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Romans 1:18-32 - Created to Serve

How would you describe the sinners in Romans 1:18-32? After reading through the passage, think about what adjectives you would use to describe them before studying the photo below. Forty of our 800 Describe-It-Yourself cards are appropriate, but I selected eight of the best terms and cards for the photo below.

Did you choose "idolatrous" as one of your key terms? Good choice! This is suggested in my use of "ungodly" and "disloyal" above. The "secondary" card may be a bit difficult to understand, but it simply shows that as created beings we are "secondary" compared to the Creator who is mentioned often in this chapter. Therefore above all, sin is putting self before God. He created us to be useful servants for him (1:25), but when we put ourselves or even society first we become "useless" and "unprofitable" in his eyes.

In this second photo (below), the number of cards has been cut down to six.

The bottom line is that mankind, secondary beings compared to God, was created to serve the Lord (1:25), but most people do not serve him. As believers, we are not ungodly (serving idols), perverse (homosexuals) or perpetually immoral like those described at the end of the chapter. We are different, but we still must take care to put God first day by day. We do not need to fear being rejected and judged like the ungodly, but if we do not put the Lord first day by day, he will reject our works and we will lose rewards (1 Cor. 3:13-16).

Click here for a set of DESCRIBE-IT CARDS
like those used above.

Romans Chapter Eight - Spirit Enabled Service

How would you describe Romans chapter eight? After reading through the chapter, think about what adjectives you would use to describe it before studying the card layout and photo below.  

About 110 of the 800 Describe-It-Yourself terms are appropriate in some way, but above all, Romans chapter eight is spiritual, because the Holy Spirit is mention more frequently in this chapter than anywhere else in the Bible. The Spirit enables the Christian life of godly service and this positive fact contrasts sharply with Paul's struggle with the flesh in the previous chapter. He served the Lord with his mind (7:25), but the death and resurrection of Christ (7:25, 8:34) and the indwelling Holy Spirit were needed to give him and us victory over the flesh (8:1-15). Much of Romans chapter eight is counseling about this.

Romans chapter eight is also counseling on security. This is theological because what God has done and continues to do for us regarding salvation is stressed (8:28-34), but the chapter is also practical because this positive teaching is aimed at encouraging those who serve the Lord. It is the Lord's servants who are "killed all day long" (8:36) and therefore need reassurance that nothing can separate them from the love of God (8:35-36).

Tragically, many stress the theological aspects of the chapter, such as by focusing on 8:29-30, but fail to show how practical it is. They overlook the fact that chapter eight is aimed at God's servants. Notice that verse 36, which is cited from Psalm 44, begins with the phrase "for Your sake." This and and the chapter as a whole are about and for those who serve the Lord and suffer for doing so. In line with this, the church-shaped card layout above has theological on one side of the door and practical on the other. The chapter is balanced, even if the teaching about it by many is not.

Click here for a set of DESCRIBE-IT CARDS
like those used above.

Romans 12:1-2 - Reasonable Service

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 12:2 And be not 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. 

How would you describe Romans 12:1-2? There is more to these two great verses than many realize. All of the descriptive phrases below are appropriate, but which one do you think is best?

If the stress is placed on Paul's plea in verse one, then these verses seem to be primarily about commitment, but if the command in verse two is stressed, then they seem to be mainly about change and overcoming sin. If the verbs and adjectives at the end of verse two are focused upon, then these verses seem to be mostly about action and the will of God.

Combining these points, Romans 12:1-2 is about serving the Lord. This begins with personal dedication (12:1) and transformation (12:2), but the end goal is knowing and actively doing the will of God. Commitment enables change, and change enables God-honoring service.

Click here for a set of DESCRIBE-IT CARDS
like those used above.

Romans Chapter 12 - Church Age Service

Romans chapter 12 is one of the great chapters on the Christian life, and the first two verses are very well know. The close connection between chapter 12 and the previous chapter on Israel and the Old Testament is not well understood, however. The summary chart below shows how the teaching in chapter 12 relates to the great changes in worship and service that came with the coming of the church age and the fall of Jerusalem. -- This study is part of the PLUS+ Bible Studies series.

Romans Chapter 16 - Phoebe as Special Servant

This great study on Rom. 16:1-2 is part of the Lesser-Known but Significant Women series of 20 studies. Phoebe shows that even a lesser known, local servant of the Lord can have an international ministry.

Moreover, Phoebe and Romans chapter 16 as a whole help show that we were saved to serve. There are more servants of the Lord named in Romans chapter 16 than in any other New Testament chapter. (The final chapter in Romans is not just greetings!)

In addition, the early chapters of Romans show that sin is NOT serving the Lord (1:25, 2:23, 3:12). In Christ, however, we are free from slavery to sin in order to serve God (6:10-19). The Holy Spirit makes our life of service possible despite our natural sinfulness (Rom. 7:21-8:11), and we have clear instructions on how to serve in the church age in chapters 12-15.

© 2020 by Jon F. Mahar, Hakusan City, Japan