Romans 12 - May 18th
It appears to me that the twelfth chapter of the book of Romans is the chapter in which Romans transitions from the indicative mood to the imperative mood. That is to simply say that it is my observation that, at this point, Romans changes from focusing mainly on theological realities to now practical living. It is as if Paul is saying, “I have thus far revealed to you the theological truths and nature of your salvation; now, therefore, go and live in this manner.” And these two things are not mutually exclusive from one another. The natural product of a good and sound theology ought to be holy living! When one knows what Christ has done on their behalf and the very nature of the high calling to which they have been called, it ought to spur them to live a certain way, a godly way. When one knows the depths of mercy they have been shown and the treasure of grace that has been bought for them, it melts the heart and bids the person to obey the commands of Christ.
Sacrifice and Service
Paul begins his exhortation in verse 1 by appealing to the “mercies of God.” The basis of his exhortation will be rooted in the theological indicatives that he has been presenting throughout the last chapters, specifically that of God showing mercy to his elect and giving them the free gift of grace, granting them a righteousness entirely separate from their own merit. My reformation study bible states simply, “The biblical doctrine of grace leads to a life motivated by gratitude.” This gratitude leads us to lay our lives down. God has given us new life in love and grace, and we give it back to him in service and praise. We present our “bodies,” which is to say our whole person, as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Our bodies are not to be used as instruments of wickedness but instead as instruments of righteousness. More than this, Paul gives the exhortation to “not be conformed to this word, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Christians are not to become corrupted by the world and therefore conform to it, rather, we are to be transformed by having our minds renewed. A renewed mind is one that is dominated by the Word of God, one that has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Colossians 3:10 says, “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Paul also speaks about Christian service. And Christian service should be fueled by humility. Christ is our great example; the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stooped down and humbled himself to take on the form of a servant and die for his people. He washed feet, though he is the Creator of all. Should we not mimic this same behavior? Or do we think more highly of ourselves than Christ? It is for this reason that Paul says, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” God has given each one of us gifts to serve one another. We serve Christ using our gifts to serve his bride, the church.
Becoming Like Christ
Between verses 9 and 21, Paul gives a series of commands on how we as Christians ought to walk and the attitude we ought to possess. There are far too many things for me to write at length about any one thing, so instead, let me sum up what Paul is saying by saying this; Paul is exhorting us to be like Christ. Christ is our most excellent example of how we are to operate on this earth. Every quality that Paul states within these verses, Christ fulfills perfectly. Let us mimic Him in all of our conduct.