Daily Devotional: Romans 12:1-13

After spending 11 chapters expositing the doctrine of God’s election to both unbelieving and immature gentiles in Rome, Paul finally begins to apply the doctrine. Therefore, since God is the one who chooses, calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies—since He alone works for your salvation and not you—don’t be prideful. This is the first application, and one we should probably heed.

One of the greatest problems I recognize in the modern, western church stems from an improper theology that actually creates and facilitates pride in those who refer to themselves as Christian. A theology that teaches we must work or do or change ourselves or be the ones to choose Christ has consequences—entitlement, boasting in self, sacred cows, and false religiosity. Proper theology also has consequences, and Paul spells it out beginning here in Chapter 12.

He makes it clear from the outset, people can only present their bodies as living sacrifices by the mercies of God, not by their own muster. Because the work of justification is monergistic, we are challenged to present our bodies as living sacrifices by God’s mercy. What exactly does that mean? Paul explains.

We are not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our natural way of thinking is changed so that we think about things in a godly way. Until our way of thinking changes, we are not able to test and approve God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. Why not? Because we don’t yet think like He thinks. If we have been stolen by Christ, He is changing the way we think.

1. We no longer think more highly of ourselves than we ought. God has allotted a measure of faith, so we try to think about ourselves with sound judgment—not pridefully or with a false humility but with sound judgment. We are honest about our faults, quick to repent, and sincere when we use the spiritual gifts we have been given with our measure of faith.

2. Our love is without hypocrisy. It won’t be perfect, but that’s not the same as being a hypocrite. The Christian is devoted to his or her brothers and sisters in the faith—which is why a true Christian does not church-hop, leave or choose a congregation because of personal preference, or neglect the gathering. If we are in Christ, we are devoted to the body of Christ as a result—serving the body with our spiritual gifts. If we have no desire to be this way, we are probably religious but entirely lost with regard to the gospel.

3. We give preference to one another in honor, thinking more highly of others than ourselves. Instead of complaining about other generations, music style, appearance, and so on, we care to think highly of others, their wants, and needs—putting others before ourselves. If we care to desert others because our preferences are not being met first, we are probably not in Christ—we don’t know Him because He didn’t do that even though He alone had the right.

4. We do not lag behind in diligence, we are fervent in spirit, and we find ways to serve the Lord. Sadly, most congregations are full of consumers, which creates problems when it comes to individual preference. If we are in Christ, there comes a day when filling a pew and consuming the preaching and the praise by itself is no longer enough. We must serve according to our spiritual gifts. Local church bodies ought to provide that opportunity for us. Opportunity to practice our spiritual gifts in sincere service to the saints is a valid point on which to choose or leave a congregation. 

5. We rejoice in hope, persevere in tribulation, and devote ourselves to prayer. This is exactly the opposite of the tendencies I see in religious communities. Instead of complaining and threatening to leave a local body of believers, the Holy Spirit so moves the true people of God to rejoice in the hope we share, persevere even when life is tough for any reason, and devote themselves to prayer rather than panic. All this as a result of God’s monergistic work of election, calling, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying His true people.

Doubtless there will be some who identify as Christians who read this and are convicted in our current religious atmosphere. Let me challenge you—instead of trying to justify self, which is the worldly way of religion, repent and believe the gospel. Be saved. Be humble because you have received a measure of faith or just be quiet.


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