Read thru New Testament Devotional – August 13, 2017

August 13

 

Romans 12

Romans 12:1-2-In the previous chapters (9-11), Paul stated his case for God’s Plan for Salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.  These two verses serve as a transition from the Plan for Salvation to the Practice of Salvation (12-15).

 

Romans 12-15 The Practice of Salvation

Affects the way I think about people that I serve with (12:3-8)

Affects the way I think about people I live with (12:9-16)

Affects the way I think about people I struggle with (12:17-13:14)

Affects the way I think about people I disagree with (14:1-15:13)

 

Based on the fact (“the mercies of God” that he has just explained) that God has grafted Gentiles into the olive tree by an act of His mercy (He has provided them with the means for salvation)...Paul now calls upon them to present themselves completely to God for His service and to not allow the world to control them.

 

The word “mercy” is from the root word “oiktos”.

 

Merciful (Adjective, and Verb, to Be), Mercy (Noun, and Verb, to Have, Etc.):

akin to A, No. 2, "to have pity on" (from oiktos, "pity:" oi, an exclamation, = oh!), occurs in Rom 9:15 (twice), where it follows No. 1 (twice); the point established there and in Exd 33:19, from the Sept. of which it is quoted, is that the "mercy" and compassion shown by God are determined by nothing external to His attributes. Speaking generally oikteiro is a stronger term than eleeo.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=VT0001801)

 

There are several other words in the New Testament that are translated into English as “mercy” and express a similar thought or understanding.  However, the distinguishing characteristic of “oiktos” is the idea that God’s compassion towards us does not have anything to do with our deserving it, or meriting it.  God’s compassion originates with His own character.  God is merciful, not because of who we are or what we have done…but, because of Who He is.  His mercy has nothing to do with whether or not we ought to have it.  He extends His mercy because it is inherent in His nature, He is merciful.  This gives a quality and dimension to His mercy that beckons us to respond to Him not in the same manner (because God does not need our mercy)…but to the same degree.  We are to give ourselves completely to Him.

Notice that Paul calls this “a living and holy sacrifice”.  When a sacrifice is made it is made completely.  There is no part that is held back.  That which is offered literally dies.  This speaks of completeness and comprehensiveness.  We are to give our lives to God 100%...nothing held back.  But notice that Paul qualifies this particular sacrifice.  While giving our lives to God as a sacrifice speaks of the extent that we are to do so…Paul also identifies what kind of a sacrifice we are to be.  First, we are to be a “living” sacrifice.  In other words, this is not a one-time act.  We are to give ourselves to God daily, continuously…as long as we are alive. Someone has said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they have a bad habit of crawling off of the altar.  We are to constantly and ceaselessly present our lives to God as a living sacrifice.  Second, it is a “holy” sacrifice.

 

Holiness, Holy, Holily:

akin to A, Nos. 1 and 2, which are from the same root as hagnos (found in hazo, "to venerate"), fundamentally signifies "separated" (among the Greeks, dedicated to the gods), and hence, in Scripture in its moral and spiritual significance, separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God, sacred.

(a) It is predicted of God (as the absolutely "Holy" One, in His purity, majesty and glory): of the Father, e.g., Luk 1:49; Jhn 17:11; 1Pe 1:15,16; Rev 4:8; 6:10; of the Son, e.g., Luk 1:35; Act 3:14; 4:27,30; 1Jo 2:20; of the Spirit, e.g., Mat 1:18 and frequently in all the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Cor., Eph., 1 Thess.; also in 2Ti 1:14; Tts 3:5; 1Pe 1:12; 2Pe 1:21; Jud 1:20.

(b) It is used of men and things (see below) in so far as they are devoted to God. Indeed the quality, as attributed to God, is often presented in a way which involves Divine demands upon the conduct of believers. These are called hagioi, "saints," i.e., "sanctified" or "holy" ones.

This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men; yet believers are called to sanctify themselves (consistently with their calling, 2Ti 1:9), cleansing themselves from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a "holy" manner of life, 1Pe 1:15; 2Pe 3:11, and experiencing fellowship with God in His holiness. The saints are thus figuratively spoken of as "a holy temple," 1Cr 3:17 (a local church); Eph 2:21 (the whole Church), cp. Eph 5:27; "a holy priesthood," 1Pe 2:5; "a holy nation," 1Pe 2:9.

"It is evident that hagios and its kindred words... express something more and higher than hieros, sacred, outwardly associated with God;... something more than semnos, worthy, honorable; something more than hagnos, pure, free from defilement. Hagios is... more comprehensive... It is characteristically godlikness" (G.B. Stevens, in Hastings' Bib. Dic.).

 

In the Old Testament sacrificial system an animal that had a defect could not be offered as a sacrifice.  It had to be “holy”…meaning separate, distinct from the common animal.

 

Qualities of Offerings.

Concerning the qualification of the offerings, the Law ordained that the animals be perfect (Deut. xv. 21, xvii. 1; specified more in detail in Lev. xxii. 18-25), the blind, broken, maimed, ulcerous, scurvied, scabbed, bruised, crushed, and castrated being excluded. This injunction was applied explicitly to burnt (Lev. i. 3; ix. 2, 3; xxiii. 18), thank- (ib. iii. 1, 6; xxii. 21), and expiatory offerings (ib. iv. 3, 23, 28, 32; v. 15, 18, 25; ix. 2, 3; xiv. 10) and the paschal lamb (Ex. xii. 5). To offer a blemished animal was deemed sacrilegious (Deut. xvii. 1; Mal. i. 6, 7, 8, 9, 13).

(http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12984-sacrifice)

 

For additional information on the Old Testament sacrificial system see:

Offerings and Sacrifices

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/offerings-and-sacrifices.html

 

Paul says that our lives are to be holy sacrifices.  As such, we should be separated from sin, uninvolved in sin.  This is the life that is “acceptable to God”.  This is the life that pleases God.

 

The last part of this verse can be a little confusing.  The KJV says, “which is your reasonable service”.  The NASV translates it, “which is your spiritual service of worship”.  The Greek word translated as “reasonable” and “spiritual” is the word “logikos”.

 

Reasonable:

pertaining to "the reasoning faculty, reasonable, rational," is used in Rom 12:1, of the service (latreia) to be rendered by believers in presenting their bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God." The sacrifice is to be intelligent, in contrast to those offered by ritual and compulsion; the presentation is to be in accordance with the spiritual intelligence of those who are new creatures in Christ and are mindful of "the mercies of God."

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3050&t=NASB)

 

It means that as we are presenting our lives as a sacrifice to God…we are to do so thoughtfully.  Don’t just go through the routine or get caught up into meaningless ritual.  Instead, give careful consideration to your life…to why and how you are offering it to God.

 

The Message Paraphrase puts it this way…

  1. So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

 

Continuing with this vein of thought, Paul admonishes his readers to not pattern their lives after the attitudes and behaviors of the world around them.  The word “conformed” speaks of outer appearances.  Christians should not allow the culture around them to shape, influence or determine their lifestyle.

 

Fashion:

"to give the same figure or appearance as, to conform to" (sun, "with," schema, cp. No. 1), used in the Passive Voice, signifies "to fashion oneself, to be fashioned," Rom 12:2, RV, "be not fashioned according to," for AV, "be not conformed to;" 1Pe 1:14, "(not) fashioning yourselves."

See CONFORMED.

Note: In Rom 12:2 being outwardly "conformed" to the things of this age is contrasted with being "transformed" (or transfigured) inwardly by the renewal of the thoughts through the Holy Spirit's power. A similar distinction holds good in Phl 3:21; the Lord will "fashion anew," or change outwardly, the body of our humiliation, and "conform" it in its nature (summorphos) to the body of His glory.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Rom&c=12&t=NASB#s=t_concf_1058002)

 

Instead, the way that we see and understand life should be the result of the inner change that comes through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.  The word “transformed” speaks of inner change…change at the very core of our being.

 

Transfigure:

"to change into another form" (meta, implying change, and morphe, "form:" see FORM, No. 1), is used in the Passive Voice

(a) of Christ's "transfiguration," Mat 17:2; Mar 9:2; Luke (in Luk 9:29) avoids this term, which might have suggested to gentile readers the metamorphoses of heathen gods, and uses the phrase egeneto heteron, "was altered," lit., "became (ginomai) different (heteros);"

(b) of believers, Rom 12:2, "be ye transformed," the obligation being to undergo a complete change which, under the power of God, will find expression in character and conduct; morphe lays stress on the inward change, schema (see the preceding verb in that verse, suschematizo) lays stress on the outward (see FASHION, No. 3, FORM, No. 2); the present continuous tenses indicate a process; 2Cr 3:18 describes believers as being "transformed (RV) into the same image" (i.e., of Christ in all His moral excellencies), the change being effected by the Holy Spirit.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3339&t=NASB)

 

This transformation is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit renews our mind.  The Holy Spirit changes the way that we think…how we process information and understand its meaning…from a purely human, natural, worldly perspective…to a spiritual perspective.  In other words, we will see things as God sees them.

 

Renew, Renewing (Verb and Noun):

akin to A, No. 1, "a renewal," is used in Rom 12:2, "the renewing (of your mind)," i.e., the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon the life; in Tts 3:5, where "the renewing of the Holy Spirit" is not a fresh bestowment of the Spirit, but a revival of His power, developing the Christian life; this passage stresses the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit of God; the Romans passage stresses the willing response on the part of the believer.

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G342&t=NASB)

 

Then we will be able to “prove” (recognize, discern, understand correctly) what God’s will is in each and every circumstance that we face.  We will be able to determine what is “good and acceptable and perfect”…because we understand matters from God’s perspective, according to the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).  There are many references in the New Testament about having the right mind (spiritual understanding) about matters (Matthew 22:37; Mark 5:15; 8:23; Luke 24:45; Romans 1:28; 7:23-25; 8:5-7,27; 11:34; 12:2,16; 14:5; 16:18; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2:9,16; 14:14-15,19,23; 15:34; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 4:4; 11:3; Ephesians 2:3; 4:17-18,23; Philippians 2:5; 3:4,19; 4:6-9; Colossians 1:21; 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 1:7; 3:8; Titus 1:15; 2:6; Hebrews 7:21; 8:10,16; 11:15; 12:3; James 1:8; 4:8; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:2; 2 Peter 1:15; Jude 1:19; Revelation 2:23; 17:9).

The word “good” suggests those things that are beneficial, helpful.  Those things that will produce godly character in your life and be advantageous in your spiritual growth.  It is God’s will for us to mature spiritually and when we have a mind that has been renewed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit we can identify those things that help us in that process and those things that hinder us.

The word “acceptable” is elsewhere translated as “pleasing”…meaning those things that are satisfactory with God.  If we are to live in God’s will…we must identify those things that are “acceptable” to God and those things that are not.  Isn’t it an amazing thought that we can actually please God?

The word “perfect” speaks of the conclusion, the goal, the purpose of something.  When we think with a renewed mind we will be able to determine if an activity, or a commitment, or a behavior will help us to advance towards God’s will for our life.  There are some things that, while they are not inherently wrong, they are not necessarily beneficial for our spiritual growth (cf. Hebrews 12:1).  They may rob us of time, energy, or other resources that we should be investing in the work of the Kingdom.  We need clarity of thinking if we are going to most effectively grow in our relationship with Christ.

 

Romans 12-15 The Practice of Salvation

Affects the way I think about people that I serve with (12:3-8)

Romans 12:3-8-There is a warning.  When we think about the fact that God has extended His mercy to us so that we might be saved…we might begin to think about ourselves inappropriately.  As if (1) we had somehow deserved God’s mercy and that makes us better than other people.  Or, (2) that having received God’s mercy we now have something that makes us better than other people.  Both involve wrong thinking.  Paul tells us to have right thinking about ourselves, and others.  Four times in verse three he uses a form of the word “phroneo”.  In the NASV, one time as, “think more highly”, two times it is translated as “think”, and one time as “sound judgment”.  The first time is speaking of thinking in such a way that you see yourself as better than other people, superior to them.  The last time speaks of thinking of yourself according to what God has done, not according to what you have done.  Notice the very next words say, “as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

 

Think

  1. to have understanding, be wise
  2. to feel, to think
  3. to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty
  4. to think or judge what one's opinion is
  5. to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

III. to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for

  1. to seek one's interest or advantage
  2. to be of one's party, side with him (in public affairs)

(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G5426&t=NASB)

 

Paul then explains that God’s mercy is extended to all of us equally and that all of us are equal before the Lord.  In verse 4, he uses the analogy of the human body to illustrate this…by saying that all parts of the body, while not having the same function, are yet all part of the same body.  Then, in verse 5, he says that it is the same in the body of Christ (the church).  His reasoning is that first of all…we are all part of the same body.  How could the body be better than itself?  Second, God is the one who gives each person the gift that he has.  So, no one can claim superiority based on his gift.  The word “gifts” speaks of the spiritual ability that God gives a person to accomplish the ministry that God has determined for him.

 

Gift, Giving:

"a gift of grace, a gift involving grace" (charis) on the part of God as the donor, is used”

(Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5486&t=NASB)

 

In verse 6, the words “gifts” and “grace” both come from this same root word, “charis”.  It could be paraphrased,

“And since the spiritual abilities that we have are different from person to person, based on how God has determined that they will be distributed…each of us should use their spiritual ability in a manner that is in keeping with the ministry God has determined for him to fulfill.”

Paul tells us to not think wrong and allow pride to be in us...but to accept the gift that God has given us as another act of His grace…and to use it to the very best of our ability…for the good of the body.

Affects the way I think about people I live with (12:9-16)

Romans 12:9-Having established this concept of having the right kind of thinking (that which is based on the fact that we are saved by the mercy of God)…Paul launches into a lengthy list of behaviors that should be practiced in terms of my relationships with other people.  This thinking is not mere theory…but, it is to be lived out as I interact with people.

Affects the way I think about people I struggle with (12:17-13:14)

Up to this point, most of the people that Paul has mentioned might well have been friends, people who have my well-being in mind (with the exception of verse 14).  But now, he takes a sharp turn and begins to deal with people that have bad will or intentions towards me.  Those that intend to do evil to me.  How do I respond to their actions?  In quick succession he mentions four practices.  First (:17), don’t respond to evil with evil.  In other words, don’t allow their behavior to become the standard for your behavior.  Second (:18), attempt to settle the matter in a peaceful manner.  Not only should we not respond with evil to evil…but, we should do the opposite and respond with peace.  Third (:19), place the matter in God’s hands.  Fourth (:20-21), go beyond simply responding in a peaceful manner and even do good to the one who has hurt you.  Your hope being that this response will have such a profound affect on the person that they will literally be overcome by your good.

Prayer: Lord, Paul tells us here that everything in our lives...our ministry, the way that we relate to other people...everything is to be done in light of Your mercy.  In verse 2 he tells us to be renewed in our minds...our way of thinking...and then we will do that which honors You.  So Lord, I pray that You will renew my mind.  Help me to see everything in light of Your mercy to me and to then act and live in a manner that is in keeping with that mercy.

 

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