Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 31
Christian Conduct – Romans 12:9-21
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 3rd, 2018
- This morning we are again returning to our series on the book of Romans. Let’s do a little review. Paul was writing to the Romans in hopes of visiting them on his upcoming missionary journey to Spain. Paul had not yet been to Rome, but others had carried the gospel message to them. The established church there was comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. In this book, Paul systematically explains the Gospel from creation to Christ “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Rom 1:1 ESV). This letter to the Romans is one of, if not the most influential and impactful letters ever written.
- In 11 chapters, Paul lays down, truth upon truth and precept upon precept, how God has and is working in us and in the world. In Chapter 12 and following, Paul then turns, after establishing the theological foundation of our faith, to how we are to build upon this foundation as it is our time and our turn to practically live these things out. We are to be “living sacrifices,” not living in conformity to how the world wants us to live and think, but we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
- We are all to use the gifts that God has given us to live in connected community with each other by frank evaluation of who and what we are, faithful cooperation with each other as the body of Christ and full participation in His work among us and in the world.
- In the passage we are learning from this morning, the Holy Spirit through Paul turns the “water spicket” fully open and pours out in rapid succession one practice after another of how we are to live our lives as Christians. It is like trying to drink from a fire hose: there is so much that comes at us in this passage. To help us possess and process these principles, I have broken them down to three main categories within the overarching principle of love. All of them are to be grounded, motivated and applied in love. During this message, be praying and thinking about how you can put these principles into practice in your life. With the help of the Holy Spirit, look for a few of these to start working on immediately, and then move on to master them all.
- The first category for application is love for your church.
Love for your church
Rom 12:9-13 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
- Genuinely love people. Love them for real. Take interest in their lives, spend time with them, get to really know them. Don’t just put on a fake Christian face because you are in church and that is what you are supposed to do. If you have a hard time with this, ask God for His love for people, and ask him to touch your heart and give you His heart. When we come together, there should be so much love in the room that we are saturated in it. Love gives, love does, love provides safety, light, truth, help, healing and deliverance. Love each other not because you haveto but because you get It is the highest honor and ideal to love others and be loved. The only one who can stop you from doing this is you. Ask God for help (and perhaps healing) and take the risk to genuinely love people. Life is for living and life is for loving.
- Detest what is evil within us and among us – don’t participate in it or become like it – cling and hold fast to what is good. Treat evil like a hot iron. Hold fast to good like a running back with the football. These are strong responses to good and evil – a complete backing away from evil and a clinging to what is good.
- Have affection for each other like brothers. Treat each other like a healthy and loving family would. Being there for each other – don’t act like strangers but like brothers and sisters for each other. Be positively and powerfully involved in each other’s lives. (understanding we can’t do this with everyone, however we are to do this as much and as often as we can with yes being the default answer)
- Be all about honoring each other. Make it your aim to treat others with honor, to give preference to them, and treat them with dignity, magnifying the good of who they are, showing off their good points and lifting them up to others.
- Don’t be slothful in zeal – like moving as if you were frozen or wading through molasses – don’t be a slow in responding in sloth-like in movement. Pick up the pace, get a move on – now is the time to act! Be fervent – zealous, with energy, zest and life – serving the Lord. How fast do you respond to things? How much energy do you put into serving the Lord, the church and each other? Where is this on your life’s priority list?
- Rejoice in the hope that you have, be happy in hope and grateful for hope. If you are going through hardship and tribulation, be patient in it and through it. Difficulty happens, and the right response is to be patient while holding on to the hope that this is not a permanent situation or condition. And in all things be constantly in prayer. You need to pray. Don’t wait for Sunday for me and others to pray for you. We are to be people who constantly pray, looking to the Lord and in a relationship with Him. This is to be the first response of our hearts to all things in life.
- We are to contribute to the needs of the saints. This is our first priority, responsibility and opportunity. Give to the needs of the saints. We are to live our lives in generosity and also hospitality in our homes. Invite people into your hearts and into your homes. (In order to do these things, we need to set things in order in our hearts and lives – make space for them, plan and prepare for them.)
- Now Paul turns to those people who are not in the family of faith.
Love for your world
Rom 12:14-18 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
- We are to be people who bless others – especially those who persecute us, irritate us, lie about us, and do us harm. Because we follow the example of Christ and have the Holy Spirit of God in us, our response is to bless them, and not curse them – do good to them and don’t cause harm to them.
- If people are rejoicing, then rejoice with them. If they are going through difficulty, then weep with them. If something goes well for them, we should not hate them for it, and if something goes wrong for them we should not rejoice in their suffering. This is how our flesh responds. This is the natural way of the world, but it should not be so with us who call ourselves Christians.
- Live in harmony with each other. This means being at peace and working for harmony in our relationships. Don’t be a jerk to your neighbors, your co-workers, your bosses, your teachers, etc. Live in harmony with people. You should be the best person on the block and in the building. We should all contribute the collective good of the community. We should be great team players, the ones who are there to make a positive impact and be at peace with others. We are not to be the drama kings and queens or those who cause trouble or division. We are to be a force for good for all.
- Don’t be haughty: that is thinking that you are better than others and that you can’t associate with “those people.” (This by the way, is a BIG problem in Rockford and in some churches. We don’t want our kids to be with those kids, we don’t want those people to be in our lives or in our churches.) God help us for our pride and arrogance. Don’t be conceited and proud but associate, and have your life connect with those who are in lowly positions, those who have great need and are “low positions.” This is what Christ did and what is honorable to God and what glorifies Him.
- Do not repay evil for evil. I repeat, do not repay evil for evil. All this does in bring more evil in the world and make us evil as well. We are to be the ones who are good by doing good. If someone treats you poorly or with evil, bless them. Do good to them because this is who Christ is and what Christ does. We are to do the same. Think about what the honorable response is and do that.
- As far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other. Don’t deepen the divide, don’t continue the feud, don’t nurse the grudge. Act noble, do what is right and do what is honorable. This is the way that we are to act as Christians in the world. Thirdly, we are to have love for our enemies.
Love for your enemies
Rom 12:19-21 ESV
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- As those who are loved by God, never ever avenge yourself. Don’t take justice in you own hands and settle the score. As Christians we are to “leave room for the wrath of God.” Trust the situation to God ask Him for justice and Him to deal with it. And believe me, He will do so. We are help our enemy. The best way to change someone’s heart to Christ is to treat them well (unless all you want to do is hurt them).
- If your enemies are hungry, feed them. Don’t just say they are getting what they deserve. If they are thirsty, they give them something to drink. Give them what they need – not what they deserve. If you do this, there will be conviction that comes upon them. If you do evil to them, then they will be justified in their own mind in the evil that they do to you. Then all we end up with is escalating evil and everyone loses.
- The only way that you can overcome evil is with good. War is won with love and goodness, not with hate. If you want to win people to Christ, be good to them. If you want to change your enemies’ hearts, then love them, do good to them. This is how the victory is won.
- Let love be the guiding principle in all that we say and do. Love for your church, love for your world and love for your enemies.
- What has the Holy Spirit highlighted for you today? Which areas do you need to change? What things do you need to repent of? Who are the people you need to talk to? What actions do you need to take? Please take these things to heart. Act upon them, pray about them and use them to guide your actions and activities.
- In all these things you are ambassadors of Christ and carry His name. God help us live in a way that is worthy of our calling and the name we carry.
- Prayer people and pray.
Questions for the week ahead
- What has the Holy Spirit highlighted for you today?
- What principles from this message are you going to immediately apply?
- Which areas do you need to change?
- What things do you need to repent of?
- Who do you need to talk to?
- What actions do you need to take?