Exhortation to the Renewal of the Mind
Part Four: The Gospel as the Transformation of Social Relationships (12:1‑15:13) (see the introduction, "Romans: Background Material" in our Online Bible study page: "D. Romans has four main sections," and The Fourfold Purpose of Romans) "This is how then we must live, because the Gospel is the transforming and converting power of God, because it transforms fallen social relationships by virtue of the dynamics of love, which is the fulfillment of the law"! In the previous chapters Paul lays out the truth of what Christ has done, now He turns to how this must affect our lives and attitudes, and the people around us. Christianity is an offering to others in gratitude, by what Christ has done. Pleasing ourselves is not the goal of the Christian life as so many pursue. We are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, so it transforms our character. We are to do this through love and acceptance of others as Christ did with us, that we did not deserve.
Romans Chapter XII: Overview: Paul now switches his argument from our freedom from the bondage of Sin through Christ (6:1-8:39), and the Resurrection of the Israel (9:1‑11:36) to the application of our faith. From the presentation of the Gospel to how shall we live in faith, from doctrine to duty, but Paul never separates the two. This becomes the practical aspect of the Gospel. We have been saved, not of any effort or reason on our part except by faith, so now what do we do with it? We are to take it to the streets in how we live to ourselves, others and even our enemies. Yet, most Christians respond with a rear end firmly planted in a pew that goes nowhere in service or glory to Christ. They hold on to a will that will not allow conviction or change to their routine or life. Thus, church is just a club for comfort and not a "huddle" to strategize and put forward how to play the game of Christian life from receiving our orders from the Coach. We need to know that Christ calls us to change our minds like we change the oil in the car. To be a, "devote themselves to him; and avoiding conformity to the world" Christian. In other words to be changed person so we can be a change agent to others. Not to be infected by the word, but to help it along to His purpose. We cannot do that when we are poured out to our will and desires only and not to our Lord. So that we can be: "to be conformed to his holy will"… "to think humbly"… "to exercise faithfully"… "to mutual love, diligence, patience, hope, prayer, hospitality, compassion, and condescension" …. "and becoming conduct towards all men"! Our devotion to Christ must be rooted in the mind and then let the doctrine translate it to the feet and the rest of our bodies in between, the body of us as a human being and a body of believers in relation to all those around us, our duty.
General idea: Paul calls us, his church folks and then urges us passionately that God's will is to think rightly of His precepts. Then Paul pleads with them to make their faith real so it impacts others around them. Then he gives us all a simple way we can do this: To see our life as an extension of God's grace and hands, so we are willing and able to be lined up to Him, so we can be better used by Him. We are called to be a living sacrifice, which means we are to be living, growing and performing agents of God. We are not alone in this essential manner, as a Christian the Spirit transforms us completely, all we are and then all that we are to do, our will, plans and our opportunities (2 Cor. 3:18). And we cannot do this unless we give up our selfish will over to His (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14)! And the incentive for us to surrender to Christ is that His Way is better than ours! He gave us a gift we cannot fathom, yet alone earn the gift of grace and eternal life, so why would we not seek to please our Living Loving Lord?
Then Paul tells us that God's will is us being willing and able to please Him and serve Him. This is accomplished when we are on guard, that the distractions of the sinful life to not entice, motivate or divert us from Him and His plan for us! The call is simple, be willing to allow God to transform you and not the world, simple yes, but it takes diligence of our efforts from the trust we have in Christ to succeed! When we do this our thinking, attitude, mindset, all the we are in thought, will change and then impact all that we do in life.
1. I beseech you/ I urge you, Paul's main concern was whether his teaching would be applied, or just studied, or ignored. The apprehension was that Christians would turn out like Pharisees, having the knowledge, but ignoring the application. The irony as that many of us are! Being a living sacrifice is a key aspect into maturity, and growth in the faith. The purpose of doctrine and study of His Word is not just the knowledge, (which is very important), but it is what we do with that knowledge that is our supreme goal.
a. Brethren/ brothers, meaning in Christ, we as Christians are to be deep friends that are bonded as family.
b. Present /offer, our relationship with the Lord must be transparent and not secretive (unless you live in a closed Muslim country)!
c. Mercies of God, flows from our obedience and trust and gratitude for what our Lord has done and for who He is (Luke 10:36-37; Eph. 4:23); they are the compassion for the needy, and the lost. Our lives must be motivated by who we are in Christ and nothing else!
d. Living Sacrifice, for the ancient Jews, this meant to praise God as a continual lifestyle of worship. This motive continues and refers to the fact that we belong solely to God, not to ourselves or anything else (Rom. 3:25; 6:12-17; 8:13; John 15:13-15; 37-38; 1 John 3:16), His shed blood paid for us! That you are truly have dedicated your right to yourself to Christ! That we give Him are all. It is easy to die for a cause, but are you willing to live for Him? In perfect obedience, so your life is poured out, that your strength is gone and you rely on His?
2. Reasonable service/Rational/Spiritual act of worship means to think right without distractions or personal agendas; this means our judgments must be logical and concise upon God as Lord and Motivator.
a. Service meant the work of the priests in the Temple, holy before the Lord. In context, this refers to being a sacrifice and extending mercy to others, this is a part of our worship to Christ, part of who we are and must be. As the Jews placed a lamb on the alter, as Christ was our Lamb, we should place ourselves on the alter too. Not because we have too, or to earn something, but because we are dedicated to live for our Lord.
b. Do not be conformed... refers to that our mind and thinking must be based on Christ and Scripture, that the Spirit guides us in (2 Cor. 4:18; 1 John 2:17). If not, the culture and pleasures of life will sweep us away from God's best for us. This is our Christian life and purpose!
c. Age, refers to "evil powers" and "amoral acts" the worldly sinful temptations in our human culture, whether it is tradition, custom, ritual, or rational.
d. Our standing before our Lord is solely upon His mercy, thus we are to reciprocate it; such as since God forgave us we need to forgive others.... Thus, do not just ask God to use you, but rather give yourself to Him to use!
3. Renewing of your mind is changing our pagan or even Christian mindset away from our selfish nature to His character. Until we do, the deeper things of God's will, will not be available to us. Our ideas and attitudes directly shape our values and lifestyle. To get it right, we are to be shaping our mind to God's Word (Rom. 8:5-9; 13:11-14; 2 Cor. 4:18; 1 John 2:17).
a. Transformed, the opposite of obedience is not just selfishness or laziness but rather, creating your own opportunities with zeal instead of the Lord's. That is, misplacing your passion on the wrong things (1 Sam. 15:22; John 7:17; 13:17). We are to cling to His highest standard, not compromise to the flow of the group we hang out with (peer pressure). Will you obey?
b. Prove, when we allow God's standard to be our "carrot on a stick", then our paths will be straight. So that every aspect of our life is governed by our Lord, in perfect harmony.
c. Acceptable, means God accepting a sacrifice. When we debate with God and refuse His guidance we lose sight of His path, and fall in rocky terrain, stop, drop to your knees, and wake up to Him (Eph. 4:30). The question is well we be dedicated to our Lord or to ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19; 9:27; Gal. 2:21; Phil. 2:12)?
d. Being freed from sin must show a response and a responsibility, so what is yours?
e. God's will, see theological note below.
Theology is our boot camp and the army is our duty in application. Yet, it is the least thing considered by the average Christian's pursuit, especially those who never take ownership of their faith, who grew up in a church and see it as cultural and duty, and not devotion and lifestyle. The danger is for the Christian to sit in a pew, learn all that they can, and take comfort in that knowledge, but never do anything with it. It is the church that refuses to evangelize, the Christian that refuses to share their faith, or model Christ on Mondays, as well as Sundays: Be aware you will be harshly judged, you are no better than that of the Pharisees (Hos.6:6; Mica. 6:6-8; Matt. 12 9-14; James 1:21-27)! The proof test is if you use people, or serve them? Do you just gather information, or do you apply it?
When we become a Christian either by birth in a Christian family or through evangelism as an adult, a time must come when the reality of who we are in Christ hits home in power and conviction. To completely change the black dirty oil of the mind with the new golden anointing oil of His love and precepts. This will transform into a practical application of our faith just does not happen on it own, something wondrous must take place within us to transform us so we can. In other words, we must become the people of God in order that we are capable and wiling to do the work of God.
1. How were you (or are you) affected by peer pressure in school (clothes, job, car, friends, etc)?
2. How is your church affected by new theories and ideas of doing church?
3. When you worship Christ (in church or at home in your devotions), what is going on in your mind?
4. Is the word doctrine a friend or a foe?
5. If you have ever seen or done an oil change for a car. Have you noticed the dirty blackness of the old oil verses the golden color of the new oil? How is this like renewing your mind?
6. Does this word doctrine cause you to wonder the power and majesty of God or fill you with fear that you will not understand or that it does not matter?
7. Is duty something that comes to your mind when you leave church on Sunday?
8. How important is duty to you and your faith?
9. Why do you think Paul never separates duty from doctrine?
10. If a non-Christian asked you what you do with your faith, how would you respond?
11. What life style do you think Christ has called you too?
12. How have you responded to His call?
13. Why would you conceder not responding?
14. Have you considered that Christianity is like a football game? Thus, the church is the dugout, Christ is the coach and the flied of play is the community and world around the church. So when the players/believers have a huddle/committee meeting do you go back to the dugout after or play the game?
15. What would it take for the committees of your church to see the ministry is what you do after the meeting and not the meeting itself? Just as for the ball player does not go home after the national anthem.
16. Every aspect of our life is to be governed by our Lord, in perfect harmony. So does this scare you?
17. How can being 'governed' by Christ be your greatest comfort?
18. As a Christian a time must come when the reality of who you are in Christ must hit home in power and conviction. Has this happen to you? If so how, if not what would it take?
19. Why would the Holy Spirit be hindered to transform you if your will is in the way?
20. The incentive for us to surrender our will to Christ is that His way is better than ours! Is this incentive exciting to you or a put off?
21. Pharisees have a bad reputation in the church for good reason. Paul's concern was that Christians would turn out like them having the knowledge, but ignoring the application. Why did he have that fear?
22. Has Paul's fear become a reality in your church or life?
23. If so what can be done about it?
24. Why would being a living sacrifice be a key aspect into maturity, and growth in the faith?
25. The purpose of doctrine and study of His Word is not just the knowledge but it is what we do with that knowledge that is our supreme goal. Why would this be true?
26. What is the difference between cultural and duty verses devotion and lifestyle?
27. The proof test to being a mature Christian is do you use people, or serve them? Do you just gather information, or do you apply it? So what does this proof text say about you?
28. Why is it so hard for so many of us Christians to have a relationship with the Lord that is transparent (out going, honest and real), and not secretive?
29. What does the word "Mercies of God" mean to you?
30. What does the word "Living Sacrifice" mean to you? Does this word scare you, why? How can you get over it?
31. Has the reality that you belong solely to God, not to yourself or anything else hit you?
32. If you have not, what would it take for you to dedicate the right to yourself over to Christ?
33. It is easy to die for a cause, but are you willing to live for Him?
34. How can you live the life of faith in perfect obedience (as much as you can), so your life is poured out, that your strength is gone and you rely on His?
35. Do you give Him your all?
36. What does "reasonable service" mean to your daily life?
37. Service is something we do because we are dedicated to live for our Lord out of our gratitude. But we all have different definitions of dedication. We do not earn points by our service nor need it for our salvation. So what level and time commitment should you serve Him?
38. "Do not be conformed..." to what, what entices you away from our Lord?
39. What can you do to make a commitment to have a Christian mindset away from our selfish nature and or the world over to His character?
Remember we are never to separate theology from practice. Theology is the 'who' and 'why' that translates in to the 'do' and 'be' of life. The question is well we be dedicated to our Lord or to ourselves?