The Apostle Paul taught Church members in Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God and to obey God’s commandments. He also taught the Saints how to avoid conflict and seek peace when differences arose because of personal preferences. When concluding this epistle, Paul warned of those who seek to deceive.
Paul counsels the Saints to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God and to obey God’s commandments
Notice the shape of the liquid in the first drinking glass. How would the shape of the liquid change if you poured it from the first glass into the second glass? How would its shape change if you poured it into the third glass?
Imagine that the liquid represents a person and the containers represent different worldly beliefs and practices. What dangers can come from continually conforming to worldly beliefs and practices? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read Romans 12:1–2, looking for what Paul urged the Church members in Rome to do.
In counseling Church members to “present [their] bodies a living sacrifice … unto God” (Romans 12:1), Paul made a comparison to the Old Testament practice of bringing animals to the altar of the temple for sacrifice. These animals were dedicated offerings to God. Therefore, Paul taught that Church members are to dedicate their lives—their physical bodies, desires, choices, actions, possessions, and time—to God. This is done by giving up sinful desires and obeying God’s commandments.
From Paul’s counsel in Romans 12:1–2, we learn that God expects us to dedicate our lives to Him and refrain from conforming to the world. Consider writing this truth in your scriptures.
Throughout Romans 12–13, Paul taught Church members many principles that would help them dedicate their lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world. To explore some of these principles, make a three-column chart in your scripture study journal. Write one of the following scripture references at the top of each column: Romans 12:9–16; Romans 12:17–21; Romans 13:8–13. Then complete the following tasks:
Read each scripture passage, and then write one or more teachings from each passage in the corresponding column.
Describe how living one of the teachings you identified can help you dedicate your life to God and refrain from conforming to the world.
Read Romans 13:14, looking for what Paul counseled the Saints to do.
The phrase “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” means to become like the Savior in our attributes and actions. Think about how the teachings you have studied thus far in Romans 12–13 can help you become like Jesus Christ.
Romans 13:14 helps us understand that if we dedicate our lives to God and refrain from conforming to the world, we can become more like Jesus Christ.
The Savior is an example of dedicating one’s life to God and refraining from conforming to the world. Think about someone else you know who strives to do this. In your scripture study journal, write about the person you thought of and what he or she does that exemplifies dedication to God and refraining from conforming to the world. Explain how this person has become more like the Savior as a result.
On a separate piece of paper, write one way you can dedicate your life more fully to God and refrain from conforming to the world. Place this paper in a location where it will help remind you of your goal.
Paul teaches Church members to avoid conflicts in matters of personal preference
Is it acceptable for a Latter-day Saint to (1) follow a vegetarian diet? (2) eat chocolate? (3) wear shorts in public? (4) use technology on the Sabbath? (5) participate in holiday celebrations that are rooted in other religious or cultural traditions?
The answer to all of these questions is yes. While some behaviors are clearly required or forbidden by commandments from the Lord, others are left to the preference or discretion of individual members. These matters can include some choices in areas like entertainment, clothing, diet, Sabbath day observance, and parental rules for children. The Lord has provided commandments and standards to guide our choices in some of these matters, such as wearing shorts that are modest, but some decisions are left to personal discretion. Members may sometimes base some decisions in such areas on inspiration for their specific situations or needs.
As you study Romans 14:1–15:3, look for truths Paul taught about how we should handle matters of personal preference in the Church.
In Romans 14:1–5 we learn that one matter of personal preference that Church members in Paul’s day faced was a person’s diet. Some people observed no dietary restrictions. Others abstained from meat and ate only vegetables (see Romans 14:2, footnote a). In addition, some Church members chose to observe Jewish customs, practices, and holidays.
What problems do you think could have arisen within the Church as members made different personal decisions in these matters?
Read Romans 14:3, looking for the counsel Paul gave to Church members with differing preferences.
Why do you think some Church members might despise, or scorn, and judge other members whose choices differed from their own?
Read Romans 14:10–13, 15, 21, looking for what Paul taught Church members to not do in this matter of personal preference.
One truth we can learn from Paul’s instruction in Romans 14:13 is that in matters not addressed by specific commandments, we are to refrain from judging others’ choices.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why is it a problem when Church members look down on or condemn other Church members who make different choices in matters where no commandment requires or forbids certain behavior?
Notice the phrase “put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall” in Romans 14:13. This refers to influencing someone else to spiritually stumble or fall in their efforts to believe in Jesus Christ and live His gospel. Also read the excerpt of the Joseph Smith Translation in Romans 14:15, footnote a.
Paul counseled Church members to be considerate of the effect of their personal practices on others and be willing to forgo actions that could influence others to stumble spiritually. From Paul’s instruction we also learn that in matters not addressed by specific commandments, we are to be considerate of how our choices affect others.
Recall the matters of personal preference mentioned at the beginning of this section of the lesson. Ponder what Church members in our day could do to follow Paul’s counsel in matters such as these. How might such choices “make for peace” among Church members (see Romans 14:19)?
Paul concludes his Epistle to the Romans
Near the conclusion of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he taught a truth about the scriptures. Read Romans 15:4, looking for what Paul taught about why the scriptures were written.
Based on what you read, complete the following truth: The scriptures were written to ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
In your scripture study journal, write about a time when studying the scriptures has provided you with learning, comfort, or hope.
Paul showed how the scriptures can teach us and give us hope by quoting several Old Testament scriptures to reassure the Saints that missionary work among the Gentiles was in accordance with God’s plan (see Romans 15:9–12).
The remainder of Romans 15–16 contains additional encouragement and counsel to Church members in Rome. This included a warning about those who cause divisions, teach false doctrines, and seek to deceive others (see Romans 16:17–18).
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Romans 12–16 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: