1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We left off in Chapter 11 talking about that no one has given to God that God need repay them. It is that all things are from God and that is absolutely true when it comes to salvation. Though the Jew for a time has hardened his heart, thus receiving a “blindness” from God, the Gentile now received open eyes for an age so that a many as can be saved will be saved.
Because of this Paul calls us to give our mortal bodies as living sacrifices. No longer living in a way to satisfy its desires, but to now live as though the body was placed on an alter. I have heard of some that state that the difference between the OT sacrificial system and the NT system is that The Lamb was slain that took sin away, allowing for us to place our own being, on the alter before Jesus to offer each of us as a living sacrifice unto God. In this as we lay willingly down acknowledging our own death, we become a fragrant aroma unto God “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)
Genesis 8: 20 -22 “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done" As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
Being like the OT sacrifice we now also have the promise of never being destroyed. Instead we are promised the “renewing of our minds” so that as we live as living sacrifices we prove that God’s will is also as He promised… “good and acceptable and perfect”.
No one has come into the Life of Christ without the gift of faith. It was by Grace faith was dealt to each of us. God has a purpose for each one of us. We are called the “Body of Christ” and realize that we are dependant on Christ Jesus as our Head. Here we have diversity and unity in action. We are One Body, yet many Parts of the same Body. I see this much like the Trinity itself. Unified, yet Each Person unique and with a specific purpose again acting as One in that same Purpose.
Some teach the gifts of God or at least some of them have ended, which is very sad as here Paul is stating, no encouraging with much enthusiasm, that we, having been given these gifts by God’s grace, to use these gifts “in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering”. Yet, some state that even the gift Paul states first and foremost here, as not even a valid one for today.
What is saddest to me is that here some deny the Holy Spirits’ power to minister in their own flocks.
Now many attach agendas to “love” and Paul encourages us to “Let love be without hypocrisy”. We should not attach our agenda, and I would be so bold to even say that to approach someone to come to our very church as possibly not having a pure motive at times. When was the last time you took time to “love” unconditionally and without an agenda someone else. Have you fed the family that has no food without advertising who you are? Have you given blankets or coats to those who are cold, without saying I am from such and such church? Jesus stated, do not let your right hand know what your left was doing, (Matt 6:3) Yet, most often we are out promoting our church or denomination in front of Jesus! When was the last time “love” compelled you to do “good works” God prepared for us to do? (Ephesians 2:10) Try it… you might be amazed in what God will do when you step back and not put your agenda ahead of His.
Though many bibles will have the subtitles (which in no way are scripture) some might say “Act like Christians”. In this world, actors are fakes! I will state that to “act like a Christian” will make you fake! Instead practice being what you already are… a Christian. There is no acting involved if you are already what you are. If you are redeemed of the Lord, then be just that! If you just practiced this one point in your life in Christ, you will see all the attributes Paul speaks of coming true in you. Re-read the passage from verses 9-21 and see what amazing things one will be like if agendas are dropped and letting yourself be who God is creating by the transformation of the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus.
Lastly just a word of encouragement.
“17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.”.
Over the last couple of years I have had some very awful and nasty things stated about me. I admit fully at times I became angry. Yet, I also must thank those who persecute and have attacked me in that I have learned to now laugh and not worry about protecting myself. Rather, if their accusations be false, then I will let God repay them if He desires. This has freed me in many ways. I no longer care what someone states about me. (I will slip at times, but please extend grace! LOL!)
God is good and if I am more worried about what some fool is stating about me then I may miss a real opportunity to bless someone else!
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If one does these things it will be good for you as your time will not be consumed by those who are only out to divide and hurt others. What evil can be said that any will believe if you are feeding you very enemy or giving him drink… it truly is better to overcome evil with good.