Show Me How You Are In Relationship & I’ll Show You If Christ Is Lord In Your Life

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twelve through sixteen of this New Testament book. When you come to these final chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will encounter and come face to face with some language which might be familiar to you, and other language which might not be as familiar to you. Most who think about the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome are familiar with the declaration that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, as well as the declaration that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. There are many who are familiar with the emphatic declaration in the eighth chapter of this epistle that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus—for those who walk not after and not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. There are many who are familiar with the words toward the end of the eighth chapter when the apostle Paul emphatically writes and declares that in all things we are more than conquerors, and then asks who can and who shall separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus. Many are even aware of the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle when the apostle Paul writes concerning faith coming by hearing and hearing by the word of God. It is in the tenth chapter where we also find the apostle Paul writing how if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in our heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. Moreover, the apostle Paul would further write that with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with his mouth confession is made unto salvation. Also in the tenth chapter is the emphatic and powerful declaration that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Furthermore, it is in the eighth chapter where we find and discover the apostle Paul declaring that we have not been given a spirit of fear again to bondage, but we have been given the Spirit whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” Oh there are a number of references which are found within this New Testament epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome—words, phrases, verses and references which many among us within the house of God are familiar with.

            With all of this being said we might definitely say that the words which are found in the opening verses of the twelfth chapter are such which are also known within and among the saints of God within the body of Christ. There are and there have been countless men and women who have quoted the opening words of the twelfth chapter, and have expressed the strong and powerful exhortation and invitation the apostle Paul presents unto the saints which were at Rome. It is in the first and opening chapter of this New Testament epistle we are brought face to face with an invitation given by the apostle Paul which I would dare say is intrinsically linked and connected to the words which Jesus the Christ spoke—not only when He appointed and sent out the twelve, but also the words which He spoke after Simon Peter’s powerful and emphatic declaration in the company of the disciples concerning Jesus being the Christ, and the Son of the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we wish and if we seek to truly understand the words which are found within the twelfth chapter of this New Testament epistle it is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand the words which Jesus our Lord spoke unto His disciples concerning their need and His call for them to deny themselves, to take up their cross and to follow after Him. We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples while He walked among them as the Word made flesh, for they bring us face to face with what is perhaps the underlying foundation for that which the apostle Paul wrote in the opening verses of the twelfth chapter of this epistle. In fact, I would also dare say that in direct connection to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the sixth chapter of this same epistle, as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Galatian saints. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the following passages and see a wonderful and powerful foundation that is found for the words the apostle Paul writes in the twelfth chapter:

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. HE that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth sone or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. HE that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

            “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? OR what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father which his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

            “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).

            “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:16-21).

            The more I think about the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that at the very heart, at the very core of what is presented before and unto us within this chapter is a powerful invitation to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, to humble ourselves in the sight of the living God, and to truly live sacrificial lives. With that being said I feel it is also necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that it is utterly and completely impossible to truly live the reality of what is found within these verses apart from that which is found in the opening verses. It is in the opening verse of the twelfth chapter the apostle Paul admonishes, invites and encourages us by the mercies of God to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. What I so love and appreciate about these words is that the apostle doesn’t simply leave off with inviting us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, but the apostle Paul also takes it a step further and instructs us to be not conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Oh dear brother, dear sister—please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is presented before and unto us in the opening verses of this chapter, for what we find in the opening verses of this chapter is at the very heart and soul of that which the apostle Paul writes in the rest of the chapter—and not only in the rest of the chapter, but also in the final chapters of the epistle. What’s more, is that it is as you come to these final chapters found in the epistle written unto the Romans where you will find the apostle Paul transitioning from justification, transitioning from salvation, transitioning from redemption, transitioning from adoption, and even transitioning from sanctification, and actually writing and speaking to how we ought to live, and how we ought to conduct ourselves in this world. It’s almost as if in light of the work of the cross found in chapters five and six, as well as the work of the Spirit which is found in the eighth chapter the apostle Paul now invites us to actually flesh out that which is presented within those chapters. What that ultimately means is that as a result of what Jesus has done for us by, through and with the cross, and as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, within our minds, and within our lives we must needs recognize and understand that we are called to live completely and entirely differently in this world.

            I sit here this morning and I can’t help but read and find the first eighth chapters of this epistle speaking to and describing our relationship to the living God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—and not only our relationship to the living God and Father, but also the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which are found in the first half of this epistle present us with a powerful picture of our relationship with the Lord Jesus the Christ, our relationship with the eternal Father, and even our relationship with the eternal Spirit of God. We must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within the first eight chapters of the epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul, for it in these chapters the apostle brings us face to face—not only with our need for Jesus, not only with our need for the work of the cross, and not only with our need for the eternal Spirit, but also our need for true fellowship and relationship with the living and eternal God. In all reality, I would dare say the words we find in the opening chapters of this epistle essentially deal with the first and greatest commandment, which is simply and profoundly to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. Oh there is not a doubt in mind that what we find in the first eight chapters of this epistle are words which describe our faith in God, and how it is through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are brought into right relationship with the living and eternal God. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the opening eight chapters of this epistle, for these words wonderfully and powerfully bring us face to face with our need for Jesus—and not only our need for Jesus as Savior, also our need for Jesus as our Lord.

            I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of this epistle, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words which are presented there serve as a powerful catalyst for what we find in the second half of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. While there are in fact glimpses found in the opening eight chapters of the apostle Paul painting a picture of Jesus as Lord within and Lord over our lives, the dominant theme that is found within the first eight chapters is that of Jesus as our Savior, and as the one who has delivered and set us free—not only from sin, but also from the bondage of sin, and from the curse and penalty of sin. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this truth, for it is when we understand this truth that we understand two different and two distinct realities and manifestations that are found within the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. Perhaps the first reality that is found within the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome is the contrast between loving the LORD our God in the first eight chapters, and or loving our neighbor—and not only loving our neighbor, but also loving our enemies—in the final chapters of the epistle. Oh you cannot miss this particular reality when reading this epistle, for it is presented quite clearly and quite powerfully the more you take the time to truly read and study the words contained within the epistle. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which are found in the opening eight chapters of this epistle bring us face to face with loving the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength, while the latter chapters bring us face to face with our need to love our neighbor—and our enemies—as ourselves. It is with that being said we must also recognize and understand that within this epistle is truly indeed a powerful presentation of faith in God, as well as works. Within the opening eight chapters of this epistle you will be presented and brought face to face with our faith in God, and how that faith in God appropriates the work of Jesus the Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, within our minds and within our lives, while it is in the final chapters we encounter a powerful and profound picture of the demonstration and manifestation of our faith. While we would like to think that the apostle Paul was simply and solely about faith in God without and apart from works, the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and was not the case. Although the apostle Paul might not have used the word “works” to describe that which he wrote about in the final chapters of this epistle, we must needs understand that it’s the words which are found in the final chapters that speak to the demonstration and manifestation of faith in the midst of the earth—that which is expressed through what James would call works.

            Before I proceed any further in this writing I feel it is absolutely necessary that we not only consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of this epistle, but also the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle which James wrote unto the saints which were scattered. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle, for it is that which is found in the tenth chapter that prepares us for the direct manifestation and demonstration of everything the apostle Paul wrote in the first eight chapters of this epistle. The words which are found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome are absolutely and entirely necessary to stand and serve as the foundation and framework for that which the apostle Paul writes in the final chapters, as the words and language found in the final chapters brings us face to face with how we as the saints of God should live in light of our being justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the free gift of God unto salvation within our lives. I firmly believe that the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle written unto the Roman saints points to and demonstrates the second manifestation of Christ within our hearts and lives. While in the first eight chapters of this epistle we do indeed and do in fact encounter Jesus the Christ as our Savior—as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world—it is in the final chapters where we are brought face to face with Jesus Christ as being more than simply our Savior, but actually being our Lord. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the arena and realm where we see and witness Jesus Christ as being our Lord is found in our relationships with others. I am absolutely and entirely convinced that the single best and the single greatest arena where we can truly see the manifestation of Jesus the Christ as Lord within and Lord over our lives is in our interpersonal relationships with others, and how we truly interact with those whom we encounter—not only those within our church buildings, but those in our communities, those in our apartment buildings, those in our places of employment, those we encounter when we go out to fulfill our daily responsibilities, and all the other individuals we might encounter. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of this epistle, as well as the words which the apostle Paul also wrote in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints, and the words which James wrote in the second and third chapters of the epistle he wrote:

            “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we speak; THAT IF THOU SHALT CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH THE LORD JESUS, AND SHALT BELIEVE IN THINE HEART THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, THOU SHALT BE SAVED. FOR WITH THE HEART MAN BELIEVETH UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND WITH THE MOUTH CONFESSION IS MADE UNTO SALVATION! For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:6-15).

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better  than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; AND THAT EVERY TONGUE SHOULD CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER” (Philippians 2:1-11).

            “My brethren, HAVE NOT THE FAITH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? IF ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).

            “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, and be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know. O vain man, that faith without works is dead…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-19, 26).

            “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a foundation send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).

            CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH THE LORD JESUS! THAT EVERY TONGUE SHOULD CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! HAVE NOT THE FAITH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY! Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages, for the underlying and common theme these passages have is that Jesus who is Christ is more than simply Savior, and is also Lord. I am absolutely and completely convinced that in the first eight chapters of the epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome deal exclusively and specifically with Jesus as Savior. With that being said I do believe there are traces of the manifestation of Jesus the Christ being Lord within these chapters, however, what we must needs recognize and understand is that the dominant and underlying theme that is found in these chapters is the truth and reality that Jesus the Christ is indeed Savior, and that Jesus became the Word made flesh which dwelt among us that in the person of flesh He might not only serve the Father as the sacrifice that would die upon the cross, but also in the form of human flesh might destroy the power of sin within the flesh. The opening eight chapters of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome presents us with the absolutely incredible and powerful truth that Jesus is indeed Savior who did indeed die according to sovereign and divine will, plan and purpose of God the Father that we might not only be justified, but might also be reconciled unto God through His flesh, through His blood, and through His sacrifice. It is important for us to understand this awesome and powerful reality, for with all of this being said I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find in the final chapters of this epistle is a powerful demonstration and manifestation of Jesus as being more than simply Savior within our hearts, within our minds, and within our lives, but also being Lord. With this being said, we must also encounter come face to face with the powerful truth that the greatest arena for Jesus who is the Christ to be Lord within our hearts and lives is in our relationships with others. I am absolutely and completely convinced there is no greater realm and no greater arena for the demonstration and manifestation of Jesus as being Lord within our hearts and lives than in the arena of our relationships—not only our relationships with our brethren and our neighbors, but also our relationships with our enemies. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that when He instructed us to love our neighbors and our enemies He drew no distinction between the two and instructed us to love our enemies the same way we would love our neighbors.

            As you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the twelfth chapter you will find the single greatest means and method of making Jesus the Christ our Lord is through the presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice—and not only as a living sacrifice, but also as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable in the sight of God. What’s more, is the apostle Paul didn’t merely write and instruct the saints at Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices which were holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord, but he also instructed us to be not conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that the means by which we make Jesus the Christ Lord within and Lord over our lives is through the denial of ourselves, through the taking up of our cross, and through our following Him. I firmly believe that the single greatest instrument of discipleship—and not only of discipleship, but also of lordship—is the cross. With that being said, it’s imperative that we recognize that the cross I am speaking of is not the cross which Jesus was forced to carry by the Romans, nor the cross which Jesus was nailed to and crucified upon. When I speak of the cross as being the greatest instrument of both discipleship and lordship I am speaking of the cross which we as the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ have been called to take up. There would be many who would like to think of the cross merely as the symbol of sacrifice and salvation, and yet I would contend and argue that the cross is just as much a symbol of discipleship and lordship as it is of salvation and sacrifice. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which our Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples, for the words which He spoke unto His disciples directly confronts us with the tremendous truth that we have been called to deny ourselves and to take up our cross as we follow Him—and not only this, but whoever is not willing to take up their cross is not worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh dear brother, dear sister—please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this incredibly captivating truth, for it brings us face to face with the unrelenting need within our hearts, within our minds, within our souls, and within our lives to daily deny ourselves and take up our cross.

            In the opening verses of the twelfth chapter we find the apostle Paul speaking of this self-denial and this taking up our cross as we walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, as the apostle Paul invites us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and acknowledge this within our hearts and minds, for the apostle Paul—when writing unto the saints which were at Corinth—how we are not our own and how we were bought with a price. The apostle Paul essentially wrote unto the Corinthian saints and declared unto them that their bodies were not their own and did not belong unto them—and not only this, but that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is truly astonishing to read the words written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for the words we find here in this passage of Scripture reveal the great truth that not only are our bodies not our own, but we are to take and present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the greatest demonstration and manifestation of our bodies as a living sacrifice is through the taking up of our cross and our subsequent following after the Lord Jesus the Christ. In fact, the only means and way we can indeed present our bodies as a living sacrifice is with, through and by the cross which we have been called to take up as disciples and followers of Jesus. Oh how absolutely crucial and critical it is to understand that the cross within our lives is not an instrument of salvation, but rather an instrument of sacrifice, an instrument of lordship, and an instrument of discipleship in the sight of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, it is indeed the Spirit who enables and gives us the strength to be able to deny ourselves and take up our cross—not only that we might walk with and follow Jesus, but also that we might present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord our God. With this being said, we must needs understand that one of the greatest manifestations and demonstrations of the presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God is our no longer being conformed to this world, and the renewing of our mind. Two of the greatest manifestations of discipleship and lordship within our lives is the unrelenting and unending work to no longer be conformed to this world—to the pattern, to the likeness, to the nature, and to the image of this world—and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Perhaps one of the greatest manifestations of the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God is that we are no longer conformed to this world, and that we are indeed transformed by the renewing of our minds.

            With all of this being said, I happen to find it incredibly captivating to read the words which are found before us in this chapter, for what we find in direct connection to no longer being conformed to this world, and being transformed by the renewing of our minds is that we are able to prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this, for as you continue reading the rest of what is found within these chapters in the later portion of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome is a knowledge and understanding of what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Oh dear reader, would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that not only can you know what is that good, what is that acceptable, and what is that perfect will of God, but you can also prove what that will is within your heart and life? Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider how you can not only know what the will of God is within your life, but also proving the will of God within your life? Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the importance of proving this good, this acceptable and this perfect will of God, for when Jesus declared that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who did the will of His Father who was in heaven. In other words, there is this intrinsic link and connection between doing the will of the Father, our profession that Jesus is Lord, and our entrance into the kingdom of God the Father of our Lord Jesus the Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it brings us to terms with the fact that there is a strong and powerful connection between professing Jesus as Lord, doing the will of the Father which is in heaven, and our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It is absolutely necessary we recognize this, for it draws and calls our attention to the fact that there is not only a will of the Father which we must know, but we must also prove what that will is within our hearts and lives—and not only prove what that will is, but also do and fulfill it. It is with this in mind I present you with the words which are found in verses three through eight of the twelfth chapter of this epistle written unto the saints of Rome:

            “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts different according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:3-8).

            NOT TO THINK OF HIMSELF MORE HIGHTLY THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK! THINK SOBERLY! Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for in the second verse the apostle Paul admonishes and instructs us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and in the very next verse he reveals and demonstrates what that looks like within our lives—namely, that we do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and that we think soberly according as God hath dealt unto man the measure of faith. It’s worth noting how in the second verse of this chapter we find the apostle Paul instructing us to not be conformed to this world, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and in the third verse of this passage of Scripture we encounter and come face to face with the truth that not only are we not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but we are also to think soberly. WE must needs come to terms within this life, for the only way we can truly find our place within the body of Christ—and not only find our place within the body of Christ, but also walk in that place which has been appointed for us in the body—is to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. It was in the second chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Philippian saints where the apostle Paul invites and instructs to have this mind in us which was in Christ Jesus—a mind that was one of humility, and a mind that does not esteem ourselves better and greater than others. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that we cannot fulfill our place in the body of Christ, nor even our place in the midst of the culture, the society and the generation in which we are living if we are unwilling to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and if we are unwilling to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Oh please pay close and careful attention to this, for this reality brings us to terms with the fact that the only way we can prove what is the good, what is the acceptable, and what is the perfect will of God is when we do not elevate and do not exalt our way of thinking above the will of God. Oh we must needs recognize the intrinsic link and connection between proving the will of God and our being transformed by the renewing of our minds, for it is absolutely impossible to prove the will of God within our lives if we are unwilling and unable to get past our own minds and our own way of thinking. Oh I would dare say that not only can we not operate in our role and our place in the body if we are not transformed by the renewing of our minds and give ourselves to thinking more highly than we ought, but we will also be unable to prove what is that good, what is that acceptable, and what is that perfect will of God within our lives.

            The more I read the words that are found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but encounter the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the intrinsic link and connection that is found between the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices, between no longer being conformed to the world, between being transformed by the renewing of our minds, between not thinking more highly than we ought, and the manifestation of the Lordship of Jesus within our hearts, within our minds and our lives. Oh I would strongly suggest and state that it is absolutely impossible for you to truly function and operate within your role in the body of Christ until and unless you have allowed Jesus to be manifested within our life as Lord. Oh I would dare say there are many men and women among us who are functioning within the body with Jesus as Savior, and yet there are very few who are actually functioning within the body with Jesus as Lord. There is not a doubt in my mind that as we think about and consider this we must needs acknowledge the fact that until and unless you are willing to truly allow Jesus to be Lord within your life you cannot and will function the way you were created and intended to function. This is just as true as our functioning in our role within the body of Christ as it is in the culture and society in which we are living. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs realize and recognize that the only way we can truly operate and function in the culture and society we have been living, and the only way we can truly operate within the body of Christ is our willingness to allow Jesus to be more than simply Savior. Oh there must needs be a powerful transition within our lives when we move beyond Jesus simply being Savior in our lives—beyond simply Jesus being the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. It is true that Jesus as Savior delivers us from the penalty of sin, the curse of sin, and even from the judgment of sin, however, Jesus as Lord actually delivers us from the lasting impact and effect of sin within our hearts and lives. Jesus as Savior died on the cross that we might be delivered from the curse and penalty of sin, however, Jesus as Lord actually helps us to live our lives continuing to experience freedom and deliverance of sin within our lives on a continual basis. It is to the degree and measure we truly allow Jesus to be Lord within our hearts and lives that we can not only experience deliverance from the curse and penalty of sin, but also experience continued freedom from the bondage of sin.

            It is with all this in mind that we must transition to the words which are found in the latter portion of the twelfth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome, for it is the words that are found in this portion of Scripture that demonstrates and reveals what the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices, what no longer being conformed to this world, what being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and ultimately what Jesus as Lord within our lives truly produces within our lives. Oh we have great need of understanding that allowing and giving Jesus the freedom to reign as Lord within our lives transitions and brings us into the place where we are able to not only prove what is that good, what is that acceptable, and what is that perfect will of God, but we are also have a proper view and a proper way of thinking about ourselves. There is not a doubt in my mind that this need to be transformed in the renewing of our minds is so absolutely critical, for it is only when we truly allow ourselves to be transformed in the renewing of our minds that we begin to thinking differently, we begin thinking rightly, and we begin thinking of ourselves the way Christ would have us to. Oh there is a mind within us that is enmity with God and is death, however, there is also a mind within us that is life, and that is the mind of Christ. The apostle Paul made reference of our having the mind of Christ, as well as our having this mind within us which was also in Christ Jesus, and we must needs recognize and understand this, for only to the degree and measure that we have the mind of Christ, and only to the degree and measure that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds can we truly begin thinking of ourselves the way we ought to, and truly think of others the way that Christ would have us. It is with all of this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found—not only in the final verses of the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Rome, but also the words which are found in the opening verses of the sixth chapter of the epistle written unto the Galatian churches:

            “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:1-10).

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompence to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the LORD. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the Lordship of Christ is perhaps best demonstrated and manifested within our lives in the relationships we have with other people. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this tremendously powerful reality, for it has the ability to dramatically alter and shift how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves in this generation. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there is no greater arena for the Lordship of Jesus the Christ to be manifested and demonstrated within our lives than in our relationships with others—and not only with our relationships with our neighbors and the brethren, but also with our enemies, with our adversaries, and with those who persecute, revile, offend, mock, ridicule, and oppose us. What’s more, is I would dare say that the Lordship of Jesus is seen in its truest and greatest form in how we respond to our enemies and how we respond to our adversaries within this life—those who despitefully use us, and those who persecute us. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Sermon on the Mount is as much a sermon about discipleship and both the attitudes and the righteousness of the kingdom of God as it is about the Lordship of Jesus within our lives. What’s more, is that if we are willing, and if we are going to speak about the kingdom of heaven then we must needs acknowledge that within that kingdom is not only a King, but there is also a Lord. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and powerful truth, for when reading the Sermon on the Mount we are brought face to face with the fact that Jesus desires to be Lord within our lives, and that we have a tremendous responsibility to allow that Lordship to indeed take place and be manifested within our hearts, within our minds, and within our souls. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount in the fifth chapter of the Gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to the words which are written and recorded in these passages of Scripture, for it is what we find within these verses that bring us face to face with the Lordship of Christ in our relationships—and not only in our relationships with those who love us, and our relationships with our neighbors and the brethren, but also with our enemies. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is presented before us, for as surely as the Lord has called and instructed us to love our neighbor as ourselves He has also called us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, and those who despitefully use us. These words must needs be carefully considered within the depths of our heart and within the depths of our soul as we seek to flesh out this manifestation of the Lordship within our hearts and lives in this generation. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that one of the greatest marks of discipleship—and not only one of the greatest marks of discipleship, but also one of the greatest marks of our loving the Lord and keeping His commandments—is in our love for one another. It was indeed and it was in fact Jesus who declared that men would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another, and how we love our neighbors and our brethren. With this being said, we must also recognize and acknowledge that we have indeed been called to love our enemies, love our adversaries, love those who persecute us, and love those who revile and despitefully use us. There is absolutely no distinction at all within the gospels, nor any of the epistles between our enemies and our neighbors, for we have been called to love both with the same love. Oh dear brother we must needs make this a truth and reality within our hearts and lives, as more often than not we would seek to draw a dividing line in the sand and differentiate our neighbors and our adversaries, and our brothers and our enemies. The truth of the matter is that Jesus sent us into the harvest and sent us into the world with the command to love our neighbors and to love our enemies while also at the same time preparing to be hated by all nations for His name’s sake.

            Building upon this concept of the Lordship of Jesus being manifested within our hearts and our lives we must needs also acknowledge the fact that this Lordship is demonstrated in our relationships with those who are in authority. Perhaps one of the most striking truths found within the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul is that he makes no distinction between Christian authority and worldly authority, for all authority has been given and granted by the living and eternal God. The apostle Paul recognized that directly linked and connected to our interpersonal relationships is also our propensity and our proclivities toward authority—regardless of whether it’s authority in our work place, regardless of whether it’s authority in our church buildings, regardless of whether it’s authority within this nation, or any other form and manner of authority within this world. Oh we must needs recognize and acknowledge the truly wonderful and beautiful truth that we have indeed and have in fact been called to respect—and not only respect, but also submit ourselves to authority. Please note that this makes no difference whether that authority which is in place serves and worships the Lord, or whether it despises, rejects, ignores, and taunts the living God of heaven and earth. The apostle Paul brought the saints which were in Rome face to face with their need to submit themselves unto authority—a practice and way of life which I am sure at times would be incredibly and altogether difficult. We must needs recognize and understand that there would indeed come a point in time in the upcoming years when Rome’s persecution of the Church and Rome’s persecution of the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ would indeed ramp up and would be so powerful and pervasive during those days and within that generation. It’s interesting and worth noting that even in the midst of nations hating you for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ, and even in the midst of an empire that is rising up against you in persecution there was still the awesome and underlying need to pray for those who persecute you, and to love your enemies, and to bless those who curse you. Please note and please understand that this even pertains and relates to authority which is in place in the world in which we live. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are written and recorded in the thirteenth chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the first verse:

            “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending contually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; rear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou  shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:1-10).

As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that in these final chapters written by the apostle Paul we are not only brought face to face with the tremendous need to love our neighbour as ourselves, but we have also been brought face to face with our need to submit ourselves unto authority. The apostle Paul instructed and admonished every soul to be subject unto the higher powers, and then went on to write that there is no power but of God and that the powers that be are ordained of God. What we must also recognize and understand is that the apostle Paul would go on to write how whoever resists the power resists the ordinance of God, and those that resist shall indeed and shall in fact receive unto themselves damnation. RENDER THEREFORE TO ALL THEIR DUES! TRIBUTE TO WHOM TRIBUTE IS DUE! CUSTOM TO WHOM CUSTOM! FEAR TO WHOM FEAR! HONOUR TO WHOM HONOUR! What’s more, is that within this same passage of Scripture the apostle Paul would summarize even our submission to authority with the commandment of loving our neighbour. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth and reality, for it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the intrinsic and apparent link that exists between loving our neighbour, loving our enemies and adversaries, and submitting ourselves unto the authorities that are in place. What’s more, is that we must needs understand that this is true regardless of whether or not we like or agree with the authority that is in place. It’s interesting to note that even authority that has been put in place can fall into the either the enemy category and those who persecute, curse, revile and despitefully use us, or they can fall into the category of our neighbor and our brother. Regardless of which category authority is—even if that category is perceived and assumed by you within your own heart and mind—so you must needs remember that you have a duty, an obligation and responsibility to love your neighbor as yourself, and to bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you, and love those who despitefully use and revile you. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand the awesome and powerful truth behind the Lordship of Jesus the Christ within our lives, and that we have indeed and have in fact been called to allow the Lordship of Christ to directly influence and impact any and every relationship we have within our lives in the culture and generation in which we are living.

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