Digging Deeper Days
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; 7 if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
1) What does a life surrendered to Christ look like? (verse 1, 6-21)
After spending the majority of his letter to the Romans expounding on the incredible richness available to us through Christ for this life and the next, Paul turns our attention to practically living out our everyday lives from this perspective. His short answer is that we, collectively as a whole body of believers, are to present ourselves as a singular living sacrifice together, set apart as holy to Him. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were now rendered obsolete by Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but what every believer can still give is the holy offering of our lives as acts of worship and obedience. Paul urges all believers to present the whole of our lives to God for His holy work. Hebrews 13:15-16 helps us understand the believer’s sacrifice is marked by continuous praise, doing good in love, and sharing what we have. These “living sacrifices” are pleasing to God. Romans 11:33-36 is a beautiful poetic picture of the cry of the adoring heart as it offers thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. This passage speaks of the depth of the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God. His ways and decisions are far beyond the mind of man, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory Forever!” (Romans 11:36) Paul’s outburst of song was to heartily remind the believers in Rome that, if they were truly surrendered to Christ, having a transformational change in their lives owing only to God, then the overflow would burst forth in worship of both their tongue and their lives. This was no superficial shift, but a very real whole-heart adjustment, and the result was a deep, stirring desire to worship the Only One Worthy of such complete adoration. The sacrifice of life was demonstrated by serving with the whole self, ready to do His will moment by moment with a heart of adoration. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. A transformed heart results in a worship so deep and radical it overflows as continual “living sacrifices” to the God who rescued us and made us new!
2) What does it mean for believers to not be conformed to this age? (verse 2)
Paul used imagery that would quickly connect with his audience as he wrote of God’s heart call to not be “conformed” to this age. His Greek word usage for conform gave the idea of making a copy or following a pattern and passing it along. In contrast, however, the Greek for “transform” means entirely new, not manufactured on our own power, but to quite literally become something altogether different. Paul wanted his readers to immediately understand the significant difference between self-induced patterning and radical transformative metamorphosis because of Jesus! Paul was a list-maker (maybe you are too!), and in his letters he listed several examples of worldly patterns including “sexual immorality, moral impurity, outbursts of anger, drunkenness, envy, and anything similar.” (Galatians 5:19-21) The temptation to sin is strong; there is hardly an end to the list of things the lover of Jesus should shun. Because we have been transformed, utterly made new, our hearts and lives are meant to be expressed not for self, but for Christ! Everything should be done for God’s glory! (1 Corinthians 10:31) Transformation is not a matter of impulse, on again and off again, rather it is continuous as we submit ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Paul’s intentional wording reminds us this transformation is not done of ourselves, instead we “are being transformed…from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) As believers, we are not, however, passive in this transformation process, it is our duty is to cooperate fully, allowing the Spirit to do His work in our hearts and lives. Conforming to this world chooses to worship ourselves instead of the Lord. Live with a heart ready to humbly offer surrender in worship, ready to be transformed by the Spirit of God as you lean in to His wisdom! (Proverbs 2:1-5)
3) What does it mean to not repay evil for evil? (verses 17-18)
Here, Paul reiterates the principle of non-retaliation for the Christian that Jesus taught. (Matthew 5:38-48) Verse 17 reads, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.” Paul didn’t want the recipients of his letter to be left wondering what it looked like to follow Christ in everyday life on this side of eternity. Romans 12 answers that question. Revenge feels natural and all-important in the moment of anger, or in looking back after being poorly treated, but Paul declares we must resist this human, fleshly instinct, instead surrendering to the Spirit’s work. By His power in us, we can actively refuse to pay back evil to another who has done evil toward us. This is true whether the person who hurts us is a believer or not. Rather than emotionally react, Paul tells us to be thoughtful when evil is done to us. He suggests we see that moment of lusting after retaliation to be an opportunity to instead demonstrate Christ’s love He extends freely to all people. “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.” (verses 19-20) After all, we cannot display Christ’s love and forgiveness until we have the opportunity to forgive someone! When we do, we are making a powerful statement about the kind of love Jesus lavishly gives. Acting with intentional goodness toward our enemies is far more effective in showing them God’s heart than attempting petty revenge. Together, let’s refuse to sink to evil’s level of repayment, instead leaving justice to God!
We live in a day when finding authenticity is a challenge. From imitation crab to faux nails to Instagram filters, we work hard to have the appearance of the “real thing”. While this condition is commonplace in our world, it is a tragedy when it comes to a believer’s life. If we are brutally honest with ourselves, “Imitation Christianity” is something all believers are tempted with on various levels. It’s easier to live our everyday lives without considering our call to be “living sacrifices” to our God. Imitation Christians can be difficult to spot as they can appear on the outside like a genuine believer. Church attendance, generous giving, a good neighbor, and even serving in church are all marks of genuine believers, but they are easily copied by going through the motions. What is impossible to imitate, however, is a transformed heart of worship! Are we true believers or only imitating? To help us understand what it looks like in everyday life to be an authentic “living sacrifice”, Paul lays out several characteristics each anchored firmly in a heart attitude of sacrificial worship to God. “Let love be without hypocrisy.” (verse 9) Only authentic love, flowing from the heart of God Himself, can genuinely be without hypocrisy. Real love is a matter of the heart, not the face. Masking your real feelings and intentions with superficial niceties is a charade none can sustain before others, and certainly we cannot deceive the Lord God. “Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. ” (verses 9-10) Hearts truly transformed by Jesus and indwelt by the Holy Spirit will neither be passive nor indifferent about evil. Rather, they will be repulsed by it, despising what harms others and dishonors God. In place of harsh, self-righteous judgement, the worshipful heart will cling steadfastly to what is good, humbly believing the best and choosing to honor others over themselves. May we each evaluate our hearts before the Lord, asking Him to convict us regarding true sacrifices of worship that honor Him. Let’s bless others graciously and be honoring with our words, choosing to live every day from the overflow of worship!
2) What does it mean for believers to not be conformed to this age? (verse 2)
Conforming is so easy! It requires little effort or thought to follow the pattern provided by those around us. Just do what everyone else is doing! While following the well-traveled road can provide a sense of safety, comfort, and belonging, the Christ-follower has been made new that we may live with a full abundance the world does not understand. As you consider your heart desires, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are following a worldly pattern. Ask Him for conviction and repentance! Ask the Spirit to encourage you where you are choosing to live in full surrender to His work of transformation in you. Guard and celebrate these areas! Identifying worldly patterns is nearly impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who brings conviction in order to shift our hearts, not to condemn or shame us. Whether you feel drawn away by wanting a bigger or better house, car, or lifestyle, remember that every believer is called to fight against the pull of the world’s pattern for life. While these feel appealing, they are temporary and can lure our hearts away from worshipping the Only One Worthy of our life’s sacrifice of worship. Only Jesus will satisfy. Purposefully fight against following the pattern by steady surrender to the Holy Spirit in your everyday life. Dare to break free from pattern-following, Ladies! Follow the Good Shepherd of our hearts for the most abundant life possible! Resist the tempting urge to focus on the physical and fleeting delights of this world, setting your heart on things of Christ (Colossians 3:2), determining to be renewed in our minds (verse 2), and ready for action in this transformation process! Rebel against the power of darkness and the schemes of the world. Be a nonconformist, a rebel with a cause for Christ!
3) What does it mean to not repay evil for evil? (verses 17-18)
God spoke through Paul to pen the difficult words, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” While we may find it easy, or at least, easier to live peaceably with our friends, the Lord leaves no wiggle room for exception cases. He commands us to “live at peace with everyone.” While Christians need not look far before we find someone with whom we disagree, whether believer or not, God calls us to live peaceably with them. Honor. Love. Respect. Kindness. Gentleness. These should characterize our engagement with, well, everyone. Lost souls without Jesus do not come to Him because a Christian condemned their outward choices, but rather, because they showed the rich, selfless love of the Savior in everyday life circumstances. As believers, there are certainly times to call out our brothers and sisters who are choosing sinful, destructive life patterns, but even this is to be hemmed in love, seeking their peaceful reconciliation with God. Paul’s timely message reminds us of 3 keys to living peaceably with everyone: 1) Retaliation does not belong to us, only to God. In the end, no human being has the right to judge, only the God of all justice can do this. 2) Treating one another with kindness results in lasting change. Vengeance brings discord and piles on hurt, but kindness motivates repentant hearts and fosters deep relationships, which allow space for authentic conversations. 3) Evil can never be conquered by evil. Hatred, if met with more hatred, only results in its increase. If we stoop to revenge, then we ourselves have been overcome by evil. Booker T Washington stated, “I shall not allow any man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” Mark Twain adds, “The only safe and sure way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.”
Digging Deeper is for Everyone!
1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!
Why Dig Deeper?
Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.
In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!
Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.
We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.
Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!
Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))
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