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Romans 12:6–8

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (v. 6a).

We as Christians experience a definitive transformation in our conversion when the Holy Spirit releases us from our bondage to sin and brings us out of darkness into the marvelous light of God (1 Peter 2:9–10). Yet the Spirit of God does not stop there. He continues His work of transformation throughout our lives, bringing us more and more into conformity to the image of Christ through the renewing of our minds according to His Word (Rom. 12:1–2). This is the Christian doctrine of sanctification, that aspect of our salvation wherein we cooperate with our Creator to put our remaining sin to death and to develop affections and actions that are pleasing to Him. Other aspects of our salvation such as regeneration and justification are not cooperative. The Holy Spirit alone changes our hearts, and only the righteousness of Christ secures for us the declaration that we are righteous before God. But we cooperate with the Lord in sanctification as we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling,” though even here God takes the initiative and undergirds all of our efforts. We work out our salvation only because the Lord effectually works in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13).

God the Holy Spirit animates us for sanctification through the preaching of His Word; therefore, the Apostles give us so many admonitions for our Christian growth. Having said that each of us is a member of the body of Christ and possesses a specific function (Rom. 12:3–5), Paul exhorts us in today’s passage to use our gifts and fulfill our roles in the church. His list of gifts is not a comprehensive catalog of all the spiritual gifts that the Lord grants to His people, and it is one of several lists found in the New Testament. In any case, let us note that the Apostle assumes that all believers have at least one of the spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture. This fact reveals an aspect of the new covenant’s superiority over the old covenant. In the old covenant, ministerial gifts were limited mostly to the prophets, priests, and kings, but every believer is gifted in some way under the new covenant administration.

Paul’s overriding theme in Romans 12:6–8 is that we are not to exercise our spiritual gifts halfheartedly, but we must diligently and enthusiastically serve God and His people with our gifts. We do not all have the same gifts, but we have all received the same grace in Christ. According to this grace, the Spirit gifts us as He wills. We must not envy those who have different gifts than we do; rather, we must use the gifts we have to bless other people.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Some people do not use their spiritual gifts because they do not know what they are. Others do not feel the freedom to use their gifts because their local church lacks an atmosphere that encourages the laity to do ministry. Those of us who are church leaders and teachers should develop a church culture that provides opportunities for many different kinds of service. And we are all responsible, with the help of other Christians, to discern the gifts God has given us.

For Further Study
  • Psalm 76:11–12
  • Ezekiel 20:40
  • 1 Timothy 4:14
  • 2 Timothy 1:6

The Sober Judgment of the Members

Genuine Goodness and Love

Keep Reading The Church and the Parachurch

From the September 2014 Issue
Sep 2014 Issue