Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Romans 12

November 6th, 2011 by Vic

November 6, 2011

“How to do One Another”

Romans 12

 

Over 20 times in the NT you will find the phrase “one another”.  Jesus did not tell us how to organize a church, but He told us how to do one another.  Church is not something we go to, but a way of living in relationship with God and one another.

 

Relationships began at creation.  The foundation for quality relationships is honoring God, then giving thanks for who we are and how He has gifted us.  This precipitates a renewing of our mind and gives us a sincere love for one another in quality relationships.

 

Satan tempts us to leave God out of our lives.  But if we do not build our self-image on the foundation of the fear of the Lord, reality becomes less and less clear.  Our society tells us we are important if we are pretty or handsome.  It ignores our Creator.  Our society tells us we are important if we have a job.  Our society tells us we are important if we are popular.  But the Bible says you are valuable because of what you have received from God.  You are important because you are God’s child and He has graced you.  You are important because of what He has given you when you were born and when you were born again as a Christian.  You are really what you are in God’s eyes and nothing more or less.  Can you imagine how many counselors would be unemployed if we really understood that?

12:1‑3.  In the first 11 chapters Paul has explained the doctrines of sin, justification and sanctification and he has redefined the people of God.  After explaining everything that God has done for us, Paul pointed out that the majority of the Jews did not believe God would let His Son be crucified.  Christ was the foundation stone that the builders rejected and stumbled over.  God used that rejection of the Jews to demonstrate His great mercy that embraces all Jews as well as Gentiles (11:30-32).  God’s mercy has been shown to us all.

 

“Therefore” Paul says, “on the basis of everything I’ve just mentioned to you, I urge you brothers to honor God.”  Paul does not try to motivate us with his scholarship or position as an apostle to the Gentiles.  He does not try to motivate us by explaining all the consequences of the alternatives.

 

“God’s mercy” is the foundation on which Paul is trying to motivate us.  God has demonstrated His mercy to believers and unbelievers.  The Christian life is built on the mercy of God.  (1 Peter 1:3)  Before you can be alive in Christ you must respond to the mercy of God.

 

A good grounding is required for most power systems to function properly.  Are your lights on?  Mercy is the foundation for Christian living.  Do you have a good ground?

 

In view of God’s mercy offer your bodies to God.  Not just for a moment and not just your hands or your voice, but all of you.  Just as in the past you presented the members of your body to do disgraceful and sinful things, now commit your body to be used for good only, to see good only, to speak good only, to hear good only, to smell good only, to walk in good only, to sit in good only, to lie in good places only.  Give yourself continually and totally to God.  It is your key to abundant living.

 

“Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice”.  The priests offered dead animals; you can offer a living life daily.  What does it mean to be a living sacrifice?  It means to live without rights.

 

Have you ever considered giving up your rights to God?  Do you think you have a right to be understood?  Do you have a right to be heard?  Do you have a right to life?  Do you have a right to your things?  Do you have a right to just treatment?  Do you have a right to privacy?  Do you have a right to be served?  Do you have a right to legal council?  Do you have a right to social security?  Do you have a right to relax a couple hours a night and watch football?  What are inalienable rights?  You have no rights without a relationship.  The only rights I have, have been given to me by others in my relationship with others.

 

What does it mean to be holy and acceptable?  It means to be pure in heart.

 

Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.  You are to be holy and acceptable.  The world is neither holy nor acceptable to God.  You are not of this world.  Your community relationships are not marked by animal sacrifice or secret rituals, but by a holy way of life.

 

It is a “spiritual worship”.  It is a reasonable worship.  It is the kind of worship that no other created beast can offer.  It is the proper expression of our humanness.  Worship is good for you.

 

12:2  “Do not continue to conform to this age.”   You are a child of God, quit looking like the world.  Stop putting so much emphasis on this world, its mannerisms, fads, styles, speech, etc.  You cannot radiate Christ when you wear the mask of the world.  The word conformed συσχηματιζεσθε (with scheme) means an act of assuming an outward expression that is not representative of the heart or nature.  It has the root idea of scheme in it, the scheme of things.  Satan walks on earth conformed as an angel of light.  Jesus was conformed to the image of man.  When you are scheming you are trying to mask something.

 

“But be transformed”   This μεταμoρφoυσθε (change form) is the act of a person changing his outward expression to one that is representative of his inner being.  The transfiguration of Jesus was the one time in His life on earth when His outward appearance reflected His inner nature.  He allowed His purity to shine through His earthly body.  He was transformed.  A caterpillar is transformed when it becomes the butterfly that nature requires.

 

A transformation requires the renewing of our mind.  Christians should have a different worldview.  The renewing of your mind is more than an emotional change.  When Jesus forgives you of your sin, the Spirit begins a work inside you to make a radical paradigm shift.  He makes all things new.  He helps you recognize the will of God.

 

The will of God cannot be reduced to a set of rules and regulations.  God’s will is that we live out our lives to honor Him, give thanks, and love one another.

 

In verses 1‑2 we have been told how to honor God in the routines of life.  Now in verses 3-8 we are told who we are and why we are special.  We have so much to be thankful for.

 

12:3-8  The phrase, “Through the grace which has been given to me, to all who are among you” gives us Paul’s reason for writing as a good steward of the grace he had received.

 

“Do not be high‑minded above that which you ought to be minded, but be so minded as to be sober‑minded.”  The word play in the Greek is obvious.  Our English translations prefer synonyms.

 

Paul says each of us has received a measure of faith.  (Verse 6 says we have all received grace.)  The word measure μετρov is used 11 times in the NT.  It suggests a standard for determining an amount.  We get our word metronome from this word.  This measure of faith is a definite amount determined by God.  It is not too much nor is it too little.  It is a full measure.

 

Each of us is given a different measure totally unrelated to our efforts.  It is a gift from God given to Christians when they are born again.  Each Christian has received a measure of faith.

 

Our measure of faith is the standard by which we are to think of ourselves.  This gift that God has given us determines how highly we think of ourselves.  So how high ought I to think?  Only think highly of God’s grace.  By God’s grace you have received some abilities from God not so you could think highly of yourself, but so that you could thank God and be gracious to others.

 

Just as our measure of faith prevents a fat head, it also prevents a door mat philosophy that says, “woe is me. I’m not worth anything.”  What you have, God gave you.  Don’t criticize God.  Give God thanks for who you are and what you have.  In everything give thanks.

 

12:4‑5  God did not make anyone just like you.  There is unity in diversity; there is purpose in diversity.  There is life in diversity; there is strength in diversity.  We are all different because of the measure of faith we have received, but we are all united in the love of Christ.

 

Three times in the NT Paul used the body analogy and all three times he spoke in terms of χαρισματα the result of God’s grace or gifts of ministry.  For Paul the body of Christ is by definition a biblically charismatic community.  The local Church functions as the body of Christ when its members allow the grace of God to be expressed in various ways through them.

 

Charismata or the results of God’s grace or the gifts of ministry are not a label of status or office, but a plan for dispensing God’s grace.  The emphasis is on allowing God to express Himself through us.  The emphasis is on using your gift to build one another.  According to Paul here, all Christians are charismatic.  The church is a charismatic community.  It is not dependent on one or two gifted individuals, but is dependent upon the mutual edification and interdependent living interplay of God’s grace in its various forms.

 

12:6  We do not have the results of grace or gifts in the sense of possessions, but we have been given grace for the good of the body of Christ.  Gifts are functions not characteristics.

 

Since God made us different, I can only do as much as my measure of faith/grace allows.

 

12:7-8  If your grace is service, be the best servant you can.  If your grace is teaching, be the best teacher you can.  Our culture needs more encouragers – people who look for opportunities to encourage the sick, wounded, depressed, etc.

 

Mercy can be defined as giving a second chance.  Our culture is very unmerciful.  We pride ourselves on justice rather than mercy.  We feel it is OK to ‘get even’.  That person who wronged me needs to learn a lesson.

 

Generosity can reflect simplicity in compassion for others.  Leadership requires diligence.

 

Remember Paul has used 11 chapters in Romans to explain the theology of Christianity.  In 12:1-2 he said honor and worship God.  In 12:3-8 he said give thanks for who you are in God’s eyes.  Now in 12:9-21 he says love one another.

 

12:9  Let your love be sincere, genuine, and without hypocrisy.  Examine your motives.  Why do you do a good deed?

 

Trouble erupts because people get offended when they think their rights have been violated.  The insistence on rights rather than responsibilities is fertile ground for evil.  But when sincere love is present and each one is thankful for the grace he has received to help others and thankful for the grace that others have received on his behalf then love grows.

 

We must hate evil and always be shocked by sin.  Once evil is hated rather than treated with courteous civility, and good is firmly embraced rather than merely wished for, then casual Christianity evaporates and we will not lag in diligence, but be fervent in spirit.

 

12:10  The love between children and children, parents and children, and the extended family is all inferred here.  There are 2 different words for love in this verse:  ‘philadelpia’ and ‘philostorgoi’.  The first is brotherly love and the second is the love between parent and child.  There is a mutual respect in both of these terms.

 

12:11  Paul gives three general exhortations that concern motivation:  not negligent in eagerness, aglow with the Spirit, and serving the Lord.  The last phrase ‘serving the Lord’ is also translated ‘seize the opportunity’ because the Greek is unclear.  This is one place where shorthand was used.  The word time (kairos) and the word lord (kurios) can both be abbreviated with the 3 letters ‘krs.  When the phrase is unclear it probably was meant to carry both meanings.

 

12:12  Three more general commands look to God:  rejoice in hope, stand your ground in affliction, and persist in prayer.  There is no hopeless Christian.

 

12:13  Look for ways to help other believers without pretence.  Hospitality was highly regarded in ancient society.  They did not have a Motel 6 so Christians had an open heart and home.

 

12:14  Bless those who persecute you.  Call on God to favor the other person.  Refuse to retaliate.  Persecution, threats, and acts of malice will occur to Christians.  Christ gave us an example of sincere love.

 

12:15  It’s probably harder to rejoice with those who rejoice.  A deeper friendship begins after we have cried together and rejoiced together.

 

12:16  Think the same as your brother.  Do not cherish proud thoughts.  Enjoy making friends with the lowly.  Don’t be wise in your own eyes.  Take into consideration what is noble and respectable in your culture.

 

12:17  Repay no one evil for evil.  Vengeance may break his spirit, but kindness will break his heart.  Evil must be punished, but you are not the punisher.

 

12:18  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

 

12:19  Don’t take revenge.  Vengeance hurts you and God does not need your help.  Vengeance destroys the good it is meant to defend.  The only weapon that we have is love, a positive act of good.

 

12:20  Respond positively to hostility.  Meet the enemy with kindness.

 

12:21  Persistently overcome the bad with the good.  Evil is never conquered by evil.

 

The bottom line: honor God, give thanks, love one another.

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