|Romans 12 |
1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service and worship.1 [At the conclusion of the death of our selfish, sinful nature, we are washed on the inside with holy water, we are burned with the Holy Spirit's baptism of fire, the blood of Jesus is sprinkled in our consciences, (the door to our heart), and we offer the incense of prayerful praise, joy, and thanksgiving for being freed from the darkness of this world to enter the kingdom. These are the events that you must see, feel, and experience before your belief has yielded salvation.]
2 And do not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may recognize what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.2
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same position.3
5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members of one another [in each others hearts].
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that has been given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
8 Or he that exhorts, on exhortation. He that gives, let him do it with simplicity. He that rules, with diligence. He that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let your love be without pretense or feigned. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love; in honor preferring [and deferring to] one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; endure in suffering; persevere in prayer;4
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be arrogant, but respectfully associate with the poor. Do not be conceited with a high opinion of yourself.
17 Do not return evil for evil to any man. Make your actions honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.5 [From the Word of the Lord within: "Strive to live at peace with all men."]
19 Dearly beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather avoid retribution. For it is written, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay," says the Lord.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
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1 Paul says present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service and worship. The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament featured washing of the inwards, their blood was sprinkled on altar by the door to the tabernacle, and then burned with fire; incense was part of the grain offering as well as the lamp tending. At the conclusion of the death of our selfish, sinful nature, we are washed on the inside with holy water, we are burned with the Holy Spirit's baptism of fire, the blood of Jesus is sprinkled in our consciences, (the door to our heart), and we offer the incense of prayerful praise, joy, and thanksgiving for being freed from the darkness of this world to enter the kingdom. These are the events that you must see, feel, and experience for you to be a true believer in the Son of God.
You must put to death the lusts, pleasures, and addictions of your body; as Paul says Rom 8:13: For if you live according to the flesh, [the sinful nature], you will die; but if through the Spirit you mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, you shall live. The Spirit is the one who searches your heart, showing you your sins, giving you the motivation to repent; which, when you do repent, the spirit then kills and removes that sin in your heart. Do this repetitively, and you will become without sin by the Spirit's removal of sin. Then your body is a new wineskin, fit to be inhabited by Christ and the Father, who make their home in those who love and obey them; who dwell in your body, the temple of the living God. Then your body is their vehicle, as they prompt you, lead you, and energize you to serve God and your fellow man in love — this is the true worship, which is then your supreme joy.
2 Paul says to prove what is the will of God for you. This is not to be assumed. To begin, the will of God is for you to crucify your sinful nature on the inward cross of self-denial, so that you can be reunited and reconciled with him through Christ, our savior. Those who live in the flesh, cannot please God. You do this by listening to and obeying the word of God, Jesus, within your heart. So you must kill the sinful nature, and have Christ resurrected within you — then you are extremely pleasing to God. When you produce the fruit of the spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, faith, etc., then you bring glory to God. So here is your lifetime's opportunity — to bring glory to God by producing much fruit: When you produce much fruit, my Father is honored and glorified, and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers]. After you have been crucified by the Spirit to produce fruit and be under complete control of the Spirit, you will be directed by God to do works to his glory, even energized by the Spirit.
3 For as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same position. In the body of Christ, just like your body has different function, (hands, foot, eye, mouth, leg, stomach, etc.), there are different members in Christ's body. Christ is the king of all, and everyone has an office in the body of Christ; but different people have different measures of the Spirit of Christ; everyone is not equal. Another great worthy of the Lord, Isaac Penington, wrote of this inequality:
And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon, bless God, that has provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despises him that is sent, despises Him that sent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God has bestowed upon any person, despises the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Has God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, different growths, different places, etc.?
Then, if God has made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that, which does not acknowledge this, but would make all equal? Oh my Friends! Fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he has made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He has given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and what is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.
Therefore watch, everyone, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and everyone owned and honored in the Lord, and not otherwise.
William Caton, a young Quaker minister, was lamenting over his small stature in Christ, compared to some senior Quaker worthies he had observed, when the Lord gave him this classic understanding:
The Lord showed me how they that had much, had nothing left over; and they that had little, had no lack — just like it was with the Israelites of old. For the brethren who were wise and eminent, who had received much from the Lord, notice there was that much more required of them; so that of all they had, they had nothing over, but what they were to employ in the work and service of God.
One of the principle reasons the Quaker faith deteriorated into apostasy was because the later members assumed they were just as enlightened as George Fox, Edward Burrough, Francis Howgill, George Whitehead, William Penn, Margaret Fox, etc.; and because they had different opinions than their early founders, they assumed their founders were wrong and they were right. They believed in their equality with those who had entered the kingdom of God and who were heavenly dignities; they assumed their talk about the kingdom was just a figure of speech or that the founders were deluded.
It is the flesh that is ambitious; the Spirit is humble. So, what should be your desire when you become a member of the body of Christ? To be all you can be, for Him; but to trust Him to know exactly what position is best for you, whether great or small. The Word of the Lord within said to me: "Imagine a place where everyone runs the race to their utmost ability, but desiring to come in last;" if you are curious what that means, see the footnote to 1 Cor 9:24.
4 persevere in prayer — but in the spirit. Prayers from your carnal mind are an abomination to God. Prayers from the Spirit, are prayers with words supplied by the Spirit of God within you.
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching in this with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Eph 6:18
Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities for we do not know what we should pray for as we should, but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom 8:26
Isaac Penington gives us an excellent insight into praying in the Spirit:
I shall instance only in prayer. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Eph 6:18. Mark all prayer and supplication must be in the Spirit; yes, it must be always in the Spirit, which speaks in the heart to God, and makes the intercession, or it is no prayer. If a man speaks ever so much from his own spirit, with ever so much earnestness and affection, yet it is no prayer, no true prayer, but only so far as the Spirit moves to it, and so far as the Spirit leads and guides in it. If a man begins without the Spirit, or goes on without the Spirit, this is out of the worship; this is in his own will, and so will-worship; and according to his own understanding, and so fleshly worship; both which are to be crucified, and not to be followed in anything under the gospel.
Until you have words supplied by the Spirit, listen silently for his teachings and instructions. How can you hear when you are telling him what you want him to do. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:7-8.
Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10.
Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord. Zech 2:13.
In repentance and rest you are saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isa 30:15.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life-giving. John 6:63.
And if you don't get quiet to listen, how are you going to hear, so that you might attain life?
5 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone. From the Word of the Lord within: "Strive to live at peace with all men." Pursue peace with all men, and holiness [consecration, sanctification], without which no man will see the Lord. Heb 12:14. Some of the efforts you must make to live at peace with everyone are as follows:
Forgive all offences from others by:
- As William Penn has said: "When your neighbor wrongs you, do not resent him; rather have pity for his lack of wisdom and understanding that would prevent his wrongful acts. We should make more haste to do right to our neighbor, than we do to wrong him; and instead of being revengeful, we should leave him to be judge of his own satisfaction or dissatisfaction with his unjust acts."
- Reject all anger against anyone, knowing it is hate and murder in your heart, which subjects you to judgment.
- Do not replay in your mind the injustices done to you, which only reinforces your temptation to hold anger over them. Force your mind to think of something else.
- Do not allow yourself to hold a grudge against anyone.
- Remembering all your sins done to others, and remembering that you have been forgiven by the Lord for them, ask yourself if you would have the Lord send them to Hell for what they have done to you?
- Pray for those who have treated you unjustly; even visualize hugging them in love.
- If possible, do good to those who have wronged you.
Don't argue about anything. Walk away from arguments. From the Word of the Lord within:
- "The holy people of God should avoid contentions and protracted wrangling over the bitter truth; avoid public opposition."
- "Never speak critically of any individual or any organization, no matter how deserving of criticism they are."
- "Be blind to the faults of others. Before we correct, we must be corrected. He who points the finger had better make sure his finger is clean."
- "Avoid foolish controversies."
- "Fend off pointless questions."
- Strive to be low.
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