Summary: What is a reasonable response to God who did not spare his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all? Romans 12-16 tell us!
In View of God’s Mercy
Romans reaches a climax at the end of Paul’s theology section.
Chapters 1-11 are a systematic look at Christian theology.
Chapters 12-16 will be a systematic look at Christian living.
Someone has said, Christian theology is grace and Christian ethics is gratitude. Well put! Romans 12 begins by showing that the Christian life has God’s mercy as its foundation (the grace of God) and living sacrifices as its structure (obedient faith).
Under the old covenant sacrifices secured mercy, under the new, the mercy of God secures our sacrifices.
We live in view of God’s mercy. All of our faith and all of our lives are transformed by this newness. God has loved us and shown his mercy by giving Jesus to die on the cross in our place. God’s mercy is seen! The cross still stands before us! Our songs, our prayers, our communion, our preaching, our giving, all our worship to him reflects upon the mercy of God seen in Jesus Christ, the Son. After what he has done for me... what he is still doing for me... what else can I do but give my life to him!
Because of his mercy my whole life is now a worship to him.
The world in its blindness and sin still blames God... still blames others... still centers on itself. The whole pattern of the world is to look out for self! I did it my way! Nobody tells me what to do! Look at what I did! See what I have accomplished! I, I, Me, My... the universe revolves around what I want and I need. At least in my worldly mind! God says get a new mind! One that puts self on the alter. One that recognizes the wretched condition of selfish sin. One that embraces the death of self through the cross of Jesus. A new mind that seeks the will of God. A new mind that gives up this life for the eternal glorious life of Jesus. A new mind that tests and approves things according to what pleases God.
In view of his mercy! Let us be living sacrifices!
What do living sacrifices look like?
We have seen in chapters 1-3 what selfishness and sin looks like. It refuses to give thanks and glory to God. It turns created things into its gods, and worships and serves things instead of God. It makes us pursue fleshly pleasures at the expense of what we were made for. We become so dead to truth and our purpose we even corrupt God’s laws by trying to make ourselves righteous by keeping them. So instead of trusting God, we end up trusting only self.
Sin corrupts the whole fabric of nature and humanity. Spiritual death is the result.
We have seen in chapters 4-11 what God’s mercy looks like. While we were still sinners Christ died for us, while we were enemies of God, he showed his love for us in that Christ died for us. While we were powerless, unable to do a thing to please God, he sent Jesus to die and pay for our sins.
We have seen how God imparts his own righteousness to us. We hear the message of Christ, we trust God and turn from sin and embrace the gospel of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus by being baptized into his death and being raised to a new live like he was raised. God in grace frees us from sin, frees us the curse of the law, and indwells us by his Holy Spirit.
God, who can harden the unbeliever’s heart or have mercy on the one who trusts him has given you his mercy! We are saved by faith and must not forget our place and become arrogant or unbelieving.
So... I see what God’s mercy looks like, in view of that... now what do living sacrifices look like?
Lets read Romans 12 (read text)
One thing that is immediately obvious here is that we have moved into some highly practical material. What this tells us hits us right where we live. Just as chapters 1-11 center on how we related to God, 12-16 center on how we relate to others. In fact, the test to see whether you accepted and embraced chapters 1-11 comes by whether you practice 12-16! But looking at just chapter 12…
Verses 3-13 focus on our relationships with the church, and verses 14-21 focus on how to relate even to enemies. I would assume that these enemies would not be in the church. But hey! Whatever!
I want to spend some time looking at what he says about the church as a body. That analogy is used over and over in the scriptures. I think we need to study it afresh and determine to apply it to ourselves here in this church. When the church is described as a body, we see ourselves as belonging to each other in a unique way.