1. Slide 4 – Intro
    1. Having spent 11 chapters laying out the Gospel, Paul now turns to the question of how does the Gospel teach us we are to live in relation to one another and the world around us?
    2. Background Ideas
      1. Gentile church – Jews had been expelled from Rome and some had returned, unity, societal stratification, a potentially persecuted minority in Rome
      2. Slide – Obedience of faith – Rom. 1:5, 16:26
        1. Faith is the obedience we are called to, but obedience to the Gospel issues forth from faith.
        2. There can be no obedience of value without faith, but faith always issues forth in obedience.
        3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the Kingdom of God is not just a message about how to be saved, but it is a comprehensive pattern for a whole new life.
        4. In the Old testament there was the law… in the New Testament there is the Gospel.
  • Living Sacrifices, Renewed mind, serving one another
    1. The sacrificial life is a life of obedience to the Lord
    2. Obedience requires discerning God’s Good will
    3. This is lived out in their relationships, first of all with one another and second with their relationships with the world, including their opponents.
  1. Paranesis is Paul’s literary style – He draws in thoughts from Jesus teaching, Christian ethics, etc. in a way that doesn’t have a specific structure
    1. “Paranesis strings together admonitions of a general ethical content. Paranesis is characterized by eclecticism (borrowing from many sources) and by a lack of concern for sequence of thought and development of a single theme.” (Moo, 790)
    2. There are some connections between the material, but they are more stylistic and less thematic.
  2. General thoughts
    1. Vss. 9-13, 15-16 focus on the church, general theme is love, although this doesn’t explain everything.
    2. Vss. 14, 17-21 focus on love for enemies
  3. Body
    1. Love and Discernment
      1. Slide – Sincere love – love that is without hypocrisy
        1. No verb, almost a heading
        2. Love was the universal mark of Christianity. John 13:34-35

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  1. Shows up time and time again throughout the New Testament to describe the main characteristic that is to mark our relationships with each other.
  2. Faith, hope and love… the greatest of these is love – 1 Cor. 13:13
  3. The love we have needs to be genuine, not a pretense or a show.
  1. Slide – Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good
    1. Abhor means to hate exceedingly.
    2. Hold fast means to join with and is used by Paul to discuss sexual relationships – 1 Cor 6:16

16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

  1. The first manifestation of love is that it can discern between good and evil, it rejects one and unites itself to the other.
  2. “Love wins” does not mean that God (and we) accept all forms of behavior and self-expression as right, wise and good, (or good, pleasing and perfect) and celebrate them. (Rob Bell)
    1. Love does win, but it is God’s love and it is expressed on His terms
  3. Part of walking in love means that we need to practice discernment. (Rom. 12:2) Test and approve His good…will. 1 Cor. 13:6 – It does not rejoice at wrongdoing (unrighteousness) but rejoices with the truth.
  4. Abhorring evil also means abhorring our own (potential) evil responses to the evil done to us.
  5. Paul will return to the concept of good and evil later in this passage and also in the next section on government.
  1. In the church
    1. Slide Love one another with brotherly affection
      1. Brotherly love – this is not just a stoic, self-sacrificing love, but this is a warmth and affection that we recognize in family relationships and close friendship.
      2. Paul is asking us to like one another, enjoy one another’s company and care for each other as we would family members and close friends.
      3. “I love you… but I don’t have to like you…”
      4. In the same way that we care for biological family members we should care for one another; to see each other as true family.
        1. I leap into action at a different level when it is my wife or kids then when it is a friend or acquaintance. Paul is challenging us to come up higher.
        2. The early church in Acts 4

Slide – 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

  1. Slide – Outdo one another in showing honor, could also be lead the way in showing honor
    1. Another manifestation of love is to speak well of each other and treat each other in a way that says, “you are really important”. 1 Cor. 12:24-25
    2. We need to learn to honor everyone, and especially those who don’t naturally get honor.
    3. When we honor some giftings or personalities, but not others, then it creates the impression that some people aren’t important, or that to be important we have to pursue and try to use certain giftings that we may not have. It can unwittingly promote envy.
  • Slide – Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in (The) Spirit, serve the Lord
    1. NIV – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
    2. We bear some responsibility to keep the spiritual fire inside of ourselves burning. There should be an excitement and energy to serve the Lord.
      1. In 2 Timothy 1:6 – Fan into flame the gift of God…
    3. Zeal was used in relation to leadership and serving was one of the gifts listed in the last section.
    4. Fervent in spirit – probably, in light of Romans, means the Holy Spirit.
    5. These verses imply maintaining a spiritual fire inside of ourselves that overflows in a desire to use our gifts to serve one another and to put into practice the love and honor he is describing here.
    6. How do we do this? By engaging in the various ways the Lord has given us individually and corporately to do this. Praise and worship, reading the Bible, prayer, gathering with other believers, etc.
    7. But, also, when we are part of a Christian community where we feel loved and honored, this becomes even more natural.
  1. Slide – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
    1. Hope – the return of Christ, the resurrection from the dead, the new heaven and earth, spending eternity in transparent personal relationship with the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, eternal life in immortal bodies in a world with no sorrow, sin or pain
      1. We should focus on that reality and let it be a source of great joy
    2. Affliction – in the meantime we live in a world with much suffering.
      1. We should endure the suffering while focusing on the glory
      2. Romans 8:18-25 … But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
    3. Slide – Prayer
      1. The best response under affliction while we are waiting for what we hope for, is to pray.
      2. Romans 8:26-27 – We don’t know what to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes…
      3. 6: 18 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 Lord’s people.
    4. How do we endure affliction in the present?
      1. Fix our eyes on what we hope for while praying with the Spirit as He shows us how.
    5. Slide – Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
      1. Generosity to those that have less than us and are in need. One manifestation of genuine love and of family love is to be generous towards one another and help each other out as needed.
      2. Hospitality was an especially important virtue in a day and time when there weren’t many hotels and there were many Christians travelling around in ministry. Paul encourages the Romans to open their homes to these travelling brothers and sisters in the Lord.
      3. The word basically means to love strangers. One way we can practice this is by being welcoming of visitors to our church and having room for new people while maintaining our love for those we already know.
    6. Slide – Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
      1. As we grow in family love and feel increasingly more connected to one another, this will become more and more natural.
      2. The person with the mercy gift probably flows here quite quickly.
      3. Rejoicing and mourning are also imperatives that we are instructed to practice even when we might not naturally feel it.
      4. We will have, and even now have, things to celebrate as well as things to grieve over. This is part of walking in family love.
  • Slide – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
    1. These three phrases all have words with the root word “mind” or “think” recalling that we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
    2. Think the same thing towards one another.
      1. This statement stands at the beginning of three phrases that emphasize humility, recalling Romans 12:3, 5 – “…I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
      2. To think the same towards one another probably means to see each other as equals.
    3. Do not be haughty – Do not be high minded
      1. In Rome, there may have been class distinctions that made it easier for the wealthier class to not associate with the poorer class, or slave owners to not associate with slaves, or Jews not to associate with Gentiles, or vice versa.
      2. Again, the challenge here, is to humility instead of pride… honoring others above yourself, etc.
    4. Again, a call to sober judgment of oneself and to seeing others as equals.
  • Slide – Summary
    1. Living as a Holy Spirit filled community requires genuine, heartfelt, brotherly affection for each other which manifests itself in honoring one another, serving one another enthusiastically with our gifts, practicing generosity towards one another and inviting each other into our homes and lives, identifying with and supporting one another in our joys and sorrows and walking in humility and mutual submission towards one another.
    2. It requires individually and collectively seeking the Lord’s perspective on all the issues of life, family, church and society; growing in discerning good from evil and then rejecting evil and embracing and putting into practice that which is good.
    3. It requires a life of prayer that sustains us in the current trials of life while we focus on our hope for the future – the fulfillment of all the promises of God for those who love Him.
  1. Towards Enemies
    1. Slide – Jesus’ ethic:
      1. Matt 5:44 – But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
      2. Luke 6:27-28 – Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
    2. Slide – Phrases in Romans
      1. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
      2. Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
  • Since we are to abhor evil, we also don’t engage in it
  1. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
  2. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Deut. 32:35) 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.” (Prov. 25:21-22)
  3. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  1. Thoughts
    1. Good vs. evil permeates this passage – not just their behavior, but our responses
    2. We are to abhor evil and cling to good when dealing with our enemies.
  • Our response requires careful thinking (vs. 17, Rom. 12:2)
  1. How do we respond to persecutors, enemies and doers of evil?
    1. Slide – Avoid evil responses of:
      1. Cursing (asking for God to destroy them)
      2. Repaying them with the evil done to us – slander, violence, rejoice in their hardships, etc.
      3. Taking vengeance into our own hands
      4. Letting their evil overwhelm and overcome us.
        1. Don’t let it draw us into its responses and don’t let it snuff out the joy of the Lord inside of us.
      5. Practice the good responses
        1. Slide – Blessing – speak well of
          1. The instruction in vs 9, to abhor evil, prohibits me from blessing their evil plans…
            1. Maybe avoiding slander
          2. Jesus warned his disciples about the leaven of Herod and the Pharisees (Mark 8:15), so it can’t mean that there isn’t an appropriate place and time to speak honestly about the dangers that some people or viewpoints present to the church.
          3. It requires careful thought to identify aspects of a person that are bless-worthy and those that are not. We can bless them in those areas.  Maybe we see them do something or take a stand for an issue that we can support and speak well of.
          4. We can “speak well” of them in prayer by asking the Lord for appropriate blessings on them, such as “Father forgive them…” or praying that the Lord would have mercy on them and bring them a revelation of Jesus, etc.
        2. Slide – Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all
          1. Think and plan to engage in activity that everyone finds honorable, such as engaging in acts of compassion in society – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing housing, serving at risk youth, etc.

1 Pet. 2:12 – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

  1. This requires thinking, prayer and planning
  1. Slide – So far as it depends on you (plural), live peaceably with all.
    1. Our good response is to be peacemakers and to seek to live at peace. – Matt. 6:9
    2. It doesn’t always depend on us, and we can’t control the responses of others towards us.
    3. Background is probably the expulsion of Jews from Rome and their recent return. In their persecuted minority status, they weren’t to intentionally stir up strife in Roman society.
    4. We live in a different time where we have the right and the responsibility to shape public policy, express our opinions and vote.
    5. This doesn’t remove our responsibility to live and walk as peacemakers, but it is in the context of our privilege and responsibility to speak up for righteousness.
    6. Illustration: Neighbor – Ken D
  2. Slide – “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.” – act in the opposite spirit

Ex. 23:4-5 – If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

  1. One of the ways we can bless is to be willing to meet the needs of our enemies when they are in a difficult situation.
  2. Example: you see someone who is your enemy with a flat tire or in an emergency situation, and you happen to be in a position to help…
  3. Heap burning coals on his head – options
    1. If he doesn’t repent, then it will increase the wrath poured out on them on the day of judgment
    2. It will lead to some amount of a feeling of shame they will experience and might lead to their repentance.
  • The close proximity of this verse to God’s vengeance leads some commentators to connect this with God’s judgment
  1. Slide – Overcome evil with good
    1. Back to verse 9…
    2. When we choose good over evil we overcome by not dropping to evil’s level, by knowing that God will bring vengeance at the proper time.
    3. It also follows the way of Jesus. He ultimately overcame evil by choosing good, even to the sacrificing of Himself.  That act of humble sacrifice cost him dearly, but it overcame and subdued evil.
    4. We are called to walk the same path of sacrifice that Jesus walked.
      1. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called “sons and daughters of God.” Matt. 5:9
    5. Conclusion
      1. We are called to a life of sacrificial counterintuitive love in our relationships with one another and also with the world.
      2. This requires:
        1. A commitment to obey the Lord whatever the cost.
          1. It costs us dearly to sacrifice for one another, walk in humility, be generous with what we have and help our enemies when they have done everything they can to harm us.
        2. Learning to think about everything the way God does.
          1. God sees things very differently than we tend to. His kingdom is upside down in the present time. We need to learn to think the way He thinks and then submit to it.
  • Humility
    1. So much of honoring the Lord in this life requires humility.
  1. Faith and trust in God that justice will ultimately be done and good will be rewarded and evil punished.
    1. This is part of the hope we rejoice in.
  2. Slide – Application:
    1. What is one principle from this message that you feel the Lord highlighting for you (Something to think differently about? Something to feel? Something to do?


  1. How will you respond?