Romans Chapter twelve

VERSE 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.

None of those condemned things shall be found in your hands, so that the LORD will turn from his fierce anger; he will show you mercy, have compassion on you, and increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your forefathers, 18 because you obey the LORD your God, keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes (Deuteronomy 13:17-18).

Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses (Joshua 11:18-20).

O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors (Psalm 59:5).

Under the old covenant, the general appeal of the people of Israel was for God to show them mercy, presuming that they were his chosen, holy covenant people – and for him to show no mercy to their enemies who opposed them and were hostile towards them and thereby also hostile towards their God.

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

As I have already mentioned elsewhere and in the commenting on the previous chapter, God is righteous and just.

 MIC 6:8   He has showed you, O man, what is good.
 And what does the LORD require of you?
  To act justly and to love mercy
  and to walk humbly with your God.

   JAS 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Remember in our study of Romans chapter 2 – Paul wrote concerning the Jews who had been entrusted with the Law: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Romans 2:1).

If the Jews were to appeal to God’s righteousness, and to his faithfulness and justice – and urge him to bring about judgment upon their enemies for their hostility towards Israel – and also to appeal to the LORD to justify Israel according to the extent of their obedience and faithfulness to the covenant, then they would either be naïve and ignorant of their own sin – or presumptuous in their self-righteousness and national pride.

It would be like asking God to turn a blind eye to their own sin and yet to judge the nations for their sin.

However if it occurred to the Jews that God hardens whom he chooses to harden and he humbles who he chooses to humble  – and that he has mercy upon whom he chooses to have mercy, – then it should also be evident that those who confess their own sin and humbly seek God’s mercy, will be those whom he leads to the Lord Jesus Christ – and that under the old covenant, and according to its strict terms, both Jew and Gentile were handed over to disobedience due to the sinful nature and the hardening of their hearts – and that all, Jew and Gentile were equally deserving of God’s wrath.

Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (Romans 11:30-32).

It is in view of God’s mercy – which is shown to all in Christ, – whether Jew or Gentile, who are humbled and grieved by their own former hostility, self-righteousness and religious and national pride – for when they look upon Jesus crucified, all pride and hostility in the flesh is broken down.

EPH 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:14-17).

Recently, the gospel has been increasingly perverted to suggest that God shows mercy to the friends of Israel – as if Israel was the righteous and holy one through whom people’s sins are atoined and forgiven. Such teaching is antichrist – as it set the nation up in the place of Christ, whereas Paul went to great lengths to show that none were righteous, whether Jew or Gentile and all were under sin and condemnation.

Peter, as a Jew, had at one time withdrawn himself from the Gentile believers on account of the former barrier and hostility that had existed between Jew and Gentile.

There was a strong influence and religious intimidation that kept Jews quite distinctly separate from Gentiles – even the Law prevented the close association and fellowship between Jews and gentiles. However, the apostle Paul had to rebuke even the apostle Peter for not acting in line with the truth of the gospel when he withdrew himself from Gentile believers.

GAL 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (.

It is in view of God’s mercy which is only shown in Christ that we give our only solidarity to Christ – and to those who have been reconciled to God and to each other through his mercy and unifying Spirit given to all who believe.

Remember, it was Judas who betrayed Jesus and who joined himself with those who plotted to kill Jesus. We must urge Jew and Gentile to e reconciled with God through their faith in Christ – for God does not show favour or mercy to any who despise Christ’s atoning blood.

Friendship with the world is enmity with God – compromise with the world, is to join with the world in their rebellion against Jesus which also amounts to hatred towards the Father. It is only by religious and national pride, with self-righteousness, that Jews who reject Christ, still want to be a separate nation – but to encourage their separateness apart from faith in Christ, is to tacitly join with their rebellion against the kingdom of God.

 ISA 63:8 He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”;
    and so he became their Saviour.
  ISA 63:9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.
  In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
    he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
  ISA 63:10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.
  So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.
PR 24:21 Fear the LORD and the king, my son,  and do not join with the rebellious,
PR 24:22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?

VERSE 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.

Those who become presumptuous and pride- and too confident in their own self-righteousness, will also then hardened by the LORD so that they become spiritually blinded to his purpose which is to make one new mankind in Christ – and they will tend to conform to the familiar pattern of the present world.

The people of Israel were exiled from the Land for having become unfaithful to the covenant. They imitated the idolatrous practices of the pagan nations and so were eventually scattered among the nations.

Selfishness, setting one’s own ambitions and desires above that of the will of God – and greed are forms of idolatry.

COL 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

JAS 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.    JAS 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? (James 4:1-5).

1JN 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17).

LK 21:34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Then Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up” (Matthew 13:3-4).

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path” (Matthew 13:18-19).

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:13-14).

 AM 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
    “when I will send a famine through the land–
  not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
    but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
  AM 8:12 Men will stagger from sea to sea 
    and wander from north to east,
  searching for the word of the LORD,
    but they will not find it

If people harden their hearts while confidently going about pursuing their own ambitions, or even feeling that they are enslaved by the pattern of the world, like the Hebrew slaves under Pharaoh, they will find themselves on a hardened path of conformity to the pattern of this world which will rob them of the proper priority of worshipping God and seeking first his kingdom.

They will find that their minds are so cluttered and engrossed with the things of this world which is destined to pass away – that they grow increasingly blinded and and ignorant of the etrnal things of the LORD concerning the world to come when Jesus is revealed from heaven in his splendor and glory (see for example 1 Corinthians 7:29-31).

For such people, even including those who seem eager to know the LORD and his will, but who distort the word of God to become a means towards prosperity and success within this world and by the standards of this world, they lose sight of God’s perfect will and his eternal purpose because they are so engrossed with the things of this present world and conformed to its selfish and greedy pattern.

Our worship of the Lord is through having our minds continually renewed with the knowledge of his will and purpose and it is revealed in his word.

Our very actions are determined by that which mostly occupies our minds.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:9-14).

VERSES 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.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).

Unless we are being effectively built into the body of Christ, perceiving our place and calling so that we function in the body according to God’s will and purpose, we would tend to find that we are always frustrated.

We may gather once or twice per week with the believers sensing that God has a very purposeful plan, but then we may disperse and each seemingly go our own way ending up by doing our own thing for the rest of the week – easily losing sight of God’s purpose as we each conform again to the familiar pattern and routine of this demanding world – each individual being absorbed by their own cares and interests in this very competitive world.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-20).

VERSES 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. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 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.

…speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:15-16).

VERSES 9-12 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:1-3).

The word translated as “angels” does ot necessarily mean celestial beings, for the word angel, means “messenger” – and in this context, showing hospitality to a traveller may have been the opportunity of receiving into one’s home a messenger sent by the Lord.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: `The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15 I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:5-16).

Remember the widow who received Elijah into her home and even shared with him what appeared to be such limited resources – through her hospitality she received God’s powerful word and his abundant life and blessing, even her son was raised from the dead when he died of an illness.

Jesus taught: He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:40-42).

VERSES 14-16 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

AC 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

The proud and conceited tend to look down upon other people – and it has pleased the LORD to make the message of the cross seem like foolishness to the proud – and so their own pride keeps them in spiritual darkness and still bound to their sinful nature.

Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee” (John 7:45-52).

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 1:26 – 2:5).

VERSES 17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 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. 20 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.