Romans 12:1-8 Minds Renewed And Lives Transformed.
The doxology of the previous passage and the beginning of this chapter note a turn in the letter from a more doctrinal to a more practical emphasis. Given everything Paul has just written about, it seemed reasonable to him that the reader should be thinking about dedicating their whole life to serving the Lord-body and mind. A life transformed to this purpose comes from a mind renewed by the word (vv. 1-2). We are to be engaged in bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (Cf. II Cor. 10:5; Eph. 4:23). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (I Th. 4:3a)
Sanctification is every bit as much a matter of grace as justification or adoption or any other aspect of redemption. Faith is a gift. Forgetting about grace is thinking too highly of oneself. Even Paul writes that he spoke by God’s grace (v. 3) The gifts that we have in the body of Christ are also as a result of grace (vv. 4-6 Cf. Jn. 3:27). Each member of the body has their own function and gifts, therefore all are necessary (Cf. I Cor. 12:12-14). Being members of each other means we also need each other (Cf. I Cor. 10:17). These functions and gifts are meant to benefit the body as a whole.
It may not be coincidental that Paul begins his list of gifts and functions with prophecy, for the word is the first axiom of all thought and existence (v. 6b). The prophets “exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” (Acts 15:32) What is interesting about this list which he gives is that there is a union of gift and function. The gifts given have a functional purpose in the body. One should utilize whatever gifts the Lord has given for their intended purpose. The overall purpose is edification and unity (Cf. Eph. 4:11-13).
However, Paul said more than just utilizing one’s gift(s). Paul is encouraging the members of the body to excel. When he says “he who gives,” he says more than simply “give,” instead it should be “with liberality” or generously and enthusiastically (Cf. II Cor. 9:7). Likewise “he who leads,” not to just lead, but to do so “with diligence,” and for those who show mercy to do so “with cheerfulness.” One can surmise that he has the same thought in mind with the other functional gifts he has given (Cf. Acts 20:28).