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Thursday, September 21st, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Romans 12

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-21

Chapter 12

I beseech you therefore, brethren ( Romans 12:1 ),

Because God has grafted you in, because you are partaking of the fullness of that good tree. I beseech thee, because of these things,

that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service ( Romans 12:1 ).

God does not and has not made demands upon us. The gospel is reasonable. God said, "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord" ( Isaiah 1:18 ).

Now, of course, existential philosophy having brought us to the point of despair encourages none reason religious experiences, because reality is despairing. If you face facts realistically, you're going to be just despairing. There's no help. There's no hope. It's all down the tubes. That is reality. If you don't realize that, then you are not facing reality. If you still think the U.N. is going to pull us out of this mess, or that the republicans are going to pull us out of the economic mess, or the democrats, if they can get in they will have the solutions, you're not being realistic. Existential philosophy has taught us that realism is despair. There is no hope is what they are saying. No hope. But man can't live in a state of no hope. You've got to have hope. And thus, you've got to take a leap of faith into what they call the upper story, into a non-reason religious experience. You've got to go into that world of unreality and have some kind of religious experience that will sustain you and help you. And, of course, we see and, of course, the papers are always ready to give a lot of publicity to these non-reasoned religious cults. In Laguna Canyon in their meditations how they found serenity, and peace, acceptance, beauty, love, baras, you know, tingling feelings, non-reasoned religious experiences. "I can't tell you why I feel that way. I just feel that way." Non-reasoned religious experience.

Now, that isn't what the Bible teaches. The Bibles teaches reasonable relationship. "Come now let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they can be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they can be as white as wool" ( Isaiah 1:18 ). "Present your body as a living sacrifice, unto God, which is your reasonable service." When you really stop to think of it, it is reasonable to present my body to God, because as we dealt with the eleventh chapter this morning in detail, verse Rom 12:33 , the wisdom and the knowledge of God, "the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God." It's reasonable if God is so wise and knows so much, it's reasonable to present my body, my life to Him that He might guide and direct me. It is unreasonable for me to try and go ahead and continue to try and figure out things and to work out my own life and to work out my own plan, and I am so stupid. The reasonable thing, the rational thing, the smart thing is to just turn my life and decision-making factors of my life over to God that He might direct my life, and thus, presenting my body unto God as a living sacrifice, that's reasonable, that's smart, that's just good thinking, and anything less is unreasonable. You're not thinking well. You're confused.

Don't be conformed to this world, and yet, that is exactly what the world is pressing for, and that is exactly what peer pressure is pressing towards. "You don't want to be different. Try it. Everybody's doing it." The peer pressure to conform to the world. And we're getting it in magazines, we're getting it on television that if you don't conform to the fruity standards of the world that there is something wrong with you. They would like to make fruits out of all of us.

Don't be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is the good, the acceptable and perfect will of God ( Romans 12:2 ).

How can I know God's will for my life? I can know God's will for my life as I just surrender my life to Him, as I yield my body to God and as I seek after God, God will reveal His will through my life. My life will become a progressive revelation of the will of God for me. Thus, I presented my life to God, I presented the issues of my life to God, I've committed myself to Him, seeking not to have any strong will of my own or allow some strong desire to master me, just to flow free in God's Spirit, accepting what comes as coming from God, because I've asked God to bring into my life those things that He wants. Accepting those things that pass away as not from God, because I've asked God to take away from my life those things He doesn't want. So I don't sit there and weep over lost opportunities. "Oh, if I'd only done this. Oh, if I only had that." If God wanted me to do it, He would have led me to do it. If He wanted me to have it, I would have had it, you see. So it is that commitment of myself to God, and as I do then God's will becomes a progressive revelation. So I know what God's will is for my life today, and I will know tomorrow what His will is as He reveals it to me as I walk with Him. Sort of exciting to live that way. You never know what a day is going to bring forth as God unfolds His will, His purpose for our lives.

For I say, through the grace that is given unto me, to every man that is among you, he ought not to think of himself more highly than he ought; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith ( Romans 12:3 ).

God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. What do you do with it? We can exercise the faith. We can use the faith that God has given to us, or we can just let it die. But God has given to every man a measure of faith. A person says, "Well, I just don't have any faith." That is not true. I've not yet met a person that didn't have faith. If you didn't have faith, you wouldn't lie down on that bed tonight. You'd be afraid that it was going to fall through. Faith is going to hold you up so you can lie down. If you didn't have faith, you wouldn't try to start your car, because you wouldn't have faith that the thing was going to start when you turned the ignition key. We exercise faith in a lot of things, not always the right things.

Now as he deals with the subjects of the gifts of God, he begins by warning us of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, and that is one of the greatest dangers that I see of men who have been gifted of God--they get into a little ivory tower and they begin to think that they are really something, and they begin to seek adulation, admiration, bucks for my gift, you know. How many have prostituted the works and the gifts of God in their lives trying to use it for their own personal enrichment or glory. I have a deal with God. If ever I start to do that, He is to wipe me out immediately. God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ by which I was crucified to the world and the world to me. But there is a prevalent danger to any person who experiences the working of God's Holy Spirit through their lives to become lifted up by those around them because of what God has done. And the moment you begin to be lifted up, your effectiveness for God's kingdom diminishes.

Now people say, "Oh, there are still multitudes being saved." But you know. If I'm giving my body to be burned and it isn't the love of Christ that is motivating me, but the love for riches or glory or whatever, then it profits me nothing. For many will come in a day saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? We cast out devils in your name. We healed the sick. We did many marvelous works." And He'll say, "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you." Their motivations got all twisted up. They began to do things for their own glory and to seek their own honor and their own name.

The Bible warns about those who name things after themselves, sort of a dangerous thing not for any man to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but think soberly. Come on, let's be serious. You're nothing but a sinner saved by grace. And anything you have God gave to you to begin with, so why are you going around as though you are something? For God has dealt to every man a measure of faith.

For as we have many members in one body ( Romans 12:4 ),

That is, I have fingers and hands and toes and eyes and ears and I used to have hair. Stupid perversity. I have it all over my back, but I can't grow it on the top of my head. It's weird!

We have many members, yet we're all one body.

and all members do not have the same function ( Romans 12:4 ):

My eyes were made to function as eyes, and they function well as eyes, but they sure don't function well as ears. I can't hear very well through my eyes, and visa versa. So the body has many members, and each member has its own function in the body. Not all of them are doing the same thing. Not all of them are created to do the same thing.

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another ( Romans 12:5 ).

So we are all put together in the body of Christ, and each of us have our own function in the body. And he's not just talking about us here at Calvary tonight, we're the body of Christ. We each have our function in the body. He's talking about Calvary Chapel being a part of the body of Christ general. The other churches, the other denominations, we're all a part of the body of Christ and members one of another, and we shouldn't be vying with each another. We shouldn't be biting and devouring and destroying one another. We need to identify the enemy and concentrate our efforts against him, but realize that we are one body, members one of another and that God has a purpose of the Presbyterian churches and the Methodist churches and the Baptist churches, and the Nazarenes and the Pentecostals, and not find ourselves in conflict or trying to find what's wrong with them. Let's find out what's wrong with us and seek to correct what is wrong with us. The Bible says, "Therefore, let a man examine himself, for if we will judge ourselves we will not be judged of God." And sometimes we find ourselves in the mood, so busy trying to examine the flaws and the faults of someone else, we totally ignore our own. David said, "Search me, O God," not, "Search the guy next to me, O God, and show him his faults." But, "Search me, O God, and know my heart, and try, O Lord, and see if there is some way of wickedness in me and lead me in Your path."

It is a personal individual thing, and something we should all be quite interested in that God would do His work in our hearts. But we are members one of another, and it is true in this sense, we are here, yes, corporately the body of Christ, and not all of us have the same office. We need to realize that God has called some as pastor teachers. God has called some as deacons. God has called some as intercessors. God has called some to street evangelism and these various things, but don't feel that God has called everyone to say street evangelism and thus feel guilty because you can't do street evangelism. "Oh, I get so scared, so nervous. Oh, I can't stand going up handing someone a track." Obviously, God didn't call you to hand out tracks. So don't feel condemned and guilty and a second-rate Christian and defeated because I get so scared to hand out a track. "Oh, I'm failing God." No you're not. If He called you to hand out tracks, He'd give you all kinds of boldness, love, and a burden and everything else for that. Just talk to the people that hand out tracks. They love it! God's called them to that, but we're not all called to be the same thing and we need to recognize that. And quite these guilt feelings, because I'm not called to the same ministry that you have, and I'd sure like to do the ministry that you're doing. "I wish I could do that. Oh, if I could only do that I wouldn't feel so guilty, because I can't do it." God didn't enable me or call me to do it. He didn't make me a finger, thus, I can't do the work of the finger. But I may admire the work of the finger or the thumb. I may wish I could put things together like he does. God called me to be a mouth, but be thankful we're not all mouths.

So we each take our place in the body and fill our part, do our part, realizing though that it is one body to be coordinated by the Spirit, walking in love, demonstrating Christ to the world because of our love for each other and our united efforts with one another for Jesus Christ, each of us taking our place doing our part. And we give a powerful witness then to the world as they see how harmoniously we live and function together as God's children, and Christ is magnified among us.

So we, being many, are still one body in Christ, we're all a part of each other, you can't escape it.

Having then gifts that are differing according to the grace that is given unto us, if its prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith ( Romans 12:6 );

Prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God.

Ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching ( Romans 12:7 );

That is to wait upon it, fulfill it, study it, prepare for it; waiting upon it.

He that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; and he that rules, with diligence; and he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness ( Romans 12:8 ).

Now this is the area where we will be Thursday night, so we're not going to elaborate on this area right now, because we'll get that Thursday night.

Let love be [without hypocrisy] without dissimulation ( Romans 12:9 ).

Dissimulation is an imitation. Diamond Jim used to be on a station out of Del Rio, Texas. He used to offer genuine simulated diamonds. And all of the people down south used to send in to get their five-dollar genuine simulated diamond from Diamond Jim. Let love be without imitations, without hypocrisy, not a put-on, but let it be genuine.

Now he gives us just a whole bunch of little exhortations. They're just little phrase exhortations, and each one is almost a sermon in itself, so let's just go over the list and let it sort of sink in.

Abhor that which is evil ( Romans 12:9 );

One of the things that God said concerning Job is that he hates evil. He said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? He fears God and hates evil." The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, so abhor that which is evil. He didn't say tolerate that which is evil, or accept that which is evil, live with that which is evil-abhor it!

cleave [stick] to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another ( Romans 12:9-10 );

I think this is one that we really . . . well, I will when I get there on Thursday night I'm going to really lay into this one. There is so much me first; pushing my way to the front, wanting to get the best.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer ( Romans 12:11-12 );

Not the last thing, but the first thing. Learn to pray about everything first.

Distributing to the necessity of saints ( Romans 12:13 );

Taking care of the needs within the body of Christ, and we do seek to do that here at Calvary. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to take care of those outside the body. And so people come for help, and of them which are members and attend here, we seek to help them. If they are not, then we sadly tell them that we just don't have the resources to help those outside. But distributing to the necessity of the saints, we do feel that that is an obligation.

given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. ( Romans 12:13-15 ).

Be sensitive to other people's feelings.

Be of the same mind one toward another. And mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits ( Romans 12:16 ).

All of these are pithy little words of exhortation. I imagine Romaine could have a field day with this portion of scripture, because it's all good exhortation. He that exhorteth needs to wait upon his exhortation.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things that are honest in the sight of all men ( Romans 12:17 ).

Honesty, not taking vengeance.

And if it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men ( Romans 12:18 ).

Now, it isn't always possible. There are some people there is just no way you can live in peace with them. But let it be their fault not yours, as much as lies in you live peaceably with all men.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; and I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head ( Romans 12:19-20 ).

This is a quotation actually out of the Proverbs, and just exactly what it may mean has been a matter of conjecture, but it probably means that you would bring him to burning shame. In other words, your good treatment, your kind and loving treatment would bring him to a burning shame.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good ( Romans 12:21 ).

So great exhortation and that is . . .

We talk about meditation. Now if you want meditation, you need to come back to these, beginning with verse Romans 12:9 , and you need to spend time meditating on each of these and see how it can apply to your own life. Read it over and think about it, and think of how it is operating in your life right now and how you can better do these things, how you can make it apply more completely to you, in what ways you can do these things. But these are things that we need to really be following after and seeking to do in order that we might live a life that is pleasing unto our Father. So that particular portion can stand a lot of meditation, and I encourage you, meditate on these things.

"Thy word, O Lord, is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," David declared. I find that the Word of God is many times like a searchlight turned on inside, lighting up some of those dark corners. So many times I find the Word of God speaking directly to my heart as the Spirit makes application and shows me my failings, my weaknesses, and exhorts me in the right path. And thus, may the Word of God work in your heart and life, drawing you ever closer unto the divine ideal, that which God would have you to be as you walk with Jesus Christ.

May the Lord bless you and be with you this week, and may He strengthen you in your walk that you might bring forth fruit unto righteousness and for the glory of His name. And may you be doers of the Word and not hearers only. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Romans 12". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/romans-12.html. 2014.
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