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1. “Therefore I exhort you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service.” In view of God’s stupendous mercies evoking the above exclamations of wonder and triumph, he now exhorts all the brethren, both Jews and Gentiles, to consecrate their bodies to God, a living sacrifice, in contradistinction to the dead sacrifice which the sinner offers to God, subject to the quickening power of the Holy Ghost. It was well understood by every Jew that the sacrifice was holy from the time it came in contact with the altar. Hence, everything we commit to God is sanctified by virtue of His holiness normally imparted to it. This sanctification is not an extraordinary state of grace, but the normal, legitimate and “reasonable service” of God’s children.
2. “Be not fashioned after this age.” We are living in Satan’s dark, wicked age of the world. If we follow its foolish and vivacious fashions we go headlong to ruin. “But be ye transformed by the renewing of the mind.” All sinners have the carnal mind only; sanctified people the mind of Christ only; while the unsanctified Christians are all “double-minded” (James 1:4;
4:8), having the mind of Christ and the carnal mind in a state of irreconcilable conflict, the one or the other destined to perish. “In order that you prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” When the glorious transformation above specified takes place, and you are wholly sanctified, you become a living exemplar of the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God,” illustrated to light up the world. The injunction to consecrate our bodies to God has a beautiful significance, from the fact that the heart or spirit fills the whole body, making every member glorify God. Hence, when the entire body with all its members, physical and mental, is consecrated to God, it is demonstrative proof that the immortal soul is fully given up to Him for time and eternity. This chapter is beautifully and lucidly expository of the sanctified experience throughout. “For I say through the grace which is given to me to every one who is among you, not to think above that which it behooveth him to think, but to think soberly, as God has imparted unto each one the measure of faith” Humility is the primary Christian grace, outshining all others. It keeps you down on the Lord’s bottom at the feet of Jesus, whence you never can fall unless you imbibe some pride from Satan and go climbing. Then you can fall and break your neck. The perfect humility involved in the sanctified experience precludes all pride, its inimical and incompatible antithesis. We see here that faith is the grand Archimedian lever of spiritual power in every phase of heroic enterprise and gracious availability.
4. “For as we have many members in one body, and all have not the same office,
5. “So also we being many are one body in Christ and members one of another,
6. “And having gifts differing according to the grace given to us: whether prophecy, according to the proportion of faith.” Precisely as the corporeal members, actuated by five hundred muscles and a thousand nerves, all have a diversity of office and work, equally dependent upon one another, and all equally important and honorable in the human organism, so every member of God’s kingdom in all the earth has a grand, glorious and important office to fill in the gracious economy, all equally honorable and remunerative in the sight of God. You can not fill my place, and it is equally true that I can not fill yours. There is no room for us to envy another, as we all have enough to do in our appointed sphere, while the angels look down with sympathy and admiration, and God is ready to say, “Well done,” and place upon our brow a never fading crown if we will only be true. We see here that our availability as a soldier of Christ is in direct proportion to our faith. As doubt vitiates faith, we should constantly hold up the glittering two- edged sword, ready to slay every one that comes skulking around in order that our faith may be made perfect, i. e., free from doubt. Then we should constantly pray, Lord, increase our faith. When your garden is perfectly clean, it is in good fix to grow with paradoxical rapidity.
7. “Whether the deaconate, in the deaconate.” In the constitution of the visible church, the deacon has charge of all the temporal interests, including ministerial support, care of the sanctuary and everything else, while at the same time he preaches and witnesses for God. Those who “stay by the stuff” receive just as much as those who go to the war. “Whether he that teacheth, in teaching.” The church is the school of Christ, where all the members are taught the Word of the Lord. God always raises up competent teachers for His people, that they may not be ignorant, but proficient in His blessed Word. At this point you can always see the line between the true and the fallen church, as you can not teach dead people. The popular churches of the present day have lost every trace of the didactic peculiarity of God’s church, so eminent and conspicuous in the apostolic age. An old ex-missionary from Bishop Taylor’s work in India told me that the heathen Hindus are better posted in the Scripture than the Christians in America, because they attend the Bible schools, which are constantly conducted seven days in the week in heathen lands. What an awful delinquency in the home church now rapidly heathenizing our own people!
8. “Or he that exhorteth, in exhortation.” “The church was multiplied exceedingly by the exhortation of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:31). Hence we see that the red-hot exhortation rung out by the rank and file of the membership, baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, is the very thing in the divine order, to convict, convert and sanctify the people, thus multiplying the membership of the church, while teaching them the Word of God is the means of their progressive edification. “He that giveth, with a single eye,” i. e., having nothing in view but the glory of God in making his contribution. All this surreptitious carnal policy through stratagem, fandangos and human trickery, appealing to pride, vanity and lust, so prevalent in the churches, in order to raise money to keep up their finances, is an abomination in the sight of God, grieving away the Holy Spirit and plunging the church into apostasy and damnation. It actually scandalizes God in the estimation of the wicked world, as if He were poor and hard pressed for money, depending on the liberality of the devil’s people to support His church, which is all an infamous lie. He says, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the cattle upon a thousand hills are mine.” “He that standeth before the people, with expedition.” A slow leader quickly slows down and ruins anything that he leads. In this way prayer meetings and Sunday-schools and all sorts of religious services are constantly and everywhere undergoing torture and homicide. By all means have a live, wide awake, expeditious leader in everything. Put in a laggard, and he holds all the balance back till he slows the thing to death. “He that showeth mercy, with laughter.” “For God loves a laughing giver” (1 Corinthians 9:7). If you can not give to God with a heart so cheerful that you laugh over the privilege of making your contribution, whether for the ministry, the poor or the heathens, God does not want your poor, stingy offering, for He has millions of ravens ready to fly on missions of love and mercy.
9. “Let divine love be free from hypocrisy.” In regeneration the Holy Ghost pours this divine love out into your heart (Ch. 5:5). In sanctification the last and least vestige of hypocrisy is eradicated and utterly destroyed, so that your divine love is then free from hypocrisy. “Abhorring that which is evil, cleaving unto that which is good.” You are not simply to turn away from everything that is wrong, but actually abhor it in the depth of your soul. You are not simply to pursue everything good, but to cling to it with the pertinacity of a drowning man.
10. “In brotherly love be kindly affectionate toward one another, in honor preferring one another.” This is a positive commandment of God that we are not only to be kind toward one another in brotherly love, but delight to honor one another, oblivious to our own honor. Timee, “honor,” also means financial remuneration. Hence, we see that forgetting all about our honor and recompense we are to simply look after others, trusting God so far as ourselves are concerned.
11. “Not slothful in business.” We are all working for the Lord. Therefore we have not a minute to lose, as the end is nigh and judgment hastens, and we need all of our time and opportunities to finish our work and be ready to give our account. “Boiling over in spirit,” i. e., not simply hot, but actually boiling over and scalding all the devils round about till they are glad to stampede. “Serving the Lord.” The word translated “serving” here is the participle form of doulos, “a slave.” Hence it means a perfectly submissive servitude, such as the slave, who has no will of his own, renders to the will of his master. Therefore our will is to be utterly lost in the will of God.
12. “Rejoicing in hope.” The vivid, brilliant and triumphant anticipations of heaven and glory, speedily entered and sweeping on forever, should constantly inspire us with a hopeful buoyancy, riding victoriously over every corroding care and lugubrious difficulty. “Being patient in tribulation.” This word is from the Latin tribulum, a “flail,” setting forth the work of the devil to beat us over head and back with his cruel cudgel. “Continuing constant in prayer.” Though we can not always be in the meditation of prayer, yet we can incessantly be in the spirit of prayer, which is an impregnable fortification against all the assaults of the enemy.
13. “Ministering to the necessities of the saints, pursuing hospitality.” While we are to make glad the hearts of the saints by our Christian philanthropy, a special emphasis here is laid on hospitality, which we are not simply to practice, but actually to run after. It is sad to see this beautiful and amiable grace so rapidly evanescing from the church. When an old idolater called at Abraham’s tent at nightfall, and pursuant to patriarchal hospitality received a kindly welcome, and having enjoyed the evening repast, on his refusal to join in family prayer, was ejected by the patriarch, to abide his destiny in the darkness and the storm of an oriental desert, and God immediately, speaking from heaven said, “Abraham, I have borne with that old sinner a hundred years; can you not stand him one night?” Immediately Abraham rushes out into the storm, calling aloud, “Come back! come back!” So the old idolater, rendering his tent, said, “What sort of a man art thou, having cast me out, now calleth me back?” Then says Abraham, “Because my God rebuked me, saying that He has borne with you a hundred years, though a hard old sinner, and that He thinks I ought to stand you one night.” “Then,” says the old man, “if that is the sort of God that you worship, I want you to tell me all about Him.” So he spent the night preaching to him, and the idolater, who in the beginning had refused to worship his God, was happily converted before day.
14. “Bless them that persecute you, bless and scold not.” You must remember that this chapter is all addressed not simply to Christians, but to the sanctified, beautifully setting forth their attitude and deportment before the world. The word here does not mean to indulge in profanity, but to scold, which is utterly incompatible with the gospel standard of Christian living.
15. “Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep.” Thus you see that we are to be sympathetic with our environments, ready in a moment to run to an altar and lead the way with the weeping penitent, showing him how to get down to the bottom of humiliation and contrition; then to raise the uproarious shout with the new-born soul, thus giving impetus to the rising tide of spiritual life now beginning to flow into his heart. We should seek the house of mourning, and condole their griefs by weeping with them.
16. “Thinking the same thing toward one another,” which only obtains when we all alike have the mind of Christ, carnality having been exterminated by the cleansing blood and the refining fire.” Thinking not high things, but condescending to the humble.” The safe place is down on the bottom, from which there is no falling. Lord, save us from the inflations of pride, vanity and egotism. “Be not wise along with yourselves,” i. e., do not be puffed up and exalted in your own estimation.
17. “Recompensing to no one evil for evil,” as a retaliatory spirit is peculiar only to the devil’s people and utterly out of harmony with the meek and lowly Nazarene. “Providing things honest in the sight of all men.”
Without solid and radical honesty, competent to bear the white light of the judgment throne, all Christian character and heavenly hope collapse into defeat and despair.
18. “If possible, as to that which is from you, living in peace with all men.” You can be in perfect peace with every human being on the globe, even while they are thirsting for your blood and hounding you to the martyr’s fate, as you are not responsible for them, but only for your own soul.
19. “Avenging not yourselves, beloved, but give place to wrath,” i. e., to the wrath of another, just as you would get out of the way of a filthy sewer and let it discharge its contents into the sea, or as you would go round a putrefying carcass lying in the road, rather than gather it upon your arms and carry it away. “For it has been written: Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We are so fortunate in the fact that we are not our own avengers, as this would bring us into a thousand troubles and very likely cost us life, physical and spiritual. We should leap for joy at the very thought that God, who never forgets anything and never fails to do right relieves us of the arduous task and the responsible undertaking of self- vindication. Hence, all retaliation is not only wicked and perilous, but usurpatory of the divine administration and prerogative.
20. “But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink, for in doing this you will heap coals of fire on his head,” i. e., you can literally burn him out and conquer him by kindness till he will almost die of shame, feeling mean as a sheep-killing dog; he will gladly seek to do you every possible favor.
21. “Be not overcome of evil, but conquer evil with good.” Your enemy has nothing but an old wooden sword that would break if he were to hit you with it; while you have a Jerusalem blade of shining steel, sharp as lightning and potent as dynamite. So you have nothing to do but use your own weapon, God’s blessed word, truth, grace, love and philanthropy, and you knock your enemy into smithereens, and transform him into a friend ready to die for you. I have seen this wonderfully verified a thousand times.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 12". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30