A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Christian Life As Exhibited in Transformation - Romans 12:1-21
In the broad sense chapter 12 deals with the theme of the Christian and his manner of life.
Some scholars who do not have a very great regard for God's Word and have rather loose ideas about inspiration, have made a severe attack upon this chapter, declaring that it has neither head nor tail, no systematic arrangement, and that it is just a mass or collection of exhortations. Not only does this criticism show the unspirituality of these men but also their lack of ability to decide in literary matters. Most certainly there is a very beautiful and logical order in this chapter if men have eyes to see it.
Here are the three main ideas in this chapter: 1. consecration (v. 1), 2. humility (v. 3), and 3. love (v. 9).
We are going to make our outline with those three ideas in view. First of all, the Christian life should be a life of consecration (vv. 1-2). Second, the Christian life should be a life of humility (vv. 3-8). Third, the Christian life should be a life of love (vv. 9-21).
Those three ideas in those three sections also present three different attitudes of the Christian. Consecration is the attitude of the Christian toward God. We are to present ourselves to God. Humility describes our attitude toward ourselves. Love describes our attitude to others.
A Life of Consecration
"I beseech you." That is the method of the gospel! What would the law say? "I command you." We are now out from under the law. For "Christ is the end of the law." We are outside the law entirely. So Paul says, rather, "I beseech you." In your attitude toward others, use the beseeching manner rather than the one of command, for that is pleasing in the eyes of God.
"I beseech you therefore." There are three "therefore"s" in the book of Romans, and they mark three great divisions in the book. "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:1). "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (8:1). "I beseech you therefore" (12:1). Of course, when he uses the word "therefore", it points back to what has gone on before. In the twelfth chapter, where he says, "I beseech you therefore," he is pointing back to all that we said before.
The word "brethren" identifies the group to whom these words are addressed. This word indicates that this chapter is for Christians. When you go out and try to get other men to steer their lives according to this chapter, you will encounter difficulty. If you go to a man who is not a Christian and say, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him," he resents this and rebels. This appeal is directed to the "brethren". It is most essential that we remember that. This is for the Christian and you cannot take the Christian rule of life and apply it to the man who is not a Christian. It is a spiritual impossibility.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren." What does he beseech them by? "By the mercies of God." Shut your eyes and think back through all those eleven chapters. Mercies! That word sums up all that is contained in those chapters, just mercies upon sinners who did not deserve any mercies. Paul does not talk about what we did. He is just talking about what God did for us. He uses those mercies as a great moral dynamic and spiritual incentive.
When you have not revealed to people the mercies of God, you have ignored the most powerful moral factor that the world has ever seen. There is a great mistake of modernism. Assuming that we may give them credit for sincerity, and giving them credit for a desire to see the church live on a higher plane of life, still like the blind leaders that they are, they have lost the one motive, the one factor that is powerful enough to get hold of the hearts of men and raise them up to that plane of righteousness where they ought to be. Until sinners have experienced God's mercies, you will get no place. The mercies of God are the basis of all living that is really holy.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 74)