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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Romans 12

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

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Verses 1-3

A God-Planned Life

Ephesians 2:8-12 ; Romans 12:1-3


We read of Epaphras that he prayed for the saints that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

The will of God toward us should ever be the chief quest of our lives. What does God want me to do, and what does He want me to be? that is the supreme question for each of us.

On one occasion certain ones told Christ that His mother and His brethren sought Him. The Lord said, "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? * * whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven."

Of Himself, Christ said, "Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God."

The will of God should be our chief delight.

There are some people who imagine that God's will is to be dreaded. Shall we imagine that a loving, Heavenly Father would seek the undoing of the obedient and yielded life? God forbid. God said, "Oh that My people had hearkened unto Me, * * I * * should have fed them with the finest of the wheat."

We need to be like Habakkuk, who said: "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me." Along with these words from the Prophet we need to link the words of Mary, which she spoke to the servants at Cana of Galilee, concerning the water pots, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."

When David Livingstone was found by Henry M. Stanley, he was far from civilization, in the heart of Africa. Stanley pled with him to return to England, where great honor from royalty and from the masses awaited him. Livingstone is refuted to have said, "I would rather be in Africa in the will of God, than to be feasted and feted by royalty in England."

Let the chief quest of our life, then, be God's precious will.

The Lord is all my life, and light,

He leads me through the darkest night;

His will is mine throughout each day,

My will, to please Him ev'ry way.

In Him I find my greatest joy,

My riches are without alloy;

I know no pleasure, but His will,

I seek His orders to fulfill.

I am for Him, He is for me,

In Him, my all in all, I see;

I seek the favor of His face,

My highest joy, His smile, His grace.


1. By grace have ye been saved. As we think of what we were in sin, and of what we are since we are saved, we can say that God by grace hath saved us. There is nothing that we could have done which could have wrought the change. We had never come to God except love had sought us, except the Blood had bought us, and except grace had brought us to the fold.

2. Through faith are ye saved. God's grace became operative in us only as our faith accepted the Calvary work of Christ in our behalf. There is a passage in Hebrews which reads: "He that cometh to God must believe that He is."

Salvation is through faith, but even that faith is the gift of God.

3. Not by works are we saved. It is not by anything which we could have done that we found Christ. Before we were saved our works were dead works, unacceptable with God. Even our righteousnesses were but filthy rags in His sight.

"Could our tears forever flow,

Could our deeds no respite know;

All for sin could not atone,

Christ must save, and He alone."

4. We are His workmanship. Our redemption was purposed by the Father, made possible by the Son, and perfected by the Holy Ghost. The new man is God's workmanship, because the new man is created by God in Christ Jesus. It is impossible for us to create anything.

We read, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." We are a new creature, because we are a new creation. It is for this cause that we read again, "Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

Let us remember first of all that we are God's workmanship, God's creation.


1. Good works could not save us. We would not tarry here long. This was plainly set forth when it was stated that we were saved, not by works. We would emphasize, however, this needed message.

From many sides do we hear the words, "I am doing the best I know"; or, "I am doing all I can." Some say that they are trying to be Christians, or, that they are endeavoring to love everybody. They think that if they pay their debts and go to church, and do unto others as they would be done by, that they are saved. All such hopes are vain.

2. We are saved unto good works. We can do nothing to become a Christian. We should do everything that becomes one. Before our salvation our works were dead works, evil works, unacceptable to God. Since our salvation we are called to good works. We are taught that we should walk in them.

The harvest fields are calling for laborers, and we are God's husbandry.

There is a significant Scripture which we wish to quote. It is short, but vital: "To every man his work." Let no one think that he has nothing to do. God has called us into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, we are called into partnership. These words may be summed up thus: God has called you into business with His Son. This is the opening thought of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. The words are found in the ninth verse of chapter one.

Let us pass now to the last verse of chapter fifteen, which reads: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Thus, the call of the first chapter of Corinthians is a call into business with Christ; the call of the fifteenth chapter is a plea to give attention to business.


1. Our work is a work which God hath afore-ordained. Perhaps you noticed the words which are in the key text, "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained." These words carry us back into the eternal ages past. They suggest God to us as a great Architect, planning out the details of His marvelous and far-reaching creation.

No Christian is created with a hit and miss life before him. The Great Architect planned the work of your life to fit in with the work of every other life. If the service of one life is broken and incomplete, the whole picture must be more or less marred thereby.

The human architect who plans the great skyscraper has in his mind the whole building, even down to the minutest detail, before the first spade of dirt is dug, and the building is begun. He draws his plan, putting his thoughts into concrete form. He shows just how the building will look when completed. He gives to the contractor specifications of where each timber is to be placed, each steel girder is to be erected. He even specifies with marvelous exactness the amount of all material needed.

Did God know less about our life than the architect knows about his building?

2. The work which God fore-ordained is a specified work. God has made a plan which He reveals, telling to each one, step by step, what he is to do, where he is to go. We read, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Are we not all sent of God?

The Lord said to Jonah, "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." God said unto Jeremiah, "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."

We are all willing to grant that John the Baptist, and Jonah, and Jeremiah, and all preachers have a special call, to a special city, with a special service, but are we willing to grant that every believer has a similar call?


The last words of this remarkable verse linger with us. They read, "That we should walk in them." When God first spoke to Jonah, he went down to Joppa, and took ship to Tarshish. We all know the result. Let us make this our first thought:

1. Punishment awaits the life that refuses God's plan. God sent forth a great storm after Jonah. Then God prepared a great fish, and commanded it to swallow up Jonah. It was only after an experience of deep anguish, when the weeds were wrapped around Jonah's neck; and, after Jonah had prayed from the belly of the fish, that God finally spake to the fish to vomit up Jonah upon the dry land.

Think you, that you can trample God's plan for your life under your feet, and prosper?

2. Blessing awaits the life that undertakes God's task. Abraham, the ancient seer, implicitly obeyed God. Therefore God said to him: "Because thou hast done this * * in blessing I will bless thee."

A rich merchant was asked, by the queen, to go on a mission for the crown. He demurred, urging that his absence would wreck his business. The queen is said to have replied, "You attend to my business, and I will attend unto yours." He went, as she requested. She, in turn, sent tremendous orders in to those who sold his goods.

Let us come to God determined to walk in His will and to do His work. Have we not remembered the promise of God, "Go, and I will go before thee"? Are we willing to undertake for God? Are we ready to walk in His fore-ordained work?

Moses demurred, when God called him to go, saying that he was slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. Then God was displeased, and said, "Who hath made man's mouth? * * have not I the Lord?" "Go," and "Certainly I will be with thee." Let us go forward, even as God hath spoken, and God will work for us.


We now turn from our first Scripture, to our second. Our verse suggests three things

1. The mercies of God. The word, therefore, as a rule, demands a backward look. Paul says, "I beseech you, therefore." Paul, in the Spirit, is turning his face back on the "mercies of God" which have so wonderfully been outlined for us in the preceding chapters of Romans. When, we think of how we were sinners, helpless in our sins, and all undone; when we think of how God sent Christ that we might be justified freely by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; when we think of how, by faith, we were saved; and of how the grace of God super-abounded unto our eternal life; when we think of how God delivered us from the power and dominion of sin, and gave us victory in our daily walk in the Holy Ghost; then we are constrained to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God.

2. The presentation of our bodies. Why is it that we are asked to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly, acceptable unto God? It is because the body is the implement of our service.

Miss Havergal wrote, "Take my lips," "take my voice," "take my hands," "take my feet," "take my heart," and she put these thoughts into beautiful poetical form. She was wise in this, for God needs the members of our body, that with them He may serve the multitudes.

3. The rational service. The Bible speaks of our "sacrifice," and of our "consecration," as a reasonable, that is, a rational service. We are not requested to do a rash thing, but a rational thing. How could we do less than to give our bodies unto Him? Did Jesus Christ not give His body, in the anguish of death, for us? He said, "This cup is * * My Blood, which is shed for you," and, "This is My body, which is broken for you." Then let us bring our bodies to Him.


1. "Be not conformed to this world." If we are going to walk in the will and work of God, we dare not follow the voice of men. In the world we shall have tribulation. The Lord has said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

He also said, "The world hateth you." We are familiar with the words, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." If, therefore, we would seek to do the work of God, and would yield ourselves wholly unto Him, we dare not be conformed unto the world.

We should not conform ourselves to the world, because the world by wisdom has not known God. Its ways are not our ways. Its thoughts are not our thoughts. Our citizenship is in Heaven, not in the world; our treasures are there, not here. We are tent dwellers down here; we are strangers and pilgrims. We are living, looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God. Let us therefore be not conformed to this world.

2. "Be ye transformed." In II Corinthians we read, that as we, with open face, behold the glory of the Lord, we are, "Changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

The word "changed" which we have just quoted, carries with it the same thought, as the word "transformed" in our key verse.

Mark you, if we are conformed to this world, we can never be transformed by the renewing of our mind. If we would be transformed, we must behold as in a glass the glory of our Lord.

When Jesus Christ was on the mount with Peter, James, and John, Moses and Elias appeared with Him in glory. Then we read that Jesus was transfigured. His face became radiant with glory, and His raiment was white and glistening. This is what we want. We want to be transformed, that is, transfigured.

"In the secret of His presence,

How my soul delights to hide;

Oh, how precious are the lessons

Which I learn at Jesus' side;

Earthly cares can never vex me,

Neither trials lay me low;

For, when Satan comes to vex me

To the secret place I go."

This poem would not be complete did it not carry another verse which says:

"And whene'er you leave the presence,

Of that hallowed meeting place,

You must mind to bear the image

Of the Saviour in your face."

3. That ye may know. Now we have come to the place where we can learn God's good, and acceptable, and perfect will. It is the pathway, on the one hand, of non-conformity to the world; and, on the other hand, of being transformed by the Spirit.

We have sought to cluster our message round the general theme of The God-planned Life. If we would know the plan of that life we must obey the injunction of Romans 12:1-21 , and present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God, unconformed to the world, and transformed by the Spirit.


Are we willing to make God Lord in our lives?

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve."

"In Acts 10:14 we read: 'Peter said, Not so, Lord.' Have you ever thought of what a contradiction in terms we have there? You have either to drop the words 'Not so,' or you have got to drop the word 'Lord.' I spent two hours yesterday with a lady in this tent over these words, and then I wrote them down in the margin of her Bible at the bottom of the page. I handed her the Bible and the pencil and I said, 'The time has come for you to make the decision. Are you going to score out the words, "Not so," or the word "Lord"?' There was a great struggle in her heart, and through tears she scored out the words 'Not so.' I said, 'What have you got left?' and she said, 'The Lord.' Is not the Lord enough?" W. Graham Scroggie.

Verses 1-13

God's Call to Consecration

Romans 12:1-13


Permit me to enlarge upon the expression, "therefore." Our chapter opens thus: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God."

1. There is presented a basis for God's call to consecration. God does not ask us to do something, while He does nothing. No Christian can outdo God in giving all.

God does not ask us to do anything, that is irrational, unjust, or uncalled for. His call is to a rational service, a reasonable yielding. He does not lead us into things fanatical.

2. The basis of God's call to consecration is "the mercies of God." What we want to do is to dig deep into God's mercies and try to ferret out what they are. In order to do this we will need to take a glimpse into the preceding chapters of Romans.

The "therefore" and the "mercies of God," are one and the same thing. The Holy Spirit having outlined the "mercies of God" in the Book of Romans, said: "I beseech you therefore."

(1) The "therefore" of our past sins. Romans, chapters Romans 1:1 to Romans 3:20 , fully covered the detailed account of man's sin. Both Jew and Gentile are brought into the picture, and both are declared "under sin."

(2) The "therefore" of Christ's death for sin. Romans 3:21 to chapter 5, discusses how Christ died far sin. In these chapters righteousness through the Blood of Christ, is made possible to all who believe. The Cross is held before us, as the sole basis of redemption. That Cross is made effective in its shed Blood upon all those who receive the Atonement.

This is a marvelous part of God's "therefore," which becomes His plea for our consecration. If He was willing to die for us, we should be willing to live for Him.

(3) The "therefore" of the grace of God. This is set forth in five striking statements in Romans 5:1-21 . Grace is God's kindness toward us, in Christ Jesus. Grace is God, giving His Son; and, in His Son, giving us all things in salvation, sanctification and glorification.

Grace is a plea to consecration that presents tremendous force. How can we cease to yield our all unto the all glorious Christ, when He gave His all for such an inglorious, sinful us?

If He died for us, can we do less than live for Him?

(4) The "therefore" of the our "victorious life." Romans 6:1-23 through to 8, outlines God's matchless purpose and plan for us, as Christians, to live in absolute victory over sin. "Sin shall not have dominion over you" this is God's last great plea to us for consecration.

When the Spirit writes, "I beseech you therefore," He is saying, "God has made every provision for your victory. Christ not only saves you, but He places you as a conqueror over every power of the world, the flesh and devil, then He cries, I beseech you therefore."

Let us bring ourselves this day, and lay ourselves, with our all, at His feet, to be, to go, to do, as He commands.


1. Why the body? When our Lord said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice," He was thinking of the body as the implement of service. The Spirit which dwells within the body, and the soul, which also is there, has no other means of expression than the body. It is the eye that looks, the ear that hears, the feet that move, the lips which speak, the hands which help, these must be used in all the Word and work of God.

The body, in itself, and apart from the soul and spirit, is as helpless and useless as any other human mechanism.

You perhaps have observed how, in the 6th chapter of Romans, the Lord combines both the self life, and the body, in His call to consecration. On the one hand, He says: "Yield yourselves unto God"; while, on the other hand, He says: "Yield ye your members * * unto God." Both are to be yielded as servants, to obey the voice of the Lord.

2. How the body is to be presented.

(1) It is to be presented a living sacrifice. God does not ask us to be crucified. We are not called upon to die. We are called upon, however, to live for God. If Christ gave Himself for us, as a sacrifice in His death; we surely can give ourselves to Him, as a sacrifice in our lives.

(2) It is to be presented a holy sacrifice. There is something very sacred about presenting our bodies to God. They are to be holy, because they are designated for holy purposes and holy use. God does not want our bodies for any impure service. He wants them in the realm of those deeds which are announced by Him as pure and clean and holy.

(3) It is to be presented as an acceptable sacrifice. God accepts what we bring. He does not spurn our offering. He graciously receives it. To those who accept Him as a Saviour, He stands ready to accept as a sacrifice.


1. We must present ourselves to God. God is not willing to give His orders and His will unto hearts and lives which are not upon His altar of service. Why should the Master give His plan into the hands of rebellious and unwilling servants.

If we are ready to do, to go, and to be, God is ready to tell us what to do, where to go, and what He wants us to do. Let no one, therefore, who is not living with his body and his all upon God's altar vainly imagine that he can walk in God's will.

God said: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; * *? For I know him, that he will * *." When God sees we are willing to obey His voice, He will discover unto us His will.

2. We must not be conformed to this world. How can we expect to know the will that emanates from another world, if we are conforming our lives to the will of this world?

We are not of the world, but we are called out of the world. Shall we then live according to the world? If we want to know the voice of God, we must have a deaf ear to the voice of men. He who thinks the world's thoughts, walks the world's way and does the world's deeds can never know the thoughts, the way, and the will of God.

3. We must be renewed in the spirit of our minds. The natural mind does not and cannot receive the things which are of God. The only things that our natural mind can understand are the things of man.

If we would know the things of God, we must be renewed in the spirit of our mind. That is, we must be spiritually minded. "For what man knoweth the things * * of God * * but the Spirit of God."

III. DO ALL GET GOD'S BEST? (Romans 12:2 , l. c)

1. There is the good will of God. Perhaps there is no one who would deign to imagine that all believers stand perfect and complete in all of the will of God. If this be true, Epaphras, the beloved servant, would scarcely have prayed that God's saints might have His best will, and all His will.

For our part, we fear that many believers have never gone far enough to even get into God's good will. The good will of God works out for us our good. If we are standing in that will, God's good will, we are blest.

2. There is the acceptable will of God. When we are standing in this will, we are standing in the place of approval. We have access to our Father. He does not hold anything against us. This is a blessed place in which to stand.

3. There is the perfect will of God. As we think of it, this is a long step beyond God's good will, and also beyond God's acceptable will. It was in the perfect will of God that Jesus Christ walked. He said: "I do always those things that please Him." He did not finish a part but all of the work which God gave Him to do. He was never out of the will of God.

In the Old Testament, Job approached unto the perfect will of God. He did not reach it perhaps, but he was, at least, a man that was perfect and upright, one that feared God, and eschewed evil. He was not perfect in God's will, perhaps, but he was above all the men upon the earth, for God said, "There is none like him in the earth."

One thing I know, for my part, I choose God's perfect will. I desire it, and seek it. We trust that everyone takes this same ground.


1. The sin of pride. The first part of our verse says; "Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think." How easy it is for us to become self-boastful and self-proud.

Satan played a trump card when he said unto the woman, "Ye shall be as gods." That spirit of pride, engendered in the first woman, has been passed on down from generation to generation.

The Word of God, from one end to another, carries with it stories of men who reveled in the exaltation of self. This spirit of pride will find itself consummated in the antichrist, who will set himself up as above God, and all that is called God.

2. The need of sober thinking. We are expressly told to think soberly. Here is a word that forbids deep forebodings and discouragement relative to ourselves. While some are proud of themselves, others may become altogether carried away with an "inferiority complex." We believe, however, that this twentieth century terminology has been used to cover a multitude of sins.

However, we should think soberly, recognizing that in Christ Jesus we are called unto a definite and magnificent work, unto a testimony relative to things Divine. We must not forget that while we are nothing of ourselves, yet, in Christ we can do all things, because He strengtheneth us. While we of ourselves are nothing, yet in Him we are sons, representatives of a Heavenly court.

3. The recognition of God's gifts to as. The latter clause of our verse says: That "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." It is this faith which links us on to God, in the highest, and makes possible in and through us, the mighty conquests of faith. The victories of faith are wonderful. Study Hebrews 11:1-40 .


1. There are many members in one body. The reference is to the human body as typical of the Body of Christ. In our bodies we all recognize the fact of distinctive members, God has said: "For the body is not one member, but many." It is for this cause that the foot cannot say: "Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body." Neither can the ear say: "Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body."

It would be a sorry body indeed "if the whole body were an eye, then where were the hearing?" On the other hand, "if the whole body were hearing, where were the smelling?" Therefore, it is written: "But now hath God set the members every one in the body, as it hath pleased Him."

Because the members have different functions, they can-riot say, "I am not of the body." The fact that each member has its own function forces it to the realization that it has need for every other member of the body.

This God uses as an argument to keep schism out of the body.

2. There are many members with various offices. Romans 12:6 tells us that we have gifts differing according to the grace that is given unto us. The gifts of the Spirit are subject to the Spirit. We may seek earnestly the best gifts, and yet, the Spirit will give us severally as He will.

It is true, nevertheless, that what He wills, is best for us, as well as for Him.

What we need, as individual Christians, is to discover our own gift, and to cultivate it, and use it. If God has given us one talent, or two, or ten, He expects us to multiply them. There is no place for any part of the body to become inactive. If a member of the body is inactive, it will soon wither away, dry up, and die.

3. Each member is joined to the body in love. We must not forget that every one. of us is a member together with everyone else. In Ephesians we read of our growing "up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

VI. THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT (Romans 12:6-8 )

The verses before us set forth numerous gifts.

1. The gift of prophecy. Prophecy is speaking unto edification. It is mentioned first in our list of gifts, and it is, in fact, the chief gift of the Spirit, so far as the realm of service and activity is concerned.

2. The gift of ministering. When we speak of ministering, we think of serving one another. The preacher is commonly called the minister, because his work is not alone in the pulpit, but in the home. He goes about doing good, bearing burdens, comforting, strengthening, uplifting.

3. The gift of teaching. He that teacheth, is to wait on teaching. The teacher of the Word holds no small place in the body. Teaching exalts Christ; teaching opens up before men the marvelous messages of the Word of God.

4. The gift of exhortation. The exhorter may be a teacher, and he may prophesy, but exhortation as a rule carries with it the thought of presenting God's warnings against sin; and God's call to righteousness and holy living. We exhort men to turn from every evil way. We exhort them to take up their cross and follow Christ. We exhort them to live righteously, soberly, and godly, in this present world.

5. The gift of giving. We cannot cover all the gifts of the Spirit. However, we are happy that giving is included among spiritual gifts. Our admonition is to give "with simplicity." There must be nothing of. flourish, nothing of boast in our giving. As we abound in every grace, let us abound in this grace also.


As we hurriedly run over the final admonitions of our verses, let us remember that they are all written to us in the light of a consecrated life.

God is speaking to those who. have brought their bodies and presented them to Him, as a living sacrifice.

1. There is the call to a holy love. Romans 12:9 says, "Let love be without dissimulation." Our love should be toward all men, and not to a chosen few, Our love should be without reserve. It should be rich, and full, in its expressions. A love that is to all will not say to the rich man, sit here in the seat of honor, and to the poor man, stand thou there in the place of a vassal.

2. There is the call to right choosing. We are to "abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Both descriptive words are vital to this verse. Evil is not merely to be shunned. It is to be abhorred.

3. There is the call to tender affections. Romans 12:10 says: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love." Language could not be more expressive. True affection, is kind; true love, is brotherly.

4. There is the call to fervent serving. God has no place for the slothful, and to the idler. He wants those who serve in the business world, to serve with fervor of spirit. Whether in the Church, or, in the business world, He wants us to be serving the Lord. In other words, "whether therefore, yet eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

5. There is the call to rejoicing and patience. We are to rejoice in hope, and to be patient in tribulation. We may not rejoice always in our present affliction, but we can rejoice in our coming deliverance. We may not rejoice in the sin and shame that dominates earth's cities, but we May rejoice in the holiness and glory of the Heavenly City.


True consecration means living for others:

A discouraged young doctor in one of our large cities was visited by his father who came up from a rural district. "Well, son," he said, "how are you getting along?" ''I'm not getting along at all," was the answer. The old man's countenance fell, but be spoke of courage and patience and hope. Later in the day he went with his son to the free dispensary. He sat by in silence, while twenty-five poor unfortunates received help. When the door had been closed upon the last one, the old man burst out, "I thought you told me you were doing nothing. Why, if I had helped twenty-five people in a month, I would thank God that my life counted for something." "There isn't any money in it though," explained the son. "Money!" the old man shouted. "What is money in comparison with being of use to your fellow men?"

Rev. J. J. Wright

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Romans 12". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/romans-12.html.
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