Romans 12:9-21

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Text: Romans 12:9-21

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

INTRODUCTION:

When you are in the pastoral ministry, you soon learn that you take people where they are in their spiritual lives and that you work with them, seeking to get them to take the next step and eventually to make mature Christians out of them.

If they are unsaved, you seek their salvation.

If they are unsurrendered, you seek their surrender to the Lord.

If they are surrendered, you seek their spiritual growth and maturity.

Where are you in your spiritual life?

Where should you be going from here in your spiritual life?

Romans 12 provides some answers to this question of where we go from here in our spiritual lives.

In Romans 12 salvation is assumed. However, if you are not saved, you need to do something about it before it is too late.

We have already seen that -

I. BELIEVERS ARE URGED TO DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO THE LORD - 12:1

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

This not-to-be-repeated dedication marks the beginning of the surrendered life and of all that follows in the rest of chapter 12.

In the event that at some point in the past you have given yourself to the Lord to live for Him but have not been living for Him, you need to confess this as sin and get back to studying your Bible and practicing what it says.

We have also seen that -

II. THE DEDICATED LIFE DEMANDS THAT WE STOP BEING CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD - 12:2A

Romans 12:2 a - And be not conformed to this world. . . .

We have furthermore seen that -

III. THE DEDICATED LIFE DEMANDS THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE BELIEVER'S LIFE AS A RESULT OF THE RENEWING OF HIS MIND - 12:2B

Romans 12:2 b - . . . But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We continue with -

Another ramification of the dedicated life is seen in verses 3-8 -

IV. THE DEDICATED LIFE DEMANDS THAT THE BELIEVER USE HIS SPIRITUAL GIFT(S) IN HIS CHRISTIAN SERVICE TO THE FULL MEASURE OF THE GIFT HE HAS BEEN GIVEN - 12:3-8

Romans 12:3-8 - 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; 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. 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.

The dedicated life demands changes in the way we live our lives -

V. THE DEDICATED LIFE DEMANDS THAT BELIEVERS LIVE THE SORT OF LIVES WHICH ARE CONSISTENT WITH CHRISTLIKENESS AS TAUGHT IN THE BIBLE - 12:9-21

Romans 12:9-21 - 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. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

In verses 1-2 Paul urged believers to surrender their lives totally to the Lord. In verses 3-8 he urged them to serve the Lord in the area of their spiritual gift or abilities to the fullest extent. In verses 9-21 he urges them to live the sort of lives that would be consistent with being dedicated Christians.

We also need to learn to recognize the difference between what the new sinless, Christlike nature is telling us and what the old sin nature is telling us.

Let love be without dissimulation is the first quality which Paul insists on for the lives of these believers who are seeking to live for the Lord. It means that love must be without dissimulation, i.e. genuine, sincere, or without hypocrisy.

Love is used elsewhere to describe the love that God has for men. It is a perfect love which gives itself one hundred percent on behalf of others without expecting anything in return.

The believer is also to abhor that which is evil.

Abhor means hate; and its tense indicates that this is to be the normal, constant, and continuous attitude of the believer toward evil in the sense of be abhorring or be hating that which is evil or what is evil. In other words the believer ought to hate things that are sin. Unfortunately, however, believers sometimes have too light a view of sin. Rather than hating evil, there is often a tendency to tolerate it.

Cleave to that which is good is literally cleaving to the good. Cleave to suggests join yourself to, join, cling to, or associate with.

That which is good is to the good (thing), to what is good, to what is upright, or to what is right in contrast to the evil thing. It is the opposite of what the believer is to hate.

Verse 9 refers to general behavior; whereas verses 10-21 deal with a believer in his relationship to other believers.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

No verb is expressed in verse 10 in the Greek text. The translators have suggested be.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.

Kindly affectioned means loving dearly or devoted.

One to another is unto each other or unto one another.

With brotherly love is the word from which the name of the city of Philadelphia is derived. Believers are to love one another. They are to find each other precious and to have a fondness for each other. This term for love is different from the one used in the previous verse. This one speaks of one's affection for another and is found twice in combination with other words in this phrase. Kindly affectioned contains the word love as does brotherly love.

In honour preferring one another is another responsibility for each believer.

Honour means reverence or respect.

Preferring one another (i.e. preferring each other). Believers are to defer or yield to one another (i.e. to each other) because they honestly consider that the others are worthy of more honor than they themselves are.

Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.

Not slothful (i.e. idle, lazy, or indolent) in business in eagerness, in earnestness, in diligence, or in zeal.

Fervent in spirit is next.

Fervent suggests earnest or eager. Although in spirit may mean in the Holy Spirit or in your spirit, it is better understood in the sense of in your own spirit.

Serving the Lord is while serving the Lord as His slave or while obeying the Lord.

The Lord refers to the Lord Jesus Christ in Paul's writings.

Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.

Rejoicing is either while rejoicing or be rejoicing.

In hope is in the hope, indicating that is a particular hope in which believers are to be rejoicing. The New Testament indicates that the hope of believers is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the rapture, and it is likely Paul's reference in this verse.

Hope in the New Testament is not mere wishful thinking; instead, it is something which will definitely occur in the sense of expectation.

Patient should be understood in the sense of while being patient or else as a command in the sense of be patient or continue being patient. Patient means remain (instead of fleeing), stand your ground, hold out, or endure.

In tribulation is where the believer should be patient or where he should endure. The term tribulation literally means pressing or pressure; but when used figuratively in the New Testament as in this verse, it often means affliction or oppression. They needed to endure in whatever tribulation came their way.

Continuing instant in means adhere to or persist in and suggests busy yourself with, be busily engaged in, or be devoted to.

What believers should be devoted to is prayer, which should be a way of life for the believers.

Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Distributing is understood in the temporal sense of while distributing or as the command distribute to.

Distributing to means sharing in, having a share in, or taking an interest in.

What they are to share in or take an interest in is the necessity, i.e. the necessities, the needs, the wants, the lacks, or the difficulties of the saints. Of course, the way they were to take an interest or to share in the needs of the saints was to help these poor saints out in a financial or material way.

Given to is a participle which may be understood in a temporal sense as while giving to. It may instead be understood as a command in the sense of give to, be giving to, or continue giving to. Its tense indicates that this is to be done continually or habitually.

What they are to be striving for is hospitality. Hospitality is literally love of a stranger. Believers may have to look after one another, even to the point of bringing other believers into their homes. Furthermore, traveling preachers could not be put up in motels in that day and age as they are today because the inns of the day were nothing more than taverns and were not safe. Since traveling preachers needed places to stay, it would be up to the saints to provide them.

Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Bless them which persecute you is a command. The tense of bless indicates that this is to be customary or habitual. It means bless, be blessing, or continue blessing in the sense of be calling down God's gracious power on them.

Them which persecute you is the ones who are persecuting you.

Bless and curse not is a command. Bless is the same term used at the beginning of the verse and is repeated here for emphasis. This is the proper way believers should treat those persecuting them. Its present tense suggests that this is to be normal, customary, or habitual action.

And curse not is a command with a negative which forbids the continuation of an action already going on. It means that the believers were already cursing those who were persecuting them; and this activity needed to be stopped. It does not suggest that they were swearing at them; rather, it suggests that they were calling down some curse upon them from the Lord. Instead, they were to call down the Lord's blessing on them. The difference would be one of hatred in practice in contrast with one of love in practice. Love for the enemy would result in blessing; whereas, a hatred for the enemy would result in cursing.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Rejoice (or be glad) with them that do rejoice is with rejoicing ones or with glad ones. Sometimes believers have a tendency to act as wet blankets and put out the spiritual fires in other believers. They dampen the spirits of others by their moodiness, grumpiness, or negativeness.

Unfortunately, not all believers are rejoicing at all times; sometimes they are sad. Therefore, other believers are told weep with them that weep.

Weep means cry and its action is to continue as a matter of habit or be repeated in the sense of be weeping or be crying.

With them that weep is with weeping ones or with crying ones. There may be times when people need someone to rejoice with them. There may be other times when people need someone to weep with them.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Be of the same mind suggests that they are to set their minds on the same thing.

One toward another is unto one another or unto each other. Believers are not to be pulling in opposite directions from each other. They are all to determine the course of action that the Lord would have them take and work together in accomplishing it. They are to want the best for each other and to love each other dearly.

Mind not high things but condescend to men of low estate is another command all believers are to be obeying.

Mind not is stop setting your minds on or stop being intent on.

High things when used figuratively as here refers to exalted things, proud things, or haughty things.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to mind not high things.

Condescend means be led or carried away by someone or something.

In this verse it is to men of low estate, i.e. to the poor, to the lowly, or to the undistinguished and can refer to people or to things that are lowly or undistinguished. Inasmuch as high things is definitely neuter and refers to things rather than to people, it suggests that in the present context the things which are lowly are neuter rather than masculine. The word for men does not appear in the Greek text, and the things of low estate is capable of being either masculine or neuter. It must be determined from the context.

Be not wise is a command with a negative. It suggests stop being wise.

In your own conceits means in the sight of yourselves or in the judgment of yourselves, suggesting in your own sight or in your own judgment.

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Recompense means render, repay, or reward.

To no man is to no one and includes females as well as males.

A believer is not to render evil for evil or evil in exchange for evil to anyone, male or female. Although evil may be done to the believer, he is not to repay it in turn.

Evil is harm or wrong.

Provide means be (or keep on) taking thought for, be (or keep on) taking into consideration, or be (or keep on) having regard for.

Things honest is the word ordinarily translated good and is better understood in the sense of good things.

In the sight of all men is before all men, where men is the generic term for human being and includes young as well as old, females as well as males.

Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Verse 18 is in the form of a condition, and the condition is if it be possible as much as lieth in you. The conclusion is live peaceably with all men.

It is assumed that it is possible on the believer's part to live peaceably with all men. However, it may not be possible to live peaceably with all persons. Therefore, if is understood in the sense of assuming that.

As much as lieth in you suggests on your part. No breech of the peace should ever come from the believer.

Live peaceably suggests be living at peace or be at peace.

With all men indicates that there is really no limitation to where believers ought to be seeking to live at peace.

Men is the generic term for human being and includes all persons, young and old, female as well as male, unsaved as well as saved.

This is not to be understood as peace at all costs. We must never compromise our beliefs or involve ourselves in any kind of sin.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Dearly beloved is loved ones or dear ones. It may also be understood in the sense of dear friends. Paul is addressing these Roman believers and displays an affectionate regard for them.

Avenge not yourselves is understood in the sense of stop avenging yourselves.

To avenge yourselves means to procure justice for yourselves.

But rather introduces a statement in strong contrast to avenge not yourselves, and it is understood in the sense of rather.

Give place unto wrath is a command which sums up the action of the verb as a whole.

Give place means make possibility, make opportunity, or make chance. Used figuratively as in this verse, it suggests leave room for.

Unto wrath is understood as to anger or to indignation. Wrath is more the outcome of an angry frame of mind rather than a sudden emotional outburst. The believer needs to let this wrath, anger, or indignation dissipate and let God handle the situation on his behalf.

Paul gives Scriptural confirmation for not avenging yourselves but giving place unto wrath with for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

For introduces the reason a believer must not avenge himself but give place unto his wrath.

It is written indicates that vengeance is mine; I will repay was written down in the past and remains written for all to read. It indicates an existing state. It is written in Deuteronomy 32:35 .

Deuteronomy 32:35 - To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

Vengeance is punishment, and mine refers to the Lord.

In I will repay, I is emphatic and suggests I and no one else will repay. No one else should try to do the Lord's job for Him.

Saith the Lord indicates that the Lord was the speaker in Deuteronomy 32:35 .

Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Therefore draws an inference based upon what has been written in verses 17-19. This gives the proper conduct of a believer when evil is done to him or when others would choose not to live peaceably. It indicates what the believer should do instead of seeking vengeance. Therefore is then, consequently, accordingly, or so.

If thine enemy hunger is a condition about which no assumption may be made regarding its truthfulness. It may be true, or it may be false.

Thine enemy is your (singular) enemy. He is someone who is hostile toward you, someone who is hateful toward you, someone who is hating you, or, perhaps, someone who is hated by you.

Hunger suggests is hungry. If your enemy happens to be hungry, then you are to feed him.

Feed him is understood in the sense of be supplying him with food.

If he thirst is another condition for which no assumption may be made regarding its truthfulness. It may or may not be true.

If this condition should occur, then the conclusion, give him drink, must take place.

He once again is thine (i.e. your) enemy.

If he thirst is if he is thirsty or if he suffers from thirst.

Give him drink, i.e. be giving him (something to) drink means that he must be provided with something which will satisfy his thirst.

For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head is the result of feeding the hungry enemy and of giving the thirsty enemy something to drink.

In so doing may be understood as when you do so, if you do so, or by doing so.

So is this and refers to feeding the hungry enemy and giving the thirsty enemy something to drink.

Thou shalt heap is you (singular) will heap up or you will pile up.

What you will heap up are coals of fire, i.e. burning coals or charcoal.

On his head denotes the place where these fiery coals will be piled up. It is a quotation from Proverbs 25:21-22 .

Proverbs 25:21-22 - (21) If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

(22) For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

Sid S. Buzzell has written the following in commenting on Proverbs 25:21-22 ,

Kindness to one's enemy - giving him food and water - is like heaping burning coals on his head (quoted by Paul in Rom. 12:20). Sometimes a persons fire went out and he needed to borrow some live coals to restart his fire. Giving a person coals in a pan to carry home "on his head" was a neighborly, kind act; it made friends, not enemies. Also the kindness shown in giving someone food and water makes him ashamed of being an enemy, and brings God's blessing on the benefactor. Compassion, not revenge, should characterize believers (cf. Prov. 24:29). Alternately, light on this passage may come from an Egyptian expiation ritual, in which a person guilty of some wrongdoing would carry a pan of burning coals on his head as a sign of his repentance. Thus treating one's enemy kindly may cause him to repent.

The meaning is that by conferring favors upon an enemy, a believer may help him the enemy to recall what wrong he has done, thereby leading him to repent. It is hoped that this kindness shown to him will result in his seeing what awful things he may have done.

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Be not overcome is understood in the sense of stop being overcome by evil or stop being defeated by evil.

Of evil is literally of the evil and refers either to the specific evil act of the enemy or to evil in a general sense.

Evil means wrong; it is something wrong that an enemy, particularly someone who is unsaved, has done to the believer.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to be not overcome of evil and is understood in the sense of rather.

Overcome means conquer or vanquish.

Evil is again literally the evil; and it is neuter. Once again, this may indicate that Paul has in mind the specific evil thing which has been done to the believer. It may instead be a generic use of the article, meaning evil in general.

With good is with the good thing and implies by means of doing something good. As in the case of both uses of the word evil, this may refer to some specific good deed or to good deeds in general. In this verse, however, it seems better understood in a general sense as good. The answer to the one who does wrong to a believer is for the believer to repay him with a good deed rather than with an evil one or with good rather than with evil.

CONCLUSION:

So where are you in your spiritual life? Are you sure that you have been saved? If you are not saved and you know it, or if you are not sure that you have really been saved, then you need to make sure of it. Speak to any of us about it, and we would be most happy to help you to be sure of your salvation.

Have you dedicated your life to the Lord so that you are a surrendered Christian? If you are, this is wonderful. If you are not yet surrendered, then you need to get alone with God and give your life completely to him and ask Him to help you live for Him.

As a surrendered Christian, are you stopping your conformity to the world?

As a surrendered Christian, are you renewing your mind through the daily study of the Word of God with the result that your life is being changed? Consistent Bible study and submission of the heart and mind to the teaching of the Bible will change your life.

As a surrendered Christian, are you serving the Lord to the best of your ability in the area of your spiritual gift, i.e. of your ability and interest?

As a surrendered Christian, are you living the sort of life which is consistent with your life as a dedicated Christian? Are you living victoriously over sin while at the same time growing toward maturity in Christ?

If we can be of help to you, we would love the privilege of doing what we can to help you on your way toward becoming a mature, godly Christian.