Do you do crossword puzzles or Sudoku? Just learned this summer and I love it. In crossword puzzles and Sudoku you have to work both vertically and horizontally to complete the puzzle. Our lives have the same two dimensions. Vertically, we have a relationship w/God and horizontally we have relationships w/each other. For weeks now, our primary focus has been vertically: Sin, Salvation, Sanctification, Sovereignty. This week we move our focus to horizontally: Service: How we live out our theology, our beliefs about God with one another. Paul provides in these last chapters divinely inspired guidelines for applying the Christian life, we learn how God wants us to relate to each..
I. The Christian Servant Romans 12
A. Sacrifice our bodies Romans 12:1-2
B. Share our gifts Romans 12:3-8
C. Serve our society Romans 12:9-21
II. The Christian Citizen Romans 13
A. Live under authority Romans 13:1-7
B. Love our neighbor Romans 13:8-10
C. Look for Jesus Romans 13:11-14
III. The Christian Brother Romans 14:1-15:13
A. Accept on another Romans 14:1-6
B. Accountable to God Romans 14:7-12
C. Adjust our liberties Romans 14:13-23
D. Act as our Lord Romans 15:1-13 (Lecture stops here)
III. Paul’s closing remarks Romans 15:14-16:27
A. Ministry, Plans, Personal greetings, benediction
READ Romans 12:1, 2. “Therefore”, connecting linking word, 4th time: Romans 3:20 of condemnation, all guilty of sin; Romans 5:1 of justification, salvation thru Jesus Christ; Romans 8:1 of assurance, “in Christ Jesus”; Romans 12:1 of dedication, devotion. What is true devotion? 3 steps: 1. Give God your body. 2. Give God your mind. 3. Give God your will.
1. Why would God want my body? Tired, sick, out of shape. When we say that, we forget how God views us. Forget that He created us, sees us as His temple because the Holy Spirit dwells inside. Two biblical examples that will help us understand “living sacrifice”: 1st – Isaac - Genesis 22. Abraham sacrificed only son Isaac, forget that Isaac had a part too, Isaac willingly put himself on the altar and would have died in obedience to God’s command, but the Lord sent a ram to take His place. Isaac died to “self” and when he got off that altar he was a living sacrifice, to the glory of God. Other, Jesus Christ perfect illustration. He actually died as a sacrifice, but rose again, today in heaven He is our living sacrifice. Verb “offer” =once at for all=implies a definite commitment of our bodies to Christ just as a bride/groom commit themselves in their wedding service. Paul says 2 REASONS:
a. Right response to all God has done for us, “I urge you in view of...Pleases God”
b. Spiritual response, to God it is an act of worship.
How do you define worship? Singing, praising God, going to church, good. In this passage, God is saying “everyday, at work, home, living your ordinary life, I want you to worship me by allowing Me to use your body.” God wants to use your body, He created your body, has a plan for your body. Warning: If we use our bodies for only for ourselves, self-focused: my family, my world, we’ll miss knowing all we were created to be. 2 reminders: Romans 8:13 - stop abusing your body in sin; Romans 12:1 - intentionally give your body to God, material part of who you are. God also wants the immaterial part of you: next
2. The world wants to control your mind, but God wants to transform your mind. “Do not conform”= present tense verbs=on-going process. What does that mean? Someone might answer, I know, don’t smoke, don’t drink, gamble, dance, don’t wear too much makeup, fool around sexually, if you really want to be spiritual, sell your TV and give up caffeine. Is there a list in your mind if you gave it up, you’d be spiritual? Truth is, there are many people who have given up a list of “worldly things” but they are still conformed to the spirit of this world in their mind. Worldly thinking = what do I get out of this, what’s in it for me, my family? How do I win? How can I make you think I’m really good, smart, strong? Bible says don’t be locked into this kind of thinking, it brings heartache and pain. “World” is always seeking personal happiness, personal fulfillment, method: competition, rivalry, getting ahead, getting my way no matter who gets hurt in the process. God says “don’t be conformed but be TRANSFORMED=same word as Transfigured in Matthew 17:2 - Jesus on Mountain. It came into our English language as “metamorphosis” describing a change from within. Bible tells us believers have the mind of Christ, ability to see life through His eyes, not to advance ourselves, but to serve God. God transforms our minds and makes us spiritually minded, way He does that is His Word. As you spend time reading, meditating, memorizing the Word, it becomes part of your inner being, God will make your mind renewed, think different. Your mind controls you body, but
3. Your will controls your mind.
Many think we can control ourselves by our own willpower, our own strength. Chapter 7 - often fail. It’s when we give our “will” over to God, find ourselves in the center of His Will for us = good, pleasing, perfect. “Not my will, but yours” = knew God’s will=best.
Truth: As Christ-followers we need to break loose from worldly patterns of life and thought and give ourselves holistically to God.
Ie UNSQUEEZED book.
Think about your life, can you discern where your thinking is more like the world than like Christ? Have you ever consciously offered yourself to God to be a living sacrifice, would you want to? Do you make decisions and then ask God to bless them, or do you first ask God, what’s your will, what do you want me to do? Truth=to function horizontally, relationally with others as a Christian, we first must surrender vertically.
Paul reminds us to avoid overrating ourselves, natural tendency, but also implied is the opposite problem, we should not underrate ourselves. Both are flip sides of the coin of Pride, and are out-of –balance. Proper way to think about yourself is God’s way= Believer, loved by God, dependent on the indwelling HS, made in the image of God, being remade in the image of Christ. Not conceited but confident. We are all related, all part of one body=body of Christ, serve one another w/our gifts.
Definition: A spiritual gift is an ability that God has given that enables you to serve.
As I read the gifts, think about yourself, which one are you?
READ Romans 12:6-8. Prophets = speak forth the Word of God; Servants = demonstrate love by meeting practical needs; Teachers = impart knowledge and instruct in truth; Exhorters = encourage others to spiritual growth; Givers = share personal assets to further God’s ministry; Leaders = coordinate, delegate, lead others to achieve goals; Mercy = gifted w/sympathetic understanding of other’s problems, seek to comfort those in turmoil.
Truth: As Christ followers we have spiritual gifts to discover & to use for others.
READ Romans 12:9. The basis of our serving others is LOVE, sincere, genuine love. True love that comes from God flowing out of you to others. Learn from the Bible how we express that love to others. Romans 12:9-13 - Paul gives a list of imperatives dealing with our relationships with others both fellow believers and unbelievers.
1. Romans 12:9 - True love must be sincere, rejects sin but not sinner, opposite=hypocritical love, love based on behavior, performance, love not extended unless you measure up. That kind of love has turned off more people from Christianity than anything else. People hear words of Jesus about love, peace, joy, go to church expecting to find it there, instead they may find prejudice, rejection, contempt, exclusion. Other extreme is also hypocritical, like the Corinthian church-accept all behavior, all sin without discriminating between right and wrong=no you need to hate evil, cling to good.
2. Romans 12:10 - True love is devoted “full of tenderness”, unselfish, sees that we are all one family.
3. Romans 12:11 - True love is full of enthusiasm. Not lazy or indifferent about serving others, zeal.
4. Romans 12:12 - True love Rejoices One way to have joy in hope is that when storms come, begin and be constantly in prayer. Phil 4:6 - In everything by prayer & petition with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and you will experience the peace of God.
5. Romans 12:13 - True love is generous & hospitable. We are responsible to meet needs of others giving assistance spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially. Practice hospitality = Greek = “affection to strangers.” Take opportunities to openly invite new acquaintances, new people to spend time with you and your family.
6. Romans 12:14-21 - True love REACTS in love:
a. speaks well of our enemies. Romans 12:14 - don’t badmouth people who aren’t nice to you.
b. adjusts to others moods and circumstances. Romans 12:15 - laugh and cry with others.
c. does not show partiality. Romans 12:16 - live in harmony, don’t be proud, conceited.
d. is not sneaky or underhanded. Romans 12:17 - don’t do the “payback”, leave that to God.
e. is a peacemaker. Romans 12:18 - so glad was a realistic, included “if possible” some people will not allow you to be at peace with them, but don’t let that be your excuse not to seek peace and reconciliation, but know that it may not be possible, it takes 2, you can only 1.
f. leaves all revenge up to God. Romans 12:19-21 - Why? It’s His job, only He can work it out with fairness and justice. Our job is to Romans 12:20. What does Paul mean? Ancient way of lighting fires, no matches, you needed a light, borrow some coals from a neighbor. Good neighbor would fill up an earthen jar full of hot coals, you would carry them home on head, provide you necessary fire. Picture of generous response to a need. Became a metaphor for responding generously to an enemy.
Ie true story = Christian in military, prayed on his knees, ridiculed, made fun. One night, praying one guy threw his shoes at him, he said nothing, laid the shoes beside, continued. Next morning, guy woke to find his boots beside his bed, shiny, polished, melted him, asked why? Opportunity to share faith, led to conversion. Great example of what Paul meant by overcoming evil with good.
Truth: As Christ followers our call is to relate to others in selfless love.
Application: when was the last time you sincerely served someone else? Rephrase that when was the last time you sincerely served someone else who hurt you, took advantage of you, stabbed you in the back? Following Christ is loving like that.
Paul now turns to define the Christian’s responsibility and loyalty to one’s country. Romans 13 begins with basic principles for us to know & follow.
1. All government is established by God - Romans 13:1, 2 easy to believe when it’s a democracy, monarchy? Oligarchy? Totalitarian state? Regardless of the form of government God’s hand is in it. Title= Ruler of heaven and earth.
2. Purpose of government is to encourage good and prevent evil - Romans 13:3,4. God has ordained that there be human government, civil laws to preserve order.
3. Christian response to government should be obey the laws - Romans 13:5.
4. We are to pay taxes, don’t sneak things through customs without paying, respect & honor those in government.
Quick to add a higher principle: Truth: A Christ follower’s disobedience to government is justified when that authority requires disobedience to God.
Matthew 22:21 - Render to Caesar…but Caesar has no right to require us to worship Him or disobey God’s word. Point here: don’t resist the legitimate function of government.
Text turns from owing obedience to owing love. READ Romans 13:8-10. This should not be interpreted to mean under no circumstances should a believer incur a financial debt, “owe nothing” = pay your debts on time, don’t be late in paying what you owe, but realize you’ll never be able to pay back on Love. When you rub shoulders with other people=your first obligation is to show love to them. Greek used “love your neighbor”= heteros= of another kind, implying that we give unselfish love to those who have different beliefs, tastes, values, lifestyles than we do. James 2:8,9 - If you really keep the royal law ..Love your neighbor as yourself you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin...
Application: what kindness have you shown your neighbor lately?
1. Check the time, the hour is late Romans 13:11, 12a Time not hour on clock but a period of history we live in, the next event on God’s time table is the second coming of Jesus Christ, nearer now than yesterday.
2. Change your clothes Romans 13:12b give up the party life, don’t devote your life just to seeking the good times, don’t just live for pleasures, there is more, much more.
Take off your old clothes and put on the Living Jesus Christ, live for Him because He is coming again.
What do you do when Christians disagree? Believers in Rome, like other churches, divided over diets/special days. Some thought sin to eat meat/only vegetables. Others said it was sin not to observe the Jewish holy days. If each believer had kept their convictions to themselves, no problem. But they began to criticize and judge each other. One group was sure the other was not spiritual. Unfortunately, we too have areas of differences that cause divisions too. Often these are “gray areas”. Certainly there are behaviors that are clearly right/wrong but others are less clear and some things we wrestle with today are not even mentioned ie. music wars in our churches, bible doesn’t mention contemporary vs. traditional music, yet churches have split over this area, shame on us for demanding our preference over keeping the unity…that goes both ways.
Paul gives 4 guidelines:
What to eat? When to worship? Paul stood theologically on the side of the “strong” believer, the one who embraced liberty and freedom in his faith. However, he realized the deeper issue here was the critical responses of the 2 groups to each other. Basic point is Christians should be convinced of their stand. Romans 14:5 - do what they feel is right but without passing judgment on other believers who have reached a different conclusion. READ Romans 14:4.
Someday each of us as individuals will give an account of our lives to God - Romans 14:12. Believers will not face the Great White Throne judgment because we are no longer under condemnation, Romans 8:1, our names are in the Book of Life. However, we will face the Judgment Seat of Christ, Bema seat, our works will be judged as to whether they have been done in the flesh or through the spirit. I Corinthians - Paul is clear here, we are not responsible for anyone else’s life but our own, not husband, not our children, not parents, so this leaves no room for preoccupation w/what we may think are faults in others, not your responsibility, it’s God’s.
Our liberties in Christ are to be balanced. God’s desire is that we are free in Christ, enjoy that freedom. Yet without self-imposed limitations we risk being selfish and careless of others. As important as Christian freedom is, there is a principle that surpasses it: Love for a weaker brother/sister Romans 14:15, 21. If a “strong” Christian exercises his/her freedom to eat or drink in a way that offends, or harms, or retards the spiritual growth of another, she is not walking in love.
“Living under grace is like living with no curfews, but with the expectation of coming home on time.”
This principle of accepting others, thinking of them first was lived out in the life of Jesus Christ. If the world is to see Jesus, it must see Him in us - in our lives. Called to strengthen one another, accept one another, love one another. Height of Christian living is Romans 15:13…READ.
My hope for you is that you fully live both vertically and horizontally: accept His acceptance of you through Jesus Christ, you grow to know and love Him more and more, love and serve others for this is the Will of God for you.
Pray Benediction - Romans 16:25-27