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"The Big 'So What' of Romans "
Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
September 22, 2004

We begin a brand new section of Romans tonight. Romans 9-11 was a brief break in Paul's argument; dealing with the important question of how God's plan of justification by faith relates to His promises to Israel. And now, in this new section (which runs from 12:1 to 15:13), Paul describes the consequences of all that he has said before. He shows us the kind of Christian life we should live in response to God's gracious work of justification by faith through Jesus Christ. It basically takes up where Paul left off in Romans 8:31-39; and it basically expands on what Paul hinted at in Romans 6:12. And the first two verses of this new section - 12:1-2 - are so important that we'll devote this evening to looking at them; because they establish the reason for all that he is going to tell us in the rest of the letter.

These two verses are joined together. You really can't take one without the other. They are connected by the conjunction translated "and" in verse 2. Verse 1 first gives us our necessary response of love and gratitude to God, and verse 2 gives us our necessary response to every-day life in the world. And both of them are based on one, magnificent key-note: the mercy of God toward us.

A. Paul "beseeches" or "exhorts" his readers to a response. He uses the conjunction "therefore" to call us to a natural consequence of all that he has already taught us in this letter. He calls them "brethren" , indicating that they have believed on Jesus and are joined to Him with all other believers. This teaches us that we cannot read Romans, believe what it says, and then remain the same. We must be changed by the truth we've learned.

B. The basis of what Paul is about to tell us is "the mercies of God"; which have been shown us in Christ and have been explained to us in chapters 3-11. The wording can suggest the means (that is, "through the mercies of God"); but the phrase will allow for causal sense (that is, "because of the mercies of God"), and this fits the context better. This means that the mercies of God is what obligates us to this response.

C. We are to "present" (or dedicate, or devote) our bodies to God (Rom. 6:13, 19). This is a figure of speech that gives a 'part' of something to describe the giving of the whole person.

1. A 'living' sacrifice - that is, one still useful and operative. It is one that lives a new life and that is freely available to God (Gal. 2:20).

2. A 'holy' sacrifice - that is, one that is seeking to be in accord with God's own character.

3. An 'acceptable' sacrifice - that is, one that is desired by God and that He will receive (see Rom. 14:18; 2 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 4:18; Col. 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb. 12:28, 13:21; 1 Pet. 2:5).

D. This is described as a "reasonable service". The word "service" (lateria - from which we get the English word 'latergical') means religious service of worship (John 16:2; Rom. 9:4; Heb. 9:1,6). It is called "reasonable" (logicos - from which we get our English word 'logical'), because it is consistent with the fact of Jesus' wonderful sacrifice for us.


A. The command not to be conformed is a part of what it means to be a sacrifice. We cannot be a sacrifice to God that is conformed to this world.

B. The prohibition (do not be conformed) is in the middle voice, meaning it's an action we do to ourselves. It assumes that we are already doing it and are to stop. But the command to be "transformed" (a completely different word) is one that is in the passive voice - that is, an action that someone else does to us. It's in the present tense; and indicates an action that we are to always allow to be done to us.

C. The means of this transformation is through the renewing of the mind (see 7:6). The mind is one of the most crucial aspects of our spiritual life; and here, it is not merely "reformed" but "renewed". The goal is to prove the character of God's will; that it is . . .

1. Good (that is, morally good).

2. Acceptable (that is, not to man but to God Himself).

3. Perfect (that is, complete and fulfilled in Christ.)

D. And this is to be done through us! Therefore, we should beware of this world's standards; and be aware of God's will.

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