Shabbat Shalom everyone! Blessed be יהוה our Elohim who has given us His Sabbath to come and rest together in Him!
Tonight I want to look at practical living in the world we live in. We will be looking at Romiyim/Romans 12 in which Sha’ul gives us some practical duties on how we ought to behave in this world. This chapter outlines how we are to worship. As you look at Sha’ul’s letters, you will notice that he usually ends his letters with practical duties on the doctrine of Messiah that he had presented upfront. In the life of a disciple of יהושע doctrine and duty always go together, that is to say that the Torah or instructions of Elohim go hand in hand with obediently living them out practically in our daily walk. What we believe helps us determine what we do or how we behave, as the Scripture says that so a man thinks so he is! It is simply not enough for us to merely listen and even understand the Scriptures without actually living accordingly. We as believers must learn to translate our learning into practical living and show that in our daily lives we trust and abide in the Living Word! As we look at Romiyim/Romans 12 tonight, which carries the key idea of relationships toward Elohim, other believers and our enemies, may we be encouraged in living these instructions out obediently in a disobedient world!
In a nutshell, it simply boils down to the fact that if we have a right relationship with our Elohim then our relationships toward others will too be right. Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 4:20 tells us that if someone says that he loves Elohim yet hates his brother then he is a liar! So my message tonight is called “Right relationships will mean right living!”
Turn with me to Romiyim/Romans 12 (Read)
We have discussed much about ‘coming out’ of Babylon or Mitsrayim – in other words coming out of living according to the world’s patterns and we will certainly discuss this many times in the days to come as this theme of coming out is carried right through the Scriptures – but what I want to look at tonight is what happens when we come out! How does one practically live in the world, being one who is not of the world?
This we certainly cannot discuss in its entirety in one evening – as it is learnt on a day to day basis living out the instructions of Elohim by faith. But looking at what we have just read in Sha’ul’s letter to the Romans, let us briefly look at the practical duties that he gives to all of us who are true followers of יהושע. Let us look at how we are to relate to יהוה and to others. Three areas we will look at: Our relationship to Elohim, our relationship to fellow believers and our relationship to our enemies.
1 – OUR RELATIONSHIP TO ELOHIM (12:1-2)
In verse 1 we see the word ‘therefore’ which is a conjunction indicating the logical results that will follow from what precedes these words. In light of what Sha’ul has addressed in the letter in that all have sinned and fallen short, and that through the blood of יהושע Messiah we have been justified and now have the assurance that in Messiah there is no condemnation for us who believe, and that because of what he has done for us we therefore are called to dedicate our lives to the Living El. And it is this dedication to יהוה that is the basis for all other relationships that Sha’ul discusses here.
So what is true dedication? Sha’ul describes it to us in three steps:
A – You give Elohim your body (1)
I am sure you will all agree that before you trusted in יהושע as Saviour and gave your life to Him you used your body for that which you should not have – sinful pleasures and purposes, however now we are His we want to use it for His purposes. Our body is His Dwelling place for it is His Ruach (Spirit) that dwells in us who are obedient to walking according to the Spirit and not the flesh. It is our privilege to glorify Messiah in our body and it is of utmost importance that we yield our bodies or present our bodies as instruments of righteousness that the Ruach HaQodesh (Holy Spirit) can use to fully accomplish Elohim’s work in and through us. We are to be a ‘living sacrifice’. In Scriptures we see two examples of a ‘living sacrifice’. Yitsḥaq/Isaac we see offering himself as a living sacrifice in Berěshith/Genesis 22 and the other is of course our Master and Saviour יהושע Messiah. Yitsḥaq/Isaac willingly put himself on the altar and would have died in obedience to יהוה’s will, when יהוה sent a ram to take his place. So in effect Yitsḥaq ‘died’ just the same – he died to self and willingly gave himself over to the will of Elohim. When he climbed off the altar, he was a ‘living sacrifice’ to the esteem and honour of Elohim. As we know this was a shadow picture of what was to come, a shadow picture of the perfect illustration of a ‘living sacrifice’ – that of our Master יהושע, for יהושע actually died as one time sacrifice for our sin and rose again and by His resurrection to life He became and stands forever as The Living Sacrifice, bearing in His body the wounds of the stake. He is our High Priest and advocate who intercedes for us before the throne of Elohim. What is key for us to note by the example of Yitsḥaq and יהושע is that they both fully obeyed their father’s instructions!!! We too must obey the Father, aměn! In this chapter the verb ‘present’ literally means to ‘present once and for all’. It commands a definite commitment to the body of Messiah and here Sha’ul gives us 2 reasons for this definite commitment:
1 – As the right response to all that יהוה has done for us – in view of His great mercy and love for us. Sha’ul says that through the compassion of Elohim he calls upon us to total commitment.
2 – This ‘total commitment’ is our ‘reasonable worship’ unto יהוה – and this means that every single day becomes a worship experience when you have totally yielded or surrendered your body to יהוה. A body that is offered as a living sacrifice to Elohim is done with sin!
B – You give Elohim your mind (2a)
The world wants to control you and brainwash you into submitting and conforming to its standards and rules, whereas יהוה wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The word for ‘transform’ used here is the same word used in Mattithyahu/Matthew 17:2 for ‘transfigure’ when יהושע was transfigured before 3 of His Disciples on the mount. It is the Greek word ‘metamorphoō’ and we get our English word ‘metamorphoses’ from this. It means to literally or figuratively change, transfigure or transform. This speaks of a change in character and condition. The world desperately wants to shape your mind by conforming you to its ways by exerting pressure from without, whereas the Ruach HaQodesh changes or renews your mind by releasing the power of Elohim from within through the very Living Word – through the very Living Torah that is now written by the Ruach upon your heart. Those who are controlled by the world are known as conformers – conforming to every standard directed by the world’s systematic and manipulative standards, but those of us who are controlled and directed by the Word are transformers!!! We are to be transformers not conformers, aměn! I want to be transformed through His Word in me! This means that my speech too will be transformed – I do not want to use titles that can also be associated with pagan deities, nor do I want to use falsely transliterated names that carry no meaning. I want my speech to be transformed to say ‘Yahweh’ and ‘Elohim’ and ‘יהושע’. I may not have spoken these correct names before – but that is what the Word does – it transforms us – transforming our speech. יהוה said that He would restore His Name on our lips. We are also learning to not say the customary days of the week or months as used in the world, but rather being transformed in our thinking to know the Creators time. Today, we have just entered in His Sabbath on the 21st day of the 8th month according the Scriptural calendar!
יהוה, through His Word transforms us and causes us to become spiritually minded as we set our minds on things above and not on things below, by meditating on His pure and unadulterated Word and allowing the Living Torah be very much alive in us, We are to give Elohim our mind – that is to let His Word transform us, rather than letting the world’s words conform us! May we not be stubborn and hard hearted saying we won’t change, but be willing to allow the Word to transform us, aměn!
C – You surrender your will to Elohim (2b)
The mind controls the body and the will controls the mind. Many today think that simply by exerting their own ‘will power’ will be able to control their will and lives, yet usually fail at succeeding – I mean just think about it – the slogans of you can do it – you have the will power just use it etc. Many try this approach, especially when trying to quit a habit of some sort. As I am sure most of you know – those diets that require the power of the will don’t last. The act of the will is based on choices – and so as we choose to surrender our own will and agenda and submit to יהוה’s will, יהוה enables us through His Ruach to be victorious faithful talmidim (disciples) of יהושע. He through submission to His Word gives us the will power, not the ‘won’t’ power to do what His Word instructs us to do – too many today simply have the ‘won’t’ power – resistant to change – “I won’t change” mindset. This is not some mind control thing – this is an active choice to obey and follow His good and pleasing and perfect will regardless of how we may feel about it at the time. We choose to surrender to His will because it is good, it is perfect and it is pleasing – His perfect Torah revives our soul, so we would be nuts actually to not submit to His will. To submit to His will means to yield to His governance and authority, obeying all He says. So how do we surrender? Well a good start is through disciplined prayer and meditation of His Word. As we spend time praying we pray as יהושע instructed us to pray – ‘Not our will but Yours be done’ and as we meditate on His Word we discover His good and pleasing will. We are to pray about everything and allow יהוה to have His way in everything. This is hard for many as they always want their way – having it always your way is a reflection of a poor relationship with יהוה!
In order to have the right relationship with יהוה on a daily basis, we need to start each day by yielding to Him our bodies, minds and wills – it is then that we will engage in a right relationship with Him that will equip us to live right!
2 – OUR REALTIONSHIP TO OTHER BELEIVERS (3-16)
Ok so surrendering our body mind and will to יהוה builds a right relationship with Him, and this in turn will translate in to us having a right relationship with fellow believers. Sha’ul set the standard here for right living as beginning with being right with Elohim, living a devoted and surrendered life to Him and His Word. In doing this Sha’ul then goes on to describe how we are to relate to one another in terms of the members of a body. We are each a living part of the body of Messiah and each and every one of us has a spiritual function to perform. Each one of us, as children of the Most High have been given a gift or gifts as the Ruach apportions it – we all have been given a measure of faith that must be exercised, and this faith is best exercised in using the unique gifting that the Ruach has given. These gifts are given for the building up and perfecting of the Body of Messiah. Let me remind you all here tonight – the reality of the situation is as follows – we all belong to each other, we minister to each other and we need each other as we actively engage in being a part of the Body of Messiah. We are relational beings and are not called to go it alone – this is where true authentic community of the Bride is vital. As we relate to each other in the body, and as we exercise our spiritual gifts within the body there are some essentials for growth within the body:
A – Honest evaluation (3)
Verse 3 tells us not to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. We all realise that we are given faith and must exercise it and it is important for us to do just that through expressing the gifts that the Ruach has given each of us. But in order to do that you need to know what your gifts are. Doing and honest evaluation through prayer and interacting with others one will become aware of the gifts one has and we should never attempt to perform those things that we cannot do. Having said that – too many opt out too quickly and say they cannot do anything as they are afraid to express their faith. No one should undervalue themselves or underestimate themselves and end up doing nothing. These two attitudes, of underestimating and overestimating, are both wrong. Gifts are as it says they are – and that is gifts – given by grace from Elohim and each gift must be accepted and exercised by faith. For those who are strange to the gifts of the Ruach (Spirit), there are many helpful assessment and spiritual gift tests that can give an indication as to one’s primary gifting. I also believe that the Ruach can and will distribute the gifts at any given moment as the occasion calls for it, and this certainly will require faith to operate at the leading of the Ruach! Basically though we need have an honest evaluation of realising that we all have been given faith and we are to use that faith to operate the function that יהוה has given us to do.
B – Faithful co-operation (4-8)
All of us have been given gifts in order that we, as the Body of Messiah, grow in a balanced way and each must engage in using their gifts. It is true that we often may not see the direct results of exercising our gifts, but know this – יהוה certainly does see and He blesses us in it! No gift or function is of greater value or importance than the other. The one who is an encourager is as vitally important as the one who prophesies or serves or teaches or leads or shares or shows compassion. Whatever gift we have been given must be exercised in faith to bring honour and esteem to יהוה, and this calls for faithful co-operation from each member. For us to become a strong and faithful community requires commitment, cooperation and participation in fellowship and serving the body through your gifts and allowing others to do the same. How do we do this you may ask? When and where and how can I exercise my gifts within the body? Well it begins by being devoted to the Word, to fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer. The early believers got it right as they were devoted – faithfully committed to bringing their part. The more we come together in the Word, fellowship and prayer, the more will the gifts become apparent and manifested as the Ruach leads. The gifts of the Ruach are tools to build the body not toys to play with. In Corinth the believers were abusing their gifts and in the process were tearing down the unity of the body. In other words they had the gifts yet they lacked the fruit of the Ruach – they lacked love!
C – Loving participation (9-16)
Verse 9 starts with ‘let love be without hypocrisy’. We know, according to Scripture, that it is possible to use the spiritual gifts in an unspiritual way! Love is that which enables all members of the body to function in a healthy harmonious way and this love must be a honest, sincere, genuine love! Not a hypocritical love! The Greek word used for ‘without hypocrisy’ is ‘anupokritos’ and it comes from ‘a’ meaning without and ‘hypokrinomai’ which means to pretend, simulate, play or act. Love must be without acting, it is not to be simulated. Sincere love is from the heart and rests on the new birth of the Word of Elohim.
Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 1:5 “Now the goal of this command is love from a clean heart, from a good conscience and a sincere belief.”
Sha’ul in speaking to Timotiyos in essence is speaking a truth here on any command from Elohim – the goal is always love, love that is sincere and from a clean pure heart. We know that it is His perfect Torah that is written on our hearts, let that which is perfect be displayed in our actions by the very Love written on our hearts. Living in right relationship will mean right living, and living right in the body calls for us to give preference to each other over self. The world says look after no. 1, look after self. The Word says prefer others over self – this is very hard for most – but if our relationship is right with Elohim, then this ability to prefer others over self will flow naturally – we are to treat others as more important as ourselves – now for many of us that is not always that easy, but a way to reflect on where our walk with יהוה is, is to simply reflect on our ability to relate in this way to others.
Pilipiyim/Philippians 2:3 tells us that we are to do nothing at all through selfishness or self-conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. This we get to do through devotion to the Word, prayer, fellowship and breaking of bread (eating together) – as we bring to the body our part – giving of ourselves to the body for the benefit of the body!
Sha’ul instruct us to not be idle in duty – that is do not be lazy in exercising your gifts, but that we should rather be ardent, that is to have zeal, for serving the Master. When something needs to be done and you are able to do it – do not be lazy – be zealous to do it, doing it for the Master as it is His Body!
One thing that we must realise and realise very quickly, if you have not yet realised it – and that is that in serving יהושע in this way will cause you to face great opposition and persecution for His Name’s sake. It means that when you devote yourself to living for Him and serving His body, the satanic attack will come at you and days of discouragement will come, and here Sha’ul tells us that we must maintain the zeal we have for יהוה, regardless of the circumstances or difficulties we encounter, as we serve the Master and not men! When life gets difficult, the believer must not allow their love to grow cold – they are to rejoice in expectancy, endure under pressure and be steadfast in prayer. As we lovingly participate in living out our gifts, we get to share the blessings and the burdens of others in order that we grow together and glorify and honour יהוה! If believers cannot get along with each other, how will they ever be able to face their enemies?
Humility and a willingness to share are the marks of a believer who is truly ministering to the body and living right!
3 – OUR RELATIONSHIP TO OUR ENEMIES (17-21)
Listen, when you live and seek to faithfully obey, that is to walk daily in obedience to יהוה and His Torah, and then you are going to accumulate enemies, as I said earlier. יהושע had enemies when He ministered here and the enemy will always oppose the true work of Messiah and His Bride. יהושע actually warns us in Mattithyahu/Matthew 10:36 that our worst enemies may even be from our own household. יהושע was persecuted and so too will we be persecuted for His Name’s sake. Sadly though, many have enemies for the wrong reasons – for lack of love and patience, not because they are being faithful in their witness of Messiah! There is a difference between sharing in the persecution of Messiah and being persecuted for just being a slothful, loveless sinner! The fact is as ‘talmidim’ (students/disciples) of יהושע; we will be persecuted and shunned. יהושע tells us that it is enough for a student to be like his teacher, so that means if He had enemies then so too will we – we are not above Him that we should not face what He faced. We who are perfected will become like Him, and we are perfected through trials. How we handle them is key, more importantly Sha’ul is addressing how we handle our enemies. Well we can never ‘play’ Elohim and try to avenge ourselves, although it is often tempting to retaliate I know, but that is not the way. We are to repay evil with good, which can only be done with love – the very love of the Father that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Blood of יהושע, as we walk in right relationship with Him. Retaliation is often the result of insecurity, for when we are secure in Messiah we can confidently face any persecution with enduring faith. Returning evil for evil accomplishes nothing and only fuels the fire.
יהוה is our defender and vengeance is His, so may we learn to rather give a hungry or thirsty enemy food and drink.
When I see this verse I am reminded of Polycarp, a faithful follower of יהושע who was martyred in around 168 AD. Polycarp was trained under Yoḥanan and appointed as the bishop/pastor of the assembly at Smyrna. In his later years he was persecuted. I am not going to go in to detail on his story – the one thing I will mention though is that when the Roman soldiers came to arrest him, he went out to greet them and invited them in for a meal. While they were eating he asked if he could pray – he prayed for 2 hours after which some of the guards got saved, after which he was taken to be tried and persecuted for his faith!!!
The practical instructions of this chapter are a wonderful guide on how we ought to behave in this world as believers and followers of Messiah. This is a chapter describing what absolute surrender looks like. May we be steadfast in our commitment to offer our bodies, minds and will to יהוה; offer our gifts of service to the body with great zeal and passion motivated by love and extend His love to all!
As we looked last week at Haggai and the call to consider our ways after coming out of Babylon, this week we have touched on what it means to live as one out of Babylon and in His Torah. Be stirred in your spirit to absolutely surrender your all to יהוה and allow His very Torah to guide you in right living with other believers and your enemies.
Right relationships will mean right living! Are you living right – how are your relationships? If they are shaky and not in line with what we have just read – then get back to יהוה and in view of His great mercy offer yourselves as living sacrifices that the He may be esteemed and the body strengthened all to the praise of His Name, aměn!
It is time for the body of Messiah to come together, not simply for a once a week attendance or a here and there visit – but rather this is a call to daily engaging in building the body through the gifts being exercised in faith through love!
A family that reads prays eats and fellowships together – stays together and becomes a healthy family able to rejoice with one another and mourn with one another! This is a call to right living, walking in right relationship to Elohim, each other and our enemies out there!
This is a call to complete surrender and becoming a true living sacrifice unto our Master and somehow being able to attain to the very resurrection power that now lives in us! Are you living as Sha’ul describes in this chapter? Have you truly died to self and are living wholeheartedly and obediently unto יהוה – giving yourself totally to Him, the body and able to withstand the pressure of persecution from the enemy and stand firm in faith? If so, well done – keep going, if not then hear these words today and obey – allow His Word to transform you from the corruption of lies handed down in ignorance to the pure Living Water that refreshes your soul and renews a right spirit in you! Let us truly engage and with great joy make every effort to become an authentic community of believers that display Messiah יהושע as we worship in Spirit and in Truth, aměn!