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Bible: What Does Romans 12 Teach Us About the Sacrificial Service of the Church?

Updated on September 8, 2016



The Will of God

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The Holy Scriptures


Romans 12: Sacrificial Service in the Body of Christ

Offer Yourself to God as a Living Sacrifice

In light of all that Paul has told them about the great salvation that God has provided for them (“the mercies of God”), the apostle urges Roman church members to submit their bodies as living sacrifices in order to serve God.

He calls this action “holy and acceptable” and this service rational (v. 1).

[It is a reasonable decision to dedicate yourself to serve God your Savior.]

Those so devoted should not live according to the standards and values of the world system, Paul says, but should seek to renew their mind (accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s application of the word of God [cf. Titus 3:5]) and to conduct themselves as new creatures in Christ, as people who have undergone a spiritual metamorphosis (v. 2a).

[The Spirit will use prayer, meditation on the Word, and obedience to Christ’s commands to help believers think biblically and live a godly life.]

Such a life will demonstrate what the perfect will of God is for the believer: progressive sanctification (v. 2b; cf. 1 Thess. 4:3).

Spiritual Gifts

Has God ceased to give certain spiritual gifts?

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The Body of Christ

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The Place Where the Church Exercises Spiritual Gifts


Diversity of Spiritual Gifts in the Body

With the Spirit’s enabling grace, Paul instructs the Roman believers to consider seriously how they might best serve God, warning them not to inflate their opinion of the quantity of their God-given abilities (v. 3).

[Neither should they deflate their worth.]

As the different parts of the human body have different functions, so do those of the many members in the body of Christ (vv. 4-5); Paul, therefore, encourages these believers to use their differing spiritual gifts to serve others (v. 6a).

He lists seven gifts and the attitude that should govern their exercise (vv. 6b-8):

(1) “Prophets” (those who proclaim the Scriptures’ message) must speak in accordance with truth already revealed (v. 6b);

(2-4) Servants, teachers, and exhorters should use their gifts to help the brethren physically, spiritually, and emotionally (vv. 7-8a);

(5) Givers must do it freely and generously (v. 8b);

(6) Leaders must work hard (v. 8c); and

(7) Those showing mercy must behave in such a way that it encourages the depressed (v. 8d).

Christian Deportment

Next, the epistle delineates another series of items, this time of ten general Christian behavior traits (vv. 9-21):

First, believers must show genuine love for God and for others; they must not wear the mask of a hypocrite, hiding their true attitude (v. 9a);

Second, they must recognize the difference between good and evil, and then choose to adhere to the good and to hate the evil (v. 9b);

Third, they must show kindness and genuine friendship to fellow Christians; these qualities should manifest themselves in their putting others first when honor comes their way (v. 10);

Fourth, they should serve the Lord with great ardor, not allowing laziness to creep into their activities (v. 11);

Fifth, they should not give up when trials come, but remain hopeful and perseverent, and continue praying (v. 12);

Sixth, they should generously give what they can to help the needy, and seek to be warm and sociable (v. 13);

Seventh, they should seek the good of enemies, not desire their destruction (v. 14);

Eighth, they should empathize with people as the latter experience times of both joy and sorrow in their lives (v. 15);

Ninth, they should cultivate a humble mind, not elevate themselves over the lowly or regard themselves as wise (v. 16); and

Tenth, they should never take revenge, always show respect for right things, and do their best to live at peace with everyone (v. 17).

Paul spends extra time on this last attitude, probably because the government and other enemies were mistreating the Roman Christians at that time.

He quotes OT Scripture that instructs God’s people to allow the LORD to exact vengeance (vv. 17-19; cf. Deut. 32:35).

Instead of seeking to avenge wrongdoing by hurting enemies, Christians should do good to them.

By taking care of their needs, they will cause their enemies’ consciences to disturb them (v. 20).

Believers should not allow evil to defeat them; instead, they should defeat evil people by doing good to them (v. 21).


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