Scripture reading – Romans 12
On a personal note: I consider the 12th chapter of Romans to be a pivotal chapter, not only in our study of this book, but in my life. As a teenager, I grasped the importance of Paul’s exhortation when he wrote: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (12:1-2).
Consider what I suggest are five essentials for spiritual victory found in the first five verses of Romans 12. The first, salvation, implied by the title, “brethren,” indicating Paul and the believers in Rome shared a spiritual kinship because of the “mercies” and compassion of God (12:1a). The second, essential for spiritual success is a life characterized by a “living sacrifice” (12:1), one that is dedicated to God and is “holy, acceptable,” and in harmony with His will (12:1c).
Sanctification, the third essential for spiritual victory, was defined by Paul as a life “not conformed to this world,” but “transformed by the renewing of [the] mind” (12:2). Genuine salvation and sincere dedication to the Lord, so transform a believer’s life that it impacts his thoughts, feelings, and purpose. Paul, in his second letter to believers of Corinth, described the transformed life, writing, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things [attitudes and actions] are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The fourth essential for being a spiritual overcomer is to surrender your will to God’s will, proving “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (12:2b). Lastly, the life of a spiritual victor is characterized by a testimony of submission, evidenced in two qualities: the humility of a servant and harmony in the midst of diversity (12:3-5).
Humility: Paul exhorted every believer, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (for pride has no place in our lives, 12:3b). Instead, the believer is to think “soberly” [exercising good, sound judgment],knowing his gifts and talents are apportioned to him, not by merit, but by God’s grace and goodness (12:3c).
What is the effect when the hearts of God’s people are submissive, and fused together in serving God and ministering to others? — Harmony, Paul used the body as an illustration of harmony, writing: “4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (12:4-5; note also, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
Closing thoughts – Taking Paul’s analogy that compared the members of the body to the members of the church, we understand our physical bodies are comprised of many members (eyes, ears, nose, arms, fingers, legs, feet, etc.), and each member, though different, has its function. When a body is healthy, it is a picture of symmetry, as each member of the body works together. However, when a member of the body is injured or weakened, the whole body is affected.
The same is true of the members of a congregation. A church enjoys harmony when each member of the church submits to the head of the church—Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23). Proud, unruly church members can be as destructive to the congregation as cancer cells are in the body. Yet, the members of a church enjoy harmony when its members “present [their] bodies a living sacrifice,” and are sanctified, surrendered and submissive to the will of God (12:1-2).
Warning – When a congregation experiences disharmony, you can be certain there are members who are either not saved, or are refusing to submit to the will of God.
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