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IV. QUAR., LESSON IV., OCT. 22, ROM. 12:1-15
Golden Text—”Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”—Rom. 12:21
Having in previous chapters called attention to the marvelous depths of divine wisdom
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and grace manifested in the plan of the ages, and having pointed out its strong foundation and its ultimate glorious purpose, the Apostle now (in chapters 12-15) proceeds to draw some very practical lessons, and to exhort the household of faith to fully appreciate and accept the grace of God through Christ, and to be faithful and worthy sons and heirs of God.
VERSE 1 is an exhortation to those already justified by faith in Christ as the Redeemer, and who are therefore “brethren” of the household of faith, to enter into the higher grace of sons of God on the spiritual plane and become joint-heirs with his dear Son and partakers with him of the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) The way to this exalted position is pointed out as a way of sacrifice—”Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” To do so is to do just what our Lord Jesus did, who said, “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” It is to ignore the will of the flesh with all its ambitions, hopes and aims, however proper they may be in themselves, henceforth to devote all our time, our energies and our talents, be they many or few, to the doing of the Master’s work, so that we can say with Christ Jesus, it is my meat to do his will and to finish his work. (John 4:34.) And this consecration is even unto death, when, the course being finished, the reward is sure.
Such a sacrifice on the part of justified believers is reckoned of God as “holy,” because the merit of our Redeemer is imputed to us through faith; and it is therefore acceptable to God, and is but our reasonable service, and would be so even if no such reward were promised.
VERSE 2. “And be not conformed to [patterned after] this world [its ideas, hopes and aims]; but be ye transformed [Remodeled, changed] by the renewing of your mind [by taking the mind of Christ—by endeavoring to think as he thought and to do as he did or would do in your circumstances], that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”—for only by coming into such an attitude of mind can we fully know the will of God. Any other attitude is more or less biased by prejudice, making our discernment of the will of God more or less indistinct.
VERSE 3. Through the grace given unto him Paul foresaw that one of the greatest temptations among Christians would be ambition to be great and highly esteemed, if not by the world, at least among those in the faith, and to do some great thing that would attract attention, rather than the common things that constitute the bulk of actual service. And therefore he counsels every man to take a sober estimate of his talents, neither overrating nor underrating them, so that he may make the best use of them as a wise and faithful steward.
VERSES 4,5 assure us of the important and honorable place of every member of the body of Christ, though all have not the same office. All are useful and needful one to another, and each should seek to know his place and to do his part in it for the edification of the body.
VERSES 6-8 urge faithfulness in the use of our talents in accordance with a sober and just estimate of them. Thus, if we have no talent for public speaking or teaching, we should not waste our energies and misrepresent the truth by poor attempts to use a talent not possessed; but, having found that capacity in which we can do most effectual service for the truth, let us spend our energies along that line with diligence and carefulness. “Having, then, gifts differing,” let us use them with diligence, patience, simplicity and cheerfulness, contented to be very humble in the estimation of others that our humble talents may increase the more to the Master’s glory.
VERSES 9,10. “Let love be unfeigned”—not hypocritical. And let it always be pure—not a sickly sentimentalism which forgets or ignores the proper bounds of propriety between brethren and sisters in Christ, which even the world recognizes, and which all the saints should the more firmly establish. The pure love of Christ in our hearts knows no man after the flesh, and puts no confidence in the flesh; it recognizes the inherent depravity of the old nature and keeps the flesh under the heel of the new nature. Consequently, its disposition is the very reverse of undue familiarity: it is dignified, simple, pure, and maintains always that proper reserve with the opposite sex which is approved even by the world, and which much more becometh saints. The manifestations of love among the saints should rather be after the manner indicated in verse 10—by “in honor preferring one another,” and by such kindness as is entirely consistent with the most refined modesty and purity. In such a state of mind and
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heart, sisters will prefer to exchange their confidences and intimacies with their husbands or with sisters, and brethren; with their wives or with fellow brethren; thus no reproach will be brought upon the cause of Christ.
The Apostle again indicates the disposition of this pure love among the saints in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 5:1,3,5), saying, “Rebuke not an elder [an aged brother, even if he has erred; have respect to his years], but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger women as sisters, with all purity [with no semblance of undue familiarity]. Honor widows that are widows indeed”—whose trust is in God, and whose conduct is consistent with that trust.
“Abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good;” “abstain from all appearance of evil,” and “let not your good be evil spoken of” through any careless or imprudent conduct; and, “finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” and act on them.—1 Thes. 5:22; Rom. 14:16; Phil. 4:8.
VERSES 11-15 need no comment, but are worthy of careful pondering by all those who are earnestly striving to develop in themselves the likeness of Christ.
— October 1, 1893 —