Book of Romans Study
By Rev. James May
Romans 12:1 – 12:2
In the chapters of Romans that we have already studied, the Apostle Paul has presented some powerful doctrinal teaching concerning God’s dealings with both Jew and Gentiles alike. He has established God’s divine order of bringing salvation to all mankind.
God began his plan with the end in mind because he knows the end from the beginning. He established the method and means by which his plan should be brought to pass, and of course, God’s plan never fails. From eternity past the love of God determined to create man and make us after his own image with body, soul and spirit and with the ability to have free will to make our own choices.
God did not want more messengers and servants, like the angels that he had already created. He wanted an eternal being more like himself, with the capacity for great love, mercy and grace; but also with the capacity for sin and evil beyond measure if man’s choices would take him in that direction. Of course God knew that man would choose rebellion over obedience.
So knowing the heart of man would become evil, God also, in that same moment of formulating his plans, made a way of Salvation for any man who would accept it. He made it easy for us, but very costly for Heaven. The price for man’s redemption was for Jesus, God’s only Son, to give his life and shed his innocent blood to pay the sin debt. God did the hard part; now our part is simply to believe, and then walk as disciples of Christ and sons and daughters of God our Father, living in obedience and faith, trusting only in Jesus for the salvation of our souls.
No man can say that he had any part in determining the means that God used to bring salvation to all men. No man was there to give God advice, either to approve or disapprove of God’s plans.
No man can say that he contributed anything to his own salvation because the complete provision had been made by God alone! God gave all and we receive all by faith, and then must live as sons of God, allowing God’s glory, holiness, righteousness, love, mercy and grace to shine through us as we take on the nature of our Father in Heaven as a Born Again, new creation in Christ, with a heart after God’s own heart and ever seeking to find ways of becoming more like Jesus.
But how are we to find the ways of God? How can a man, who was blind to his sin and ignorant of God’s holiness, and evil to the point of deserving death and eternal punishment in a Lake of Fire, ever find a way to be pleasing to the Lord in this life on earth, in the very midst of darkness, temptation and an ever-increasing rebelliousness against a Holy God?
The first thing we must realize that it is by the Grace of God alone that God allows anything we do, or anything we say, no matter how much we try, or how holy we might try to live, or how much we want to do everything we can to please him. Our righteousness is still as filthy rags in the eyes of the Lord, but through his Grace he keeps us in his hands. Through his mercy, he stops the hand of judgment from coming to us; through his love, he continually convicts us of sin and then it’s back to his Grace, for through his grace alone all of our shortcomings are covered. That’s why we must be in a continual state of repentance for sin, making every effort to turn from the rebelliousness of our own hearts, and ever seek to draw closer to the Lord in obedience.
In chapter 12 we will now learn of the very practical ways of walking in the grace of God and becoming more like God. We will see things we should do to become more like Jesus, and through a lifetime of following these instructions we will become more godly, more sanctified and we will produce the fruits of righteousness in our walk with God.
And through producing the right things, we will show forth the things we produce in our lives to the world, giving glory to God in the process, because our lives will prove to the world that Christ is in us, working in us and through us, to conform us to the image that he had in mind for all men from the very beginning. It is God working in us, making us into the people that he wanted us to be – the very Children of God, sons and daughters that not only appear as God appears, but also have the very nature of God as much as is possible in this life, so that all man may see the reflection of God through us.
• Are you ready to discover how to act like a true Child of God?
• Are you ready to see what the life of a true disciple of Jesus Christ should look like?
• Are you ready to learn and to do what it takes to walk worthy of your calling in God to be a son or daughter of God your Father?
I hope so - hold on to your hat, because here we go!
Romans 12:1 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.
Oh, oh – Now comes the teaching of Paul that the world hates and most of the church doesn’t want to hear.
Salvation is free, but becoming the perfect reflection of Christ and showing forth his nature through your own life is going to make some strong and lifelong demands upon you. Becoming like Jesus isn’t a cakewalk, and sadly, the greater portion of those who claim to be Christians will never really fully understand what it takes to be like Jesus because they aren’t willing to pay that price.
If we aren’t willing to pay the price, to do whatever it takes to be like Jesus, then the question arises – JUST HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY LOVE THE LORD? True love for Jesus will always result in a great desire to be like him, and to do otherwise is nothing short of rebellion and sin.
Remember, if we know to do the right thing to become like Jesus and then refuse to do it, that constitutes rebellion and sin in our hearts, and with that kind of an attitude, we cannot enter Heaven. To be a true Child of God, it’s all or nothing! God won’t share your heart with sin. It’s either a full and complete surrender to God’s will, ever conforming to his will and his holy nature, or it’s a life of rebellion that drives an ever widening gap between us and God that eventually results in God rejecting us and allowing us to live or die by our own choices.
After all that God has done, and all that Jesus suffered, and every plan of God that was laid down and brought to pass for your salvation, don’t you think it only reasonable that God would expect, and demand, that you give all that you are to him willingly to be able to qualify for the price that Heaven paid?
Well, never forget this – even though you give it all to God, and I mean give everything that you are, or ever shall be, to him; it’s never enough to “qualify for anything” from the Lord. It’s only because of God’s mercy and grace that God chooses to accept our “reasonable service” back to him for what he has done.
What does God demand of his children? Nothing less than everything; and you can’t give God everything without giving him the body in which you dwell so that he can make you into his temple, or his dwelling place in your life, for whatever time you are given to live upon this earth.
You can’t give God your heart; you can’t give God your mind; you can’t give him your obedience; in fact, you can’t give God any part of you without giving him your body and then forcing your body to behave, to dress, to act, to talk, to walk, to work, to pray, to think, or to do anything else that all must be done through your body. If you can think of any way to give God obedient service in your life on this planet, without giving him your body, I’d like to hear it!
By your own choices, in order to give all that you are in service to the Lord while you are on this earth, you must force your body to conform to the will of God and live in the ways of Holiness, sanctifying and purifying every part of your life, every day of your life.
You must present your body as a living sacrifice, laying yourself upon the altar of God as a “Thank You Gift” to your Heavenly Father for giving you the gift of Eternal Life. That’s what God expects and demands of each of us who say that we love him. Our body must be given to God freely, and without reservation, as our love gift to him, to allow him to make us into the image of himself, perfect in every way.
That’s not a bad trade. We get to escape eternity in the Lake of Fire; to allow a loving Heavenly Father to make us like himself, and then inherit the beauty of wonder of Heaven forever! Why, that’s a no-brainer to me! Here I am Lord – all of me – take me and make me what you want me to be! If I can give myself to someone on this earth that I love; how much more should I be able to give myself to my Heavenly Father!
That’s what God says is reasonable for you to do, and because God says it’s reasonable, he also makes it possible to attain. If you could not do what God says is reasonable, then it wouldn’t be reasonable.
It’s certainly not easy; and sometimes seems impossible; but it only seems that way because we are ever allowing our own heart and desires to get in the way. The good thing is that if we choose to put down on the flesh, and set aside our own desires, then the Holy Ghost in us will help us to conform to the image that God says is reasonable.
There’s no excuse for failure! There’s no acceptable reason for giving up! We have no choice but to fight the good fight to become more like Jesus, or we will simply fall back into our rebellious state of sin and lose our relationship with God becoming more like the devil and deserving of eternal punishment once again.
Romans 12:2 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.
This is the flip side of the coin in this teaching of Paul. Not only are we to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord, but we are not to allow ourselves to be conformed into the image of Satan, and of the sinful ways of this world.
This is not easy either, but by the power of the Holy Ghost in us and through obedience to the Word of the Lord in doing what we just talked about, it is possible because God will make a way and be there every step of the way to show us the right way!
This means that you can’t look like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, or even think you can appear like the world one minute and then like Jesus the next.
It requires absolute integrity in your walk with the Lord!
What you are on Sunday at church, you must be on Monday at work. How you talk when you pray to God on Sunday, must be the way to you talk to your neighbor on Saturday. The way you dress, the things you eat or drink, the places you go, the conversation you have, the very thoughts of your mind, should not conform to the world but should conform to the image and nature of your Holy Father in Heaven.
• If you can’t feel comfortable saying what you say in the presence of your friends or co-workers, or even to one another, in the presence of the Preacher, or even more important, knowing that God is listening and recording it, then you need integrity, and you need to conform to God’s image more!
• If you can’t dress the way you dress and walk into the church on Sunday morning without feeling ashamed, then you need integrity in your dressing habits and repentance for the sin in your heart.
• If you can’t eat or drink what you do on Friday and Saturday when you’re in the Fellowship Hall in front of everybody in the church without hiding in a corner so no one what see what you’re doing, then you need integrity, and more repentance for sin in your life.
• If you wouldn’t want to invite me over to watch the same movies you watch every night of the week in your own home, then remember, Jesus is watching all the time. You need to repent and get more integrity.
• If you can’t back up everything you say, and show facts to prove your statements true, then you need integrity; and you need to repent for lying or stretching the truth.
• If you can’t be what you claim to be, all of the time, and in every circumstance, under all conditions, before every person you meet, no matter where you are, then you need integrity. It’s time to get conformed to the image of Christ and unconfirmed to the image of that you have created for yourself as a sinner without integrity.
• If you can’t be transparent, open and honest in all of your business dealings with your fellowman, whether it’s with a Christian brother, or a worldly man; and if you can’t be honest in every word and deed included on the contracts you agree to; then you lack integrity and there’s secret sin somewhere that needs repentance.
There’s a word for all of this that I’ve just talked about! If you find yourself conforming to anything that I’ve listed, and believe me, this is a short list that could be expanded to cover so much more in life, then you have to take on the meaning of the word, “HYPOCRITE”! Guess where hypocrites go? If effect, it’s called lying, and liars have no place in Heaven! You don’t have to say a word to be a liar. Sometimes just our actions are lies enough.
Integrity, truthfulness, absolute honesty in all things is a must. If you don’t have it, then start getting it. You have to make that choice. I certainly can’t picture Jesus acting without integrity in all things.
Conforming to the image of Christ in your life is to be the central focus of everything in your life until the day you leave this world. Anything less is sin! I can’t say it more plainly than that!
You must come out from among the world in every way possible and force yourself to conform to the image of Christ! Again, there are no reasonable excuses; and there are no exceptions to God’s demands; we are all commanded by God’s own Word to not conform to the world but to be changed into the reflection of Jesus through our bodies and all that we do.
Where does this conformation begin? It all starts in your mind, the way you think! Every sin begins in the mind as we think upon that which we want that is not in God’s will for our lives. Every temptation begins in the mind. But the Bible tells us also that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Whatever you think about, you will become. Whatever occupies your thoughts throughout the day will become who you are very quickly. You cannot think one way and live another!
That’s why it’s so important to put on that Helmet of Salvation, that through doing all that you can to walk worthy of the great salvation that Christ has given, you may guard your mind against thinking like the world. If you think like the world, you’ll be conformed to the world. It’s as simple as that!
That’s why the Bible tells us to think on those things that are good, that are holy, that are righteous, that are pure; that have virtue and speak peace to our hearts.
The final word that I want to say about this is, “You will become, and you will conform, to whatever image you put into your mind! You will become what you think about!
You will conform to whatever enters your eyes and your ears, so be careful of what you look upon, what your brain feeds upon, and the things that you hear. What’s your life going to be tomorrow? It’s what you’re thinking about today!