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I Am Not Ashamed: Pay Your Debt

I Am Not Ashamed  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In this passage the apostle is dealing with the Christian in society.

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Theme: In this passage the apostle is dealing with the Christian in society.
Theme: In this passage the apostle is dealing with the Christian in society.
Date: 05/14/17 File name: Romans_2016_40.wpd ID Number:
Date: 05/14/17 File name: Romans_2016_40.wpd ID Number:
In the early 1970s there was a best-selling book by B.F. Skinner, a world-renowned psychologist and human behaviorist. The book was entitled Beyond Freedom and Dignity. His premise was that we are molded — our attitudes, our thinking, our behavior — they’re all molded by forces beyond our control — the genetics of our birth, combined with the environmental influences in which we live. He called his approach to the study of human behavior radical behaviorism. Skinner believed we are what we are, and we cannot change.
In the early 1970s there was a best-selling book by B.F. Skinner, a world-renowned psychologist and human behaviorist. The book was entitled Beyond Freedom and Dignity. His premise was that we are molded — our attitudes, our thinking, our behavior — they’re all molded by forces beyond our control — the genetics of our birth, combined with the environmental influences in which we live. He called his approach to the study of human behavior radical behaviorism. Skinner believed we are what we are, and we cannot change.
As Christians we believe otherwise ... very strongly. Our will is involved. And God’s invitation is involved. He offers the Person and the power for change. In Christ God really does change us and we become a new creation.
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (, NIV84)
God cloths us in the righteousness of His Son and then tells us, “Now, conduct yourself in a manner that fits the clothes.”
God, through Christ, honoring our faith, has given us an undeserved title — “Righteous one.” Now, how shall we live in this new clothing, in this new, changed life? In chapters twelve through fourteen of the book of Romans Paul talks about living in these new clothes. In chapter 12 we saw the Christian's obligation to fellow Christians. In the first half of chapter 13 we see the Christian's obligation to the ruling authorities. Now, in the last half of chapter 13, we see the Christian's obligation to all men. Paul's premise is laid out in verse eight: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law." (, NIV84). This passage has three parts to it ...
The Gospel Calls Us to Live Selflessly
• The Gospel Calls Us to Live Urgently
The Gospel Calls Us to Live Urgently
• The Gospel Calls Us to Live Differently
The Gospel Calls Us to Live Differently

I. THE GOSPEL CALLS US TO LIVE SELFLESSLY (vs. 8-10)

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (, ESV)

A. OWE NO MAN ANYTHING

1. Christians are not to be debtors
a. this is a reminder to us that our financial integrity is a matter of material interest to the gospel
the gospel
2. those who name the name of Christ, and have a reputation for the failure of repaying debt will bring disrepute upon the gospel
debt will bring disrepute upon the gospel
ILLUS. 40 years ago Linda and I were in college at SWBC in Bolivar Missouri. We were living in a one bedroom apartment owned by the college. In the utility room there was just enough room for a washer, and so we went to the local appliance store on the square to see about purchasing one. Yes they had washers, but the first question that we were asked was: "Are you students at Southwest Baptist College?" We said yes. The second question he asked was to me: "Are you a ministerial major?" I said yes, and with that we were informed that we would have to pay cash for the washer. That was fine, we intended to do so. We found out that, over the years, so many ministerial students at the college had not paid their debts that the store would no longer sell furniture or appliances to ministerial students on time.
a. it was a horrible witness — nothing will ruin a Christian‘s testimony faster than chronic indebtedness
chronic indebtedness
b. it’s hard to be a good steward of the Gospel when you’re a bad steward of your wealth
wealth
3. there is one debt, however, that is to remain unsettled

B. OWE ALL MEN LOVE

B. OWE ALL MEN LOVE
1. according the apostle the most important thing that Christians owe the world is love, and we should not let anything else come in the way of that
and we should not let anything else come in the way of that
a. and so, Christians need to pay their bills
b. but unlike your mortgage, or taxes, or car loan, your debt of love is never paid off
1) you owe the same amount tomorrow regardless of how many “payments” you make to your various “creditors”
make to your various “creditors”
2. but the apostle is implying more ... Paul is also saying let every debt you pay — every check written to the IRS, every mortgage payment, every returned book, every act of duty to any one or any authority — let all of them be acts of love
check written to the IRS, every mortgage payment, every returned book, every act of duty to any one or any authority — let all of them be acts of love
a. don’t put love in a category different from all the other acts of your life
“Let all that you do be done in love.” (, ESV)
3. it’s a debt we owe because of the grace wherein we stand because of Christ’s redemptive love
redemptive love
a. the passage begs the question: “How did we acquire this debt of love? How did my love to you become an obligation?”
love to you become an obligation?”
1) we see a debt as something we owe another because someone has given us something, or loaned us something
something, or loaned us something
ILLUS. You invite me out for lunch, at some point I invite you out to lunch. While we might not express it verbally, there is an innate sense in most of us that I need to pay off your kindness, by reciprocating with a luncheon invitation. It’s not a legal debt or a contractual debt, but we perceive it as a debt all the same. Obviously, if you borrow money from a bank or another person, there is usually a contract involved that spells out the terms of the loan, the amount of interest you’re paying for the privilege of borrowing the money, how you are to pay it back and how long you have to pay it back.
might not express it verbally, there is an innate sense in most of us that I need to pay off your kindness, by reciprocating with a luncheon invitation. It’s not a legal debt or a contractual debt, but we perceive it as a debt all the same.
Obviously, if you borrow money from a bank or another person, there is usually a contract involved that spells out the terms of the loan, the amount of interest you’re paying for the privilege of borrowing the money, how you are to pay it back and how long you have to pay it back.
a) these are examples of legal and social debts we understand
2) but the Apostle says that I owe my neighbors around me the dept of love even if they’ve done nothing for me, nor given me anything
they’ve done nothing for me, nor given me anything
a) how can this be?
b) is it fair?
c) why am I a debtor, to complete strangers when they’ve given me absolutely nothing?
nothing?
b. the answer is found back in
ILLUS There Paul describes his debt to the world. He uses the same related debt language. “I am under obligation (literally: “I am a debtor” both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.” How did he get in this debt? Not because the world gave him anything. In fact the world continually hurts Paul, and he still keeps on paying his debt of love. How did he get in debt? shows how he got into this debt. “Through whom (i.e., Jesus Christ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” Paul had received something, but not from the Greeks and barbarians. He had received grace — free grace! — and apostleship from Jesus.
shows how he got into this debt. “Through whom (i.e., Jesus Christ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” Paul had received something, but not from the Greeks and barbarians. He had received grace — free grace! — and apostleship from Jesus.
1) how is the apostle “paying off” his debt?
“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” (, ESV)
2) Paul “pays off” his debt to the world by preaching the gospel of Christ — the good news that Christ died for sinners and that God’s righteousness is a free gift for all who trust Christ
good news that Christ died for sinners and that God’s righteousness is a free gift for all who trust Christ
c. that’s Paul’s payment of love to “Greeks and barbarians”
1) and it is one of the ways we pay off our debt of love — by telling others of Jesus
4. the debt of love that we have to unbelievers and believers alike is not because they have done anything for us
have done anything for us
a. the debt is because Christ has done everything for us when we did not deserve it any more than the world deserves our love
any more than the world deserves our love
b. when Christ loves us freely, when he gives his life for us, when he takes away all our sin and guilt and condemnation, and guarantees for us everlasting joy in him — and all of this when we were his enemies — we become debtors to all men
our sin and guilt and condemnation, and guarantees for us everlasting joy in him — and all of this when we were his enemies — we become debtors to all men
5. this debt of love is to the family of God — the one another’s of vs. 8 — as well as our fellowman and neighbor
fellowman and neighbor
a. if you know your Bible, hopefully your mind immediately goes to the story of the Good Samaritan in chapter 10 of Luke's Gospel
Good Samaritan in chapter 10 of Luke's Gospel
ILLUS. Jesus tells the story in the context of a question he's been asked. We’re told that an "expert in the law" asked Jesus a question, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" It's a good question, and more people ought to ask it. Jesus responds with the question of his own, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" The expert in the law then gives a good answer, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all your soul and with all of your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus responds by saying "Good answer." But, the expert in the law could not leave well enough alone. He then asks the question, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesus responds with the question of his own, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"
The expert in the law then gives a good answer, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all your soul and with all of your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus responds by saying "Good answer."
But, the expert in the law could not leave well enough alone. He then asks the question, "And who is my neighbor?"
b. that's when Jesus launches into the story of the good Samaritan, where we discover that our neighbor is anyone we can act neighborly toward
that our neighbor is anyone we can act neighborly toward
c. there are some scholars who believe that this "debt of love" that we owe is only owed to the community of Christ — fellow believers
owed to the community of Christ — fellow believers
1) that lets us off the hook too easily
2) it's easy to love people who are like you, and who mostly see the world in the same way you do
same way you do
3) it's easy to love people who don't push you out of your comfort zone
4) it's easy to love people who love you back
d. this is not self sacrificial love
1) this begs the question for the Christian community: do we look for "loopholes" when it comes to loving those in the culture who are different — sometimes radically so — from us?
when it comes to loving those in the culture who are different — sometimes radically so — from us?
6. so, when Paul tells us to "love your neighbor as yourself," and "love does no harm to a neighbor," (vs. 9) he is essentially saying that Christians must treat all people they come in contact with in this way
neighbor," (vs. 9) he is essentially saying that Christians must treat all people they come in contact with in this way
a. this love of neighbor becomes the animating force in the Christian's cultural engagement
engagement
b. we show our love for God by showing our love for neighbor
1) we do not love persons simply for who they are
2) we love them because they are made in the image of God
c. how do we show our love for our neighbor? (here Paul gets practical)
1) by not fooling around with their spouse ...
2) by not killing them ...
3) by not stealing their stuff ...
4) by not coveting what they’ve got ...
5) and by applying any other Biblical command or principle that applies!
d. our calling is to show the glory of God, and the calling of the Gospel through love of neighbor
neighbor
7. The Gospel Calls Us to Live Selflessly

II. THE GOSPEL CALLS US TO LIVE URGENTLY (vs. 11-12)

“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. 12 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.” (, NIV84)
1. we live selflessly for the gospel because our Lord's return is nearer now than it has ever been, and every day brings it a little closer
ever been, and every day brings it a little closer
2. Christians cannot live carelessly
a. we need to be astute observers of the culture
b. this is what the apostle means by understanding the present time
ILLUS. I never cease to be amazed at how many of our citizens are clueless about national events, but can name every contestant on Dancing with the Stars and were they are in the standings.
national events, but can name every contestant on Dancing with the Stars and were they are in the standings.
1) too many Christians are living carelessly, and thus don’t understand our present time, and the gospel implications of political and social events
time, and the gospel implications of political and social events
2) I’m not saying you have to be news-junkie, but neither can the confessing Christian afford to ignore what is happening in the culture around them
Christian afford to ignore what is happening in the culture around them
c. Paul calls us to snap out of our spiritual slumber
ILLUS. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeem Presbyterian Church in New York, writes: "Karl Marx and others have charged that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” That is, it is a sedative that makes people passive ... Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.”
Marx and others have charged that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” That is, it is a sedative that makes people passive ... Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.”
3. The Gospel Calls Us to Live Urgently

III. THE GOSPEL CALLS US TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY (vs. 13-14)

“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (, NIV84)
1. living selflessly for the gospel means living differently than the culture
a. the Apostle writes that Christians are to behave decently so that, when someone flips the lights on we’ll not be embarrassed at what the daytime reveals
flips the lights on we’ll not be embarrassed at what the daytime reveals
b. all of the vices Paul mentions in these two verses flow out of the deep love of self — indeed a narcissistic love of self
indeed a narcissistic love of self
2. in vs. 14 the Apostle uses the illustration of putting on a set of freshly-wash garments
a. we are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ
1) he’s talking about Christ’s righteousness becoming our righteousness and fleshing it out in the broader society
fleshing it out in the broader society
ILLUS. If you've ever watched one of the pre-Oscar, or pre-Grammy, or pre-Emmy shows you’ll see all the Hollywood news casters in their tuxedos interviewing the stars as they arrive. One of the main questions that the women especially get asked is "Who are you wearing?" That is, they want to know who designed their dress — whose label are they wearing? There is an entire industry in Hollywood built around helping female celebrities find the perfect dress, shoes, and accessories for the big party or the awards ceremony. Why is there so much attention put into that question, "Who are you wearing?" It's because of the pictures that last long after the event. If you nail it you go down in runway immortality, but if you don't your fashion faux pas becomes fodder for all the social media outlets “worst-dressed” lists.
shows you’ll see all the Hollywood news casters in their tuxedos interviewing the stars as they arrive.
One of the main questions that the women especially get asked is "Who are you wearing?" That is, they want to know who designed their dress — whose label are they wearing? There is an entire industry in Hollywood built around helping female celebrities find the perfect dress, shoes, and accessories for the big party or the awards ceremony. Why is there so much attention put into that question, "Who are you wearing?" It's because of the pictures that last long after the event. If you nail it you go down in runway immortality, but if you don't your fashion faux pas becomes fodder for all the social media outlets “worst-dressed” lists.
3. the Bible talks a lot about our clothing
a. here the apostle reminds us that we are to clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ, and not gratify the old nature — i.e. the flesh.
Christ, and not gratify the old nature — i.e. the flesh.
ILLUS. The world ought to look at the Christian and say, “Wow, that outfit is stunning! Who are you wearing?” To which we can answer, “The label is Jesus of Nazereth.”
Who are you wearing?” To which we can answer, “The label is Jesus of Nazereth.”
Application
Jesus paid our sin debt which we can never repay, and now calls us to be in debt to a culture that needs the gospel. We are to extend the love of God to others that he extended to us even when it is hard or makes us uncomfortable. We are to seek the welfare of the culture by seeking to love the people in it for the glory of God. ILLUS. Origen (3rd century church father in Alexandria): "The debt of charity is permanent, and we are never quit of it; for we must pay it daily and yet always owe it." The debt of love that we owe to others is paid as the spill over of our love for God. The essence of love is to seek our neighbors highest good. If we do that we are fulfilling the law. Radical, self-sacrificing Christian love has always been a powerful weapon in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
In the newsletter of Prison Fellowship Ministry, Albert H. Quie, one-time President of the ministry, tells the story of Ruth Youngsman, and a prisoner named John H.
John H. had murdered Ruth Youngsman’s brother during a robbery. He served 18 years in the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, then settled into life on a dairy farm. It was there that Ruth Younsman went to find the man who had killed her brother 20 years after his crime. Compelled by Christ's command to forgive, Ruth Youngsman had sought out John to offer him her forgiveness. She later took John to her father's deathbed, where he also offered forgiveness. Not only did she and her father forgive the man, but they became his friend.
At a Prison Fellowship Ministry dinner, John H. told his story, and concluded saying, "Christians are the only people I know that you can kill their son, and they'll make you a part of their family. I don't know the Man Upstairs, but He sure is hounding me."
Isn’t that what God did for us? The God of the Bible is the only God that I know where you and I can kill his son because of our sins and he’ll make us a part of his family.
God may never ask you to owe the debt of love to someone like John H., but then again, He might. The Apostle calls the Christians at Rome to “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love ... “ Who in your life do you need to start making payments to?
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