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12: 1 - 18.
pp. 25 - 29
Chapter 12: begins the practical section of the epistle. To the apostle Paul doctrine
alone was not sufficient. God's teaching always brings responsibility. Consequently we
find in Paul's epistles doctrine balanced by practice. It could be said concerning all
doctrine, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13: 17). Everyone
who rejoices in the truth of justification by faith must be concerned about his practical
response, and in these last chapters of Romans we find guidance concerning our daily
lives. Our concern should be that of the Psalmist when he said "What shall I render unto
the Lord for all His benefits towards me?" (Psa. 116: 12). It is significant that Paul not
only talks about faith, but the obedience of faith, and it is to this that true faith always
Romans 12: 1 reads:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Christian scholars have noticed the resemblance in this section with some of the
statements of the Sermon on the Mount, but this should cause no surprise when we
remember that sometimes the Lord is giving teaching that applies to all men at all times,
whatever their differences in birth and upbringing.
The "mercies of God" are given here in Romans as the compelling reason as to why
we should now yield ourselves back to Him, so there is a depth here which can easily be
missed. Surely the Apostle uses this term to cover and sum up all the tremendous
teachings of chapters 1:-11: Because of all this, there can only be one suitable response
by the believer and that is to "yield" (same Greek word "present, A.V." as 6: 13, 19) his
body to the Lord, which is equivalent to yielding himself. This is a "sacrifice", but not
one of outward ritual. Modern translations render "your reasonable service" of the A.V.
as "your spiritual worship". Latreia has already occurred in 9: 4 where it is translated
`service'; the verbal form occurs in Phil.iii.3 and is there rendered `worship' in the A.V.
Logikos can mean "reasonable" or "spiritual". It is perfectly true to say that the
believer's service is the only reasonable response to God's infinite grace. It is equally
true that it is "spiritual worship" in contrast with the externalities of Israel's temple ritual.
It is the response of the believer's inward being rather than outward rites. This widens
our view of worship which is too often confined to regular attendance at a church
The logical service or spiritual worship leads on to the next verse:
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God"
(Rom. 12: 2).