I asked the Lord how to deal with a specific situation that keeps on happening for quite some time now. The verse that was brought to my mind was: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
As I read through the whole chapter, checking the verse and its context, I was amazed because I haven’t seen or understood it this way before. I usually see it as three main points connected to each other just like how it is divided into section headings but I haven’t seen it as one whole text on the basis of the first verse. And the last verse “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” is a very fitting conclusion. So I would like to share what I have learned hoping that you too may be equally blessed.
A summarized study on Romans 12.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Lord has shown His love, mercy and grace for us by redeeming us from our sins and reconciling us back to Him through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Having known and experienced this truth, the proper response is to worship and give Him glory. Confessing Him as Lord and savior means we ought to surrender our lives to Him. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, set apart for His specific purpose for us, living our lives according to the likeness of His character, distinct from the world, and pleasing to Him. This our divinely reasonable worship – a sacrifice acceptable to Him because it is offered on His terms.
Having been accustomed to our sinful nature and the pattern of this world, prior to us knowing Christ, the Lord commands us not to be identified with the world any longer. Instead, we should be different from it as God has given us a new nature in the likeness of His character. We should not live as though we are still of the world, holding the same values and having the same mind and character with it.
The world pursues after: success, power, fame, money, etc. All these are sought for the benefit of self: self-interest, self-satisfaction, self-image, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-preservation, and the list goes on. We were deceived and once ignorant of the truth that the world does not revolve around us and the things it values are fleeting and empty.
Through God’s grace, He made us understand that He has created us for Himself to bring Him glory and not to ourselves or even other created things; that we are not at the center, God is; that He is the only one who can ever satisfy us, not anything or anyone else that we pursue in this world.
So how do we veer away from that ignorance and deception? By knowing the truth and filling our mind with the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Accordingly, the Lord also commands us to be transformed in keeping with our inner reality or new nature and be changed in the character of Christ by the renewing of our minds through the daily reading, study and meditation of God’s Word. This is an act of surrender to the Lord — letting the Holy Spirit transform us by the renewing of our minds through His Word. It is His work and His Word, all we need to do is to submit.
Then, through testing, we will learn to know what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. The more we know the Lord through His Word, the deeper our understanding on what is an acceptable worship for Him. When we know and continue to seek the Truth then we would not be easily deceived by the lies of the world and be dragged along with it. Instead, our minds would be renewed and we would be transformed in the likeness of the character of Christ by making His Word true in our lives through our obedience to Him.
This study is divided into parts:
Acceptable Worship: An Offering Prescribed by God (Romans 12:1-2)
Acceptable Worship: Selfless Service (Romans 12:3-8)