What the Bible Teaches About Spiritual Gifts


Text: Romans 12:1-13


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God

  • Romans 1-11 details “the mercies (compassion) of God” to us through salvation. It goes into detail about just how good, merciful, and loving God has been to sinners like us in sending His Son to die for us, to rescue and redeem us, and to transform us into sons and daughters of God.

that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,

  • Based upon that mercy, God, through Paul, “beseeches” (urges) us (“brethren” – saved people) to present our bodies to God.
  • Present = make available, accessible, to put as someone’s disposal
  • A living sacrifice – like a sacrifice totally surrendered to die, so we are called upon to totally surrender our lives to God
  • We should do this in a way that is
    • “holy” (pure) – clean in God’s eyes
    • “acceptable” – pleasing to God
    • Old Testament sacrifices were to be pure and pleasing to the Lord.
      Lev 9:2 And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord.

which is your reasonable service.

  • “reasonable” (rational, makes sense) “serve” (worship – public)
  • Total surrender of our bodies, our lives, our all to God is the only rational/reasonable response


  • The first thing to identifying, understanding, and using your spiritual gift is to be surrendered to God.
  • Without a heart that is aware of how much God has been good and merciful and with a willingness to totally surrender our all to God, then no amount of gifting from God will be appreciated or used.
  • Before God even shows us the what and the where and the how, He wants to know that we are willing.
  • Reminds us of Abraham’s servant in the OT who went out looking for a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac – “I being in the way, the Lord led me…”
  • As He was obedient, prayerful, and desirous of God to direct him, God did direct Him.
  • Are you surrendered to God? Have make your life totally available for God to use however He sees fit? Or do you always have strings attached?


And be not conformed to this world:

  • Part of surrendering our lives to God is submitting who we have already been made in Christ.
  • There will be pressure from the outside (“this world” – system with its values and ideas) to try to get us to “conform” (take the shape/form of) to the world.

but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,

  • Instead of allowing the world system to shape us, we should be transformed (metamorphosis – changed like caterpillar becomes butterfly).
  • This transformation is from the inside out – takes place through a new way of thinking (“renewing of your mind.”)
  • As we come to understand our new identity, our new position, our new calling, and the new power we have, we will be radically changed.

that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  • This is the way that we prove (figure out) what is God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
  • God has a good, acceptable, and perfect will for your life.
  • The way we know what that will is is to want to know it, to not listen to the world, and to continue get the truth about who God is and who He has mades us in Christ into our minds.


  • God has a plan and purpose for you and your life.
  • That plan and purpose is to be “conformed into the image of His Son Jesus” which begins when we are born into God’s family through faith in Jesus.
  • That is the beginning of a lifetime of growing and becoming more and more like Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit and through the power of a renewed mind.
  • We have to understand that we are not doing and living and serving to become, but we should live, do, and serve because we are.


3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; 

  • The work that God does in us, for us, and through us should not produce pride but humility.
    • Those who really understand how salvation and transformation take place will realise that both happen in spite not because of us.
    • Sadly, even though God does everything in our life (“grace” = undeserved favour), we still have a tendency to get lifted up in pride.
  • That is why Paul challenges the Roman believers to not think of themselves more highly than they should.
  • Paul says, “God gracious give to me is to be an Apostle and a teacher and here is what I am saying, but let no man among you (none of the believers) think of himself more highly than he should.
  • God’s grace and God’s gifting that is given to every one of us should be a source of humility not pride.
  • 1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 

  • Don’t get lifted up in pride, but think soberly (“reasonably, sensibly). Don’t be silly and think that you have anything to brag or boast about.
  • Everything you have and are comes from God.
  • The measure (quantity) of faith that you have has been dealt (distributed, apportions, assigned) to you and to every person by God.
  • Notice a couple things from these verses about spiritual gifts
    • 1) Spiritual gifts come from God. (“God hath dealt to every man”)
    • 2) Spiritual gifts are given to every man.
    • 3) God has decided the precise gift(s) and amount of the gift we have.
    • 4) None of us have all the gifts (v.4) – a body is not one member but many, and each member has a specific role (“office”)
    • 5) Just like a body has many members, all of us have a gift that helps to benefit the whole body (v.5) – we are one body in Christ and our gift is to contribute to the work, ministry, and building up of the whole body

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

  • v.3 The first work of the Holy Spirit is to cause us to understand who Jesus Christ is, that He is Lord and God and that we should believe on Him.
  • v.4-6 There are many different kinds of gifts, ministries, and activities, but it is the same Spirit, Lord, and God who works in all of us.
  • v.7 The Holy Spirit was “manifested” given, revealed to all those who believe on Christ so that every man is able to profit “withal” from Him.
  • John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
  • v.8-10 The Spirit gives to each person their gift(s).
  • v.11 Even though the gifts may greatly vary, it is the same Spirit at work to glorify Jesus, build up the church, and use us.


6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 

  • Romans 12:6-8 mention 7 different gifts: prophecy (telling God’s Word), ministry, teaching, exhorting (encouraging), giving, ruling, and mercy.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 mentions 9 different gifts: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers (various) kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 talks about 8 different gifts: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  • Ephesians 4:11 mentions 3 gifts of apostles, evangelists, and pastors/teachers.
  • In total, there seem to be 20 different specific gifts.
  • Must has been made of these gifts and much study has gone into them, but the fact that there does not seem to be a concrete list should help us focus more on the giver than the gift and not get too worried or stressed about finding our exact gift.
  • Generally speaking, it seems there are the following broad categories:

1) Equipping gifts – apostles, evangelists, prophets, teachers 

  • These seem to be prioritised over other gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  • Probably because they help teach and equip all the other members to use their gifts to minister.
    • Eph 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    • 1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

2) Sign gifts – miraculous gifts that designed to affirm the message and or the messenger (healing, miracles, tongues/interpreting)

  • Paul did all the signs that showed he was a real apostle.
    2 Corinthians 12:11-12 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
  • God did miracles to affirm their witness.
    Hebrews 2:3-4 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
  • Tongues were a sign to unbelievers, in particular unbelieving Jews.
    • 1 Cor 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
    • 1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
    • Acts 10:44-45 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • As the New Testament was completed their role seems to diminish and be less necessary.

3) Ministry gifts – gifts that are designed to build up the body of Christ (giving, ruling, mercy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, discerning spirits, helps, governments)

  • 1 Peter 4:10–11 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
  • Every person who believes on Christ receives the gift of the Holy Spirit who equips us to minister to one another
  • We are told to be good stewards of the manifold (various/multi-faceted) grace of God
  • Those who speak should should do it according to the Word of God
  • Those who minister should minister to the ability God gives them
  • We should use our gifts so that God is glorified through Jesus so that He is praised and glorified for ever and ever through us.

Use Your Gift

  • The emphasis of Romans 12:6-8 is – whatever gift you have been given, however you have been gifted, use your gift! 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
    • If you prophecy (tell forth God’s Word), then do that.
    • If you can minister (serve), then serve and minister.
    • If you can teach, then teach.
    • If you can encourage, then encourage.
    • If you can give, then give.
    • If you can oversee, then do that with diligence.
    • If you can show mercy, then do that will cheerfulness.
  • The idea is to use your gift.
    • Don’t just talk about your gift; use your gift!
    • Each member of the body has a role (nose, hands, feet) and they are there not just for decoration, but for a purpose.
  • Are you doing what you can to build up and bless the body?
  • Are you using your gift?


9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

  • The subject of spiritual gifts can be one that can cause much confusion, much frustration, and sometimes even some competition.
  • But that is only if we forget the real motivation behind why we are given the gifts and what the purpose of the gifts.
  • The gifts are not given to us for our own enjoyment. They are given to us so that we have something unique to contribute to the whole body to the other believers.
  • The real attitude behind our gifts, our service, our ministry must be love.
  • This is what Paul told the Corinthians in 12:31-13:3 
    • The most excellent way is that of love. 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
    • Without love the greatest gifts is meaningless 13:1-3 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    • Charity never fails. v.8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
  • That is what we are told in Romans 12:9 “Let Love be without dissimulation.” (dissimulation = hypocrisy, let your love be genuine).
    • Love one another. Love is the thing.
    • Love will find a way to do what needs done, to serve in a way that will benefit others.
    • Love will learn new skills, develop new gifts, and trust God to do what needs done even if we don’t feel complete confident.
  • v.9-13 Gives some very practical ways to show genuine love:
    • Hate what is evil; cleave to that which is good. – Real love is clean, pure, and Godly, and God-honouring, not wanting any evil, only wanting that which is good.
    • Be kindly affection one to another with brotherly love. – Show kind affection to one another with brotherly (familial) love. Treat one another with the kind of care and affection of family.
    • In honour prefer one another. – Honour each other, put others before ourselves, give them preference.
    • Not slothful in business. – Don’t be lazy about using your gift.
    • Fervent in spirit. – Be wholehearted. Inflamed (enthusiastic) attitude.
    • Serving the Lord. Keep your focus right. Do what you do for the Lord. Serve the Lord by serving others.
    • Rejoicing in hope. We have must to hope for, so find joy in our hope!
    • Patient in tribulation. Endure tribulation. It will come – endure it as it will soon be swallowed up in heaven.
    • Continuing instant in prayer. When trouble comes, when hope wane, be quick to go to God in prayer.
    • Distribute to the necessity of the saints. Look out for one another. If we know of a need and if we have something we can contribute to that need, then we should.
    • Given to hospitality. Give yourselves to welcoming and meeting the needs of guests and strangers. Bring them in. Make them feel welcome.


  • Have you surrendered your life to God for whatever He wants?
  • Are you allowing the world to conform you or are you seeking to live out your identity in Christ?
  • Have you allowed your gift to cause you pride or humility and to take serious using it for God?
  • Are you using your gift to minister to the whole body in love?

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