IN CHAPTERS 12 – 15:13, PAUL DEALS WITH CERTAIN ASPECTS OF A CHRISTIAN’S WALK
A. CHRISTIANS AS LIVING SACRIFICES (12:1-8)
In view of the fact that Christ had offered his life as a living sacrifice to buy for his people this glorious salvation, Paul urges Christians in turn, to sacrifice their lives to him as living sacrifices. This, they would agree, is a very reasonable request. Their holy living is that which will please Him. As in times gone by the offering of an animal on the altar was seen as a form of worship to God, so such offering of themselves is considered to be a spiritual form of worship to God.
To understand what pleases Him, their whole way of thinking about life has to be renewed. The previous thinking was that of the flesh which is basically self-centered but now the Spirit will lead them into a new approach to life which is God centered. Since God’s written Word does not deal with every word, thought or action that might occur in a Christian’s life, he will have to depend on his Spirit renewed mind to guide Him as to what is wrong and what is right in the eyes of God. The goal is to develop this new mindset to the point of perfection.
In so doing, it is important to have a sober and realistic evaluation of your own worth and not to think more of yourself than what you are capable of contributing to life and society around you. In working together with other Christians, one has to keep in mind that God has conferred gifts upon all of them and that some may be more gifted in certain areas than what you are. The Church is like a human body that has many different members (organs) such as eyes, ears, nose, hands, fingers, legs etc, each of which was created by God to perform a specific function by which the whole body will benefit.
Some of these spiritual gifts are listed, namely:
• Prophesying which is speaking forth of God’s words and is to be uttered in proportion to the faith of the person that flows in it.
• Serving: let the person that operates in this gift, give himself humbly to practical serving as Christ did, faithfully and loyally, keeping in mind that the Lord said that there is more blessing in serving others than to be served.
• Teaching: let the teacher study the Word diligently so that he will have a clear insight into its mysteries and be able to refute wrong doctrine.
• Giving or showing mercy; there are those that have been mightily blessed by God in terms of material possessions and income and they should not hoard up these gifts but keep for themselves only that which they really need and bless others with the overflow.
• Encouraging: the one who encourages others must, on the one hand, have a deep understanding of and sympathy with the weakness of man and on the other hand, a clear vision of the greatness of God and he himself must be an example of walking in victory and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances.
• Leadership: the leader must not lord it over others or enrich himself by his privileged status, but humbly lead others in a way that they will benefit most.
B. SOME CHRISTIAN VIRTUES THAT NEED TO BE DEVELOPED (12:9-21)
• Love that must be sincere.
• Evil must be hated.
• Cling tightly to what is good and never let it go.
• Honour others above yourself.
• Never lack in zeal for doing God’s work and for worshipping Him; do not be luke-warm!
• Be joyful because of the hope that He sets before you.
• Be patient when you are afflicted.
• Be faithful in prayer.
• Share your goodies with those that are in need and especially open your home to those that are cast out on the streets.
• Bless those that persecute you and do not curse them.
• Rejoice heartily with those that are being specially blessed and do not envy him.
• Morn with those who mourn; do not evade them or make small of their grief.
• Live in harmony with everybody (especially with your neighbours).
• Do not be proud and associate only with the high-ranking but also be friends and associate with those of low position that are shunned in society.
• Do not be conceited or over estimate yourself or be wise in your own eyes.
• Do not revenge yourself by repaying evil for evil.
• It is God’s privilege and duty to revenge wrong deeds, so step aside and make room for Him to do what is His.
• Act in the opposite spirit towards your enemy by giving him food when he is hungry and water when he thirsts; in doing so you will put him to shame.
• In short, overcome all evil by doing good.
C. SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITIES (13:1-7)
• The principle of ordering life by the institution of different levels of authority to govern the different aspects of life, is of God.
• Therefore, he who opposes the authorities in the execution of their duties, opposes God and will bring judgement upon himself.
• Normally those in authority have a good attitude and do good towards those entrusted to them to govern and are not to be feared by law-abiding citizens.
• The wrongdoer however, has good cause to fear the policeman for he is God’s servant and it is God who has issued him with a gun and ammunition to execute His wrath of the rebellious ones.
• Submission to authorities must, in the first place be for the sake of having a clear conscience and not just because of fear to be punished.
• Think soberly about this matter: is this not the reason why you pay taxes, is it not in order that people may be hired to keep law and order in your society so that you may live in peace?
• So then pay your taxes and honour those that are to be honoured.
D. “LOVE” IS ALL OF GOD’S LAWS WRAPPED UP IN ONE WORD (13:8-10)
The whole of God’s law can be summed up in one word namely: “Love,” and by loving our fellow men, we will be keeping the entire law of God; not doing anything bad to anyone else nor being slack in doing to them all the good we should. Love is like an outstanding debt we have towards those around us and we will keep on repaying that debt for the rest of our lives.
E. THE END TIMES WE LIVE IN REQUIRE THAT WE PUT OUR FULL EFFORT INTO HOLY LIVING (13:11-14)
In fulfilling the law of love, we need to wake up from our slumber and understand the urgency of the matter for we are living at the time when our final salvation from this world is nearer than ever before. The dark night that is come upon this world because of the fall of man is almost at an end and the break of the new day of full salvation, filled with the light of God’s holiness, is at hand.
Let us therefore behave decently as we would in full daylight and not indulge in deeds that need a covering of darkness such as drunkenness, sexual immorality, dissension and jealousy. Let us rather clothe ourselves with the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ and not gratify our sinful natures.
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