Romans 12

* Believers are to dedicate themselves to God. (1,2) To be

humble, and faithfully to use their spiritual gifts, in their

respective stations. (3-8) Exhortations to various duties.

(9-16) And to peaceable conduct towards all men, with

forbearance and benevolence. (17-21)

1,2 The apostle having closed the part of his epistle wherein

he argues and proves various doctrines which are practically

applied, here urges important duties from gospel principles. He

entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies

of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him.

This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day

the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are,

all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for

such very rich receivings? It is acceptable to God: a reasonable

service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and

which we understand. Conversion and sanctification are the

renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the

qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to

sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is

the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in

glory. The great enemy to this renewal is, conformity to this

world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though it

lay in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not

fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the

flesh, and mind earthly things. The work of the Holy Ghost first

begins in the understanding, and is carried on to the will,

affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the

whole man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness,

and true holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to

3-8 Pride is a sin in us by nature; we need to be cautioned and

armed against it. All the saints make up one body in Christ, who

is the Head of the body, and the common Centre of their unity.

In the spiritual body, some are fitted for and called to one

sort of work; others for another sort of work. We are to do all

the good we can, one to another, and for the common benefit. If

we duly thought about the powers we have, and how far we fail

properly to improve them, it would humble us. But as we must not

be proud of our talents, so we must take heed lest, under a

pretence of humility and self-denial, we are slothful in laying

out ourselves for the good of others. We must not say, I am

nothing, therefore I will sit still, and do nothing; but, I am

nothing in myself, and therefore I will lay out myself to the

utmost, in the strength of the grace of Christ. Whatever our

gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves

humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking

our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world

and that which is to come.
9-16 The professed love of Christians to each other should be

sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful

compliments. Depending on Divine grace, they must detest and

dread all evil, and love and delight in whatever is kind and

useful. We must not only do that which is good, but we must

cleave to it. All our duty towards one another is summed up in

one word, love. This denotes the love of parents to their

children; which is more tender and natural than any other;

unforced, unconstrained. And love to God and man, with zeal for

the gospel, will make the wise Christian diligent in all his

wordly business, and in gaining superior skill. God must be

served with the spirit, under the influences of the Holy Spirit.

He is honoured by our hope and trust in him, especially when we

rejoice in that hope. He is served, not only by working for him,

but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer.

Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Those that rejoice in

hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be

cold in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it. Not only must

there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must

not harbour anger against enemies. It is but mock love, which

rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real

supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them. Be ready to

entertain those who do good: as there is occasion, we must

welcome strangers. Bless, and curse not. It means thorough good

will; not, bless them when at prayer, and curse them at other

times; but bless them always, and curse not at all. True

Christian love will make us take part in the sorrows and joys of

each other. Labour as much as you can to agree in the same

spiritual truths; and when you come short of that, yet agree in

affection. Look upon worldly pomp and dignity with holy

contempt. Do not mind it; be not in love with it. Be reconciled

to the place God in his providence puts you in, whatever it be.

Nothing is below us, but sin. We shall never find in our hearts

to condescend to others, while we indulge conceit of ourselves;

therefore that must be mortified.
17-21 Since men became enemies to God, they have been very

ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace

religion, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose

smiles seldom agree with Christ's. Recompense to no man evil for

evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting only animals,

which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any

existence hereafter. And not only do, but study and take care to

do, that which is amiable and creditable, and recommends

religion to all with whom you converse. Study the things that

make for peace; if it be possible, without offending God and

wounding conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This is a hard

lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is

added. Give place unto wrath. When a man's passion is up, and

the stream is strong, let it pass off; lest it be made to rage

the more against us. The line of our duty is clearly marked out,

and if our enemies are not melted by persevering kindness, we

are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed by the fiery

wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth. The last verse

suggests what is not easily understood by the world; that in all

strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and

those that forgive are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil.

Learn to defeat ill designs against you, either to change them,

or to preserve your own peace. He that has this rule over his

spirit, is better than the mighty. God's children may be asked

whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good,

that God so enables them by his Spirit, thus to feel and act.
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