Living Victoriously in Society

MEMORY VERSE: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” —Romans 13:10

ROMANS 12:14 – 13:1

IT IS believed that Paul wrote the Book of Romans before Matthew’s account of the life of Christ was written. It this is true he evidently had come into contact with brethren who had relayed to him the teaching of Jesus with respect to what the Christian’s viewpoint should be concerning those who may persecute them and speak evil of them.

Matthew 5:11 reads, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Verse 44 reads, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”

In the first verse of our lesson Paul writes, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” Certainly this is in full harmony with the teachings of Jesus, and whether or not Paul got the thoughts from one of the Master’s disciples, it reveals the work of the Holy Spirit in presenting these thoughts harmoniously, and in keeping with the high principles of Christian conduct set forth throughout the Word of God. Certainly Paul wrote these instructions with the aid of the Holy Spirit, either by direct inspiration or by guiding him in remembering properly that which had been reported to him.

These instructions are a part of what is involved in the renewing of the mind in keeping with the will of God. (see verse 2) Paul continues, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Here are further facets of Christlikeness—additional ways in which our minds as Christians are to be renewed. If we have a renewed mind we will relate to our brethren in Christ in both their joys and in their sorrows.

“Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” (vs. 16) Perhaps we have all come into contact with those who are wise in their own conceits. These imagine that they are more intelligent than the average Christian. In renewing our minds to conform to the Word of God, let us avoid this spirit of pride.

“Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” (vs. 17) The renewed mind of a faithful Christian will not think that the world owes him a living. He will realize that this is his responsibility.

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (vs. 18) We are living in a world made up of the descendants of the fallen Adam. The expression “Nobody is perfect” is so true. It is true in the world, and it is true in our own fellowship of Christians. We are to face this situation with the utmost desire and determination to live peaceably with all with whom we come into contact. We will not always succeed, but will do all we can toward this end.

Verses 19-21 read, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In these verses Paul simply emphasizes the teachings of Jesus as to how we should deal with our enemies. If we return evil for evil, then we are being overcome of evil instead of overcoming evil with good, and in keeping with our memory verse, through love fulfilling the law.

The last verse of the lesson is revealing and important: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Paul was here speaking of the situation in the Roman Empire. The ordination he speaks of was first given to the king of Babylon, and was passed on in succession to Medo-Persia, Greece, and then to Rome.—Dan. 2:37-40

This does not imply the divine right of kings, nor does it imply that God blessed everything the Roman Empire did. It simply means that God, in keeping with his own purposes, allowed Rome to occupy a certain position, and that his people should not be rebellious.


What is to be the Christian’s attitude toward his enemies?

In what sense was the Roman Empire ordained of God?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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