Introduction: Recall that last week Paul was concerned about his
fellow Jewish countrymen? He wanted them all to be saved, but their
failure to follow God’s will had a positive side: it made it possible
for Paul’s special mission to the Gentiles. Paul wrote that Gentiles
should be grateful for this special opportunity to be “grafted in”
with those chosen to share the gospel. This week Paul continues with
this thought by telling us that our gratitude for what God has done
for us should work a change in our lives. Let’s continue our study of
Romans by plunging into Romans 12 and 13!
- Living Sacrifice
- Read Romans 12:1. Why do you think Paul tells us that we
should be “living sacrifices?” What does that suggest
about the way we live our life? (Our salvation by faith
alone comes as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
That should cause us to sacrifice to advance the Kingdom
of God. Sacrifice means to give up yourself for something
greater. We should give up our selfish desires for the
greater good of bringing glory to God.)
- Read Romans 12:2. How can we know God’s will? Does Paul
tell us to study the Ten Commandments very carefully?
(Paul tells us that we need our minds renewed. We need to
be in accord with the will of God.)
- Read Matthew 5:27-28. What does Jesus say about the
commandment against adultery? (He says that it is not
just a matter of gritting our teeth and not
committing adultery. If we do not understand His
will, we are looking too low. God wants our minds,
not just our bodies, to be out of the adultery
business. This is what Paul is writing about in
Romans 12:2 when he says that we need our minds
renewed to be proper followers of Jesus.)
- How would you suggest you go about renewing your mind
to better understand God’s will?
- Putting the Renewed Mind to Work.
- Read Romans 12:3. What is the first result of renewing our
minds? (We need to avoid arrogance. Instead of thinking,
based on our works, that we are better than others, we
need to consider our level of faith.)
- Have you ever tried to evaluate yourself when it
comes to trusting God? What would be the result of a
sober evaluation of your faith?
- Read Romans 12:4-5. Why would viewing yourself as only one
part of a body help you to have a more reasonable view of
your individual value? (A body cannot function with just
one part. The arm is nothing without the rest of the body.
Thus, understanding that our role in the Kingdom of God is
like one part of a body helps us to remain humble.)
- Read Romans 12:6-8. Should you decide what role in the
church you would like to play? (Paul tells us that, by
grace, we are given gifts. You should determine your gift
and then fulfill your role in the church.)
- What does Paul’s reference to the fact that we are
given these gifts by grace do for our effort to avoid
arrogance? (It is not your fault if you are given a
gift that you think is more desirable. You should not
think you are better because of your gift.)
- Read Romans 12:9-13. How does this statement about how we
should live in a way pleasing to God differ from the Ten
Commandments? Would you prefer to be charged with keeping
the Ten Commandments or doing what this says? (This is why
those arguing for the Ten Commandments are so confused.
Keeping the Ten Commandments is not the high standard, it
is the low standard. What Paul writes here reflects
exactly what Jesus taught us about adultery – it is not
simply avoiding the act, it is about having the right
- How would you describe what Paul encourages us to be
in these verses? Are these acts or attitudes? (These
are attitudes: love, devotion, zeal, joy, hope,
patience, faithfulness, hospitality.)
- If I told you to start loving or start being devoted,
what would you do? (These are obviously not something
that you “do” (or refrain from doing) like one of the
Ten Commandments. The are not don’t steal, don’t
kill, etc. These are changes in your mind, changes in
- Re-read Romans 12:2. Is it now clear why it is so
critical that our minds be renewed and transformed?
This should also make it obvious that this is not to
be achieved by following a list of commands. Rather,
it is achieved by the Holy Spirit transforming our
mind. Once again, this is simply grace. You need to
choose. You need to ask the Holy Spirit to transform
- Mind to Hand
- Read Romans 12:17-21. Are these actions that we can take?
(Yes, this is generally a list of actions as opposed to
attitudes. But, these are very difficult actions to take
without a change in attitude.)
- Read Romans 13:1-2. What is to be our attitude towards our
government? (We should not be rebels.)
- How would you apply this if you were one of my
clients. My clients are told by their employer (often
the state) that they must financially support a labor
union. The clients do not want to pay money to the
union because they believe it is involved in evil
activity. Is it rebellion to resist paying the union?
(It depends on the nature of the government. The
system of courts in my country are part of the
government mechanism to resolve conflict. Going to
court to avoid participation in what you believe God
forbids is not rebellion, it is using the tools the
government provides to avoid conflict.)
- Read Romans 13:3. Is this what you have observed?
- Read Romans 13:4-5. Paul tells us that it makes practical
sense to obey the government. By obeying you will avoid
punishment. What is the second reason Paul gives for
obeying government? (Our conscience. It is what God wants
- Why should our consciences be involved in this
decision? (The idea of authority is a God-given idea.
It makes life better to live under the rule of law.)
- What if you have an evil government? What if it is
killing those who are weak and helpless? (Since Paul
tells us that conscience is a reason to obey, it
makes sense to conclude that if government is engaged
in evil – or worse, requiring you to be involved in
evil – then conscience would be a reason not to
- Read Romans 13:6-7. In my country, my taxes go to help
kill unborn children. Should I look at this as a matter of
evil – and refuse to pay part of my taxes? Others might
consider not paying taxes for an unjust war. Is that
wrong? (With regard to taxes, Paul says give what you owe.
Those who govern are responsible to God for the evil they
engage in with tax money. No doubt Rome was engaged in all
sorts of evil with the taxes it collected.)
- Read Romans 13:8. What does Paul say about love and the
- Consider this for a moment. Do you see that loving
others is the foundation for the Ten Commandments? Do
you see that being selfish is the foundation for sin?
(Read Romans 13:9-10. Love means that we do not harm
- Read Romans 13:11-13. We are back discussing actions. Is
the attitude of love for others at the bottom of avoiding
these specific sins as well?
- Read Romans 13:14. How do we clothe ourselves with Jesus?
(He loved us so much that He died for us. Immerse yourself
with that attitude when interacting with those around you.
This is the key work of the Holy Spirit – to clothe us
with a godly attitude.)
- Friend, how much of your life turns on being concerned
that you are being treated right and being given your fair
share? How much of your life concerns being sure that
your needs are met? If this lesson spurs you to
reconsider your attitude, to incorporate an attitude of
unselfishness, why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to
come and change you?
- Next week: Christian Living.