The Transformed Life
The Scripture Reading — Romans Chapter 12.
The Apostle Paul by the Spirit of God presents in the Epistle to the Romans the doctrine of the gospel of the grace of God. He proves that all who believe the gospel message are justified by the blood of Christ (5:9), that they are united to Christ (7:4), and that they should bring forth fruit unto God. He teaches that they are to enjoy freedom in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit Who delivers from the dominion of sin (chap. 8).
The word “therefore” with which our chapter begins refers to the preceding parts of the Epistle, and the blessings which are therein revealed. Paul’s reference to those blessings as “the mercies of God,” suggests that they form the ground work of a transformed life.
Having set forth in simple fashion the great doctrines of the Christian faith, he proceeds to give a list of practical exhortations which are the evidence of true Christian living. The basic teaching of the Scriptures is that duty follows the reception of doctrine. The doctrines of the gospel are not cold, barren speculations, but truths which affect the life of the believer. We do well, therefore, to note the tone of the writer as he introduces the truth about the transformed life. He uses a favorite clause of his, “I beseech you.” He does not exercise dominion over their faith, but he pleads with them, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.”
The Foundation Of The Transformed Life
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God.” As has already been suggested “the mercies of God” refer to the blessings of the The Foundation of the Transformed gospel. Paul by the spirit has proved that all are under sin, and that all are guilty before God (chap. 3), and are, therefore, condemned already. God in his compassion sent forth His Son to die for the guilty, and on the ground of His atoning death they are justified by His grace. Such a blessing is good reason surely why they should yield their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him.
This exhortation corresponds with a similar one in chapter 6:13, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
When the body of the believer is under the control of the Holy Spirit, and is yielded to Him as the vehicle for the manifestation of the transformed life, this act of yielding is described as spiritual worship.
Notice the negative side of this matter, “Be ye not conformed to this world” (v. 2). See also the passages of Gal. 1:4; 6:14. Col. 2:20. The expression “this world” pictures that form of life that excludes God, the spirit of which is absolute selfishness in the sphere over which Satan holds sway. The Christian must ever be separated from the world. The positive side is, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (V. 2). This transformation is effected, not from without, but from within, by the replenishing of the spiritual mind. Meditation upon the Word of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will surely produce this desirable change. What the mind feeds upon affects the walk, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
The Effect Of The Transformed Life
“That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (V. 2). By avoiding conformity to the world, and by the renewing of our mind, we are transformed into His image. By doing the will of God, we thus fulfil His purposes in our lives. His will is sometimes perplexing and may even be painful, but it always is perfect. His will is best whatever it may be! We read that God is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9), and that He will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4); we conclude, therefore, that His will embraces the justification of all. Moreover, we read, “This is the will of God even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). His will must be then the sanctification of His own. We know that His will specifies also the glorification of all His people for we read, “And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one.” (John 17:22).
General Gordon said, “I learned that to be like Christ, we must not only have our wills subordinated to His, but that we must delight to have it so.”
“Send what Thou wilt in future days
As tokens of Thy love;
Fearless amid the gloom I gaze
As seeing Thee above;
For, Oh, Thy will must ever be
The sweetest thing on earth to me.”
The Marks Of The Transformed Life
The evidence of the transformed life is manifest, first, in the believer’s attitude toward self. There is a complete absence of conceit, and instead a marked humility. The Christian is exhorted “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly.” The habit of over-estimating the ability and the importance of self grows out of failing to think soberly; whereas, he who think of himself as he ought is modest and prudent. It has been said, “Be natural and simple, be what you are and where you are, spiritual.”
Another distinct mark of the transformed life is seen in our attitude to fellow-believers. It will help to keep us humble when we remember that the full revelation of God is not given to any one member of the body of Christ. We are fellow-members of Christ, therefore we should have respect to God’s grace in others. We are only part of a whole. Let us recognize the gifts possessed by each as they are enumerated in this chapter, namely; the gift of prophecy (V. 6), of ministry (V. 7), of teaching (V. 7), of exhortation (V. 8), of giving (V. 8), of ruling (V. 8), and of shewing mercy (V. 8). Grace is needed for the exercise of these gifts, and grace is needed in order that we may rejoice in their benefits.
We notice various other marks of the transformed life in a very brief manner. Love will be genuine and without hypocrisy (V. 9). There will be an abstaining from evil (V. 9), and a readiness to esteem others better than ourselves (V. 10). Kindness and courtesy will be part of our behaviour toward others, and there will be fervency in service (V. 11). Furthermore, hopefulness, patience, and prayerfulness will also characterize the yielded life. A care for others will be exercised, and a sincerity that is glad to see them will be obvious as will be a tenderness to those in grief. (Vv. 12-13). Above all, there will be no retaliation, but rather a seeking to conquer by love (Vv. 14, 19-21). Notice the true self-effacement that is a distinct mark of the transformed life. What grace is needed to be a nobody, and to live in peace with all men! The believer who is living peaceably with others, and who refuses to touch the bone of contention at home or in the assembly, will be easy to love.
This chapter closes with the distinctive marks of Christ-likeness, the marks of Him Who when He was reviled, reviled not again. The life that is transformed by the renewing of the spiritual mind will do all possible for even enemies, and will melt all opposition with the warmth of heavenly love. Surely, this is what Christ personally taught His disciples, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
May we have grace to measure ourselves by the standards of this chapter, and wherein we have failed, confess it, and God will give us the grace to yield ourselves afresh to Him.