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Sermon: Introduction to Romans 12:9-21
The Apostle Paul
You’ve no doubt heard of the company policy “Members Only.” Can anyone remember which company originated it? That’s right. It was Sam’s Club where only members received privileges; no non-member could benefit from special store deals.
Launching from that idea, I have entitled this morning’s message: “For the Dedicated Only.” The Apostle Paul originally addressed consecrated Christians in Rome who, as members of the body of Christ, were not only privileged but also responsible to do what only they could do through the enablement of the Spirit of God.
Text: Romans 12:9-21 (NASB)—You all should be able to follow along well enough if you have a different translation.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the LORD.”
But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink, for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We’ve just read a great many exhortations from the pen of the Apostle Paul. He gave these instructions so that dedicated believers would consider them in the light of what he’d just written in the first eleven chapters of this epistle. In those chapters, of course, he dealt in large part with the doctrine of salvation.
When Paul began the twelfth chapter, he focused on the Romans’ need to commit themselves to serve Christ based on their personal salvation: Verses 1-2 read: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Verses three through eight of this chapter emphasize the Roman believer’s need to use spiritual gifts to their fullest. Now, in the passage we will examine today—verses 9-12--, Paul zeroes in on exhorting believers to live as they ought to live as redeemed, dedicated, and gifted saints of God.
For argument’s sake, let’s just say that all of us here today have dedicated ourselves to Christ. As we look at the duties listed in this passage, we immediately realize that we can’t accomplish them in our own strength; we must depend upon the indwelling Spirit of God to live His life through us.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” On the one hand, we may be able to say, “By God’s grace, I’m making some progress in becoming more like the Lord; admittedly, the headway has been slow, but spiritually I am not the same person I was last year, five years ago, or ten years ago.” On the other hand, we can more easily confess that we still fall far short of where we should be. Now then, as we consider the Lord’s command for us to walk as He walked, let’s begin our study.
The main idea of this morning’s message is “Dedicated Christians Must Show Love, Work Hard, and Persevere with Joy.”
One of the principles dedicated disciples must learn to practice is showing love. We should all know from Scripture, however, that the love we need to show is not our weak, human love, but the love of Jesus. That statement, of course, begs the questions: “What does the love of Jesus look like?” “How did Jesus love people?” “What qualities characterize His love?”
Bottom line: Jesus’ love, agape love, is that quality in God that moves Him to give Himself and His gifts eternally, righteously, and freely toward the good of personal beings regardless of their merit or response. Jesus loved by doing for people what He infallibly knew was best for them. And He always operated according to what He knew was God’s definition of what is best.
Christ’s commitment to His men ran the gamut; it extended from meeting their very mundane need to have clean feet to satisfying their eternal need for forgiveness of sins. Jesus accomplished the former task by humbling Himself and taking upon Himself the role of a lowly servant (John 13). He met the latter need by voluntarily sacrificing His life on Calvary’s cross. John 15:13 reads: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
Now then, having laid the groundwork a little, let’s take a look at this morning’s text.
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