Romans 12:1-13:14 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Ethics
Comments for Study 10

Romans 12:1-13:14
Memory Verse: 12:1-2

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These two chapters are about ethics concerning the relationship between believers and unbelievers as well as their relationship with the country that they are living in. Read the passage and divide it according to the content and gave a title to it.

I. Holy and Living Sacrifices (12:1-2)

>1. Why do believers have to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God? (1)

* Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

* "God's mercy" -God's sacrifice of his Son (5:8), God giving us eternal life (6:23), God calling us his children (8:17), God's generosity (8:32), God's love (8:39), and God's calling us to him in spit of who we were (11:5).

* Offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God pleases God.

* Offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God is true worship.

>What does it specifically mean to offer a living sacrifice?

* "to offer" -An offering is freely and joyfully given.

* "your bodies" -all of us. This implies heart, action, thought, and will.

* "living sacrifices" -A sacrifice always cost the giver. Jesus sacrifice for us was his dying for our sins. However, before he died for our sins he lived a sacrificial life. His three year ministry was also an offering to God. Thus, the living part of a sacrifice for us is very important. Not all will be martyrs, but all will offer their lives to God. Of the two, a living sacrifice is a greater offering than martyrdom.

* "true worship" -Today in western culture and churches people often talk of worship when they are talking of singing in a choir or playing in a Christian musical group. Paul's view of true worship is much broader and totally sacrificial.

* Paul is saying we should live our day to day life not for ourself but for God and his will.

* Paul also writes of not receiving God's grace in vain in 2 Cor. 6:1-2 and then gives a long list in verses 3-10 how he lived as a sacrifice for others.

* Martin Luther wrote concerning this verse, "It does not help a tree to sprout green leaves and flowers if it does not produce fruit beside its flowers." He explains this as meaning many nominal Christians perish in their flowering. He adds, "No one is so good as that he could not become better, no one is so evil as that he could not become worse."

>2. What is the obstacle in offering oneself as a living sacrifice?

* Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

* "the pattern" -A pattern reminds me of the dot-to-dot pictures I completed as a child. They were like puzzles. A series of numbered dots were scattered on a page. The object was to connect the dots is numerical order with a straight line; number one dot would connect with two, then two with three, and so on. Eventually as I followed the pattern of dots a picture would form. This world has life dots in it. When a person follows the dots that this world has set as a pattern, they create a picture of eventual destruction, a life apart from God. when a person follows the dots of life that Jesus lived and taught the pattern creates a picture of a life that is pleasing to God.

* "of this world" -People who live for the here and now, whether they acknowledge it or not.

* "conform" -means becoming like. This reminds me of the plastic mold machines that were in shopping malls when I was a kid. When fifty cents were put into the machine two metal molds would come together. Then hot plastic injected into the mold conformed to the pattern carved into the molds. After the plastic had cooled and solidified the molds would come apart and a plastic statue of a cartoon character that matched the pattern in the mold would drop out. When I took the character out of the machine, the plastic was always still hot. Similarly we can conform to the world pattern of self gratification or Jesus' life pattern of sacrificial living.

>Why is the life of "being transformed" and "discerning God's will" so important?

* "be transformed" -implies that all at first live according to the pattern of this world. When God calls us through Jesus and the work of His Spirit we must choose to change. After God forgives our sins in Christ he wants us to repent. Repent means to change ones mind and actions from sins (actions against God) to actions according to God's will.

* "by the renewing of your mind" -Renewing implies time; now and continual. Discernment is needed in a believer's life. The Holy Spirit reveals God's will when he study the Bible so that we are able to discern. Paul's phrasing implied that before God calls us our thinking is wrong.

* Psalm 119:9-11, 37.

>What do you have to do to discern God's will?

* "test and approve what God's will is" -test by living according to the will of God found in the Bible. Approve when the test is completed and proves the word is true.

* Study the word of God diligently.

* Live by the word of God.

* Get advice and teaching from elders in Jesus.

* Live by the Spirit of God.

>3. Why is offering oneself as a living sacrifice the basis of ethics?

* God set the example of living a sacrificial life in Jesus.

* Sacrificial living is the way set by God. It is not the way to be saved. It is the way to live after we are saved. Sacrificial living is a response to the call of God.

* Sacrificial living is not just obeying the laws as the Jews did, it is a joyful and thankful offering from the heart.

* "God's will" -Does this mean specifically for my life or for any believer's life in general? It means both. If I think like God I may test and approve what God's will is for my life.

* "his good, pleasing and perfect will" -John Calvin says that Paul added these three epithets so that we may desire God's will all the more over our own will.

II. A Believer's Social Life (12:3-13:14)
Relationship Between Believers (3-13)

>4. How is the body of Christ formed? (3-5)

* Romans 12:3-5 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

* After talking of the will of God in a general term he begins to get specific in these following verses.

* As one body.

* Many members.

* Each member is unique.

* Each member belongs and works with the other members.

* "in Christ" -Jesus is the important binding factor.

* Humility, love and respect is needed.

* Every believer needs every other believer.

>How should we think of ourselves and of other believers?

* "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought" -pride is wrong amongst believers.

* "sober judgment" -clear thinking. Pride is a drink for fools.

* "in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you" -faith produces humility. The greater the faith, the more one realizes just how unimportant and unimpressive they are compared to others in christ. At the same time we have comfort knowing that God loves us as he has made us; that is, for who we are and who he plans for us to be.

* "each member belongs to all the others" -we are not our own. No believer lives alone. No believer worships alone.

* We should be satisfied that God loves us as we are and as me makes us to be.

>5. How are the gifts given to people different from each other? (6-8)

* Romans 12:6-8 "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

* prophesy (6) - interpret and understand God's word and to those few whose faith is made strong through persecution and trials such as the apostles had, new revelations and understandings backed up by Scriptures and at least one other prophet.

* serving (7) - make an environment for worship and service in love

* teaching (7) - raising young believers by explaining the implementation of God's word

* encouraging (8) - helping others to be strengthened in faith and love

* contributing to the needs of others (8) - monetary and practically providing help especially deacons and deaconess.

* leadership (8) - organizing the body to work together to the goals God has given us

* showing mercy (8) - not just in empathy, but also in practical compassion especially to the sickly and infirmly and very young.

* Each believer has at least one gift at any time. Some may have more than one. Some have one gift in greater proportion than another. But all have been given a gift so that we as the body of Christ may do what God has planned for us to do.

* I believe that the only person to ever display all of these gifts at one time was our Lord Jesus.

* 1 Corinthians 13 and 14 also deals with the subject of gifts.

>With what attitude should we use the gift given to each of us?

* The gift God gives us is not for ourselves but to use for others in love.

* The gift God gives us is not to boast our pride, but to bring glory to God.

* The gift God gives is used by faith in Him and his Son Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit.

* Exercising the gifts in faith and love, in spirit and truth helps the body and us grow in many ways.

>What is the gift you received from God and how do you use it?

* How can we know the gift God has given us? I have seen and taken tests that did not give me as much evidence of the gifts I now know that I have as I was told that test would reveal about me. In other words, some gift revelation tests are better then others. I have learned that the best test is practically acting in faith and love and asking others with knowledge and love if I am being effective in the gospel work and how might I serve better.

* Just because God has given us a gift does not mean that we have all that is needed to best utilize that gift. We will have to learn from others who have the same gift especially our elders. At the same time an elder must recognize and encourage the young in faith who display the same gift that they have and accept if God has blessed them with a greater ability in that gift.

>6. How should believers in Jesus love each other? (9-13)

* Romans 12:9-13 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

* What ever gift God has given us we should you for others in love of them and of God.

* "sincere" -not good minded, but from the heart.

* "brotherly love" -we are a family in Jesus. There are limits to how we express this love. Some have used their gifts to sin.

* "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" -one expression goes with the other and edifies the other. Hope can and should produce joy. Affliction can and should produce perseverance. Prayer can and should produce faith.

* Notice the verbs used in these verses.

Relationship Between Believers and Non-Believers (14-21)

>7. What attitude should believers in Jesus have when they have a difficult time with non-believers? (14-17)

* Romans 12:14-17 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody."

* Jesus taught these very same things during the sermon on the mount as recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7.

* See people as possible future believers in Jesus, future brothers and sisters in the Lord.

* When people are happy at times it may be hard for us to be happy. When people are bitter and sad at times it may be hard for us to be with them in somber mood.

>8. Why shouldn't believers in Jesus repay evil for evil? (18-21)

* Romans 12:18-21 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

* Doing evil makes a person evil. By the evil in ones heart a man does evil.

* "Heap burning coal" -their conscience will be stricken when they see you repay their evil with love and kindness. Thus they may repent and turn to God for forgiveness. Judah repented when Tamar displayed that she was more righteousness than he (Gen. 38:26). Tamar's actions heap burning coals on Judah's conscience for the good of both.

Believers and Country (13:1-14)

>9. What kind of attitude should believers have toward the governing authorities?

* "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities"

* Man's law should never override God's law.

* Daniel and Joseph are good examples on how believers should live in a country where the government are hostile to God and his word.

>Why should we do like that? (1-2)

* Romans 13:1-2 "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

* "no authority except that which God has established" -no exceptions; not Pharaoh, not the Assyrians, not the Babylonians, not Greece, not Roman, not the Turks, no king, no queen, no president, no mayor, no supervisor, no boss, no judge, no pastor, no elder, no exceptions.

* when Paul wrote this Christians were persecuted by Jew and Gentile leaders.

>10. Why are rulers and governing authorities needed in a country? (3-4)

* Romans 13:3-4 "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

* "For he is God's servant to do you good" -leaders are to do good and all people are. Just as all sin, so leaders also sin. Few leaders in human history have actually had true faith in God, and yet God establishes them all.

* "he does not bear the sword for nothing" -most leaders rule is maintained by the sword. Few have been maintained because the people loved them and trusted them.

* "an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" -All human society must have laws in order to function. A society without laws falls apart. A society without order has a better chance of serving it people then a society based on chaos and each man for lives for him own gratification.

* The basic duties of government is to defend all its people and work to build a better society.

* the basic duties of the governed is to answer to call of the government to defend the society and assist in building a better society especially by obeying the laws.

* Any government that acts against God and God's people will fail and be punished.

* Any governed that acts against God and God's people will suffer the consequences.

>What should be our attitude toward taxes?

* Pay them.

* Jesus paid taxes.

* Jesus taught, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's."

* Leaders are always tempted to tax more than what is needed to run the government.

>11. With what attitude should the rulers rule the people? (4, 6)

* Romans 13:4-6 "For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. his is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing."

* Do good.

* Be God's servant.

* Know what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of God; do them and enforce them.

>12. What should be the basic spirit of relationships with our neighbors? (8-10)

* Romans 13:8-10 "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. he commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

* Love one another.

* Bear each other's burdens.

* Don't harm others.

* Romans 13:11-14 "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

* "the present time" -The age of preaching the gospel was started with Jesus first coming and will end with his second coming.

* "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber" -This is an echo of Jesus' teaching of the ten virgins awaiting the return of their bridegroom.

* "our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed" -Many modern believers in Jesus think their salvation is complete. Our salvation is not complete. We have not been rescued for our physical bodies of decay and the current worldly government. I discuss this in my manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires.

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