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Romans 12:9-21

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Verse by verse study through Romans 12

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SLIDE 3
Romans 12:9 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Romans 12:9–10 ESV
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:9-
SLIDE 4
Romans 12:9
Romans 12:17 ESV
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
SLIDE 5
Romans 12.
Romans 12:21 ESV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12.
pray
INTRO.
There is a lot being said in these 13 verses… and we will do our best to consider them all… but the section has two bookend passages… and one in the middle, that are essentially repeating the same idea.
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And basically… the idea in these three verses is this:
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SLIDE 6
Reject Evil.
Do Good.
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When we study our Bibles, there are a lot of things we need to look out for so we can make sure we are doing our best to interpret a passage as correctly as possible. One of the things we keep an eye out for, is repetition.
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This passage undoubtedly, displays some repetition… and as a side note, I encourage you to plan on being part of the midweek study starting in October… for our very first topic of study will be: THINKING LIKE A STUDENT OF THE BIBLE. And in that study, which may last more than one week… we will be discussing the principles that guide us, so that we are able to interpret the scriptures well.
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One of those principles… repetition… is prevalent here… Which means… we are intended to identify this idea as a major theme. Paul didn’t need to say the same thing more than once. It doesn’t make it any more true than the principles he only stated one time… However, there is a reason this continues to come into view.
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In this passage… we can consider two possibilities.
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ONE: Maybe, this is written 3 times in the midst of 13 verses, for no other reason than to state an emphatic reminder...
TWO: Maybe this message… “Reject Evil, Do Good”… is the major point, and all the other verses are examples of what it means to ‘reject evil, and do good’.
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personally, I think both of these possibilities are important factors to consider… which means… as I look at each point here in these 13 verses… I need to consider them in the context of ‘rejecting evil and doing good’…
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Also… this needs to stand as a constant reminder to me… for I am naturally inclined to respond to evil… with evil… that is: to give back, as it was given to me. This is how we are wired. This is a natural order of justice… which means… if we are not being fully aware of the Biblical standard, we will automatically be inclined at times, to chose evil over good..
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Therefore… we need, not only a reminder… but an emphatic reminder.
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I know this action feels right. I know this action seems just. I know this action promises to satisfy you… to balance things out… to bring vengeance… - BUT IT’S NOT GOOD… IT’S EVIL.
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This is why Israel was constantly told to “NOT FORGET” how they were delivered from Egypt. They were even given a yearly meal, to prepare and consume in a specific way… to emphatically remind them… of how the angel of death ‘passed over’ their homes, and visited punishment only upon the Egyptians.
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Over and over again… - “DO NOT FORGET HOW GOD DELIVERED YOU FROM EGYPT” - Why so much repetition??? … because, after time, the miracles of the past have a way of losing their impact upon us. We set our focus in the now. We begin to think differently about God… about who He is and what He has done… - Not based on His faithfulness over the ages… but rather, based solely upon our emotional state in the present.
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The Bible is fully aware of our natural inclinations..
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Therefore, the Bible is gracious, to give us a little repetition… to give us those emphatic reminders.
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Which is why… when we are regularly in the Word… we are regularly being reminded… and it helps to keep us thinking rightly about God… and on the flip side of that coin… we easily see, how those who are rarely, if ever, in the Word… are not being reminded… and how, very quickly, their thinking about God begins to change.
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When our thinking about God changes… usually, the approach to the Bible is quite different… instead of letting it teach us and guide us… we go to it, merely to affirm our current state of thinking… We take words out of context, we string together unrelated teachings, we fabricate a conclusion… and we walk away feeling supported in our wrong belief..
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May it not be so for us…
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So, let’s jump into this passage… as those who are embracing this emphatic reminder… and, as those who are doing our best to think rightly about God…
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The passage begins with a call to genuine love.
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SLIDE 7
Let love be genuine. ()
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This statement helps to transition the previous topic… to the current. - You remember how, in last week’s study, we are called to walk in our different gifts… according to the grace that is given to us… and in proportion to our faith… and the genuine marker the we are practicing these gifts as we should… is humility.. - That principle was laid out in verse 3...
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As is the case with Paul… when he talks about the Holy Spirit working in and through us… Love is given as a strong qualifier. That is the entire point of ....
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and when Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in … He tells us, the THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE… In the English, it looks like the fruit of the Spirit is a list of things.... love, joy, peace, patience and so on… But in the original grammar, the FRUIT is one thing… - LOVE… and those other things are the attributes of love.
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Love ties this together… For as the gifts listed in the previous verses are practiced in proportion to faith… they will not only exhibit humility… but they will also demonstrate love…
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And then… as we look at the verses to follow… many of these things would be confounding and impossible to do, if it were not for the reality of a genuine practice… of sincere, spiritual love.
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SLIDE 8
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. ()
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Now, right off the bad, we see that genuine love does not mean an absence of hate. This word… ‘to abhor’ literally means… to hate… hate what is evil. It’s a strong word… with a strong emphasis… To consider something repugnant… to despise it… to hate it violently.
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This doesn’t mean… to hate people who do evil things… this doesn’t mean, that we should hate people groups who do evil things. This doesn’t mean, that we can label any idea that we disagree with as being evil, and then hate those who hold to such beliefs.
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It’s easy, to draw a line… pick your side, embrace your belief system, and then hate everyone who is on the other side of that line. In fact, this practice is more rampant now in American than it’s ever been in my life time.
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evil… is not a person. It is not a race, a nationality… it is not, any people group. Evil is that thing that fills the void in the absence of good.
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A Christian Philosopher named J.P. Moreland says, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled.”
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Apologist Greg Koukl says… “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world., and that lack of goodness, is what we call evil.”
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Evil isn’t what or who the person is… it is instead, sometimes… the thing that the person does. Simply stated, - Evil is something that causes harm to others.
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Where as… love seeks the best… love builds up… love edifies… - Evil is selfish… it tears down… it brings loss… it causes pain.
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And unfortunately… evil is something that can easily be taken a hold of… and practiced… by any one of us if we are not cautious. Hateful and calloused words… unfounded accusations… slander… deceit… - Those words that slip out… words that lack love and grace… words that are sharp, harsh, and damaging.
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When we think about hating evil… we automatically look elsewhere. But I think the greatest challenge, is to hate the evil that may potentially pop up from within ourselves.
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Jesus explained this in ..
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SLIDE 9
Mark 7:20–23 ESV
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20
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If you’re looking for the evil to hate… you don’t have to turn on CNN or Fox News… Simply look within… -And if by chance… anything from this list is revealing itself within us… and we are not hating it… THEN WE ARE IN A DIRE… SPIRITUAL SITUATION.
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God wants you know what it’s like to be a believer who is shaped by grace… that’s what Paul spoke about in vss 1-2. God wants you to walk in the gifts he’s given you… not in pride, but in humility… because of the grace which has been revealed to you. That’s what Paul spoke about in verses 3-8..
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Now, as you grow in your faith… God wants you, the transformed person, with the renewed mind… and the genuine love… to see the fruit… the reality… the change within...
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So that… when pride raises it’s head… when foolishness wants to speak… when sexual immorality is a temptation… instead of embracing it… instead of being resigned to it… instead of being apathetic and willing...
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We would see God’s transformational work in our hearts… because we are beginning to develop a disgust… a hatred… for the evil that wants to sprout up from within.
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I love this next part… HOLD FAST TO WHAT IS GOOD.
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This word for ‘hold fast’ is a carpentry term. If they were to glue two pieces together… they were making those two pieces, ‘hold fast’. If they cut out a mortise and join it to another board… making the two as one… they would say that the two pieces were ‘holding fast’.
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It means to… ‘join to’ and ‘become part of’.
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The scriptures are calling us… to join to, and become part of… that which is good.
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We now get some examples of this.
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SLIDE 10
Romans 12:10 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10–11 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 9:10 ESV
And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
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Rom. 9:
Since Paul is writing to a church, and he is using the term ‘one another’… and because this word ‘brotherly affection’ is a family term… we see here, that this is something that should be happening within Christian fellowship.
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The interesting thing about family… is that.. you don’t really get to chose who you are related to. - I didn’t chose my brother, and he didn’t chose me. We both happened to be born from the same parents, and thus, we were stuck together. We have had seasons where we didn’t really like each other, and seasons where we did…
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And strangely, after all these years, we still talk regularly, we still have a friendship, we still have a respect for each other… even though we don’t believe the same things or agree with each other on much.
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I didn’t get to pick him…
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It’s the same with the Christian family. You might look around at the people who are in your community of faith… and maybe you think… - these people aren’t very cool. If I could pick my church people… they’d be prettier than these people… they’d all be in my age group… they’d all be people who share my interests… They’d all be people who are wealthy… and they’ll want to buy me lunch.
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And it doesn’t matter how much church shopping you do… and how many consumer friendly high-production churches you go to… - the people around you might be in your age group… and they might be prettier…
And maybe that’s true… but
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But that doesn’t mean that they are going to be easy to get along with.
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In Christian community… we are challenged to love each other… and to show honor to one another.
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This challenge in the second half of ten… if practiced well… would not leave anyone feeling like they have been ignored or overlooked.
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In church, you often have people who are takers and people who are givers… God simply wants everyone… to be givers… He wants everyone, to do their best, at showing honor … another way this is translated… is that we would be ‘eager to show respect for one another’.
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And maybe you’re thinking… ‘this would be easier, if I could pick a bunch of people that are easy to respect’....
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No… you don’t.. you don’t get to pick your family… And this call isn’t about the entitlement of others to receive honor… this call.. is about us, being put in the right place, spiritually… It’s not about the one who might not be deserving of our honor…
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That’s irrelevant… This is about the giver, giving, out of genuine love…
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verse 11 tells us to not be slothful in zeal… - Zeal comes from a word that combines two different ideas… One is ‘haste’ and the other is ‘diligence’. Zeal doesn’t wait… it acts right away… zeal isn’t lazy… it is diligent…
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To sum up verse 11 in laymans terms… it might sound like this: “When serving the Lord, don’t be lazy!”
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SLIDE 11
Romans 12:12–13 ESV
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Rom 12:
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… the second half… tells us… that “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
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Verses 3-4 tells us how we can get to the place where our hope isn’t in the things we wish for… but rather… in the fact that our God will be glorified… and that’s our goal, and that’s what He wants…
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How do we become a person whose hope is in God getting what He wants… rather than us getting what we want?
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We grow up. We let our sufferings produce endurance… we let our endurance produce character… and we let our character produce hope.
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Verse 5 then says… ‘hope does not put us to shame… or, ‘hope does not disappoint’.
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I hope I win the lottery… - That kind of hope… will disappoint.
I hope I get to go fishing this week. - That kind of hope… will disappoint.
I hope our politicians will get along and reason together. -That kind of hope… will disappoint.
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I hope that God will be glorified. - That kind of hope, will never be disappointed… because God is going to be glorified.
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And when I am so changed, by His love being poured out in me… I will cheer Him on… I will rejoice… I will have joy in knowing… that He is seen, exalted, thanked, recognized, and credited for His creation, His love, and His eternal wisdom.
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This passage… from … has been the most significant message in my life personally.
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So when I read the beginning of … I can’t help but to think about the object of my hope. You cannot rejoice in hope, unless God is the object of your hope.
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To hope… is to have a positive expectation of what is to come. The only way I can trust in a thing that is yet to come… is the trust in God.
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And while I trust… while I have hope… I’m able to be patient in tribulation… and motivated in prayer.
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Verse 13 is about practical generosity within the community of faith. If there are needs… work together to help meet those needs. If there is an opportunity to open up your home and show kindness to someone… then go for it…
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SLIDE 12
Romans 12:14–19 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Romans 12:14–17 ESV
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
Rom 12:14
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These verses continue to deal with the way we treat each other… and in many of them… the things we are called to, do not come naturally.
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In , Jesus taught us to love our enemies… and to do good to those who hate us… and to bless those who curse us.. and to pray for those who treat us poor.
When
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Here in … Paul is repeating the teachings of Jesus. - But, the context of Paul’s letter, doesn’t seem to be speaking of the believer who is being persecuted by the unbeliever…
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Paul seems to be speaking about things that happen in church.
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If someone in church, is making your life miserable… if they are on your case… if they are making accusations and are opposing you… - You know what you should do?
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Just quit and go to another church… because obviously, everyone at that other church is going to be perfect.
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Nope… not the case.
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I’ve had several conversations over the years… where someone came to visit, and it came out that they were having a personal conflict with someone from their previous church… so they left.
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And when it has seemed right… I’ve told them, “Hey, you’re welcome to be here… but I strongly encourage you to go and make an attempt at reconciliation… because, for some people, these situations have a way of repeating themselves.”
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God wants His community of believers to have supernatural things happening… things like, forgiveness, humility, compassion, and peace.
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It is a supernatural thing… to bless someone who persecutes you… to show them kindness… to show them compassion… to show them patience… - to not respond to evil with more evil… but to respond in an honorable way.
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It is a supernatural thing..... to rejoice with someone over their benefit, even though you personally have no such thing in your life..
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It is a supernatural thing… to weep with someone who is struggling… even when you personally are not struggling..
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It is DEFINITELY… a supernatural thing… to determine, commit to, and practice… a life of harmony with other believers...
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It is a supernatural thing, for many people… who think that they are smarter than everyone else… to walk in humility..
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i love vs. 18… He calls us to live peaceably… if possible, so far as it depends on us.
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The challenge here… is that yes, in many cases… peace can be attained in situations where we have chosen to give up…
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But… it’s not always possible. We might do all that we can do… but if the other party is not willing… then there’s not much we can do.
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It takes two sides… to make peace.
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SLIDE 13
Romans 12:20–21 ESV
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Rom 12:20
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Here is the hope.... that in the end… our actions will produce something positive.
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This passage could mean a couple things… it could mean, by doing good to our enemy… our actions will somehow bring punishment and destruction down upon them..
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Or, this could refer to the cultural practice where… when it was cold out, they would place coals in their turbans to keep their heads warm.
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To be honest… commentators go both ways… and I’m not really satisfied with what they offer… but I do know this… It would be inconsistent to the context of this message… to suggest that we should do good for the sake of a bad motive.
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It’s possible… that the burning coals speak of shame, which might lead to conviction…
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But it’s not certain…
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This section ends… as it began in verse 9… and was repeated in vs. 17...
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REJECT EVIL… DO GOOD.
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Here’s hope for the Christian… we cannot be overcome by the outward actions of evil against us. We could suffer… we could be killed… but we, as spiritual beings… would never be overcome..
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The only way evil would overcome us… is if we become those who practice evil… -If we become those, who don’t abhor evil, but are comfortable with it… we practice it freely… we enjoy it… we lack conviction concerning it… - then, we could be overcome..
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This last verse, is a call for us… to act appropriately.
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To by walking in evil… but, by walking in goodness.
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In fact, it kind of offers us a formula. Are you struggling with evil? Are you still comfortable doing some of the things on that list that Jesus spoke back in ?
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Wondering how you can have a change of heart?
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It’s pretty simple… - By doing good… you overcome evil.
pray.
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