The Practice of the Gospel--How
Practice What You Believe
Romans is a book of theology and doctrine.
Verse 1-2: Our right standing with God is something God has done for
us. View the rest of the chapter through the glasses of verses 1-2.
Verse 1, We're to sacrifice ourselves as living sacrifices in an act
of worship. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this
is your spiritual act of worship."
Verse 2, God wants to empower you with His Spirit. "Do not conform
any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will
is--his good, pleasing perfect will."
The book of Romans enlivens Christians. Our sacrifices become a privilege
when you consider what God has done for us. This is the essence of revival.
Do you live for self or God? God doesn't want forced sacrifice but a
sacrifice in love. Who do you idolize? Who do you wish you could be like?
Are you doing what the world wants you to do or are you transformed by
the renewing of your mind? So much of the victory is of and in our minds.
How are our minds renewed? 1) Fellowship with Jesus and God the Father,
i.e. Prayer, us talking to God. 2) Bible Study, study of God's Word,
i.e. God talking to us. 3) Fellowship with God's people. These three
activities stir God's Holy Spirit within your mind. They feed the man
of the spirit, the spiritual man. Do anything for 21 days and it
is said it becomes a habit. Apply these three things for 21 days and
see what happens. Feed the spiritual man and starve the 'old man of the
flesh' and the new man will defeat the 'old man.' When you do all this
you will become living sacrifices to God.
Verse 3: Understand rightly who you really are, not being puffed up with
vanity. Have a moderate opinion of yourself. "For by the grace given
me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than
you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance
with the measure of faith God has given you."
Verse 4-8: The body of Christ has many different members that perform
different functions and have different gifts--gifts of grace. [When Paul
was writing this there was basically only one body of Christ,
one Church, composed of many members. Now there are many fellowships
and denominations many of which make up the body of Christ. So referring
to members of the body of Christ can and does have two meanings. There
are individual members of the body of Christ--referring to individual
people--and individual members of the body of Christ--referring to individual
fellowships or denominations. Whole fellowships and denominations can
and do exhibit spiritual gifts and strengths within the body of Christ
just as individuals can.] We all have separate gifts. Use your gifts.
Viewing this through verses 1-2, use your gifts in sacrifice to God and
to his glory. Can you see how verses 1-2 are expanded and modified by
verses 4-8? We are now given some direction on how to fulfill becoming
living sacrifices. "Just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we
who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's
gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it
is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is
encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of
others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern
diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
The spiritual gifts are described in three places in Paul's writings,
I Corinthians 12:12-31 (the manifestations of these gifts); Ephesians
4:11-16 (the use and purpose for these gifts); and Romans 12:4-8.
Paul now goes on to another vital aspect of being a living sacrifice--LOVE.
Love must be sincere. Verses 9-21 properly describes what real godly
love is and isn't. "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling
to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one
another above yourselves. Never lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual
fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful
in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Another
important aspect of love is how you deal with your enemies. "Bless
those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who
rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to
do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far
as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge,
my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is
mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your
enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. In doing
this, you will heap burning coals on his head. [Proverbs 25:21-22].'
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
cf. Matthew 5:9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called
the sons of God."
Only 292 years of peace have existed in the over four thousands years
of recorded history. 14500 wars have occurred in which 3.6 billion people
have been killed. History is one battle after another. Weapons and weaponry
have evolved from simple and ineffective to complex and extremely deadly
weapons of mass destruction--threatening the existence of life itself
on this planet. Weather weapons are now in the offing.
What are the weapons we Christians have? Put on your weapons, armour
and fight--the battle is raging, Paul says.
Romans 13:1-7. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established. The
authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he
who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold
no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you
want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right
and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But
if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.
He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because
of possible punishment but also for conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants,
who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him:
If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then
respect; if honor, then honor."
Verses 1-7: How we should deal with this world's governments and societies?
Paul says "Be subject to the authorities of the world's governments because
they are divinely ordained by God. Do you pray for Bill Clinton? Did
Paul pray for the Caesar--perhaps even for the Caesar that signed his
death warrant? It is a safe bet to say he did. Nebuchadnezzar
came to understand who it was who is ultimately in control and authority.
It is God. The leaders ultimately answer or will have to answer to God.
Read Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar was a world dictator. Get the big picture.
Habakkuk had to.
Habakkuk 1:2-4. "'How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do
not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save? Why do
you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is
strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice
never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted." [If
you really know about the Clinton Whitehouse, the President would fit
right into Habakkuk's complaint prayer to God.] What was God's response
to Habakkuk? God said, 'Look at the big picture, Habakkuk. You're missing
the point. Habakkuk 1:5-11. "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly
amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not
believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that
ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize
dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses
are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry
gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture
swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance
like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings
and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen
ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on--guilty
men, whose own strength is their god."
Habakkuk was written as a dialogue or conversation between God and the
prophet. Habakkuk saw that the leaders in Judah were oppressing the poor,
so he asked the question as to why God allowed those wicked people to
prosper. When God told him that the Babylonians would come to punish
Judah, Habakkuk became more concerned. He did not understand how God
could use the Babylonians, who were actually more wicked than the wicked
Jews, to bring judgment on God's chosen people. God's answer was that
the just would live by faith in God, Habakkuk 2:4, and that they had
assurance that God was doing what was right. God told Habakkuk that in
due time the Babylonians too would be judged and that justice would come
about for the people of God.
Don't forget, Romans 13:1-7 comes right after Romans 12:19-21, which
is a part of this very theme. God is in charge. That is what God told
Habakkuk and Nebuchadnezzar. Romans 12:19-21 states, "Do not take revenge,
my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is
mine to avenge; I will repay [Deut. 32:35],' says the Lord. On the contrary:
'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something
to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. [Prov.
25:21-22].' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
God says throughout his Word that he will take care of the wrongdoers,
whether people or government leaders and whole governments and nations--just
worship God--pray for the evildoers--and live by faith--God is in control.
This is one of the key reasons for Bible prophecy, to show just how much
God is actually in control. Our job is to be Christians and show love,
both to the good, the bad and the ugly.
If there is a conflict between man's laws or government and God's, obey
God first. Daniel 3:1-30 is an example of just how far three of God's
servants were willing to go in obeying God over man's governments, while
still showing proper respect to the king. Jeremiah told the captive Jews
in Babylon to actually pray for the city they lived in--Babylon. Jeremiah
29:7. "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have
carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers,
you too will prosper." The ultimate theme of Romans 12:19 through
Romans 13:1-7 is "Be a Christian and I will take care of the rest of
the world, it's leaders, and it's governments, all in due time--I control
history and where it will end up taking everyone who has ever lived--So
in the mean time, you be a good Christian.
Love is the fulfillment of the law. Our main weapon in our spiritual
combat is love. You are not going to break any of these commandments
(vs. 9-10) if you love others.
Romans 13:8-10. "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing
debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled
the law. The commandments, 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,'
[Exodus 20:13-15,17] and whatever commandment there may be, are summed
up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself' [Deut. 5:17-19,21].
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment
of the law."
In the next verses Paul is in essence saying, 'Christian awake! There
is a battle raging all around you! This is our call to battle. Put on
the Armour of Light. The night he is referring to is this sinful
age we live in [i.e. from Adam to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ]. Romans
13:11-14. "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has
come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer
now than when we first believed [Paul, and many of the apostles, sincerely
believed that the Lord's 2nd coming would be in their lifetimes; but
this could be true for some of us living today! -You all should be aware
of the prophecy in II Thessalonians 2:3-4 which states, "Let no man deceive
you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling
away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who
opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is
worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself
that he is god
" And Daniel 9:27. "And he shall confirm the covenant
with many for one week: in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice
and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations
he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined
shall be poured upon the desolate." Read Matthew 24;15. Daniel 12:11. "And
from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination
that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and
ninety days." What all this is saying is that the temple service and
evening and morning sacrifices in the temple will yet be set up again
by the Jews. Then "the man of perdition, the abomination of desolation," will
cause the sacrifices to cease. As Matthew 24:15 stays, when you see this
happen, if you are in Jerusalem--flee for your life!!! World War III,
the Biblical tribulation has started! "When ye shall see the abomination
of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place,
(whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea
flee into the mountains
" (Matthew 24:15-16.) We see that when this
event occurs--the tribulation, World War III--is triggered. From there
Jesus Christ's 2nd coming is just three and a half short years
away! Look at what's going on in the Middle East right now. The Jews
are being set up for a major conflict over Jerusalem. The Jews are very
close to setting up a Levitical Order to resume the "evening and morning
sacrifices." If you are genuinely interested in what is taking place
in the Middle East and North Africa right now, send for Chuck Missler's
cassette series titled "Sword of Islam" c/o Koinonia House, P.O. Box
D, Coeur d'Alene ID 83816-0347. Or call 1-800-KHOUSE-1, or online at http://thesource.khouse.org This cassette series is
an up to date well researched study of current events in the Middle East
from a Biblical perspective. Now back to Paul and Romans 13.] The night
is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds
of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as
in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality
and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves
with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the
desires of the sinful nature [margin: 'or the flesh.']."
I John 2:10-11. "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there
is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother
is in the darkness, and walks around in the darkness; he does not know
where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him."
Ephesians 6:10-19. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty
power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and
blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers
of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
realms [i.e. the demonic world of Satan]. Therefore put on the full armour
of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm
then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate
of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness
that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this take up
the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows
of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God [i.e. the Bible]. And pray in the Spirit on
all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind,
be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for
me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will
fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador
in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."