Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for August 6

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Roy Ciampa, Ph.D. 
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University

Set Apart in the Way We Think

Romans 12:1–5, 9–13

Throughout Romans, Paul points out the relationship between the mind and the body, with the corruption of the mind leading to the abusive use of the body. (See especially Rom. 1:18–31 and 3:9–20.) Here, Paul explains how Christ’s transformation of our minds impacts that relationship in terms of the use of our bodies and our attitudes toward the whole body of Christ, to the glory of God.

We can be set apart with a renewed mind. (1–2)

Paul says we should live in light of “the mercies of God.” The mercies of God that he has in mind include all that he has told us about God’s mercy throughout chapters 1–11 of Romans, with the term “mercy” being especially prominent in chapters 9 and 11 as ways of talking about all the blessings God has given us in Christ. In light of all of that, we should present our bodies as living sacrifices since that is our “true worship.” Paul had spoken in general about how we “present” the parts of our bodies as tools for wickedness or as slaves to impurity in Romans 6:13–19.

The renewing of our minds leads to transformed thinking and transformed behavior.

Those conformed to this age “use their tongues to deceive” (3:13), while those who have been transformed by the renewing of their minds use their tongues to “give praise to God” (14:11).

Those of this age have “vipers’ venom … under their lips” and have mouths “full of cursing and bitterness” (3:13–14), while those transformed by Christ confess Christ with their lips and mouths (10:9–10).

The wicked have feet that are “swift to shed blood” (3:15), while the redeemed have beautiful feet that bring good news to others (10:15) and that will be used to crush Satan (16:20).

A mind renewed by Christ results in transformed thinking and transformed living, seen in the ways believers use and refrain from using their bodies.

We are to be set apart in the way we think about ourselves. (3–5)

The grace of God transforms the ways we think about ourselves and about others. God’s grace, shown to us in Christ, teaches us to be honest and humble in our self-assessment rather than puffing ourselves up in our own eyes or the eyes of others). That same grace shown in Christ reminds us that we are not islands but are parts of the larger body of Christ and, as in any body, all the parts are needed and connected to the others.

This is a Christ-centered way of thinking about ourselves and others.

We are to be set apart in our love and attitude toward others. (9–13)

The proper use of our bodies mentioned in the earlier verses reminds us that we are all part of one body in Christ. These truths are applied in concrete ways in this section, where Paul describes various behaviors that are all reflections of the sincere and consistent love that Christ modeled for us and seeks to replicate within us. Loving also entails honoring others, diligence, fervent service, hope-filled joy, patience, persistent prayer, generosity, hospitality and Christlike responses to any persecution.

Transformed minds lead us to promote godliness in our bodies and grace in the wider body of Christ. This is reflected in a loving, Christlike attitude toward those around us, in all circumstances.