ROMANS 12:2 – Don’t copy the behavior and customs or this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Dead sacrifices. That’s what God wanted the Jews to give him during the era of the old covenant. These were animals slaughter as substitutes for worshippers who deserved the death penalty for their sins.
But a new day has dawned. And with the rising Son comes a new covenant. Lifted up on the cross, Jesus has become the last dead sacrifice. His death paid the penalty for all sin. What God wants now, Paul says, are living sacrifices.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him” (Romans 12:1).
Paul spends the last major section of his letter, chapters 12-15, painting a word picture. He wants the Romans to know what a living sacrifice looks like.
FOR THOSE WITH GOD-GIVEN GIFTS:
- If your gift is serving others, serve them well.
- If you are a teacher, teach well.
- If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.
- If it is giving, give generously.
- If God has given our leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.
- If you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
THE TO-DO LIST:
- Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
- When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.
- Bless those who persecute you.
- Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
- Submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
- Pay your taxes.
- Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.
THE DON’T DO LIST:
- Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
- Never pay back evil with more evil.
- Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
Paul closes his letter with greetings to his many friends in Rome. And he says he hopes to visit all the believers there during a stop on his way to preach in Spain.
He does reach Rome-about three years later. But it’s as a prisoner on his way to trial in the emperor’s court.
After writing this letter, Paul returns to Jerusalem. Some Jews familiar with his rather un-Jewish ideas spot him in the temple. They don’t like him being there, and they spark a riot with their accusations. Roman soldiers quickly arrest Paul. He languishes in Jail for two years before appealing to Caesar’s court and sailing to Rome, probably arriving in AB 60.
To book of Acts ends with a cliff-ganger: “For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense. He welcomed all who visited him, boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him” (Acts 28:30-31).
Some Bible experts say the trial probably ended in Paul’s execution in AD 62. But many others say he was released and probably lived for another two years or more. Clement, a bishop in Rome, wrote in AD 96 that Paul “went to the limit of the West,” implying Spain. If so, Paul’s beheading in Rome probably came after Emperor Nero, in AD 64, blamed Christians for setting fire to the city.