The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is now in a detailed study of Paul's epistle to the church in Rome. These are the notes for Session 16.
Paul’s primary purpose in writing Romans was to teach the great truths of the gospel of grace to believers who had never received apostolic instruction. Unlike with some of Paul’s other epistles, his purpose for writing Romans was not to correct detestable theology or rebuke ungodly living. The Roman church was doctrinally sound, but, like all churches, it was in need of the rich doctrinal and practical instruction this letter provides.
Beginning with chapter 12 Paul spends the rest of his letter talking about what could be called “the normal Christian life”, and this normal Christian life is really nothing short of supernatural! Paul will demonstrate that when a believer gives himself or herself fully to God and then, in the power of the Spirit, lives out in experience what's already true of him or her positionally and actually, the result is staggering, mind-boggling.
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After 11 chapters of rich theological truth, Paul spends the balance of his letter to the Romans explaining how these doctrines should look in a believer’s daily life. This is a repeated theme in Paul’s writings, we’ve seen it in our studies of Galatians, and Ephesians Theology can never be divorced from life; it always has practical ramifications and implications.
We can look at the rest of this letter as what can be called “the normal Christian life”, and this normal Christian is really nothing short of supernatural! Paul will demonstrate that when a believer gives himself or herself fully to God and then, in the power of the Spirit, lives out in experience what's already true of him or her positionally and actually, the result is staggering, mind-boggling.
This kind of life is so different from the world that it’s like a bright neon sign.
Christians who are living sacrifices in the service of God are godly, not worldly; transformed, not conformed; humble, not proud; helpful and generous, not stingy; unified with others, not divided from them; loving, not hypocritical and hateful; other-centered, not self-absorbed; enthusiastic, not blah; forgiving, not vengeful.
Romans 12:1-8 NLT And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
—Believers are called to devote or offer themselves completely and unreservedly to the Lord. This is the only way we can honor God with our unredeemed bodies.
In light of all God has done for us, this is what we should do for Him.
The Greek term is the source of the English term “metamorphosis”; the meaning is to change in appearance (because of the inner changes that have and are taking place).
renewing of your mind —to be made new in the way one thinks by being saturated with the Word of God and controlled by the Spirit of God
—the exercise of sound judgment measure of faith
—the correct proportion of the spiritual gift needed to fulfill one’s role in the body of Christ many members … one body
—The Church is a unified diversity.
Love Like A Christian
Romans 12:9-16 NKJV Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Christians are like a family. So we should love each other. The Greek word for this kind of love is ‘agape’. This is the love that God has for us. So this love benefits everyone. Paul gives a list of brief rules. Christians should do these things. Their actions will show that their love is real. There are 12 different rules.
Romans 12:9 NKJV Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
1. Love must be sincere, not hypocritical. The word is a translation of the Greek word. It means that a person is not pretending or acting. People used that Greek word to describe an actor in a play. The actor hid his real character behind a mask (cover) on his face. Christians must not be like actors. They must not merely pretend to love each other.
2. Hate everything that is evil. Love everything that is good. Sin should disgust us. A Christian should confess his sin to God. And that Christian should pray for God’s help, so that he does not sin in the same manner again. Instead, that Christian should try to do the things that please God. Christians must desire greatly to love all good things.
Romans 12:10 NKJV Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
3. Love other Christians, like brothers and sisters. They should look after each other like sisters and brothers.
4. Christians must give honour to other people. Christians should not insist on their rights. They should not want thanks and honour for themselves. They should be humble and they should give honour to other people.
Romans 12:11 NKJV not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
5. Christians must work hard in their service for the Lord. They must use all their energy in the battle on God’s side.
Romans 12:12 NKJV rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
6. Hope, patience and prayer. A Christian needs to be patient when he suffers in the present. He must continue to pray on behalf of himself and other people.
Romans 12:13 NKJV distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
7. Share with people who are poor. In the first church in Jerusalem, the Christians gave to anyone who needed help.
Acts 2:44-45 NKJV Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Acts 11:29-30 NKJV The Christians in Antioch sent gifts to Jerusalem when there was not enough food for the Christians there.
Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Christians should continue to act in the same manner today.
8. The writer to the Hebrews said, ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers. Some people did this. And they did not even know that angels were their guests’ (Hebrews 13:2).
Romans 12:14 NKJV Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
9. Paul was saying the same thing that Jesus said
Luke 6:27-28 NKJV “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
To bless and to pray for enemies is the evidence of Christian love.
Romans 12:15 NKJV Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
10. Sympathise with other people. Christians should share other people’s joys and pains. Christians should care about other people. And Christians should look after other people.
Romans 12:16 NKJV Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
11. Christians should live in agreement with each other. This does not mean that they must always have the same opinions. But they should work together with the same purpose. They all should serve Christ.
Romans 12:16 NKJV Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
12. Christians must not judge other people by their wealth or by their important position in society. They must not be too proud to be friendly with poor people. Christians should be friendly with people whom the world considers unimportant. Jesus was not afraid to be in the company of those whom other people did not approve of.
That’s the 12 rules that Paul gives to show that Christians love like God loves.
Christian attitudes towards enemies
Romans 12:17-21 (NKJV)17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Verses 17-18 Christians must refuse to do what is wrong. But they must also show that their actions are good. They must do everything possible to encourage peace.
It may not be possible always to live in a quiet manner. Enemies may oppose Christians, even when the Christians are behaving well. And sometimes it is right for Christians to protest against wicked acts. A Christian should protest if other people are suffering rather than himself. But the Christian must do everything possible to avoid quarrels.
Romans 12:19-21 (NKJV)19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Verses 19-21 A Christian must not attack back when someone has hurt him. Paul gives three reasons why.
1. Only God has the right to punish actions. Paul uses words from Deuteronomy 32:35.
Deuteronomy 32:35 (NKJV)35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.'
Today law courts have the responsibility to show God’s wrath.
Romans 13:4 (NKJV)4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
In the end, God himself will show his fair judgement.
Romans 2:5-10 (NKJV)5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds":7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
2. If an enemy receives kindness, he may be sorry for his actions. He may change his ways. Hot coals’ means that the enemy will be very ashamed.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (NKJV)21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.
3. A Christian must not hate someone who hates him. Such behaviour only makes the situation worse. And a Christian who hates is not behaving in the proper manner. A Christian should show love, not hate. The enemy will have succeeded if the Christian starts to behave in a wicked manner. Evil deeds cannot defeat someone who is evil. Instead, Christians overcome evil powers when they do the right things. They do the things that God wants them to do. And that is the only way to defeat sin.
A Christian’s Duty To The State
The monumental miracle of salvation impacts every relationship of the believer. In chapter 12 which we just finished Paul first talks about our relationship to God. When we are saved, our initial response should be to fully present our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual service of worship” as it said in Romans 12:1.
Next we talked about our relationship in the body of Christ with our brothers and sisters that was in 12:3–16, and we just finished talking about the Christian’s relationship even with enemies(vv. 17–21).
Now in chapter 13 Paul focuses on the need to have the right relationships in the world. First, we must be subject to, demonstrate respect for, and pay taxes to the governing authorities. Secondly, we must love our neighbors and live holy lives that stand out against the dark backdrop of a world without God.
So let’s get at it;
Romans 13:1-7 NLT Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Paul may have had several reasons to write about Christians’ duty to the state.
1. The Jews hated to pay taxes to the Romans who had occupied their country. But Paul was teaching the Christians not to oppose the government.
2. Paul believed that the state existed to protect its citizens against attack and crime. The state punished people who did wrong acts. And it rewarded people who did the right acts. Paul himself had received protection from angry Jews (Acts 18:12-16).
Here is an occasion of government protection when Paul was in Corinth
Acts of the Apostles 18:12-16 NLT But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.” But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” And he threw them out of the courtroom.
There was the time of the riot when he was in Ephesus Acts 19:23-38.
Then the time that he was arrested in Jerusalem Acts , but let’s read a few verses 24-29.
3. The state gives benefits, which its citizens enjoy. Paul was able to travel on good Roman roads on his journeys to preach the gospel.
4. Those who govern are God’s servants.
Daniel 4:17 NLT For this has been decreed by the messengers ; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses— even to the lowliest of people.”
Let’s talk about this in light of what government from ancient time up to even today has done to and against Christian. For example;
A few years after Paul wrote this letter, the Roman government began to really persecute Christians. The Romans were very cruel and the Christians suffered greatly. Many Christians died during those troubles. The Christians who lived in Rome suffered especially.
Jesus had explained how they should behave in such situations
Luke 21:12-19 NLT “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. But not a hair of your head will perish! By standing firm, you will win your souls.
Paul told the Christians to respect and to obey the rulers. Christians should try to be ideal citizens. They should pay the taxes and they should obey the law. They should even consider their rulers to be God’s agents on earth.
Of course, the Christians should not obey the laws that insult Christ, or order you to worship someone or something us them not to tell people about Christ. We should obey all the laws that did not oppose the Christian faith.
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