by Mike Ratliff
1 Παρακαλῶοὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰτῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦθεοῦπαραστῆσαι τὰσώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷθεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν· 2 καὶ μὴσυσχηματίζεσθε τῷαἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰμεταμορφοῦσθε τῇἀνακαινώσει τοῦνοὸς εἰς τὸδοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τίτὸθέλημα τοῦθεοῦ, τὸἀγαθὸν καὶεὐάρεστον καὶτέλειον. Romans 12:1-2 (NA28)
1 Therefore, I urge you brothers through the compassions of God to present your bodies as living, holy sacrifices, well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern the will of God, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Several years ago, I wrote a post about how God is not pleased with our religiosity, but is, instead, well pleased in His people when they become living sacrifices who have left their dead works behind and are living out their faith daily walking before their Lord in repentance and obedience. Those “church builders” don’t like this topic very much. They want to have their people submissive to them and feeling guilty when they slip up on their religiosity duties they have been given. Let’s look at a passage that talks about this and has been misused by many to force church-goers to become overburdened with religiosity and churchianity.
15 Διʼ αὐτοῦ[οὖν] ἀναφέρωμεν θυσίαν αἰνέσεως διὰπαντὸς τῷθεῷ, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν καρπὸν χειλέων ὁμολογούντων τῷὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. 16 τῆς δὲεὐποιΐας καὶκοινωνίας μὴἐπιλανθάνεσθε· τοιαύταις γὰρ θυσίαις εὐαρεστεῖται ὁθεός. 17 Πείθεσθε τοῖς ἡγουμένοις ὑμῶν καὶὑπείκετε, αὐτοὶγὰρ ἀγρυπνοῦσιν ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν ὡς λόγον ἀποδώσοντες,ἵνα μετὰχαρᾶς τοῦτο ποιῶσιν καὶμὴστενάζοντες·ἀλυσιτελὲς γὰρ ὑμῖν τοῦτο. Hebrews 13:15-17 (NA28)
15 Through Him, therefore, let us always offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing His name. 16 And do not neglect the doing of good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17 Obey the ones leading you and submit to them for they are keeping watch on behalf of your souls as those rendering an account. Do this with joy and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:15-17 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
This passage is a very straightforward exhortation to God’s people on how to walk pleasingly before God. This is part of how we would obey Paul’s exhortation from Romans 12:1. In any case, we are also called to not refrain from doing good and sharing and the writer of Hebrews equates these with sacrifices that are well pleasing to God. In our church we help each other. When a brother or sister in our body of believers suffers we help then as much as possible through prayer, giving, whatever it takes. This is what we are supposed to do.
In verse 17 we run into a statement that is really not a problem, but has been misused by many pastors to get their flocks to obey them in all sorts of things that are not biblical. Does this verse tell us to blindly obey everything our pastors or elders command us to do? Is that what this verse is about. No! Let’s go back a few verses. This is from the NASB.
7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)
The ministry of the congregation’s first generation of teachers has been completed and in v17 the writer of Hebrews is exhorting the flock to submit to the new leaders, as their leader’s pastoral role requires. Also, notice in v17 the duty of these leaders. They don’t just sit back and demand everyone submits to them. No, instead they are keeping watch on behalf of your souls as those rendering an account. That’s a huge responsibility. Also, when we submit to a pastor or elder as their position requires what are we doing? Aren’t we listening to them open up the Word of God to us? Aren’t we being shepherded by one of God’s shepherds? That’s God’s plan for His Called-Out Ones who are still in this world. Notice that if we are obedient in this it is profitable to us, but unprofitable if we don’t. What is this? This is talking about spiritual growth and blessings.
I pray this helps my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!