Depend on Each Other Jointly

857914923abc4918316efdbbb55161b1Paul explains how this measure of faith to each one connects everyone in the body of Christ.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so   we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4 is parallel in meaning to v. 5. In v. 4, we are one body with many parts and different functions. In v. 5, we are many members forming one body in Christ. The body is one body in Christ because of the different parts. Without diversity (different parts—foot, arm, neck, arm, etc.), the one body will be a monstrosity (one big foot or one big head). With diversity, the one body is a picture of beauty.

We learn two things here. First, we are members of the body of Christ. Since we are part of the body of Christ, we belong to each other. Second, since we belong to each other, therefore, we depend on each other.

Paul illustrates it well in 1 Cor. 12:14-26.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

The few cannot do it independent of the others. Each one depends on the other. Each one functions with the other. No one can function without the other. Therefore, each one depends on each other.

The body picture is applied to the local church as a community. The church as the body of Christ is therefore not hierarchical. The church is not a few people who are independent of other people in church. Rather, the church is communal. The church is each one depending on the other in the body. Each one is doing his part for the good of the body.

We should resist doing church in a hierarchical way. The hierarchical way is a few people doing ministry. The many rely on the few. Because the few are the only ones moving, they become more important than many. But that goes against God’s plan. That is “anti-body.”

We should do it the communal way. The communal way is everyone doing her part in the body of Christ. Because each one has an important function in the body, everyone is therefore important. The whole body functions as each part functions. The body is healthy and strong.

How then should the church function as one body of Christ? Each different member must do its part. Each one must use his or her God-given abilities in the body.

This brings me to my third point.

God Has Given Each One a Measure of Faith

img_2265Second, we are to think that God has given a measure of faith to each one. “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3). The verb “assigned” (merizo) means “distribute . . . assign, apportion.” (Gingrich)

In the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples. Mark wrote, “And he divided [merizo] the two fish among them all” (Mk. 6:38-41).

God has apportioned a measure of faith to each one in the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned [merizo] to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:17). “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7).

What is this measure of faith? It is the faith that trusts God for the grace that one has received. One day Jesus asked two blind men if they believe that He is able to heal them. They said, “Yes, Lord.” “Then Jesus touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith, it shall be done unto you.’ Their eyes were opened” (Matt. 9:30-31). Jesus said, “According to your faith.” Paul talks of the measure of faith, the faith that believes God for God’s grace. The measure of faith receives the measure of grace. This measure of grace is manifested in the “functions” mentioned in v. 4. It is seen in the different “gifts” in v. 6.

Each one has received a measure of faith. But the measure of faith is different for each one. Not every member of the body has received the same gift. No one gift is given to every member. God has assigned a different measure of faith to each one to function differently in the body of Christ.

Thus, in the body of Christ, the church, do not think of yourself too proudly, but to think of yourself in a self-controlled, sober way. Think that God has assigned each one a measure of faith. Each one has a special ability in the body. Each one has a special function. Everyone is gifted by God.

Therefore, do not think that you are more special than the other. Do not think that others are less important than you. God has given each one a measure of faith. Each one is vital and important in the body of Christ.

This is how we should also renew our minds in the body of Christ.

“Grow Pa More”: Knowing Your Part in the Body—Part 2 (Romans 12:3-8)

tumblr_ni83fxloic1rwy6s8o1_1280I continue my sermon series on our 2016 Theme, “Connect, Grow, Serve.” The point of our theme is that you need to “connect” with Christ and His body, the church. You “grow” in Christ and His body. Then you “serve” Christ and His body.

In Rom. 12:1-2, we must offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We should not let the world shape their thought and conduct. Rather, we should let God transform us by renewing our minds. The result of this mind renewal is the ability to discern God’s will.

The renewing of our minds happens in the context of the body of Christ. This is where the body of Christ comes in. In v. 3, we should think soberly in the body of Christ. In vv. 4-5, we should think about others in the body of Christ. In v. 6, we see how the many parts function as one body.

We learn three things about renewing our minds in community.

  1. Discern Yourself Moderately (v. 3).

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3). The phrase “everyone among you” refers to everyone in the local church, the body of Christ. Paul explains how transformed minds think in the church.

The phrase “to think of himself more highly” (huperphroneo) is just one verb in the Greek. It denotes “think too highly of oneself, be haughty,” (Gingrich). The phrase “to think more highly” means “an understanding which goes beyond proper bounds.” (Dunn) Hence, to think more highly “than he ought to think” is to think “beyond” the bounds of proper thinking of oneself. The result is a proud mind, a haughty spirit.

The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck.

So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond.

The plan worked well–so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?”

The frog said, “I did…”[1]

How then should we think in relation to others in the church? Paul gives two ways in how we should think in the body of Christ. First, in v. 3, we are “to think with sober judgment.” In the Greek, it literally reads, “but to think so as to think of sober mind.” The verb “to think of sober judgment” speaks of “a measured and ordered way of life be self-controlled, be moderate, be sober (RO 12.3).” (Friberg) It means to “observe proper moderation or discretion, exercise self-control.” (Dunn)

That is how we should renew our minds in relating to others in the body of Christ. God’s Word commands you NOT to think too highly of yourself in the body of Christ. Do NOT think proudly of yourself. Instead, think moderately, in a self-controlled, restrained, and sober way. That is how you should think of yourself in the body of Christ.

[1]  “Two Ducks and a Frog,” Today in the Word, April, 1989, 34, cited in Cited October 12, 2016. Online:


Renew Your Minds

tumblr_ljppyfi0pw1qd602lThe source and power of “conformation” is the world. The source and power of transformation is the Spirit of God. (Dunn) The goal of “conformation” is to do the ways of the world. The goal of transformation is to do the will of God.

We are commanded to be transformed. It means that we must exert our will to do it. We must let ourselves be acted upon by the Spirit of God. We must allow ourselves to be transformed by God.

How will God transform us? God will renew our mind. “But be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) Our minds must undergo renewal. Paul wrote, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:9-10). The old sinful ways of thinking still governs our lives. We must allow the Spirit to transform our old way of thinking into a new way of thinking—a thinking that knows God and follows the will of God.

The verb “transformed” is present tense. We must be transformed continually, constantly, and repeatedly. It is an ongoing process—daily. I must allow God to transform me always and all the time.

The result of renewing the mind is the ability to discern the will of God. “But be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2) Your conscience alone cannot make you know God’s will. God must transform your mind so you will know God’s will.

What is the will of God about? God’s will is about what is “good, acceptable, and perfect.” The “good” things are what God and godly people would do. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:19). The “acceptable” things are what God wants. The “perfect” (teleios) or “complete” things are things that God completes or accomplishes in your life. As you stop conforming yourself to the world, God transforms you to be like Christ. As God transforms you to be like Christ, you will know God’s will. You will know what God sees as good. You will know what God wants. You will know what God will complete in your life.

Be Transformed

picture101“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). The word “transformed” (metamorphoo) means “to be changed in form.”

One day a farmer brought his family to the city to follow-up some papers. They went inside a building. At the front entrance, the door suddenly opened by itself. The son said, “Did you see that Dad? Amazing!” They didn’t know about automatic doors.

Then the farmer asked a clerk where to go. The clerk pointed them to  an elevator. They didn’t know about elevators. They went to the elevator and stood there, not knowing what to do. Then the door opened and an old woman  went inside. A few minutes later, the door opened and a beautiful young woman came out.

The farmer told his son, “Quick, son, go get your mother.”[1]

To be conformed is to copy the form of another. But to be transformed is to be changed in form. Marriage is a transforming experience. When you get married, your wife is in thin, sexy form. But after many years, she will “transform.” So will you.

To be conformed is to let the world conform you to itself. To be transformed is to let God change you to be like Christ. Paul wrote, And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). As we keep looking at the glory of God, God transforms us. God transforms us from one degree of glory to another.

[1] “Sermon Illustrations: Transformation,” HotSermons. Cited September 11, 2016. Online:

Do Not Conform Yourself to This World

romans-12_1-2Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Rational worship requires two actions—one negative and one positive. Negatively, do not be conformed to this world. Positively, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

The word “conformed” (suschematizo) literally means, “‘form oneself after another, be formed like’ (LSJ, BGD).” (Dunn)

When Mackin was a little boy, he wanted to be like his Pastor. His Pastor always wore a long sleeve shirt with necktie.

One Sunday, I was amused to see him wear a long sleeve shirt with necktie. Then I heard that he wants to be a Pastor. Mackin was conformed to his Pastor’s clothes. He clothed himself like the clothes of his Pastor.

That is the meaning of the word “conform”—“to be made like.” (Friberg)

Paul uses the middle voice, in which the subject acts upon oneself. Thus, the command is “Do not conform yourself to this world.” The verb “conformed” is in the present tense. “Do not keep on being conformed yourself to this world.” It is a continuing process—on a daily basis. Every day, I must not conform myself to this world.

What does Paul mean by this “world?” The word world (aion) is not the material universe, but “this present (evil) age, before the” second coming of Christ (Matt. 12:32; 13:22; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4). (Gingrich) It refers to “the system of practices and standards associated with secular society (that is, without reference to any demands or requirements of God).” (Louw-Nida) It is the world system controlled by Satan, the god of this world, that rejects the ways of God (Gal. 1:4). “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age [aion, world] or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away”  (1 Cor. 2:6). Hence, do not conform yourself to the wisdom of this world. Do not conform yourself to the values of this world. Do not pattern your thoughts, values, and behavior according to the thoughts, values, and behavior of this world that rejects God.

Somebody said, “Do not smoke, drink, dance, and chew, and go with girls who do.” When I was a new believer, I thought that worldliness referred to watching movies, dancing, smoking, and going to disco bars. I also thought that worldliness is going to worldly sinful places. But the world is more than just vices.

John wrote,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16, ESV 2007)

The KJV, NKJV, and NIV have the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” The “lust of the flesh” refers to evil desires arising from our sinful nature. Fulfilling the evil desire of our sinful nature, as the world does, is worldliness. The “lust of the eyes” refers to evil desires arising from looking things outwardly but not inwardly as God looks at things. That is worldliness. The “pride of life” refers to “pride in possessions” (ESV), “pride in our achievements and possessions” (NLT), or “the arrogance produced by material possessions” (NET) (cf. 1 John 3:17, where the same word for “life” [Gk. bios] is translated “goods” or “possessions.” The latter fits the context of 1 John 2:15 and 3:17.) The pride in possessions refers to being proud and haughty of your material success, status, and supplies. That, too, is worldliness.

More, if the Bible calls it evil, it is evil. But the world will call it good. Worldliness is calling evil good and good evil. In sum, worldliness is loving the values of this world rather than the values of God.

This world wants to conform you to itself. The world exerts its power upon you by social groups, by culture and tradition, and by schools, churches, and social structures. To be conformed is to let the world conform you to itself.

God’s Word is clear—do not conform yourself to the values, thoughts, and behavior of this world.

Reasonable Worship

4a0ca454240982fdda482609a55bfc78Paul then calls this offering “rational” worship. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). The ESV has “spiritual worship,” with a footnote—“Or your rational service.” The NKJV has “reasonable service.” The word “spiritual” is not in the Greek. The Greek word is logikos, which literally means, “rational.” It refers to “being true to the real and essential nature of something – ‘rational, genuine, true.’” (Louw-Nida) Thus, “reasonable” worship is worship that is true worship.

What is true and fitting for the people of God? They are to be living sacrifices. They are to be holy and acceptable sacrifices. That is true worship.