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
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
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,
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://www.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."