Overcome Evil with Good—Romans 12:21

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21)

Paul closes Romans 12 by reminding us to overcome evil with good. The battle between good and evil has been in operation since the Garden of Eden. These entities are polar opposites and fight against each other. The stronger gaining ground in the world around us. To master evil we must overcome it with good. This does not mean that we should try to be good to ward off evil in our lives, but we should operate in biblical principles to overcome and conquer it once for all.

As Christians we are called to overcome in this world, but to overcome we must master evil. To do this, we must hate sin and cling to what is good. Throughout this entire chapter Paul gives us insight on overcoming evil. First we have to renew our minds to the word of God being transformed into his likeness ( Romans 12:2 ). Secondly, our gifts must be in operation in the body of Christ, to which we were called to belong ( Romans 12:5 ). Next we must love sincerely without hypocrisy, devoted to one another ( Romans 12:9, Romans 12:10 ). We are to keep ourselves zealous for the Lord, joyful, patient and faithful ( Romans 12:11, Romans 12:12 ). These things will keep our focus on God and off our circumstances. Looking to Him will allow His characteristics to daily flow out of our lives overcoming and mastering sin.

Next Paul instructs us that we are to remain blameless in the midst of hardship. This is key to overcoming evil with good. We are to bless when cursed, feed and care for our enemies even when we are wronged and live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:14, Romans 12:16, Romans 12:18, Romans 12:20). We should allow God to judge and settle all wrongs for us (Romans 12:19). As born again believers we should be above reproach as far as the world is concerned.

Fortunately, we have a perfect example in Jesus who overcame and conquered sin, death and Satan on the cross. I John tells us "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work: ( I John 3:8 ). Since those works of Satan have been destroyed with this victory, we are also called to overcome. John went on to say, "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. " ( I John 5:4-5 ). Through faith in Christ Jesus we have overcome the evil that previously held us in chains. And by operating in that same faith we can extinguish the fiery darts that are meant to cripple us ( Ephesians 6:16 ). Our faith enables us to overcome.

Jesus told Simon Peter immediately after his profession of the Christ that "on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. ( Matthew 16:18 ). The rock was Jesus and anyone who believed in Him would likewise overcome the world. Sin, death and the gates of hell would not overshadow and overpower it. Because the revelation of Christ is the means to break free from the evil of this world.

Knowing these truths will enable you to stand firm as the days become more and more evil ( Ephesians 6:13 ). God did not leave us unprotected and unequipped in this world. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us ( Romans 8:37 ). Today I pray that you realize victory has already been won through Christ Jesus. Now we are instructed to hold our ground and overcome evil by the good that lives inside us. May your faith overcome any obstacles in your way as you master sin with the goodness found in Jesus, amen.

Posted in Romans 12

Love and Care for Your Enemies—Romans 12:19-20

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.  On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:19-20)

An amazing thing happens when you internalize a passage of scripture such as this and start living it out. Once you show consideration for people who disregard you, then enemies can no longer stay enemies. By caring for them, God's love spills out of your heart, becomes an action and people respond to it.

God's love showed action when he sent Jesus into a hostile world. Romans 5 tells us that while we are still steeped in sin, God demonstrated his love for us in the person of Jesus Christ ( Romans 5:8 ). It is amazing to think that this act of mercy brought us into fellowship with God. Romans 5 goes on to say, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" ( Romans 5:10 ). His act of love brought us to the place where we were no longer enemies. His mercy and goodness was never deserved, but Christ's purpose was to overcome evil and offer us freedom from death.

In the same way, our actions should resemble this act of love and mercy. Paul is quoting from an Old Testament passage when he reminds us to love our enemies by caring for them when they are in need. ( Proverbs 25:21-22 ) But Jesus told the disciples something very similar, "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" ( Matthew 5:44 ). And again in the Gospel of Luke, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you" ( Luke 6:27-31 ). This attitude shows the genuineness of your faith. Jesus' point is that even sinners love and care for those who love them. But in the same way that he came and rescued his enemies making  us sons and daughters, we should love and care for those who hate us. In doing this we are not only allowing room for God to judge and make right in the end, but we are extending the love and mercy of God to our fellow mankind. Romans 2 says that it is the goodness of God that brings us to repentance ( Romans 2:4 ). By showing his goodness, love and grace to one another we are opening the door for them to come to God and be fully justified before him.

Today, I pray that you understand this amazing truth from God's word. May this revelation of God's mercy toward you extend to those around you and bless them. May God's love flow freely through you as you love and care for your enemies in His name, amen.

Posted in Romans 12

Do What is Right, Live at Peace—Romans 12:17-18

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:17-18)

As Christians we should be above reproach according to the world's standards. We should live at peace with one another and conduct our lives aiming for what is noble, honest and proper. Even though we cannot be responsible for others behaviors; as far as it depends on us we can live at peace with everyone.

This is accomplished in our lives by the transformation that occurs when we renew our minds to the word of God. Paul started out this chapter of Romans by encouraging us to no longer be conformed or poured into the mold of the world, but rather to be transformed into a new creation by renewing our minds to this truth ( Romans 12:2 ). This is the key to all of Paul's instruction. When we align our thoughts and philosophies to what the Bible says, then we will see these things manifest in our lives.

Paul reminds us in today's passage that we are not to repay for the evil done to us being careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. This does not mean that we should seek to please mankind; rather it means that we should live righteously according to God's principals in plain view of everyone. We should be fair and honest in all of our dealings. We should be above reproach in the sight of our peers. This comes about by knowing God's principals and instructions. The more we understand God's grace toward us, the more likely we are to also extend grace when wronged. The more we internalize God's faithfulness, righteousness and truthfulness, the more these principals will be evident in our lives. This happens supernaturally by renewing our minds to the Word of God and letting the new creation that exists on the inside seep out and exist on the outside.

The Christians life was meant to be lived this way. By understanding and applying the Word of God and relying on the Holy Spirit as our guide in all things. By living by the Spirit are hearts are set on what He desires ( Romans 8:5 ), so the natural result will be living at peace with one another and shining like stars in this dark world. Today, I pray that you evaluate your heart to see where it aligns with this truth. Get into the Word and enjoy the amazing things you will find. May your life be above reproach in the sight of everyone, amen!

Posted in Romans 12

Live in Harmony with One Another—Romans 12:15-16

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited" (Romans 12:15-16)

As believers we are to follow Christ's example of being willing to meet people where they are. Fully God, yet he humbled himself and stepped into humanity on our behalf. He gave up the glory of heaven to come and redeem mankind, born in the most humble way. He did not consider his royal position ahead of our need for him; he humbled himself and became obedient to death in order that we might experience firsthand the love of God.

In the same way, we are to have the mindset of Christ concerning those around us. We are to consider them above ourselves. Paul has given us plenty of instruction in Romans 12 on how to live in harmony with one another. In today's passage he reminds us that we should rejoice with those who rejoice and morn with those who mourn. This can only happen when we genuinely love and care for each other.  By showing interest and concern for others above our own need, we become invested in their lives. Doing so brings us to the point of being able to share with them in every circumstance. Rejoicing and mourning with them is a natural response to the love shared, this is why Paul started out by saying "love must be sincere" ( Romans 12:9 ).

To live in harmony with each other we have to be willing to associate with everyone. As believers, we should not be conceited or overestimate ourselves. We should not be exclusive or snobbish toward one another and we should always be willing to include and care for those around us. Jesus told the disciples "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" ( Mark 9:35 ). This is the secret to getting ahead in life, putting others ahead of yourself and serving each other just as if you were serving the Lord. Jesus then took a child in his arms and went on to explain to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." ( Mark 9:37 ). Keeping this eternal perspective in mind will enable us to live in harmony with each other, rejoicing, mourning and caring for each other's needs just as if the Lord standing before us.

Today it is my prayer that you understand this wonderful truth and apply it to your life. May God bless you as you seek him and may he bring people into your path to be a blessing to, amen.

Posted in Romans 12

Bless Those Who Persecute You—Romans 12:14

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14)

It is interesting that Paul reminds us to bless those who persecute us. This is completely opposite of what our our human response tends to be in such circumstances. A normal reaction would be striking back to defend ourselves. But Paul warns us not to curse but bless instead. The Bible gives us good reason to have this perspective and knowing these truths will protect your heart from the persecution that will come your way.

First of all when we are slandered or persecuted it is because we bear the name of Christ. Peter wrote to the church, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" ( I Peter 4:12-14 ). Persecution is a sign that you are born again. Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world ( John 16:33 ) and that people would hate us just as the world hated him ( John 15:18 ). But in all of these things we are to rejoice because we bear the name of Christ and the glory of God is evident in our lives. Peter went on to say, "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" ( I Peter 4:17 ).

Secondly, when we are persecuted we must remind ourselves of the true reason behind it. Jesus told the disciples in the parable of the sower of the seed that persecution comes because of the word ( Matthew 13:21, Luke 8:13, Mark 4:17 ). The word of God is so powerful that planting it in the soil of our heart will forever change our lives and yield much fruit. If the devil can stomp out the word of God by stealing it before it gets planted or by persecution, he will render us ineffective for the kingdom of God. This is why when persecution comes it is important to remember that it is because of Christ and His word, not us, so we can move past it and keep an eternal perspective protecting our heart and the word planted at the same time.

Lastly, it is important to remember when persecuted that we are called to be a blessing. This is why we bless and not curse. Jesus spoke extensively about this. He was always reminding the disciples to serve one another, to consider each other more highly than themselves, to turn the other cheek when wronged. These actions were evidence of the new birth and nature. In the same way to curse those who persecute us would be to go against the nature of God living inside us. Isaiah 53 told us that Jesus did not curse or defend himself when standing accused before Pilate, "as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" ( Isaiah 53:7 ). Jesus could have annihilated every one of his accusers by speaking and defending himself, yet he remained silent on our behalf. Isaiah went on to say, "nor was any deceit in his mouth" ( Isaiah 53:9b ). He did not curse those who brought such agony on him but remained silent so that He could fulfill the purpose for which he came. He became a curse for us so that we could receive blessing ( Galatians 3:13-14 ). Following His example we are to bless those who persecute us. Remember; it is on the account of Christ.

Today, I pray that this truth penetrates your heart and gives you a new outlook on persecution. Keeping this perspective in mind will get you through any trouble that comes your way on the account of Christ and His word. Blessed are you because you bear His name.

Posted in Romans 12