. After teaching various Church Age Doctrines, most prominently God’s gracious doctrine of salvation by grace through faith (alone) for both the Jew and the Gentile, Paul then beseeches all Believers to live their lives in response to that gracious call. Paul says this is our reasonable service.
1: 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.
The word beseech in the Greek is: Parakaleo meaning – to beg, entreat; to encourage.
Our Apostle Paul begins by urging his brethren, in Christ Jesus, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice… He says this is your reasonable service.
In contrast to this, the Law says, “I command you.” But Grace says, “I beseech you.” This is due to the fact that the Law is a stern “taskmaster” and it’s based on fear – “do this or that or else suffer the consequences.” For this reason an individual obeys the Law because they are afraid of the penalty they will suffer if they disobey.
But Gospel obedience is based on love. Paul writes: For the love (not fear) of Christ controls us… (Romans 13:2 Corinthians 5:14) The early Believers had experienced the love of Christ Jesus in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach the then known world with God’s Gospel more than any generation has done since. Even with the benefits of our modern technology, today’s church is unable to match their efforts. This is largely due to the fact that the Believer’s in Paul’s day were filled with the love of Christ. This caused them to experience the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19) and made them witnesses that the world could not ignore or resist (John 13:35).
In contrast, today’s church evangelism is on life support. People don’t talk about their faith let alone share it. Furthermore, most people couldn’t tell you what the Gospel is, and this is one of the reasons it’s not being communicated to people who need to hear it. Christians leave evangelism to the church leaders and the missionaries for the most part and are content to sit in their favorite pew each Sunday indifferent to God’s command to share their faith with others: but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
Let’s get back to verse 1.
When Paul uses the conjunction “Therefore,” you should stop reading and consider why it’s there. In this instance, it points backward to all Paul has mentioned in the first 11 chapters re: the Church Doctrines and all that God has done through Jesus Christ for the guilty, ungodly sinner, saved by Grace.
By the mercies of God (this is the basis for our service to God) that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
What kind of service is this? And what makes it so reasonable?
The answer to the first question is that the word translated “service” in verse 1 is word related to the service of worship performed in the Old Testament Tabernacle. It is a reference to the specific act or worship of offering a blood sacrifice to God. However, as it’s used here instead of offering up an animal sacrifice, we are being informed that we should offer our own bodies as a living sacrifice to God!
As for the second question, what makes this service so reasonable? Paul says it’s all about “the mercies of God.” Our service is reasonable in light of the mercies of God!
These mercies are those which Paul has described to us over the last 11 chapters. They are the mercies of forgiveness of sins, justification by faith, peace with God, union with Christ, freedom from sin and the law, adoption as sons and daughters, the gift of the Holy Spirit, election to salvation, no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and no separation from Christ’s love, inclusion of the Gentiles and the future salvation of Israel. In light of all these mercies, Paul beseeches us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God.
The language our Apostle Paul has chosen to use in describing our reasonable service is the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system. I don’t know about you but I’ve never had to bring an animal with me to church to be thrown upon a flaming altar as a sacrifice to God. This religious ritual isn’t practiced any longer since Jesus’ death. So, when Paul says present your bodies as living sacrifices, he’s definitely not saying bring an animal to church to sacrifice, but that we ourselves must be the sacrifice!
Some of you may be thinking, “I thought all sacrifices ended with the death of Christ on the cross. Wasn’t God satisfied with the one sacrifice for sin forever?”
You’re exactly right. It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away man’s sins. This is why Jesus came, “TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD’ “(Hebrews 10:4, 7).
All sacrifices ended with the death of Christ on the cross! Paul wrote at Hebrews 10:12: but He (Jesus Christ) having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. (Psalms 110:1)
However, the New Testament teaches us that sacrifices are still being offered to God in the New Covenant but they have nothing to do with animals. God expects Believers to be a living sacrifice.
Let’s go to the book. Please turn to 1 Peter 2:5: You (insert your name here) also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Now let’s flip over to Hebrews 13:15: Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give (what) thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
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.
Paul is telling us in so many words that we are to offer all we are as a continual living sacrifice to God the Father. In other words, this isn’t just a “heart” thing. God doesn’t just want your heart, He wants all of you! This is the meaning of the word “body” in this passage. It is a reference to our total being. It is a “living” sacrifice (which separates it entirely from the OT sacrifices – I’m sure the 1st century Believers freaked out at this teaching), a “holy” sacrifice (which indicates that like the OT sacrifices it is set apart to God), and it is an “acceptable” sacrifice (which indicates that it is well-pleasing to God).
Most of the western world operates in the spirit of individualism. Christianity does not, although we often attempt to adapt it and make it more comfortable in that it’s much easier to think about “God’s role in my life” than to reflect on “my role in God’s plan” to help others and share His Gospel. However, when we attempt to shape our faith to fit “our needs” instead of what God has intended you’re going to run into Scripture that will make you squirm. Romans 12:1 is one of those passages.
(To be continued)
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