• Joshua Kristine

Romans 11-15

Going Deeper

Romans 11-15 (3-26-22)


Romans 12 is the turning point in Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is where Paul moves from our need for the gospel and the gift of the gospel to the application of the gospel in our lives. This chapter is chock-full of wonderful exhortation for the Christian life, especially around the topic of how Christians should love others.


To jump into our study today, read Romans 12:14-21 again.


First and foremost, we must understand that we cannot do these things if not for the Holy Spirit indwelling us, God’s grace enabling us, and Christ’s atonement for us.


To better understand the foundation Paul is building on, go back and read the opening verses of chapter 12 again, Romans 12:1-3.


It is God’s mercy that gives us access to a restored new life.

It is God’s power that transforms us from the inside out.

It is God’s grace that shapes our hearts to love others.


So, when the Apostle calls on us to do the things we read in verse 14-21, bear in mind that the Apostle himself understands that it is only God’s grace at work in us that enables us to live this way. The result of God’s work in us is found in verse 9. It says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” With that under our feet, let’s go back to verses 14-21 and break them down more.


Love others means to love when offended.


Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.


The biblical principle is that Christians who are walking in Christ will love as He loved, which is to love their enemies. We are saved and set free because Christ loved His enemies.


Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.


Jesus helps us see what truly loving others is in His teaching found in Luke.

Luke 6:32-35

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.


Anyone can love that which is lovely, but it is extremely difficult to love those who are unlovely. Again, hear this clearly--you and I do not do this by our own strength. Loving our enemies is only genuine if it is out of the overflow of a life in Christ, where He is flowing through the believer to others. Loving others is a supernatural way of life; it is not a mandate to work really hard at keeping by your own power and might.


Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.


Loving others is having empathy for people by meeting them where they are. It is a real mark of Christian maturity when one can rejoice with those God has blessed, because without Christ changing our hearts, pride and jealousy are our natural responses. When God has given someone wealth or talent or some other provision, it is difficult to rejoice with him because of our selfish heart’s petty jealousy.


Make it personal. How have you had resentment for someone else as you see them experience victory or success? Do you see your flesh motivating these feelings? God’s love causes us to rejoice with others, and their victory is our victory!


The second part of verse 15 says we are to weep with each other, too. When do we typically choose not to weep with others who weep? It is a common religious response to people who hurt or struggle to look down on them and say, “You deserved that.” We keep our empathy and pity to ourselves, because they do not deserve to have people join them in crying over something they purposely did. The key to this is found in verses 3 and 16 of this chapter.


Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.


Only by the grace of God is my heart changed to look at others differently, to have sober judgment over them, and not to elevate myself to a position where I am better than they are. This affects why and how I love people.


Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.


Loving others means loving people who are not like you, including people who are outcast. Again, Jesus models this for us all throughout His life. We see Him charged by the Pharisees for eating with outcast sinners in Luke 15 and showing compassion toward and fellowshipping with a prostitute in Luke 7. If ever we say, "I'm not going to waste my time on that rebellious man," we have lost the true meaning of love. The only remedy is more of Jesus which is needed to change the heart.


Love others means to reject revenge.


Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.


Loving others means your heart is moving from self-centered to other-centered. Our sin causes us to want to hurt those who hurt us. Christ in us causes us to want to heal relationships with those who caused hurt. We counter their evil with God-honoring good and grace. This won’t happen if left to our flesh. We are desperate for Christ to fuel us with His selfless love.


Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.


Evil is God-dishonoring; righteousness is God-honoring. We are to be a righteous people who do good and not evil. In this, we honor God and put His name on high.


Love others means to pursue peace.


Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.


Loving others means to pursue peace! Now it says, “as it depends on you,” and this is because it takes two to tango. So, the part of the relationship you can influence needs to be peaceful, but this doesn’t mean that you will have peace with everyone, because they can stir things up against you.


On this note, let’s move on to verse 19:


Romans 12:19 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.”


Only God can move other people’s hearts, and so we have to trust in His judgment to shape them and judge them and grow them, as He determines. Now, this rails against our flesh because the foremost trait of human nature is self-defense. If someone thrusts an object toward your face, your eyes close immediately by instinct. If an object falls toward you, your arm rises to ward off the blow. By nature, when we are offended, we automatically put up a defense mechanism and want to fight back.


In Christ, we do something contrary to our nature: We love and don’t fight back when offended. A person may ask, "Don't I have the right to stick up for my rights?" Sometimes, the act of defending oneself or another is an act of love. But the supernatural work of Christ through us means that many times the answer is no. Christ’s love in and through you means you will not fight back.


Instead:

Romans 12:20 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.”


Loving others means loving your enemy the way God loved us when we were His enemies.


1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.


The only vengeance Christians can inflict on others is the red-hot coals of love.

This part of verse 20 is odd when read alone, but it makes sense when understood that it is a quote from Proverbs 25:21-22: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.


The coals on the head is a reference to a ritual in Egypt in which a person showed repentance by carrying a pan of hot burning charcoal on the head. So, when we respond with love and not hate, this can cause the other person to be repentant for his/her actions. Love is the only antidote for hate! When the Christian loves his enemies, they are either melted into repentance or hardened even more. It is up to God how they respond--not us. We are simply called to let love move—to love others!


Love others means to overcome evil with good.


Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Paul is saying that in our personal relationships with the world, the cycle of evil can only be broken by good. The key to overcoming evil is to employ the good of Christ that is at work in us. The cycle of evil can only be overcome, can only be broken by good—the love of God.


1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.


It is the love of God that was made manifest in the flesh through the perfect life and sacrificial substitutional death of Jesus for a people that were against Him, but a people He would win over and make new. We--the church, the redeemed, the born again--are that people. May we love others as God intended every day for His glory and their good.


By His grace and for His glory,


-Shepherd

Soldiers for Jesus MC

Chaplain Council

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