ROMANS 12:1-21 Living Sacrifices Serving In God’s Love

 

Romans 12 marks the beginning of the final section in this great epistle. The first eleven chapters of Romans dealt with doctrinal material. The last five chapters of Romans deal with the application to life of the doctrine taught in the first eleven chapters. These last five chapters of Romans therefore show Living Sacrifices Serving in God’s Love.

 

Living Sacrifices - A Reasonable Response to God’s Mercy

 

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  [1]

This is a transitional verse in the letter to the Romans and the use of the word “therefore,” points us back to the preceding eleven chapters of Romans and the “mercies of God” depicted in His gracious gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the word “beseech” (PARAKALEO – Strong’s #3870), which conveys a continual calling and imploring (Present/Active/Indicative). In fact Paul says that what he implores the reader to do here is “your reasonable service,” it’s the only reasonable thing to do, the rational response, the appropriate response to God’s mercies revealed in Romans 1-11. What is it that Paul implores us to do?

Know, Reckon, PRESENT, Serve

The reasonable response to God’s mercies is to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. In other words, in light of God’s powerful glorious gospel of Christ, the reader’s appropriate response is to “present” yourself to God. This exhortation to “present” ourselves to God should cause us to recall what we learned in the section on sanctification in the Spirit where we saw four words that characterized the work of sanctification by the Spirit in the believer. Those four parts of sanctification in the Spirit were, Know, Reckon, Present, and Serve. Remember what we said about these aspects of sanctification by the Spirit? Let’s take a moment and review.

First, we need to know (by experience in our lives) what we believe (Romans 6:3-10). This consists of seven areas of knowing:

 

1.)    We need to know we are dead to sin in Christ – Romans 6:3

2.)    We need to know Christ’s resurrection power – Romans 6:4

3.)    We need to know that the “old man” was crucified with Christ – Romans 6:5-6a

4.)    We need to know that the flesh can be put out of business – Romans 6:6b

5.)    We need to know that those who have died with Christ have freedom from sin – Romans 6:6c-7

6.)    We need to know life in Christ – Romans 6:8-10

7.)    We need to know that sanctification is a work of God in us.

Secondly, once we know what we believe, we need to reckon what we know to be true by faith (Romans 6:11-12). To “reckon” something is an act of faith by the believer to trust God and accept as true and real the promises of His word.

Third, as we have come to know the Lord and reckoned His revelation to be true we need to act in faith on it and present ourselves to Him (Romans 6:13-19).  This is what Paul calls on us to do in Romans 12:1 in response to the mercy of God revealed in the first eleven chapters of Romans. Notice Paul simply assumes that the evidence presented in these earlier chapters have brought the person through the knowing and reckoning stages of sanctification. To present is the beginning of the practical application of what has been known and reckoned true and real.

As noted in Romans 6, the word “present” is translated from the term PARAISTEMI (Strong’s # 3936), the same word used in Romans 6 (Romans 6:13,16,19). This term can also be translated “yielded.” As we noted in Romans 6 the idea behind this word is that God wants to use us for His work and glory; we need only give ourselves to God for His use. God can use our voice, our mind, our senses, skills, and human capacities to do His work. We need only give ourselves to Him. TO PRESENT YOURSELF TO GOD IS AN ACT OF FAITH.

 

Fourth once we have come to know the Lord and reckoned His word true and presented ourselves to Him to use as He pleases, we then serve Him in holiness (Romans 6:20-23). As we said in Romans 6, holiness or sanctification is composed of being separate from sin and being separated to God, it is allowing the Spirit to pour His love into us and through us to others. 

Now that we have reviewed what sanctification in the Spirit means, let’s focus in on Paul's exhortation to present ourselves to our God of mercy.

Presenting Ourselves to God

 

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  [2]

Presenting ourselves to God is an act of faith. Remember what we said in Romans six, this is not so much a work as it is advancing in faith. Just as we received Jesus as our Savior by grace through faith, we continue on in our relationship with Him by the Spirit in faith (“from faith to faith”  - Romans 1:17).

 

Remember, in Acts this work of the Spirit in the believer is stated to be by faith in the following words:

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”  [3]

The purifying work of the Spirit in the believer is something done as the believer simply in faith surrenders to God.

Also in Acts we see Paul link sanctification to faith when he testifies of what Jesus told him about the inheritance of the saints saying:

  • Acts 26:18 – “‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’” [4]

Finally, if we return to the introductory words of Paul in Romans he said:

  • Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  [5]

We remember as we read these words that the phrase, “from faith to faith,” means that the gospel is received by faith and lived on in faith. Sanctification is a step of faith in the Spirit.

Therefore, as we look at Romans 12:1 we see Paul’s call to present our bodies to God as having four aspects or four parts.

First, we present our bodies a living sacrifice.  The word “body” here is translated from the Greek word SOMA (Strong’s # 4983 - sw`ma soµma, so´-mah) which is used for the physical body as well as broadly in the sense of the whole body of material, the entirety of all the parts.[6] When Paul tells us to present our body to the Lord he’s saying give God your all, give Him everything.

A living sacrifice is dead to self, dead to my desires, my agenda. I am to live sacrificially for God. I am alive, but I live for God; I am dead to myself, but alive to God. We see this in the following verses:

 

  • Matthew 16:24-26 – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  [7]
  • Romans 6:3-10 – “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”  [8]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [9]
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 – “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  [10]
  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  [11]

We are alive because of Jesus living in us by the Spirit. And the only reasonable response to is now live for Him. In the next chapter of Romans Paul will states this by saying:

  • Romans 14:7-8 – “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”  [12]

Second, we present our bodies holy to Him. The word “holy”  is  a translation of the Greek term HAGIOS (Strong’s # 40 - a{gio"hag´-ee-os) which is a derivative of the Greek term HAGOS (a{go") which means literally “an awful thing.”  This is not something that is awful because it is bad, but awful in that it is awesome, sacred, consecrated to God, set apart for His use and purposes, holy (see Isaiah 6). [13]  This is the word used to describe believers as “saints.” Therefore, our bodies are presented holy to Him in the sense that they are set apart for His use, specially set aside for Him to use. Peter noted this in his first epistle when he was inspired to write:

 

  • 1 Peter 1:15-16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” [14]

As God is unique, separate and distinct in that there is none like Him (Exodus 9:14; Isaiah 46:9), believers are to be separated from that which would defile or defame God’s good name and distinctively set apart for their unique and awesome God.

Third, we present our bodies as acceptable to God. Corrupt priests often rejected the sacrifices brought by people to the Temple so that they would have to buy an appropriate sacrifice from them. God’s law required that animal sacrifices could not be castoffs, or broken blemished sacrifices. David said he wouldn’t give to God that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). We are acceptable in Christ (Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:10). We aren’t to rely on our righteousness, but on Christ’s righteousness.

But this also involves a practical application that the Spirit works in us. Paul was inspired to write of this in his letter to the Thessalonians where he was inspired to exhort them saying:

 

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 – “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”  [15]

Our reasonable response to God’s mercy and grace is to present ourselves to God in a way that pleases Him, in a way that brings a smile to His face and approval in His heart.

Fourth, we present ourselves to God to be transformed. Let’s look at this aspect a bit deeper.

Transformed Nonconformists

 

Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  [16]

Paul exhorts his readers to not be “conformed” to the world. “Conformed”  (Strong’s # 4964 - suschmativzw suscheµmatizoµ, soos-khay-mat-id´-zo) means, “to fashion alike, i.e. conform to the same pattern; conform to, fashion self according to.” [17] Don’t follow the fashions or patterns of the world which are ultimately guided by Satan. The New Living Translation of Romans 12:2 states:

 

  • Romans 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”  [18]

Sometimes in ministry in an effort to empathize with the lost we take Paul’s exhortation to be all things to all men in order that by all means some might be saved (1 Corinthians 9:8) to an extreme. The result is that rather than being lights shinning in a dark world, our light is snuffed out and hidden because we’ve become too much like the world. As we look at the church we often see, for whatever reason, not much difference between the people in the church and the people in the world. There is a fine line between empathy and conformity in relating to the world. The other extreme is a legalistic view of life so obsessed with not conforming to the world that Christina liberty in the Spirit is squeezed out of life. A close walk with the Spirit will guide us as we are transformed by the Spirit into the likeness of Jesus. Jesus was known as a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19), but He was known to be a teacher of truth and without sin (John 2:29; 8:29,46; see also Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14; Luke 20:21; John 3:2). We will not be able to be sinless like Jesus, but we can allow the Spirit to guide us into Christ-likeness in this area.

Be transformed

Instead be “transformed,” (Strong’s # 3339 - metamorfovw meátamoárphoáoµ, met-am-or-f´-o) meaning, “to transform;  “metamorphose”; change, transfigure, transform.”[19] Now interestingly, both of these terms (i.e. conform and transform) imply something that is done to the person; you are either going to be molded by the world and it’s god Satan, or you are going to be molded by God. Who you present yourself to determines which it will be.

 

Be renewed in your mind

 

The incentive to presenting yourself to God to be changed and transformed is that God will do a “renewing of your mind.” Renewing,”  is translated from the Greek term ANAKAINOSIS (Strong’s # 342 - ajnakaivnwsi" anakainoµsis, an-ak-ah´-ee-no-sis) which refers to a “renovation;  renewing.” [20] God is going to do a renovation of your mind. He will help you change the way you think. Paul was inspired to write to the Corinthians:

 

  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”  [21]

Don’t go to the world for help with your mind. God will help us control our thoughts and bring them into subjection to Jesus, to conform to His way of thinking. What we need to do is present our selves to God to do so. Satan can bring evil thoughts and desires into our minds, and we can’t stop him from dong so. But we can stop from playing with those satanic thoughts. We can take such evil thoughts captive in Christ and cast them down.

We aren’t to open our minds up to the New Age techniques that lead to mind control. We aren’t to follow the Eastern Mysticism of emptying our minds either. We are to present ourselves to God and seek that He transform and renew our minds in the Spirit.

Here is where many people go wrong. People might never think of going to an astrologer, or witch, or soothsayer, or New Age channeler, (thought far too many do), but they will go to a secular psychologist who has been training is rooted in the philosophy of this world which is self-centered. Even so-called Christian counselors often go to the world for their training. How can someone trained in the world, (which Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to) do anything but bring a person into conformity with the world’s way of thinking? I believe there are godly Christian counselors, people with the spiritual gifts of exhortation and discernment, used by God to help people in their time of need; but it is absolutely wrong and fruitless to seek the transformation God offers from worldly sources. It just won’t work. Remember, Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and other counselor is s step down from Him. You can’t top Jesus for counseling, yet so many people don’t even consider Him as a viable resource. Such people probably haven’t even experienced a true, real relationship or living relationship with Him. Jesus does speak to us through counselors, but godly prayerful, Spirit-filled counselors that will always steer a person to Jesus in their time of need.  Beware Christian, don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Paul in his letter to the Philippians gave us a good objective to follow in the Spirit regarding our thought life. Paul was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 4:6-9 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  [22]

Follow that plan in the Spirit and your mind will definitely be transformed by God. In effect what God is saying to us through the inspired words of Paul in Romans 12:1-2, and in the above Corinthian and Philippian passages is if you give me your life and mind, if you give me your whole heart, I’ll give you My life, mind and heart. That’s a deal no one should turn down.

Proving the Will of God

Furthermore, when you present yourself to God to be transformed, and renewed in your mind, God reveals His “good and acceptable and prefect will of God” to you. With God’s renewed mindset, you are able to comprehend and perceive God’s will much easier. The prerequisites of discerning God’s will is to present yourself to God as living, holy, sacrifices to have your mind transformed and brought in line with His desires.

 

The word Paul uses here is “prove,” translated from the Greek term DOKIMADZO (Strong’s #1381 - dokimavzw doákimazoµ, dok-im-ad´-zo) meaning “to test; to approve; allow, discern, examine.” [23] The mind renewed by God will be better suited to discern God’s will because distractions are removed that would hinder such discernment.

 

What is God’s Good and Perfect Will for My Life?

 

One of the most common questions believers ask is, “What is God’s will for my life?” Romans 12:1-2 is foundational in answering this question. When we present ourselves to God as verse one exhorts us to and don’t seek to be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our minds by the Spirit, we put ourselves in a position to understand and follow the will of God for us. The one who presents themselves to God as a living, holy acceptable sacrifice and who surrenders to Him for transformation, that person will find God’s will in their life situation. But if we are self-seeking and self-serving, we’ll only find dead ends and rotten ends in what we do in life. Give yourself to God and He will lead you into the abundant life.

 

The Person God Reveals His Will To

 

Who is the person God reveals His will to, what are they like? Does the Bible give us any information about those who come to know the will of God? The Bible does paint a picture for us of the person God reveals His will to. The Bible states that God reveals His will to the following types of people.

 

First, God reveals His will to the humble or meek. In Psalms it states:

 

  • Psalm 25:9 – “ The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way.”  [24]

Humble” here means, “humble; poor; meek.” (Strong’s # 6035 – ANAW -  עָנָו, עָנָיו – occurs 26 times in Old Testament and is translated “meek” 13 times, “humble” five times, “poor” five times, “lowly” twice, and “meek” once. [25]) God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6). In order to receive God’s will you have to be humble enough not to assert your own will over God’s will. You have to be willing to humbly submit to God’s will NO MATTER WHAT.  To be meek is not to be weak. To be meek is to have strength under godly control. One of the characteristics of the Spirit working in a person’s life is self-control (Galatians 5:22-24). To receive the will of God you need to be meek in the sense that you are willing to wait for God’s will to be revealed.

 

Second, God reveals His will to the person who listens wisely. In Proverbs it states:

 

  • Proverbs 23:19 – “Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way.”  [26]

Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge practically. Notice this verse emphasizes hearing. A person needs to be alert and attentive, willing to hear and wisely follow what God reveals NO MATTER WHAT in order to discern God’s revealed will.

And also notice most importantly the mention of being guided, “in the way.” What “way” is this? It is the way of God’s word, God’s revelation. God guides us by His word. The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 and that chapter deals with God’s word, and the point of that chapter on God’s word is that God directs us and guides us according to His will by way of His world. A sample of verses from this great psalm shows this:

  • Psalm 119:2,9,11,99,105,130,133 – “2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! . . . 9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. . . . 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You! . . . 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. . . . 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. . . . 130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. . . . 133 Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. . . .” [27]

Third, God reveals His will to the person who surrenders to Him, who depends on Him. In Exodus it states:

 

  • Exodus 15:13 – “You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength To Your holy habitation.”  [28]

We know from Biblical history that the people of Israel were known for their disobedience, complaining and rebellion. But when they were willing to cry out to God and trust Him to deliver them, God did lead them. To receive God’s will we need to be willing to surrender and submit to God and follow His lead NO MATTER WHAT. We have to be willing to follow God’s will even if it leads us through a scary Sea (Exodus 14) or a wilderness (Exodus 16-17; see also Psalm 78).

God’s will may lead us into unfamiliar territory but we need to trust Him and depend upon Him if we are to complete our life journey according to His will. In Proverbs the attitude needed to receive God’s will is described in the following way where it states:

  • Proverbs 3:5-7 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.”  [29]

The bottom line is this, THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, MUST BE WILLING TO RECEIVE IT AND SUBMIT TO IT.

What is God’s Will Like?

What is God’s will like? Is it hard to find? Is it secret? Is it mysterious? When we look at the Bible we see two things which are descriptive about God’s will.

First, God’s will is described as being very personal. God’s will is not discerned by a cold formula or calculation. God’s will flows out of our personal saving intimate relationship with Him. We receive God’s will as we walk with Him step by step in the Spirit. We receive God’s will by being close to Him learning to follow His gestures and truths.

We see an example of this when in the psalms it states:

  • Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”  [30]

Like a couple who know each other so well that they can communicate to each other with eye contact, that is how we are to receive God’s will. We should be so close to God and know Him so well that He just has to direct us with His eye. That can only happen if we are in a close, intimate, personal relationship with Him.

The Psalmist writes of being guided by God who holds our hand. He writes:

  • Psalm 73:23-24 – “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.24 You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.”  [31]

To know God’s will we have to simply take His hand, to come close to Him and take His hand.

In 2 Chronicles chapter 32 we see the account of the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians. The Assyrians were a terrorist nation that instilled fear and terror against whomever they invaded. When Sennacherib came against Judah under the reign of Judah’s king Hezekiah when Isaiah was the prophet, there was a great deal of fear instilled in God’s people. Sennacherib sent messengers to the walls of Jerusalem to ridicule, boast and blaspheme God and His people. He also wrote letters reviling God. What was God’s will in this situation? Retreat? Surrender? Fight? Hard times when we are brought to the end of ourselves are often what is needed and necessary for us to depend on God and receive His will. Such was the case hear. Read what happened:

 

  • 2 Chronicles 32:20-22 – “Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven.21 Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.22 Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.” [32]

You see, man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. God allows us to face seemingly hopeless situations because it is our nature to cling most closely to God in trying times. When all is well we are inclined to drift and float from God. But in times of need we come close to God and when we are close to Him we see His will done as he guides us with His hand. The better way would be to always remain close to God in good times and bad so that we will have an intimate knowledge of His will at all times.

Second, God’s will is ongoing. In Isaiah it states:

 

  • Isaiah 58:11 – “The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”  [33]

God’s will is revealed step-by-step. God doesn’t give us a map at the beginning of our journey and leave us to fend for ourselves in reaching our destination, purpose of goal. We walk step by step with God and as we walk with Him He reveals the path we are to take. Abraham is a good example of this. God simply called him to leave Ur of the Chaldeas and as Abraham followed God, God brought Him to the Promised Land (Genesis 12-23). God doesn’t give us an address as much as He brings us to the threshold or door of where He wants us to be. Once there, God teaches and guides us in the way of His will.

 

The Two Foundational Steps in Receiving God’s Will

 

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”   [34]

The last phrase of Romans 12:2 is an eye-catcher because every believer wants to know God’s will for their lives. Romans 12:1 and 2 start us off in preparing us to receive God’s will. These verses give us the first two steps in discovering God’s will for us. What are these two foundational steps in discovering the will of God?

 

The first step in discovering and proving the good and perfect will of God for your life is to prayerfully present yourself to God as a living sacrifice. This is the Christ-like criterion. We have to come to God open to and surrendered to His will being done. We have to have an objective attitude that says, “Lord, not my will but Yours be done. As much as is possible we have to come selflessly and objectively before God as a living sacrifice ready to obey and follow whatever God’s will determines for us to do. This is the Christ-like criterion for God’s will to be accomplished in us in that Jesus did this at the most pivotal and important time in His life. Jesus had led a perfect sinless life and yet He knew what the Old Testament had prophesied of the Messiah (see Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). As he approached the cross He prayed to the Father. What did Jesus pray for during this critical and momentous time of decision in His life? Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done. He submitted His will and surrendered His life to the will of the Father in this greatest of decisions. This is the Christ-like criterion for receiving the will of God.  In Matthew it states:

 

  • Matthew 26:36-46 – “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”  [35]

If you want God’s will done in your life, you have to surrender to Him in prayer giving Him free reign over your life and decisions.

The second foundational step in discovering God’s good and perfect will for us is lay aside a mindset of conventional worldly wisdom and open ourselves to the Spirit’s transformation of our way of thinking. We have only to look at such Biblical examples as Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David and a host of others in the Bible who God worked through because they were surrendered to God to work in ways the world would call foolish (see 1 Corinthians 1-2).

 

These two foundational steps to receiving God’s will can be summed up as PRESNTING YOURSELF AS A LVING SACRIFICE TO GOD. Once you have presented yourself as a living sacrifice and are trusting God to transform your way of thinking and are open to His will, the Bible bears witness that God has an assortment of ways that He reveals His will to us. What are these ways? Let’s see.

Twelve Ways God Reveals His Will To Us

There is an interesting account in the life of Jeremiah depicted in the following passage, which reads:

  • Jeremiah 32:6-8 – “And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying,7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.” ’8 “Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. [36]

The context for the above portion of scripture is the time right before the southern kingdom of Judah falls to Babylon. God, through Jeremiah’s prophecy, tells king Zedekiah and the people that their demise is inevitable. Zedekiah in response to Jeremiah’s words, throws Jeremiah into prison as a traitor (Jeremiah 32:1-5). Sometimes people do not respond well to the truth of God.

While in prison Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me.” He then goes on to describe the thought of a plan to redeem a field from a family member. Jeremiah may have thought to himself, “Why redeem a field in a land that was about to be taken over by the Babylonians? Why redeem a field in a land that would likely soon be out of my reach once the Babylonians removed me to captivity? Why redeem a land I could not use? Wouldn’t that be a waste of money?” The word that came to Jeremiah must have caused him to think and question, “Is this really a word from the LORD or is it just me?”   How did Jeremiah get from these thoughts to his statement, “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD”? How did he know God was speaking to him? How can we know what God is saying and when He is speaking to us? How can we discern the heart and will of God?

When we look at the body of Scripture we see that there are twelve ways the Lord reveals His will to us, twelve ways He communicates His will to us. Let’s consider the twelve ways God reveals His will to us.

First, God Speaks Through Confirming Circumstances

Jeremiah had an impression or thought from the LORD. But how did he know what he thought was from the LORD? He knew his thought was from the LORD because God confirmed His word circumstantially. Because the thought of Jeremiah was followed by circumstances, which fit the thought, (“just as the LORD had said,” - v.8 - NIV), Jeremiah accepted that the thought he had was from God. God confirms His word to us by bringing life circumstances into alignment with what He is telling us. 

In the book of Revelation Jesus told the church of Philadelphia that He had set before them an open door. This helps us in recognizing how God confirms His word through circumstances. In Revelation it states:

  • Revelation 3:8 - “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”  [37]

Now Jesus may be referring in particular to the door of heaven through which the true church would be raptured (Revelation 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But this verse also conveys the thought that before us are doors, some of which God opens, some of which He shuts. When we receive a “word from the LORD” it will be confirmed by an open door of opportunity to fulfill that word. That is how we know it is from the LORD.

In the book of Acts during the second missionary journey at one point it says of Paul and his missionary group:

  • Acts 16:6-8 – “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.”  [38]

In these verses it says, “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit, “ and “the Spirit did not permit them,” which I believe indicates that the Spirit did not open the door of opportunity for the missionaries to minister in these areas. The apostles apparently had a thought about going to preach in Asia and Bithynia, (otherwise why would it even be mentioned?). When the apostles came to a closed door, they moved on accepting that the circumstances did not confirm the word they had thought was from God. They did not pout but saw rejection as God’s redirection.

When the LORD called me into ministry I soon believed He was directing me to go to seminary. You might say, “The word of the LORD came to me saying,” “Go to seminary.” I had been married about three years and my wife Dee and I prayed about the will of God in this situation to see if indeed it was the will of God for me. One of our concerns was the cost of  moving and paying for a seminary education. We were relative newlyweds and we had very little money. How were we going to pay for a seminary education? As I began to walk by faith in this call I believed the LORD was telling me that, “Since this is of the LORD you will not have to go into any debt to complete your seminary education.” In effect God was going to show me whether or not this actually was a call from Him or not, by the circumstance of how our financial needs would be met.  God was teaching me the important principle of, where God Guides, God Provides.  My wife Dee and I sold about everything we owned, (and it wasn’t much!). We sold our cars and bought the only vehicle we could find that was affordable for us, a 1968 Ford Econoline Window Van (this was in 1983, so the van was already 15 years old!). We packed the van with our clothes, my books and some other personal items and left for the Midwest. When we got to the school we had just enough money for the first semester. What would we do now? If this was of God, we didn’t believe it would require even a loan! We prayed, and sure enough my wife and I found jobs and the LORD blessed with some scholarships. Upon graduation three years later, we left debt free! The word of God was confirmed through our life circumstances. It’s true, Where God Guides, God Provides.

God confirms His word to us by circumstances, which verify fully the word that He speaks. There are other means besides the one shown here in Jeremiah 32, by which God speaks to us. They are important for us to know about.

Second, God Speaks in Various Ways

In the opening verses of the book of Hebrews we read the following:

  • Hebrews 1:1 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets”  [39]

God has a number of ways by which He speaks to people. We should be open to receive whatever means the Spirit chooses to use to get our attention and share the word of God with us. One time in the Bible the Lord wrote His message with His finger on a wall at a party (see Daniel 5). Now that’s the only time He’s done that, but you get the idea. God can be very imaginative in the way He gets His point across and the way He reveals His will.

Third, God Speaks To Us Through Everyday Life Illustrations

Earlier in the book of Jeremiah we see that Jeremiah received direction and the word of the LORD as he observed a boiling pot (1:13); a dirtied sash (13:1-11); droughts (14:1-9); and the potter’s house (18:1-10). In all of these instances God brought to Jeremiah’s mind and heart a word that He wanted spoken. The same can be true today. We can be walking the streets of a city or caught in traffic on the way to or from work and observe the faces of a lost world. There is a message God is speaking to us during these times. How many smiles do you see? How many scowls to you receive? It is all speaking to us from God. Look, listen and receive His word.

Fourth, God Speaks to Us Through Nature

The psalmist wrote:

  • Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” [40]

As we look at the creation around us we see the work of a Designer, a Creator and when we do we are receiving a word from the LORD. The apostle Paul in the New Testament said God reveals Himself in nature.

  • Romans 1:19-20 - :because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”  [41]

God speaks to us in nature and we need to hear what He is saying. Jesus used nature as a means of communicating His word. We see this in such words as:

  • Matthew 6:25-34 - “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?26 “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;29 “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  [42]

If we fail to observe the natural surroundings we pass through each day, it just may be that we will miss a word form the LORD.

Fifth, God Speaks Through Dreams

The Bible indicates that God speaks though dreams. In the Old Testament God spoke by dreams to Jacob (Genesis 31:11); Joseph (Genesis 37:5-11); a pagan butler and baker (Genesis 40:5); Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1); and many others. Joel’s Pentecostal prophesy promises that believers will “dream dreams” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:19). In the New Testament God spoke by dreams to Joseph (Matthew 1:20); and Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19). These are only a sampling of instances where God spoke to people through dreams. God may speak to you by giving you a dream.

Sixth, God Speaks Through Visions

A “vision” is a means of divine revelation similar to a dream. The difference between a dream and a vision is that dreams only occur while a person is asleep, visions can occur while a person is awake (Daniel 10:7). In the Old Testament much of what is written in the books of Ezekiel and Daniel (Daniel 8:1,17) are the result of revelation from God received via visions. In the New Testament we see God giving His word by way of visions in the life of Ananias (Acts 9:10-17); Peter (Acts 10); Paul (Acts 16:9-15); and John (Revelation 1).

Seventh, God Speaks Through An Audible Voice

God called Moses to ministry by speaking audibly to him out of a burning bush (Exodus 3-4). When Samuel was called to the priesthood the LORD woke him up out of his sleep with an audible voice (1 Samuel 3:1-10). God spoke to Elijah with “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:8-18). In the New Testament God spoke to people audibly about His Son Jesus (Matthew 3 and 17).  Jesus spoke to Paul audibly (Acts 9).

When my wife Dee was pregnant with our youngest son Stephen, eleven weeks through the pregnancy she experienced complications. One late summer evening she sent me out for some deli provolone cheese and salami she had been craving. When I returned we made sandwiches and sat down to watch TV. No sooner had we sat down than she said, “Oh my God! I’m bleeding!” And sure enough her light colored shorts were covered in blood. I immediately tried to call our doctor but he was unavailable and we were told to go to the hospital and wait for him. I knew we were in for a long night so I began to pack some things. I didn’t want to go through this without the word of God so I stepped outside and walked down to my car where I kept my favorite handy small pocket Bible. As I walked to my car “The word of the LORD came to me saying,” “Against all hope Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations,” Romans 4:18 – NIV). The LORD spoke to me as close to a heavenly audible voice as I have ever experienced in my life. From that point on God gave me a steadying certainty in Him that got Dee and me through this ordeal. As I returned to Dee I told her what the LORD had told me and we laid hands on her womb and prayed.  When we got to the hospital we waited for what seemed like an eternity and then the emergency room doctor examined my wife. When the examination was completed I rejoined Dee who was alone in a room on a bed. We were all alone and in the most difficult time of our lives. I looked at the clipboard attached to the foot of her bed and read what the diagnosis indicated. The diagnosis read, “Aborted fetus.” I was a bit taken back and wondered,  “But LORD, you told us to hope against all hope.” I chose at that time to “hope against hope” and take God at His word. That night my wife was admitted to the hospital. The next day she would have a sonogram to determine if indeed she had lost the baby. After a night of prayer I returned to the hospital to find that Dee had already been wheeled down to the sonogram room. As I made my way down the hall and entered the room, I called out Dee’s name to determine where she was. She responded, “I’m over here.” I walked into the room and drew the curtain aside and at the same moment Dee continued, “And the baby is all right!” Sure enough, there was our son Stephen on the screen, reclined, legs crossed as though saying, “What’s the big deal dad, Jesus is in control.” As I wept with joy, God’s words came back to me, “Against all hope . . . believe,” and  “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.”

Eighth, God Speaks Through Angels

As early as Abraham we see God communicating to people through angels (Genesis 18). In the New Testament God announced the birth of Jesus with Angels (Luke 1-2). In the book of Hebrews we’re given the interesting words:

  • Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”  [43]

One of the most popular TV shows today is Touched By An Angel, which depicts the intervention and sharing of God’s word with people in the dire straight of life. It is possible that God would choose to speak to you via an angel. God chose to use angels in the Bible and apparently He will continue to do so today.

Ninth, God Speaks Through Godly Spirit-filled People

It may seem unexciting to us but it is true, God speaks to us through the people He brings into our lives. God gives people within the church spiritual gifts to communicate His word to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12,14). An example of God speaking through a person is found in the book of Acts where twice God used the prophet Agabus to warn the flock, once of a famine and later to warn Paul of the imprisonment that lay ahead of him (Acts 11:28; 21:10-11). God speaks through people so the next time you are seeking His will go to a godly Spirit-filled person and see what God has to say through them about your situation.

Tenth, God Speaks Through His Written Word

This is probably the most common means God uses to convey His word to us. The Bible is God-breathed, meaning the words written in the 66 books of the canon of the Old and New Testaments are straight from His heart, they are His words and are completely without error and dependable. Since these words are God-breathed by the Holy Spirit, God applies His word to our life situations in very practical and personal ways. As in my case above with my young son Stephen, as I was entering a trial, He spoke to me a word of assurance that got me through the trial.

You see God’s word is dynamic and alive, god speaks to us through His word just as much as He spoke to the people to whom He first spoke it. IN Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [44]

The word of God is living in that the Holy spirit takes it and applies it to the lives of people throughout history to reveal God’s will to them. God’s word transcends time and is always relevant.

The Bible is unlike any other book because it’s Author is God. This is what the Bible states God is its Author in the following verses:

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” [45]
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [46]
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21 – “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  [47]

When my son Stephen was born he was 10 pounds and 1 ounce (Dee delivered him by natural delivery!). But during his first night of life out in this world it became apparent that there was something wrong with him. He wasn’t breathing normally and in fact he was blue in color. Immediately Dee called me to tell me of the problem and I rushed to the hospital to which Stephen was transferred for diagnosis. I arrived at the hospital and was unable to see Stephen or the doctor for about an hour during which time I prayed. As I prayed I searched the Bible for a word from the LORD. The word of the LORD that came to me was, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15). I believed the LORD brought that verse to my sight particularly for my situation. (With Stephen, I had already learned first hand in the earlier placental tear circumstance that God speaks and is true to His word.) To make a long story short in less than 48 hours my wife and I traveled with Stephen to four hospitals, two ambulance rides and one air ambulance ride from Long Island to Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. Once in Boston we spent two weeks while Stephen had open-heart surgery and recuperated. Open-heart surgery on an infant is serious business. But through all of our trial Dee and I clung to Psalm 50:15. During our trial God opened doors to minister to other parents whose children had similar problems. Stephen is now a strong, healthy boy and every chance I get I glorify God because of the way He delivered us through it all. God speaks through His word. What has He said to you lately? Why not dust off that Book and see what he has to say to you now?

Eleventh, God Speaks Through His Son Jesus

Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:1-5,14). In the Old Testament Jesus appeared to people in what are referred to as Theophanies or Christophanies, pre-incarnate manifestations of Jesus. We see this in the life of Abraham (Genesis 18); Jacob (Genesis 32); Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15); Ezekiel  (Ezekiel 40:1-4); Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:25); and Daniel (Daniel 10:4-9) to site a few. In the New Testament we see that Jesus is incarnated in the gospels and beginning of the book of Acts and later gives the apostle John a full revelation of Himself and the Divine plan for the church and humankind (Revelation). In the book of Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”  [48]

Knowing Jesus is the key to hearing anything from God. God’s revealed will always serves to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29).  We can determine God’s will by seeing how Jesus responded in situations similar to our own. We can discern God’s will by looking to Jesus’ words. If you don’t know Jesus, you won’t hear anything other than God’s word that you need to know Him in a saving way. Jesus is the living Word of God. If you want to know what God desires to say to you, look to Jesus.

Twelve, God Speaks Through the Inner Presence of the Holy Spirit

Under the New Covenant when a person is saved from their sin they become a new creation and the Holy Spirit comes to reside within them (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). People are trichotomous creatures made up of body, mind and spirit. Before salvation and regeneration a person’s spirit compartment, so to speak,  is dormant and dead and their body and mind govern the person. Fulfilling the lusts of their flesh drives the unsaved person. Once saved by Christ a person is given spiritual life and the Spirit residing within becomes the Guide for life. Because of the makeup of humankind God conveys His word and will to us via the Holy Spirit Who communicates the will of God to us by implanting God’s thoughts in our mind.

 

In 1 Corinthians this role of the Spirit is explained as follows:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 – “But as it is written: 1 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  [49]

This passage tells us that the Holy Spirit conveys the mind of God to us and the last verse tells us that God’s thought conveyed to us by the Spirit constitute the “mind of Christ.”

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would guide believers into all truth and teach the believer from within what exactly is the will of God. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 14:26 – “ “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  [50]
  • John 15:26 -  “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  [51]
  • John 16:13 -  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”  [52]

It needs to be pointed out here that without the Holy Spirit residing within you, a person cannot know the heart of God. The Spirit will strive with the unbeliever to lead them to salvation, but the personal daily walk with God where He leads and guides and bears His heart, is only for those who have received Christ as their Savior and have experienced the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit within us that communicates the nature of the intimate personal relationship we have with the Father through Jesus (Romans 8:14-17). It is the Holy Spirit within us Who is the Agent Who writes the law of God on our hearts according to the New Covenant promise (Hebrews 8:10-12). It is the Holy Spirit with Whom we communicate when we pray as He translates our prayers according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

But there is a problem. Obviously not all the thought s we have are from the Holy Spirit even after we are saved. Therefore, how do we discern which thoughts are from the Spirit and which are not? How to we come to the point as Jeremiah did and say, “Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.”?

How Do I Discern God’s Will and Heart From My Will and Heart?

This is the million-dollar question. How do we know if a thought that comes into our head or heart is from the LORD or not? The Spirit is there and leading us into all truth, but sometimes we aren’t sure of which way the LORD is directing. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what thoughts are form God and what thoughts are from me. So what do we do?

There are basically three tests to determine whether or not a thought or word in your head is or is not from God. The three questions we need to ask to determine if a word is from God or not are: Is the word COMPLIANT? Is the word CONCLUSIVE? Is the word CONFIRMED?

First, IS THE WORD COMPLIANT?

God will never give us a word or steer us in a direction that contradicts or is out of compliance with His written word. God will never contradict Himself. Therefore, the first question and the predominant question we need to ask is, how does it jive with the Bible? In the book of Deuteronomy the LORD states through Moses:

  • Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.4 “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”  [53]

Notice the phrase, “and the sign or wonder comes to pass,” indicates that a confirming circumstance only confirms that a word is from God if and only if  it complies with the written word of God. For example, say you are working overtime to pay some outstanding bills and you have been praying for God to help you with your finances. One night while working late you find that the companies petty cash drawer filled with money is accidentally left unlocked, a word comes to you, “Go ahead, I left the drawer open for you. Take the money. No one will know. Go ahead take it.” In that situation there is a word and a confirming circumstance, you have prayed for financial help and now here is an opportunity to get some money, i.e. the unlocked and open petty cash drawer. BUT that would be stealing and that does not comply with the word of God. Therefore it must be rejected as being the word of God. If it is not from the LORD where is it from? It could be a word originating from our fleshly desires, or it could be a word from Satan much the same as in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Remember, in the Garden of Eden Eve received a word. There was opportunity to follow through on the word she received. But since that impression or word contradicted God’s word, she should have rejected it.

In the wilderness Satan came against Jesus to tempt Him. He brought some words to the mind of Jesus but if you examine that situation you see a perfect example of handling the temptations of Satan. Jesus viewed all things through the lens of scripture. We see this in the following portion of the Bible:

  • Matthew 4:1-11 – “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 1 ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”  [54]

Every time Satan struck out at Jesus, Jesus responded, “It is written.” We should do the same. We should note also that it is the right application of God’s word that is important. Satan misused scripture in his attempt to draw Jesus into sin. We should not twist scriptures to get by these criteria of determining if or if not a word is from the LORD.

 

We should apply the word rightly as Paul states to Timothy:

 

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [55]

We need to diligently study God’s word as a worker or student who is well trained in its true meaning. Paul was inspired to write to the Thessalonians:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”  [56]

The word of God is the instrument by which all things are to be tested. When I was a young man I worked in a precision machine shop with my father. One of the instruments we used there was a micrometer which we used to measure widths of pieces to the ten-thousands of an inch. But if the micrometer was off, our work would be ruined. Therefore we had to even test the micrometers with a special cylindrical tool that was exactly a certain width. That is what the Bible is like; it’s the one reliable gauge to which all other things must be compared.

The compliance with the word of God takes priority over the confirming circumstance. The primary determining factor as to whether a word in your head, heart or coming from someone else, is from the LORD is whether it complies with God’s written word. That is why in the New Testament it states of the Bible:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [57]

In this verse from 2 Timothy, the term “reproof” is ELEGMOS, (Strong’s #1650) and literally means, “a reproof, a proof, proving, testing.” [58] One of the primary purposes of God’s word is to determine what is and what isn’t from God. So know your Bible, it’s indispensable to discerning what is and isn’t from the LORD.

Second, IS THE WORD CONCLUSIVE?

Does the word you hear come to pass? A word might come to you saying, “Today is the day I am going to rapture you to heaven. Go shout the news in the streets.” Now if the day passes and you’re still here shouting the coming of the Lord in the streets, it wasn’t from the LORD and you’re going to look like a crazy fool, not to mention you will defame and dishonor the name of God. Many a false prophet has been exposed by this test. Does the word conclude as it purported to? In Deuteronomy God is preparing His people through Moses to ward off pagan false teachers and so He forgives a very simple and clear test for determining if a word is form God:

  • Deuteronomy 18:20-22 – “‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’21 “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’—22 “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”  [59]

This test is not only for false prophets but is all encompassing in that if you receive what you think might be a word form the LORD, you will know it actually was from the LORD if and only if it comes to pass and conclusively fulfills all it claims.

Third, IS THE WORD CONFIRMED?

As we saw in Jeremiah 32, Jeremiah was able to discern that the thought was from the LORD because it was confirmed by circumstance. Sometimes it takes longer for a word to be confirmed than it did in the case of Jeremiah. When my wife first met me she felt as though the LORD told her that she would marry me. I didn’t get that word at first, but she did. Well, three years later after we met, the word she heard was confirmed as from the LORD because we were married.

What do we do when we have a word that doesn’t contradict God’s word but has yet to be conclusively confirmed? We wait on the LORD. That’s what Jeremiah did and that’s what we need to do. We have to give the situation and ourselves to the LORD. That is what the word of God states in the following verses:

  • Psalm 27:13-14 – “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”  [60]
  • Psalm 37:34 – “Wait on the Lord, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.” [61]
  • Isaiah 49:23b – “Then you will know that I am the Lord, For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.” [62]
  • Lamentations 3:25 – “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.”  [63]
  • Habakkuk 2:3 – “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”  [64]
  • Luke 12:35-36 - “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;36 “and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.”  [65]
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 – “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” [66]
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:5 – “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.”  [67]

So you see, if the confirmation does not come it may be that the word you received was not from God or that you need to wait longer for God to confirm the word. If you can’t wait, it may be an indication that the word was not from God. Let patience have its perfect effect in you (James 1:2-5).

God Has A Plan For Your Life

 

Sometimes we wonder if God even cares about our given situation. God always cares and we should always give our anxious concerns to Him (1 Peter 5:6-7). Even when things appear hopeless, God has a plan He is willing to carry out in your life. An example of this is found in God’s dealings with Israel. Because of their disobedience God allowed them to go into captivity. But even during this disciplinary action God was not giving up on them. Rather He was purifying them and preparing them for a higher purpose and teaching them to draw close to Him. Through Jeremiah God voices this truth when He inspires Jeremiah to say:

 

  • Jeremiah 29:10-14 – “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”  [68]

We can take this and apply it to our lives in that it shows us that God is always there for us, we may stray, but He remains imminent and faithful to His word. You can depend on God and He is all-wise and all-knowing and all-powerful, it is to Him that you should turn for direction in life. He has a plan for you. Give yourself to Him wholeheartedly and watch how He leads you into the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10).

 

The Tools God Uses to Work Out His Will In Your Life - Living Sacrifices Serving God with Spiritual Gifts

 

Romans 12:6 – “Having then gifts . . . .” [69]

When we give ourselves to God as living sacrifices and prove His will in our lives, God doesn’t stop there. God gives us spiritual tools to carry out His good and perfect will in our lives. These tools are called SPIRITUAL GIFTS.  

 

We aren’t saved by good works done in our own strength and we aren’t sustained in good works done in our own strength. Once we are saved and the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us (Romans 8:8-11) we proceed in the process of sanctification (Romans 6-8). The process of sanctification is not only the Spirit working in us to transform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29; 12:1-2), but also proving God’s good and perfect will for our lives which leads, practically speaking to, the Spirit working through us to fulfill God’s perfect will through us.  Romans 12-16 is a practical application section of the Romans letter to show us how the Spirit works through us to bring God’s perfect will to bear in and through us. The Spirit works God’s good and perfect will through us by giving us spiritual gifts to use in ministry. What is a spiritual gift?

 

What is a Spiritual Gift?

 

Remember in Romans 5 how we saw that the best way to describe God’s grace is with the phrase “much more”? Well, here we find more of God’s blessing in the life of the believer. God does not only save us from our sin and sanctify us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, but He equips us to serve Him by giving us spiritual gifts. What is a spiritual gift? A spiritual gift can be defined in the following way:

A SPIRITUAL GIFT IS A SUPERNATURAL ENABLEMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKING IN AND THROUGH THE BELIEVER TO GLORIFY GOD, FULFILL HIS CALLING ON A PERSON AND TO EDIFY THE BODY OF CHRIST.

A spiritual gift is “supernatural” because it transcends a natural ability and it is not something acquired by practice or learning. We are to “stir up” the gift of God that is in us as Paul told young pastor Timothy when he was inspired to write to him saying:

 

  • 2 Timothy 1:6 – “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  [70]

Spiritual gifts are the tools of the trade for the believer who is a living sacrifice seeking to have God’s good and perfect will carried out in and through them.

There is nothing sadder than to see a person getting frustrated in an effort they were not spiritually gifted to do. It can also be very frustrating when a person is trying to minister to you who is not spiritually gifted in the area they are ministering in. Trying to serve or minister without the right spiritual gift is like trying to use metric tools on nuts and bolts that were made in the English system of measuring. Trying to serve without spiritual gifts that are right is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole, it’s like trying to hammer in a screw or screw in a nail, it just won’t work and it’ll make a big mess to boot. Therefore an important question to ask is, “How can we discover our spiritual gift or gifts?” Let’s address that question by first seeing what some of the spiritual gifts are and then how we can determine which spiritual gifts we might have.

What Are Some of the Spiritual Gifts Listed in the Bible?

The Bible lists seventeen spiritual gifts. In addition to these are four (4) ministry gifts which seem to require a special calling and anointing (ordination) from God. The seventeen spiritual gifts are mentioned in two passages of the Bible: Romans 12: 6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-30. The seventeen spiritual gifts listed in these passages are:

  1. Prophecy - Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10,28
  2. Ministry – Romans 12:7
  3. Teaching – Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28
  4. Exhortation – Romans 12:8
  5. Giving – Romans 12:8
  6. Leadership – Romans 12:8
  7. Mercy – Romans 12:8
  8. Word of Wisdom  - 1 Corinthians 12:8
  9. Word of Knowledge – 1 Corinthians 12:8
  10. Faith – 1 Corinthians 12:9
  11. Gifts of Healings – 1 Corinthians 12:9,28
  12. Working of Miracles – 1 Corinthians 12:10,28
  13. Discerning of spirits – 1 Corinthians 12:10
  14. Tongues – 1 Corinthians 12:10,28
  15. Interpretation of tongues – 1 Corinthians 12:10
  16. Helps – 1 Corinthians 12:28
  17. Administration – 1 Corinthians 12:28

The four ministry gifts which seem to especially ordained by Jesus in ministry are:

  1. Apostle – Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28
  2. Prophet – Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28
  3. Evangelist – Ephesian 4:11
  4. Pastor/Teacher – Ephesians 4:11

These are the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. Since the Bible states that there are “diversities of gifts,” “differences of ministry,” and “diversities of activities,” it appears that the spiritual gifts are used by the Spirit in people in a variety of ways and combinations. Furthermore, while these above gifts are the ones listed in particular, we should not limit the possibility of the Spirit enabling a believer in a way not mentioned or referred to in the above lists. But it is always best to follow that which is clearly stated by the Lord.

How Can We Discover Our Spiritual Gift or Gifts? – The Five Faceted Attitude

 

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  [71]

 

The first two verses of Romans 12 speak about proving the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. While these two verses are the key to discovering God’s will in our life generally, they point by way of the context of Romans 12 to finding the will of God in a particular area, spiritual gifts. If you want to discover your spiritual gift you have to follow Romans 12:1-2. The first eight verses of Romans 12 gives us five attitudes that will help us to determine our spiritual gift(s):

 

In order to determine your spiritual gift you need to position yourself before God with the proper attitude. In the above passage we see the proper attitude for us to adopt to receive direction from the LORD as to our spiritual gifts. Remember, the Spirit gives us spiritual gifts according to HIS GOOD AND PERFECT WILL (see also 1 Corinthians 12:1-11) not ours.

 

There is a certain attitude we need to determine our spiritual gift or gifts and that attitude has five facets. All five facets can be seen in our Romans 12 passage.

 

First, An attitude of A SACRIFICIAL PRESENTATION (12:1) - A sacrifice is ready to die. Just like Isaac on mount Moriah (Genesis 22) we need to present ourselves to God. Full surrender says to God, “Take me and do whatever You wish to do with Me.”

 

Second an attitude of A HEAVENLY ORIENTATION (12:2) - You won’t get a vision of how God wants to use you while you’re vegetating in front of the television! Don’t settle into the world’s mold. Instead look to the Spirit to transform you into the image of Jesus and to show you where He wants to use you.

 

Third, an attitude of A HUMBLE POSITION (12:3) - Don’t assume you are more than you really are. God prepares us for the task He intends to use us in. That preparation in part will be designed to bring your true motives to the surface. Are you seeking to bring glory to God or to yourself? Humble yourself before God and He will exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:5-6).

 

Fourth, an attitude of A TEAM ASSOCIATION (12:4-5) - You need to be willing to work together with others in the body of Christ. Understand there is a certain amount of diversity and uniqueness in the bestowing of spiritual gifts. Two people may have the gift of teaching and teach in very different ways. Each is valuable. The important thing is that God is glorified. God gives gifts to edify us so that we will bring glory to Him.

 

Fifth, an attitude of A READY HEART TO RECEIVE (12:6-8) - A gift is something RECEIVED. You can’t earn spiritual gifts, you can only receive them. Whatever gift you are given, enjoy it, use it for the glory of God!

 

Let’s look more closely at these right attitudes toward spiritual gifts.

 

Seven Sound and Sober Attitudes Toward The Use of Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:3-6a – “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: . . .   [72]

Once we discover our spiritual gift or gifts, we then need to use it or them properly. What is a sound and sober way to go about using spiritual gifts? There has been a great deal of abuse of spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are sometimes viewed in ways that exalt one person over another. Spiritual gifts are sometimes used carnally to manipulate people. What is therefore a sober and sound approach to spiritual gifts?

Romans 12:1 points us back to God’s mercy (depicted in the first eleven chapters of Romans) with the word “therefore.” Romans 12:3 also points us back to God’s previously revealed mercy with the word “for.” “For,” here is continuing how we should respond in view of God’s provisions to us. We are instructed by Paul to not “think more highly of” ourselves than we ought to, or that is appropriate. We are to “think soberly” which means, to think soundly, as opposed to unsoundly, sanely as opposed to insanely, moderately as opposed to extremely  (Strong’s # 4993 - swfronevw soµphroáneáoµ, so-fron-eh´-o; “to be of sound mind, i.e. sane, moderate;  be in right mind, be sober (minded), soberly.”[73]). Paul says,  “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” therefore, since the faith we have comes from Him, we shouldn’t get all bloated in pride thinking we have accomplished anything great on our own (see 1 Corinthians 15:10).

There are seven sound and sober attitudes toward the use of spiritual gifts.

First, understand that your spiritual gift is a gift of God’s grace to you. Paul says, “For I say, through the grace given to me” (12:3a). Spiritual gifts are not natural talents or even something a person learns or studies for, (though they should be studied and learned about). Spiritual gifts are not abilities we can go to school to learn about or acquire as a trade (though we should learn about our spiritual gifts – 1 Timothy 4:14). Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities bestowed on members of the body of Christ for the sake of the edification or building up of the body of Christ. A spiritual gift is a supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, a person can’t take credit for their spiritual gift. In James it states:

  • James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  [74]

A person shouldn’t boast about their spiritual gift because it isn’t something they attained or worked for, it is something they have simply received from the Spirit as a product of God’s grace.

Second, be humble not haughty. Paul says, “For I say, . . . , to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (12:3b). God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6). It is imperative that when seeking one’s spiritual gift that we approach God as a living sacrifice as described in Romans 12:1-2. You see, we do not pick our spiritual gift(s); the Spirit appoints the gift(s) to us. In 1 Corinthians when Paul is discussing spiritual gifts he tells us this clearly saying:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,11 – “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. . . . 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” [75]

Spiritual gifts are given by the will of the Holy Spirit; we do not just pick and choose our gift. Having said that, it is likely that you will have a desire for the spiritual gift the Holy Spirit assigns to you. The Holy Spirit will mold you and change you and put a desire in you for the spiritual gift He gives you. In other words, you probably won’t hate the spiritual gift you are given, you will love it. Your spiritual gift is therefore likely the thing you love to do.

Third, have a sober and sound view of yourself. Paul states, “but to think soberly” (12:3c). As mentioned above, we need to have a balanced view of spiritual gifts, a view that leans on the Holy Spirit to guide and provide in implementing the gift and does not promote self in the process.

Also, spiritual gifts are not something to glance over or dismiss as unimportant. Paul was inspired to tell us that spiritual gifts are something we should not be ignorant about. Paul was inspired to say:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:1 – “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:” [76]

We need to be sound and sober in our view of ourselves concerning spiritual gifts which implies it is important to have a view or understanding about spiritual gifts.

Fourth, use your spiritual gift in faith. Paul states, “, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (12:3d). “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). If you’re going to discover and use your spiritual gift, it will be according to faith. God has given to each believer a “measure of faith” in that He gives us an opportunity and or  desire to serve in some capacity in the body of Christ and that desire or opportunity may be totally not what you might have expected in terms of serving in the church. Before I was a Christian I was a very shy person. In high school I dreaded oral reports and used to fake being sick to get out of them or at least postpone giving them. I just didn’t like talking in front of people. Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel I had anything anyone would want to listen to. Perhaps I was self-conscious. But for whatever reason, I preferred not to talk rather than talk, especially in public. When I became a Christian I soon had a desire to serve the Lord. My attitude was, “Whatever You want me to do Lord, I’ll do it.” The door opened for me to teach a junior high Sunday school class. I trusted in the Lord and stepped out in faith even though I had never ever done anything like teaching before. As I did the class I found I liked it! I had something to share now, a Savior to tell others about and a Bible to study and pass on what I had learned from the Lord. Soon I was asked to teach the adults. Each opportunity was blessed by the Lord and prospered. This ultimately led to God’s calling me into ministry and now that once shy inward person with nothing to say is a pastor who loves to share about the power of the gospel to change lives and to teach the dynamic truth of God’s word. But I would never have found my spiritual gift (pastor/teacher) if I hadn’t stepped out in faith with a servant’s heart at first. Step out in faith in see what God will do. Go for it!

Fifth, understand every believer has a spiritual gift from God. Paul says, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function” (12:4). Each person has a “function” in the body of Christ. No one is meant to sit on the sidelines and collect splinters; everyone is in this critical game of life, a game that will determine the eternal destiny of many. Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Are you using your spiritual gift?

Sixth, be united not divided in using your spiritual gift. Paul states, “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (12:5). In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he states the following about spiritual gifts:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:”  [77]

The key phrase is “for the profit of all.” Spiritual gifts are not to be hoarded or used to exalt one person over another, but are to be used with a Christ-like servant’s heart for the edification and benefit of the entire body of Christ (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-11).

In some teachings about spiritual gifts a particular gift is esteemed as a sign of spiritual maturity. In some churches the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is associated with speaking in tongues. The sign of being baptized in the Holy Spirit is taught to be speaking in tongues. This is not supported by Scripture which clearly the diversity of gifts and that not all “speak in tongues” but that the true sing of Spirit baptism is love (1 Corinthians 12:28-31; 13). Spiritual gifts should be used in love not pride.

Seventh, receive and use your spiritual gift by the grace of God. Paul states, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them”  (12:6a). Spiritual gifts are gifts from God, from the Spirit of God. All that we are and all that we have is a gift of, a product of God’s grace toward us. We see this in the following verses:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 – “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” [78]
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” [79]
  • Ephesians 3:7-8 – “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,”  [80]

Spiritual gifts are a gift of God’s grace to be graciously and humbly received in the Spirit and used soberly in faith for the benefit of all of the church. We are not to take, lust after or manipulate spiritual gifts to exalt ourselves or draw attention to ourselves in any way. To do this is to completely miss the purpose of spiritual gifts and corrupt their use. No, spiritual gifts are a gift from God to be used for His glory and purposes.

Seven Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:6-8 – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  [81]

Paul goes on to mention seven spiritual gifts that the Spirit gives for use in the body of Christ: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. There are other spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12 and 14; Ephesians 4), but we will focus on the ones at hand in this study.

One comment needs to be made at this point. One of the gifts of the Spirit that has been misused and abused most is the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. While this gift is a very important gift that the Spirit uses to enhance a person’s prayer life, it is wrong to put too much emphasis on this gift. In fact, notice that the spiritual gift of tongues is not even mentioned in Romans. Other gifts not mentioned in the Roman’s list are word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith gifts of healings, working of miracles, discerning of spirits, interpretation of tongues, helps and administration. We don’t want to minimize these gifts simply because they are on only one of Paul’s lists of spiritual gifts, but we do want to notice the inspired emphasis. Some gifts are more dominant and primary it would seem. The gifts of prophecy and teaching are always mentioned on the lists. The gift of evangelist and pastor/teacher appear on the ministry gift list only. The point here is that we should be humble in receiving our spiritual gift(s) because the Spirit gives us the gift right for us and according to His willful determination and all of the gifts serve a vital role in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

 

Let’s look at these seven spiritual gifts and see if perhaps God has given one of them to you.

What is the spiritual gift of prophecy?

 

Paul says, “if prophecy, let us prophecy in proportion to our faith” (12:6).  The word “prophecy” is a translation of the Greek term propheteia (Strong’s #4394). The most basic meaning of this word is “TO SPEAK FORTH.” The word is a combination of the Greek prefix “pro” which means “forth” and the Greek word “phemi” which means, “to speak.”  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words states, “Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, . . .  prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, . . .  it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, . . . .”  [82] Simply stated the spiritual gift of prophecy is speaking the word of God by the anointing of the Holy Spirit whether it is applicable to the present or future. Prophecy can be both forth-telling and or fore-telling.

 

There are seven purposes of the gift of prophecy which are as follows.

 

First,  to direct people to Jesus Christ. Jesus stated that His prophetic word about Himself was given by Him to confirm who He was and so that people would believe in Him. He stated:

 

  • John 13:18-19 -  “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’19 “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.”  [83]

Jesus didn’t speak prophetically to entertain, but to facilitate saving faith in Himself.

Second,  to edify or build up people in their faith and spiritual lives. In his inspired letter to the Corinthians Paul states of this spiritual gift, “He who prophecies speaks edification . . .” (1 Corinthians 14:3a). “Edification” is literally to build up and here in particular to build up spiritually.

Third,  to exhort  people to act in faith. Again to the Corinthians Paul states, “He who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation . . .” (1 Corinthians 14:3b). “Exhortation” is to cause someone to act on their faith, to take a step of faith, to get up and go, to motivate people to act on their faith.

Fourth,  to comfort the hurting (1 Corinthians 14:3c). Paul lastly says to the Corinthians, “He who prophecies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” To comfort a person is to give them hope, to point them to Jesus and remind them of the Wonderful Counselor He is and that the Holy Spirit is the “Comforter.”

Fifth, to convict of sin. Later in 1 Corinthians 14 in discussing this spiritual gift Paul is inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 – “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” [84]

When the person proclaiming God’s word does so in the Spirit the Holy Spirit uses it to convict and lead people to Jesus.

Sixth, to direct people into the will of God. In Acts we read:

  • Acts 13:1-3 – “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” [85]

Notice that the context here is worship and prayer and as this was taking place and those with a spiritual gift of prophecy spoke forth to direct Barnabus and Saul in the way and will of God.

Seventh,  and to predict the future. Also in Acts we read:

  • Acts 21:10-11 – “And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”   [86]

Here we see Agabus, by way of the gift of prophecy, speaking about what lay ahead for the apostle Paul. This was valuable to Paul so he could be prayerfully prepared for what lay ahead.

As you can see, the spiritual gift of prophecy is a vitally important spiritual gift to edify the body of Christ. 

 

What is the spiritual gift of ministry?

 

Paul says, “or ministry, let us use it in our ministering” (12:7). The word “ministry” is translated from the Greek term DIAKONIA (Strong’s # 1248 - diakoniva - dee-ak-on-ee´-ah;) which refers to a servant attendant, an aid, or serving. The word deacon or deaconess is derived from this term. [87] To minister means to serve.

 

The idea of the spiritual gift of ministry is that the Holy Spirit enables a person to have a special sensitivity to those in need within the body of Christ or to tasks that need doing in the body of Christ that perhaps would otherwise go undetected or neglected in the body.

 

This spiritual gift comes from the heart of God whose Son came as a Servant to set an example for His disciples to follow (John 13), and whose Son sent the Helper (John 14:16,26; 16:13-15) to assist His disciples. The spiritual gift of helps is the enablement by the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to recognize burdens and assists those with burdens. The person with this gift sees needs and meets those needs and gets joy in doing so. The person with this gift is Spirit motivated to meet needs, they do not need outside prompting, and the Spirit shows them the need and empowers them to meet that need. A good verse to describe the person with this gift would be:

 

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

Serve the Lord with gladness;”[88]

(Psalm 100:1)

 

What is the spiritual gift of teaching?

Paul says, “he who teaches, in teaching” (12:7). The English word “teaching” is a translation of two Greek terms didache (Strong’s #1322) or didaskalia (Strong’s #1319).   Didache refers to that which is taught and is sometimes translated with the word “doctrine” (Matthew 7:28; Titus 1:9; Revelation 2:14-15,24) and the act of teaching or instruction (Mark 4:2; Romans 16:17).

 

Didaskalia also denotes “that which is taught, doctrine,” (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7; Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:10; 4:1, 6; 6:1, 3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9 ; 2:1, 10). Didaskalia is also rendered “teaching, instruction” (Romans 12:7), “teaching”(Romans 15:4), “learning” (1 Timothy 4:13), “doctrine, teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16), “the doctrine, thy teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17),  “doctrine, teaching” (2 Tim. 3:10, 16; Titus 2:7). When didache is used the meaning tends to emphasize the authority held in a body of teaching or doctrine. When didaskalia is used it tends to emphasize the act of teaching.    [89]

 

What is “teaching”? Webster’s New World Dictionary - 3rd Edition defines “teach” as “to show or help (a person) to learn (how) to do something; to give lessons to; guide the studies of; instruct; to provide (a person) with knowledge, insight.”

 

The spiritual gift of teaching is the enablement of the Spirit to clearly communicate the substance of the entire body of God’s inspired word  (66 Old and New Testament books of the Bible). The teacher “rightly divides” God’s word in a way that it can be understood by those being taught  (2 Timothy 2:15). The teacher is led by the Spirit to observe, study, and meditate on the word and translate it’s meaning in a way that is illuminating. The teacher is the instrument of the Spirit to illuminate God’s word. The teacher pays attention to detail, every “jot and tittle” of the word is important to the teacher. The objective of the teacher should be to teach “the whole counsel of God” so the disciple can have a mature and through understanding of God through His word (Acts 20:27).

 

In the Word For Today Bible Study Guide entitled, The Holy Spirit, (p.24), it states:

 

”The growth of a church built on teaching is slow and solid while the growth built on emotion is fast and transient . . . . .Teaching gives us the tools to do the job we have been exhorted to do.” The ministry of teaching is essential to the building of a strong and spiritually vibrant body of believers. Teaching prepares the believer to handle life according to God’s word. Teaching prepares the believer to ward off assaults on their faith by cults, the world, their flesh and the devil.”

 

It’s important to note that it appears that not all “teachers” have the spiritual gift of teaching. In seminary some of my most learned teachers did not have the spiritual gift of teaching. In those classes where teachers did not apparently have the spiritual gift of teaching, students who should have been learning in the Spirit were instead snoring in slumber land! Professors who had degrees of higher learning did not apparently have the spiritual gift to teach. This is what unfortunately happens when the Church gets away from depending on the anointing of the Spirit and relies on academic degrees and accomplishments as a barometer for who should teach. There is a place for college and seminary training in ministry, but the priority needs to be on whether or not a person has the spiritual gift of teaching.  Are they called by the LORD or are they pursuing ministry as though it were just another vocation? Some teachers who are perhaps less learned but who have the gift of teaching are effective and the LORD uses them to get His point across in a lasting and edifying way. Education alone is not enough for effective teaching. The Spirit’s anointing is essential for ministry of any kind. When a person teaches with the spiritual gift of teaching, there will be a certain dynamism, a certain impact or powerful effect. That person may be soft spoken, and not necessarily “charismatic,” but if they have the gift of teaching, the Spirit will use the gift in and through them powerfully, effectively and with impact.

 

One of the most powerful and effective sermons ever preached since the closing of the canon of Scripture was a sermon preached by a man named Jonathan Edwards. The name of this powerful sermon was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Jonathan Edwards was slightly built physically and unimpressive. When he preached this sermon he held a verbatim text of the sermon in front of  and close to his face so he could read it. Historical accounts tell us that when Jonathan Edwards read that message that the conviction of the Holy Spirit came so powerfully on the people of God that they were clinging to pews and pillars in the church for fear of falling into hell! My point here is that it is the spiritual gifting of the Holy Spirit that makes a person effective in ministry, not necessarily academic preparation (though the Spirit does use such preparation). If you want to be effectively used by the Holy Spirit, surrender to Him as a living sacrifice, receive your spiritual gift and serve the Lord!

 

It should also be mentioned here that Bible College and seminary education can sometimes impede rather than enhance ministry. What I mean to say here is that education needs to be kept in its proper context. Higher education should be an enhancement to the ministry. Higher education should never be a substitute for the Spirit’s anointing. Let me illustrate from personal experience. When I first graduated seminary and began my ministry I wrote out verbatim the text of my messages. Everything had to be done in a certain specified way. When I gave my messages I felt rigidly obligated to stay within the confines of what I believed to be a finely crafted sermon from the LORD.  My mindset and teaching was academic rather than spiritual. When I gave the message there was little to no eye contact. As I grew as a minister I began to be convicted of a certain subtle idolatry. I worshipped my notes! Could what I had worked so hard to complete and refine and prepare be akin to a work in the flesh?  I relied entirely on my notes. I had worked hard, very hard each week to prepare and write down what I felt the LORD had for me to say. But I didn’t feel right about this teacher-to-notes relationship.  The LORD spoke to my heart, “Trust Me, I will give you the words from My heart to feed My flock.”  Little by little I began to trust the LORD more in my messages. I began to expound in the Spirit and leave the text of my notes. The Spirit led me to areas of God’s word and brought to mind things that I hadn’t even learned in my preparation. I began to experience in a fresh and new way that “where the Spirit of the LORD is there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). I began to look into the eyes of those in the congregation and I saw more of a response. I could see the Spirit at work right before my eyes. Eventually I taught without notes at all! For me this was a large step of faith.  My ministry became spiritual rather than academic. There arose a spiritual dynamic and expectancy that had been absent before. Now I don’t want this to be misconstrued.  I do not neglect preparing or studying God’s word. I still prepare, probably more than ever, but I have learned that I need to be free to hear and follow the prompting of the Spirit while I teach and this is easier for me to do when I am not relying on notes. Now I can see the Spirit move on people. Now the Spirit moves on me!

 

What is the spiritual gift of exhortation?

 

Paul says, “he who exhorts, in exhortation” (12:8). The English word “exhort” or “exhortation” is a translation of three Greek terms. Parakaleo (Strong’s #3870) means  “to call to a person.”  The word is formed by the prefix para, “to the side,” and kaleo, “to call” and therefore literally means,  “to call on, entreat.”  A second term for “exhort” is  paraineo (Strong’s #3867) which means   “to speak of near” and is formed by the prefix para, “near,” and aineo, “to tell of, speak of,” and therefore literally means, “to recommend. . . to advise, exhort, warn,” it is translated in Acts 27:9 as “advise” in the New King James version. A last term translated “exhort” is  protrepo (Strong’s #4389) which literally means  “to turn forward, propel”  and is formed by the prefix  pro, “before,” and  trepo, “to turn.”  The idea with this last term is  “to impel morally, to urge forward, encourage,” (as shown in Acts 18:27). [90]

 

The spiritual gift of exhortation is the enablement by the Spirit to motivate people to apply god’s word to their lives. A person with this gift is enabled to get people to take action, step out in faith, repent of sin and rise up from the depths of despair.

 

What is the spiritual gift of giving?

 

Paul goes on to say, “he who gives, with liberality” (12:8). The Spiritual gift of “giving” is translated from the Greek term  METADIDOMI (Strong’s # 3330 - metadivdwmimet-ad-id´-o-mee) meaning, “to give over, i.e. share,  give, impart.” [91]

 

If when you first began to read this section you thought, “Oh, oh, here it comes, I better hold onto my wallet, here comes the pitch for money,” if you thought that,  you probably DON’T  have the gift of giving. But as the above definition of giving conveys, godly spiritual giving concerns much more than parting with money.  When you have the spiritual gift of giving your attitude is whatever I have (e.g. talents, possessions, opportunities, and even money) belongs to the Lord and He can give it through me to anyone anytime and I will be glad to do it.

 

John the Baptist had few possessions. He had a camel hair coat and a leather belt. He fed himself on locusts and wild honey.  But he expressed the heart of someone with the spiritual gift of giving when he said,

 

  • “John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” (John 3:27) [92]

 

John didn’t own a lot, but he was satisfied with what he had and more importantly, WHAT HE HAD, BELONGED TO GOD! John knew his provisions and purpose came from God. As a result he was available to God’s call and direction to give of himself.  A PERSON WITH THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF GIVING PUTS ALL THAT HE HAS BEFORE THE LORD. A person with this gift has come to vividly realize,

 

  • “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20). [93]

 

There are people who will give you the shirt off their back. There are people who get great joy out of giving above and beyond what God calls on people to give. There are people who give God all they’ve got. Those are the people with the spiritual gift of giving.

 

What is the spiritual gift of leadership?

 

Paul continues, “he who leads, with diligence” (12:8). Leading people is hard to do and to try and do it in one’s own strength can lead to a great deal of difficulty, divisions in the body and disruption of the Spirit’s work, not to mention defamation of God’s holy name. Therefore those who have this spiritual gift should use it diligently. The word “leadership” is translated from the Greek term PROISTEMI (Strong’s # 4291 - proi>vsthmipr-is´-tay-mee) meaning, “to stand before, to preside, maintain, be over, rule.” [94]

 

In the church there is a need for leaders who can guide the flock of God. Leaders need to translate the vision of God into practical application. The vision comes from God but so does the plan to implement it! Therefore, leaders in the church need to be able to coordinate and facilitate spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. The spiritual gift of leadership can therefore be defined as, the enablement of the Spirit to bring  order from disorder, to give direction where there is no direction and to utilize resources where there is danger of waste.

 

God is by nature orderly and a Designer (1 Corinthians 14:33,40). Satan flourishes in chaos and disorder (2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10). The gift of leadership creates an environment in which the work of God can proceed unhindered by chaos and confusion. The purpose of the spiritual gift of leadership is to strengthen ministry (Exodus 18:15-27; Acts 6:1-4) and to make ministry effective and efficient (Joshua 7:14-15).

 

What is the spiritual gift of mercy?

Lastly Paul says, “how who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (12:8). Notice this gift is not one exclusively given to ladies. Some men might look at this gift and wrongly see it as a feminine gift. Nothing could be further form the truth. The word “mercy” is a translation of three Greek terms. Eleos (Strong’s #1656) means  “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.” We see this term used in reference to God being rich in mercy and who has provided salvation for all mankind (Ephesians 2:4 and Titus 3:5).  God shows “mercy” to those who fear Him or reverence Him (Luke 1:50). We are told to seek God’s mercy boldly (Hebrews 4:16; Jude 21). We are instructed in the Bible to seek mercy on the behalf of others (Galatians 6:16; 1 Timothy 1:2). Since God has been and is merciful to us, we ought to show mercy to others (Matthew 9:13; 12:7; Luke 10:37; James 2:13). Mercy simply put is PITY plus ACTION

 

To further clarify the meaning of  “mercy” we can compare it to two other Biblical terms, “justice” and “grace.” Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.  God justly condemns those who have refused to accept Jesus as Savior. God mercifully acquits those who receive by faith the salvation offered in Christ. By God’s grace He bestows blessing on those who never deserve it. 

 

People are not naturally merciful. People are born with a sinful nature that is characterized by selfishness. Even Christians are prone to act in behalf of themselves. Because of this God has chosen to give certain people the spiritual gift of mercy so that needs in the body of Christ will not go unnoticed and unmet.

 

The spiritual gift of mercy is the supernatural enablement by the Spirit to see people with the compassionate and redemptive eyes of Jesus. The gift of mercy is the empowerment of the Spirit to be sensitive to needs and to take action to meet the needs that are seen. The person with this gift looks beyond their personal interests and needs to the interests and needs of others.

 

Spiritual gifts are very important in the body of Christ, as we have seen by the seven gifts mentioned by Paul as examples here. But there is something that is even greater in importance than spiritual gifts and that is the love of God.

The Primary Focus and Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

 

In his book Living Water Pastor-Teacher Chuck Smith makes the following insightful comment about the focus of spiritual gifts that we would do well to take to heart:

 

“The overarching principle concerning the gifts of the Spirit is this: The true gifts of the Holy Spirit, when manifested in a scriptural and correct way, will always focus people’s hearts on Jesus Christ. Jesus said the Spirit would not testify of Himself, but of Christ. The scriptural exercise of the gifts will always give you a fresh vision of Jesus Christ and His glory, causing you to fall in love with Him, and to be drawn to Him all over again. Your heart will almost explode with love and appreciation for what Jesus is and what He is able to do.

This is the chief way by which you can tell whether any gift is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Is there a great deal of attention drawn to the person exercising the gift?  . . . . A true manifestation of the Holy Spirit will always exalt the person of Jesus Christ. That’s what the Holy Spirit has come to do.” [95]

The proper use of spiritual gifts will always bring us closer to Jesus and when we come close to Jesus we should expect to learn about His love and that is exactly where the apostle Paul leads us in Romans 12. The next inspired words out of his mouth after mentioning spiritual gifts are calling us to love sincerely.

 

Living Sacrifices Live In God’s Love

Romans 12:9a – “Let love be without hypocrisy. . . . [96]

A Living sacrifice lives in sincere love of God. Notice please the words inserted by the translators are the italicized words. The more literal rendering of these words would be simply, “love without hypocrisy.” In other words don’t love or give the appearance of love with ulterior motives to get something for yourself. No, we are to love freely in the Spirit simply because it is the nature of Christ in us to do so.

The phrase, “without hypocrisy” is translated from one Greek term  ANUPOKREETOS (Strong’s # 505 - ajnupovkrito" -  an-oo-pok´-ree-tos) which means, “sincere; without dissimulation (hypocrisy), unfeigned.” [97] The word sincere in English is derived from two Latin words Sine Cere and interestingly the literal meaning of the two Latin words is “without wax.” You see in the Roman Empire one of the things viewed as very important was the immortalizing of leaders in sculpted statues or idols. To be a sculptor in the Romans Empire meant you were often on a very tight schedule. A leader or a Caesar might notify you of a bust he wanted with the words, “I want it and I want it NOW!” The sculptor would then go to work sculpting the bust or likeness of the person. But sculptors are human beings and though very talented made mistakes on occasion. What was a sculptor to do if when trying to keep a deadline he blinded by the sweat of his brow and the heat of the day chipped off a nose or ear or some other feature? In such situations the deadline could be literally a DEAD OR DEATH LINE. The quick thinking sculptor became adept at fixing such situations by suing wax filler or mold to cover up his mistakes. When the marble bust was presented no discernable mistake was observable to the naked eye. However, when the bust was placed in the public view and the first hot day came, the wax would melt, the nose, ear, or other appendage would fall off and the deadline would likely be met retroactively if you know what I mean. Therefore it became necessary for sculpted work to classified as Cere, wax, or Sine Cere, without wax. The point here is to be sincere is to get what you see; it’s to be authentic, without wax, not to seem something that it is not in actual reality. Our love should not be surface or superficial but should be true and real, from the heart, from the Spirit.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in the middle of his discussion about spiritual gifts he plops one of the most beautiful and powerful portions of the entire Bible, the chapter on love. What does this love look like? Read this short but powerful portion of Scripture:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  [98]

Are you loving? There is a way to find out if you are loving like God wants you to. Simply put your name in the place of the word “love” and see if it rings true. You can insert the name of Jesus where the word “love” is and it reads smooth and true. But when we seek to insert our names, well that’s another story isn’t it? But this is what the Spirit is seeking to work in us so that we will love like Jesus (see study in Romans 8). This is the kind of love God wants us to love with.

Paul gives us a further picture of what sincere love looks like in the remaining part of Romans 12.

Living Sincerely in His Love Means To Abhor Evil and Cling to Good

Romans 12:9b – “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”  [99]

How does the life of love begin? Paul gives twenty short exhortations that give an overview of what it means to be a living sacrifice living in God’s love in the world. Let’s mention them briefly.

Abhor Evil

Paul says, “abhor what is evil” (12:9b). “Abhor” (Strong’s # 655 - ajpostugevw apoástugeáoµ, ap-os-toog-eh´-o; “to detest utterly;  abhor.” [100]) means to utterly detest, in this case evil. The believer is to have a healthy abhorrence to evil in this world. Do you play or participate with or indulge in that which you abhor? No, of course not. You have nothing to do with something you abhor because it’s detestable to you, disgusting. Let me give you an example of what it means to abhor something.

One day I took my three children to a local park to play. We had a great time running around the field laughing and giggling. But when we got into the van to go home and started to drive away, the most utterly detestable and putrid smell arose from our midst. Naturally daddy and his children knew what it was. “Check your shoes guys,” I said. But nothing, all clear for them. While they checked and reported I noticed the stench was very strong and close to me. So I stopped the van, got out and sure enough when I checked my shoes I found a detestable doggy gift that just about knocked me over. I couldn’t get that stuff off my shoes quick enough and when I got home a washed my sneakers thoroughly. Yuck! That’s how we’re supposed to view evil, “Yuck!” Abhor what is evil friend, abhor it.

What is “Evil”?

 

What is “evil”? The word “evil” is translated from the Greek term PONEROS (Strong’s # 4190 - πονηρόςpon-ay-ros´) which is a form of the root Greek term PONOS (Strong’s #4192) which means, “hurtful, i.e. evil . . . degeneracy. PONEROS occurs 76 times in the New Testament and is translated as, “evil” 51 times, “wicked” 10 times, “wicked one” six times, “evil things” twice, and translated miscellaneously seven times. [101] The word PONEROS refers to something that is, “calamitous; ill, diseased; . . .  derelict, vicious, facinorous;  mischief, malice, . . . bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked (-ness).”  [102] “Evil” refers to that which causes pain, it describes vicious, malicious, harmful, wicked things. These kinds of things we should abhor or detest.

 

Evil and the Devil

 

If you want to know what evil is just think of the devil. Did you ever notice that the word “devil” is “d” in front of “evil”? The devil loves evil and is the epitome of evil and all evil intent. Jesus refers to Satan as the “evil one” saying:

 

  • John 17:15 -  “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”  [103] (See also Matthew 5:37; 6:13; Luke 11:4; and where Paul also refers to Satan in this manner - 2 Thessalonians 3:3).

When a person indulges in evil activity, they are acting just like the devil. The apostle John was inspired to write:

 

  • 1 John 3:7-8 – “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.8 He who sins [e.g. does evil] is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” [104]

When a person indulges in the sinful evils of this world they are devilish and aligning themselves with the devil. But not only that, when a person does evil or thinks evil, they are participating in the very things that Jesus came to and aims to destroy! That means you align yourself with devilish opposition to Jesus. That’s a scary thought! It’s scary not only because of the devilisih teammates you team up with, but you are putting yourself in a no win possession. When you indulge in sin, you’re dooming yourself to be a loser.

Furthermore, those who are unsaved are really under the sway of the devil. We see this in the following verses:

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”    [105]
  • 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  [106]

Do you really want to be the pawn of the devil? Do you really want to be on his team, a team doomed to lose and be destroyed? I hope not. When you partake in evil activity, you’re following in the footsteps of the devil. Remember that.

Jesus Aims to Destroy Evil

Jesus came to earth not only to save the lost, but to destroy evil as the above quoted verse indicates (1 John 3:8). The demons themselves know that Jesus came to destroy them and their evil ways as the gospels tell us:

  • Mark 1:23-24 – “Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”  [107]

And if that verse is not enough to make this point, let me quote a few selected from a myriad others:

  • Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”  [108]
  • Colossians 2:15 – “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [109]
  • Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  [110]

If you have yet to receive Jesus as your personal Savior, you are under the influence of Satan, you are his slave. The only way to be freed from such slavery is to repent of your sins, turn to God in Christ, and seek His forgiveness by putting your faith in Him. You will then be freed and the Holy Spirit will come to reside within you to help you live your life and live in the presence of Jesus.

Ministering To Those Who Are In Satan’s Snare

Paul wrote young Timothy with instructions on how to handle those who indulge in evil and are ensnared by the devil in some way. Read what he was inspired to say:

 

  • 2 Timothy 2:23-26 – “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [111]

Notice how the evil works of the devil involve disputing and strife (2 Timothy 2:23). How d we respond to those caught in Satan’s snare? We don’t quarrel, that would be to fight on Satan’s terms. But we fight this spiritual fight with patient humble teaching and application of God’s word hoping they will repent and turn to God. We should have a burden for such people. But we should also be wary of Satan’s tactics through them for he is a liar and master manipulator (John 8:44). Beware of being sucked in to strife producing arguments or gossip. We’ll discuss more of this below.

The End of Evil and Evildoers

The Bible tells us the outcome that evil and evildoers have before them. IN the last book of the Bible, Revelation, it states the final outcome for those who do evil aligning themselves with Satan:

  • Revelation 19:19-21 – “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.”  [112]
  • Revelation 20:2-3,10,15 – “He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. . . . 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. . . . 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”  [113]

There are many good reasons for someone to leave their evil ways, eternal damnation in the hellish lake of fire is one. But an even better one is the blessing that comes through a personal saving spiritual relationship with God in Christ. If we are to abhor evil, what should we do instead?

God Hates Evil

The LORD hates evil because it causes so much pain and He hates the devil because he is the instigator of evil. God hates evil and the things He hates are evil things. We would be wise to refrain from evil because God hates it. In fact In Proverbs 8 it tells us:

  • Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.”  [114]

In the book of Zechariah it states:

  • Zechariah 8:17 – “Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”  [115]

These verses tell us that God hates evil and the things God hates are evil in nature.

Seven Evil Things The LORD Hates

Evil is of the devil and the devil is working overtime against God. God hates evil because of all the pain and suffering it causes His creation. There is a portion of Scripture where God inspired the Biblical writer to indicate seven evil things that God hates and views as abominable evils. We find these seven hated things in the book of Proverbs where it states:

  • Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”  [116]

These words are a warning to us. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find language stronger than that used in these verses to indicate God’s revulsion and displeasure with these seven things.

The word “hates” is translated from the Hebrew term SANE’ (Strong’s # 8130 - saw·nay) which occurs 146 times in the Old Testament being translated “hate” 136 times, “enemies” three times, “enemy” twice, “foes” once, “hateful” once, and translated miscellaneously three times. [117] Hatred is a strong emotion. In other words, these seven things put a person on the wrong side of God and position them against Him as an enemy. Since God is all-powerful, it isn’t too good of an idea for anyone to take up sides against Him. Look at Satan and what his rebellion against God got him! But in fact, those who practice these seven things are actually taking up sides with Satan who is working to undermine God’s work at every turn and in every way.

 

The other word used to describe God’s reaction to the seven things in Proverbs 6 is “abomination.” Abomination” is translated from the Hebrew term TOWEBAH (Strong’s # 8441 -  tow`ebah, to`ebah /to·ay·baw/) which occurs 117 times in the Old Testament being translated as “abomination” 113 times, “abominable thing” twice, and “abominable” twice. This word is used to describe that which is, “a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable.” [118] One Bible teacher defined this word by saying it refers to something done that would cause God to want to bomb-the-nation of the one doing it.

 

When you love someone you wouldn’t want to do anything that would cause you to become as an enemy in their eyes. When you love someone you wouldn’t want to do anything that disgusts him or her or is abominable to him or her. Therefore, those who love God should pay particular attention to the seven things mentioned in these verses. Unfortunately, believers at times are caught up in their flesh and indulge in some of the things that God attributes to His enemies and that He finds disgusting and abominable. This should not be! What is it that people do that causes God to see them as an enemy and disgusts Him? There are seven things mentioned here. Let’s consider each of them.

 

  1. A proud look

 

The Bible is clear on this; God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Pride is the first sin committed by Satan against God (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). The word “proud” comes from the Hebrew term ROOM (Strong’s # 7311 ruwm /room/) which occurs 194 times in the Old Testament and is translated, “up,” as in lift up, or hold up. The idea is to present yourself as higher, better in some way than others. This is seen in the way the word is translated. “Proud” is translated “up” as “(lift”, “hold”, “etc … )” 63 times, “exalt” 47 times, “high” 25 times, “offer” 13 times, “give” five times, “heave” three times, “extol” three times, “lofty” three times, “take” three times, “tall” three times, “higher” twice, and translated miscellaneously 24 times.[119] The NIV translation of this verse translates it as, “haughty eyes.” You can communicate a lot with the eyes. Someone has said the eyes are the windows into a person’s heart. You can communicate happiness, approval, concern, attention and caring, even love with your eyes. You can also communicate disdain, lust, evil intent and yes, pride, with your eyes.

 

A “proud look” therefore, would be a facial expression that assumes superiority, self-exaltation, or minimizing an other person. What is interesting is that this first abominable thing is wordless. The first thing mentioned here as hated by the Lord is something that can be conveyed without words. God is so vigilant and astute and omniscient in His observations that He even notes the facial expressions and countenance of people. And He hates it when people have a proud look! God wants us to be humble, not proud, selfless, not self-serving. God tells us not to think more highly of our selves than we ought to, not to overvalue ourselves (Romans 12:3). God wants us to be humble like Jesus (Matthew 5:3; Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:1-11).

 

  1. A lying tongue

 

Satan is the father of lies and loves to draw people into lying in any way (John 8:44). “A lying tongue,” is simply a person who speaks in falsehoods. The word “lying” comes from the Hebrew word SHEQUER (Strong’s # 8267 - sheqer /sheh·ker/) and occurs 113 times in the Old Testament being translated as “lie” 28 times, “lying” 21 times, “false” 20 times, “falsehood” 13 times, “falsely” 13 times, “vain” five times, “wrongfully” four times, “deceitful” twice, “deceit” once, “liar” once, and translated miscellaneously five times. The idea of this word is to deceive or betray the truth of a matter, go against the truth. [120] This would include bending the truth or speaking in half-truths. You know, the older you get the more glorious your past seems to become as you relate to others. A high school benchwarmer in a sport becomes someone who was good and gifted as an athlete but didn’t get along with the coach so they weren’t allowed to play. Fishes caught, figures fought and mirrored seem just a little bit more fantastic as the years go by. Sometimes the truth can be shared in destructive ways to injure and embarrass. But God wants us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). God wants our words to be seasoned with grace not lies; a lying tongue quenches the Spirit (Ephesians 4:29-31). God wants us to speak with kindness and tenderheartedness remembering His grace in Christ given to us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 4:6). Love covers a multitude of sin; it doesn’t look to dig up sin where grace should be found (1 Peter 4:8).

 

  1. Hands that shed innocent blood

 

We can consider the shedding of innocent blood of adults, but the millions upon millions of unborn babies come to mind as the most sever breach in considering this hateful thing. The abortuaries of modern day America have exterminated far more victims than the ovens of the holocaust. How it must disgust God to see the womb turned into a cold executioners altar! The Lord forms every child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16). He has a plan for every little one (Jeremiah 1:5). He cares for the innocent little ones (Exodus 21:22-25; Psalm 82:3-4; 127:3). God hates the person whose hands shed innocent blood!

 

  1. A heart that devises wicked plans

 

The word “heart” refers to the innermost being of a person (LEB Strong’s 3820), “Devises” (Hebrew KHAWRASH – Strong’s # 2790 -  khaw-rash’) means “to scratch, to engrave, plow; to fabricate; to devise (in a bad sense).”  The word “wicked” comes from the Hebrew term  AWVEN (Strong’s # 205 - ’aven /aw·ven/) and interestingly comes from a root word meaning, “to pant” as one who exerts themselves in an effort that is pointless in regard to the Lord’s will. It occurs 78 times in the Old Testament being translated as “iniquity” 47 times, “wicked(ness)” eight times, “vanity” six times, “affliction” three times, “mischief” three times, “unrighteous” twice, “evil” once, “false” once, “idol” once, “mourners” once, “mourning” once, “nought” once, “sorrow” once, “unjust” once, and “vain” once.  The word “wicked” means, “trouble, wickedness, sorrow, idolatry, trouble of iniquity, wickedness.”  [121] Therefore, the idea here is someone who digs up trouble and won’t let an offense or situation go. This is also someone who by silence and the willful ignoring of the truth manipulates a situation to their own devices. [122] Such a person has a selective memory when conveying an account of a story.  When they share about something they put a spin on things that present them in a favorable light and others in a less than favorable light.

 

Interestingly, the context of Proverbs 6:16-19 is preceded by an apt description of one whose heart devises wicked plans:

 

    • Proverbs 6:12-15 – “A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth;13 He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers;14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.15 Therefore his calamity shall come suddenly; Suddenly he shall be broken without remedy.”  [123]

Notice the connection with being “worthless” and being “wicked.” These verses pretty much say it all and we can see why God hates and abhors such things. The person who spends their time looking to undermine others with what God calls wicked schemes, that person is caught up in a worthless endeavor that is hated by God.

  1. Feet that are swift in running to evil

 

We might translate this as, “A person who sprints to do evil things.” This is descriptive of the person who enjoys or jumps at the opportunity to be involved in evil or entertain something that is evil like gossip or slander. The word “evil”  comes from the Hebrew word RA’ (Strong’s # 7451 – rah) which means, “bad;  evil;  adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease (-ure), distress, evil,  harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), mischief (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st), wretchedness, wrong.” [124] This is the person who runs to bring problems to others, who loves to distress and afflict other people. They enjoy hurting someone for whatever reason. God hates it when people take pleasure in hurting others.

 

  1. A false witness who speaks lies

The word “false” here is the same word translated “lying” in Proverbs 6:17 (Strong’s # 8267). A “witness” (Strong’s #5707) is someone who gives evidences, testifies or shares information about someone. The word “lies” (Hebrew KAZAB – Strong’s # 3577 kaw-zawb’) means, “ falsehood; untruth;  deceitful, false, liar, lie, lying.”  [125] Those who manipulate the truth or  out and out lie are an abomination to the Lord.

 

  1. And one who sows discord among brethren -   

 

The word “discord” comes from the Hebrew MEDAWN (Strong’s # 4090 - mâdan /med·awn/) and occurs only three times in the Old Testament and is translated, as “discord” once, “strife” once, and “variant” once. This word means, “strife, contention.”  [126] Jesus said the one who sows peace would be blessed, and the opposite is also true, there are all kinds of negative consequences for those who sow evil and discord (Matthew 5:9).

 

This is the crowning evil that God hates because it strikes at the heart of what God is trying to build and how He is trying to work in the world. God’s desire is to save as many of the lost as possible (2 Peter 3:9). God’s tools to accomplish this are Israel and the Church. God raised up Israel to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:8,21). Jesus bled and died to birth the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). The Father looks at Israel as His wife  (see Hosea). Jesus looks at the Church as His bride. And yet, people think nothing of slandering those who make up the wife and the bride of God. How do you feel when someone speaks against your spouse? Doesn’t that irk you? Doesn’t that cause you to become defensive and protective of your spouse?  Doesn’t that anger you? Isn’t it abhorrent to you? Aren’t you going to defend their honor, their integrity, their reputation? If you feel and react like that, how do you think God is going to feel and react when someone attacks members of the flock of God? God hates the one who sows discord among His people, He abhors it (Psalm 5:11; 11; 46; 121; 105:15; John 17:15; Romans 12:19).

 

J. Vernon McGee commented:

There are multitudes of folk sowing discord, and they are not all politically motivated. They are in your neighborhood, and chances are they are in your church. You may even have one in your home, and there is a possibility that he even may be sitting where you sit. My friend, causing trouble between family members or brothers in Christ or fellow workers is something that God hates.

This list of seven sins is like a mirror. We look into it, and we squirm because we see ourselves. May I ask you to take a good look at yourself in this mirror of the Word of God. After you and I see ourselves as we really are, let us go to God and make a confession of these things. Let us be honest with Him and ask Him for His cleansing.  [127]

 

As you receive this study I pray you do so with ears to hear what the Spirit has to say and that you haven’t been a part of any of these seven things which reap the hate and abhorrence of God. If you look at these seven things and the Spirit convicts you, all is not lost. In Christ there is forgiveness. What must a person do to be forgiven of these things?

1.)    Recognize and admit your sin, culpability (responsibility) and guilt. Be honest with God and admit where you’ve sinned against Him and others (all of our sin is ultimately against Him). Sins such as these are a great hindrance to our walk with the Lord (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2). They need to be dealt with immediately. 

2.)    Confess your sin, culpability and guilt before God. God’s word tells us that if we confess our sin to Him He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Trust Jesus cross work by faith and receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 8:1f.; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 1:7).

3.)    Repent, turn from your sin and commit yourself to God to not repeat your sin. Turn yourself over to the Holy Spirit who will help you be more than a conqueror over these things (Romans 8).

Of the 34 times the word “repent” occurs in the Bible, I find it interesting that nearly a third of these occurrences (10) occur in the last book of the Bible Revelation and 60% of these ten occur in Jesus words to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. These seven abhorrent things we’ve seen in Proverbs are likely to surface in a full blown rash in the End Times (Times in which I believe we are living right now). Read what Paul was inspired to write about the last days:

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”  [128]
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-7 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  [129]

As we look at these verses and compare them with Proverbs 6:16-19 we see some striking similarities. Deceiving spirits will be heeded and people will be moved to speak lies in hypocrisy and do so with total insensitivity to the Spirit  (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Self-love, pride, lack of love, slander, despisers of good, traitors, haughty, hypocrisy will flourish too (2 Timothy 3:1-7).  These passages go hand in hand.  What makes these similarities frightful is that we see them flourishing in our world today. And what makes them even the more tragic is that we see them oftentimes in the church, amongst believers!

 

When Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesians he warned them by saying to the leaders and people:

 

  • Acts 20:26-32 - “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.31 “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”  [130]

As we move closer and closer to the End Times culmination, we need to beware of Satan’s schemes. He comes not as an angel of darkness but as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:11-15). And as God’s perfect plan becomes more and more inevitable, Satan is going to turn up his attack. The seven things God hates, Satan loves! Remember that; and he loves nothing better than to trick, deceive and lure God’s people (those who should be blessing and praising God) into indulging in these seven hateful things. We need to put on the armor of God and proceed prayerfully in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

Cling to Good

Not only are we to abhor evil, but we are to positively “cling to what is good.” Paul goes on to say in this context, “cling to what is good” (12:9c). The word “cling” (Strong’s # 2853 - kollavw koállaoµ, kol-lah´) is translated from a Greek term that means, “glue” (from  kovlla koálla -“glue”). KOLLAH means, “to glue, i.e. to stick ; cleave, join (self), keep company. .[131] We’re to  stick like glue to good things (12:9). Ever eat a fresh frosting covered donut? Ever lick your fingers to the last drop? We’re to stick to good things and enjoy them to the last drop.

What is “good”? The English word “good” is translated from the Greek term AGATHOS (Strong’s # 18 - αγαθός - agathos /ag·ath·os/) which occurs 102 times in the New Testament and is variously translated, “ as “good” 77 times, “good thing” 14 times, “that which is good . . . eight times, “the thing which is good . . .  once, “well” once, and “benefit” once. “ This word refers to a “good constitution or nature,” something that is “useful, salutary, good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy.  . . .  excellent, distinguished.  . . . upright, honourable.” [132] “Good” is the opposite of evil in that it refers to something that is useful, something that brings a pleasant, agreeable, joyful, and happy response in the one receiving it.

The Good Product of God’s Love in Us

Romans 12:10-21 – “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20 Therefore  1 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  [133]

All of the things described in Romans 12:10-21 are the result of God’s goodness and love at work by the Holy Spirit in the believer. They are a stark contrast to the downward spiral of sin described in Romans 1:18-32. What are these loving particulars? First, Kind affection, brotherly love, giving preference to others (12:10). Then being diligent and fervent in spirit serving the Lord not lazy (12:11). Next rejoicing in hope, patient during trials, persistent in prayer (12:12). Last looking to meet the needs of the needy, and opening your home for fellowship (12:13). All of these things are the product of overflowing love in the believer’s life.

When it comes to dealing with opponents of the gospel Paul instructs the believer to bless those who persecute you (12:14; Luke 6:28; Matthew 5:44). We are to be empathetic rejoicing with those who are rejoicing and weeping with those who weep. A loving servant doesn’t crack jokes at funerals or weep in self-pity at weddings (12:15). We aren’t to be high-minded and out of touch with people but be humble enough to associate with anyone (12:16). These things are the product of a Christ-like  empathetic heart.

When the world attacks, and it will, we aren’t to respond on their worldly tit-for-tat terms, but rather return good for their evil (12:17). We are exhorted to make a good effort to be at peace with everyone around us (12:18). We shouldn’t take justice into our own hands, but trust God to avenge your enemies (12:19-21). Remember, we’ve just studied the sovereignty of God in the previous three chapters of Romans. In regards to the heaping of coals on the head of the enemy one commentary explains:

There are two main lines of interpretation to this phrase. One is that this quotation from Proverbs 25:22 reflects an Egyptian ritual in which a man showed his repentance by carrying a pan of burning charcoal on his head. This was a dynamic symbol of the change of mind which had taken place in his life. The meaning would then be that our act of love in giving him food or drink would bring about a change of attitude toward us. The prevailing view, however, is that heaping coals of fire on the head refers to the sense of shame, punishment, or remorse which is engendered in the mind of our enemy when we show kindness to him. [134]

J. Vernon McGee gives some practical words on this final topic of dealing with those who have wronged you. McGee states:

This is one of the greatest principles you will find in the Word of God, yet it is the most difficult thing for a child of God to do. When somebody hits you on one cheek, it is difficult to turn the other cheek. I am like the Irishman who was hit on one cheek, and he got up and turned the other cheek. This time the fellow hit him so hard, he knocked him down. Then the Irishman got up and beat the stuffings out of the other fellow. Somebody asked him, “Why in the world did you do that? You turned the other cheek; why didn’t you leave it like that?” “Well,” he said, “the Bible says to turn your cheek, and I had only one other cheek to turn. The Lord didn’t tell me what to do after that, so I did what I thought I ought to do.” That is what most of us do. We find it difficult not to hit back. But the minute you and I take the matter into our own hands and attempt to work the thing out by hitting back as hard as we can, we have taken the matter out of God’s control, and we are no longer walking by faith. God is saying to us, “You walk by faith with Me, and let Me handle the matter for you, because I will handle it in a just manner. If this person has injured you, I’ll take care of him.” You and I can turn these matters over to the Lord, and we ought to do that. I can tell you what to do, but I confess that I find it most difficult to do myself. But there have been one or two times when I have turned it over to the Lord, and I have been amazed at how well He handled it. He does it a lot better than I do it.

There was a man, an officer in one of the churches I served, who did me a great injury, a terrible injury. My first thought was to clobber him, but I remembered this passage of Scripture. I went to the Lord and said, “Lord, I’d like to hit back and I can, but I don’t think I will. I’ll turn him over to You, and I expect you to handle him.” Well, I saw that man the other day. I have never looked at a person who is as unhappy as that man is. He has troubles, friend. The Lord has taken him to the woodshed and whipped him within an inch of his life. When I looked into that man’s face, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I wish I could say that I turn all of these matters over to the Lord, but I confess that sometimes I hit back.[135]

When you defend yourself you have a limited, weak, oftentimes foolish and impulsive defender who will usually make matters worse by taking them into your own hands. But when you give your enemy to God, you have the most unlimited, strong, all-knowing, wise and just Defender to defend you.

Conclusion

David Livingston, who spent most of his life as a medical missionary in Africa, when asked about his apparent sacrifices said the following:

"People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice, which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of glorious destiny hereafter?

 

"Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say, rather, it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."

 

When we remember all that God has done for us (Romans 1-11), the only reasonable thing to do is present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. Have you fully viewed God’s glorious merciful sovereign plan? If you have, then have you responded in the only reasonable way? Are you a living sacrifice to God? To be ready and unashamed is to present yourself to God as a living sacrifice.

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[18]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.

[19]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[20]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H6035). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[90]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[91]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[95]Chuck Smith, Living Water, Harvest House Pub.:Eugene, Oregon, 1996. p. 90

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[100]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[101]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[102]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[103]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[104]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[108]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H8130). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[118]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H8441). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[119]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H7311). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[120]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H8267). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[121]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H205). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[122]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.) (H2790). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[123]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[124]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[125]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.) (H3577). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[126]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (H4090). Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[127]McGee, J. V. 1997, c1981. Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (Pr 6:19). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[128]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[131]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[132]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[134]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[135]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.