A personal walk with God and stuff learned on the way

Posts tagged ‘Romans 12’

Don’t fight half a battle

As Christians we are always conscious of the need to avoid sin.  There are numerous scriptures that describe those practices that we are to stay well away from and every believer knows that it is a constant battle.  Often we can find ourselves losing the battle again and again and we can give in to despondency when nothing seems to be changing.

Paul describes this battle very well in Romans 7

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7: 15)

There can be a number of reasons why we seem to be constantly stuggling, but one of them, I have learned, is that we are only doing one half of what we need to do.

A regular theme in the Bible is the command not just to reject evil, but also to replace it with good. Put simply, if we’re not replacing our bad behaviour, thoughts, speech or attitudes with the right thing, we are only fighting half the battle, as the scriptures below show us.

Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4: 22-24)

Eph 2: 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands

Rom 12:9 Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Rom 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord

Rom 12: 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Col 3: 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

Deut 15:7-8 do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.

Ephesians 5:4 There should not be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving

In Matthew 12 Jesus describes this principle of replacement. Although the context here is demonic possession, it does show the importance of replacing evil with good in our lives.

When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matt 12 43-45)

As we replace what we shouldn’t be doing, saying and thinking with what God wants, we give sin less room to operate.

Fight both sides of the battle.

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Getting the devil back

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full  (John 10:10)

This is a very familiar passage and one of Jesus’ best known quotes. Satan is out to take whatever he can get from us and he will use every trick he can to achieve his objectives. He is clever and crafty and he lies to us constantly.

Not one of us hasn’t fallen into his traps at one time or another, but getting mad at the devil doesn’t destroy his influence in our lives. The Bible has a lot to say about how to overcome the devil and essentially it says to be exactly the opposite of what he is.

 

When we think of spiritual warfare, we imagine something which involves aggression, hostility and combativeness.

God, however, is thinking of something entirely different for us. Romans 12 tells us how to fight the good fight:

 

  • Love sincerely, Hate only evil, hold fast to what is good
  • Be committed to one another
  • Honour one another
  • Keep serving the Lord enthusiastically
  • Be hopeful and joyful
  • Endure difficulties with patience
  • Pray regularly and consistently
  • Share with one another – be hospitable
  • Be a blessing to those who have wronged you
  • Share in the joy of others and if someone is hurting, ache with them
  • Live alongside one another amicably
  • Don’t think of anyone as too low for you to get alongside them
  • Whenever you are able to, live in harmony with everyone
  • Don’t get anyone back for what they have done

God gave me a good example of this principle in action (some of the details have been changed to maintain anonymity).

Some time ago a close friend of mine called Linda was organising a trip for some people that we knew.  They were going to go away skiing and although I wanted to go with them, I hadn’t been invited.  I was embarrassed and a little hurt because Linda and I were good friends and yet it seemed she was inviting everyone else except me.

I wanted to feel sorry for myself and sulk. I also was tempted to avoid her – ice her out, but around that time I heard teaching on this principle and God challenged me to do something good for her.  Well I definitely didn’t want to at all, but I went out and bought her some ski goggles.  The thing is, when I gave them to her, all those feelings of self-pity and ill-will towards her had gone completely. I was able to wish her a good trip and mean it.

God didn’t tell me to do that for her benefit, it was for me so that I would be free from the devil’s temptation to hold a grudge against her.

Satan will hate it if you are good when you want to act bad. Don’t sink to his level, combat him by rising above.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12: 21

Everybody Hurts

It is a universal truth that everyone experiences emotional pain at some point in life.  People hurt people. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but everyone goes through it.

R.E.M.’s 1993 hit “Everybody Hurts” has often featured high up in all time favourite song lists simply because people can relate so closely to its message.

The antidote to hurt is forgiveness, and although it may be true that everybody hurts, not everybody forgives.

The problem that people often have with forgiveness is that it appears to let the other party “get away with it”.  We are the offended party and if we forgive, they get to go on with their life as though we have given them a “get out of jail free card”.  Surely that’s not fair!

The thing is, of course, they are probably doing that anyway, and although holding grudges and plotting revenge makes us feel as though we are getting them back, in actual fact we are just hurting ourselves.

Forgiveness is for our benefit.

To hold onto grievances and repeat an offence over and over in our minds means that the wrong-doing of the other person has succeeded in putting us in jail, whilst their off doing their own thing, probably ignorant of what they have done. Forgiveness is the key to our own freedom.

Romans 12 talks about this at length:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

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.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Taken from Romans 12: 14-21)

Blessing those who have hurt us  includes not repeating what they have done. Overcoming evil with good means speaking well of them or looking for ways in which you can do something good for them.

This sounds a tall order, but God helps those who are determined not to get caught in the trap of offence to break free from it. Plus it opens the door for God to take care of the situation.

Forgiveness is not easy, but living with a wounded soul is much harder.

Do yourself a favour: Forgive

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