Romans 12 & 13
Romans is clearly the book of the new birth. Perhaps that’s why it is strategically placed after the Gospels, in which Jesus worked with the Holy Spirit, and after Acts, in which the Apostles worked with the Holy Spirit. Now it is time, after these descriptions of what to do, for the people of God to work with the Holy Spirit, and Romans starts us at the starting gate: get born again! And then get baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Just as a point of review, when we are born again, the Holy Spirit moves into our spirit and never leaves us or forsakes us, no matter how stupid our human behavior may be. However, if we want His power to work in and with us, we must have His baptism, as that is when power comes upon us. That power doesn’t stay steady, we can lose it and regain it all day long. As Marilyn Hickey says, we leak. He’s always there, but we need the Anointing for the power to work. How do we get and keep that Anointing? That’s what the rest of the Bible will teach us.
Up until this point in Romans (through chapter 11) Paul contends for the Jews as well as proclaiming Christ and offering the New Birth. But Romans 12–16 is all about how to behave as a new Christian. It is good for even the very wisest of Christians to review what Paul has to say here, as we all need to be reminded of Kingdom Kindness, Majestic Manners, Beautiful Behavior. We know these things instinctively in the natural as we always demand certain comportments from our leaders. Look at the rituals surrounding the Queen of England. I’m glad I’m not called into her presence as I know I can’t curtsy like that. In the same manner, the Kingdom of God is royal and we, who also rule and reign, must know how to behave.
We are living sacrifices. Romans 12:1 tells us what to do with our bodies. Meditate on it a bit as to what it means for you to have a holy body. We’re called to renew our minds. Verse 12:2 tells us what to do with our minds. Meditate on what it means to transform your mind. Is there some “stinking thinking” you need to get rid of? Your mind sits on its throne and presents its scepter to say, “Yes, that’s the good will of God.” “Yes, that’s the acceptable will of God.” “Yes, that’s the perfect will of God.” It needs to be clean and filled with good thoughts in order to do that.
Verse three introduces a measure of faith that we are given at our new birth. Keep your mental feelers out for times when that measure is explained, like how to make it grow, what measure you have been given. No, we all don’t have the same measure because we all don’t have the same calling. The next verses, 4–8, list some of the giftings we individually receive. Identical measures would not meet the needs of various gifts. I know for myself, giving a prophetic word takes a much larger measure of faith than doing a good teaching. A bad teaching can be changed and excused, but a bad prophetic word can ruin a person’s life!
Verses 9–21 present, in good detail, what God expects from His children. We don’t love? Dad’s not happy! He wants to look from His throne and see His children playing together, helping each other, honoring one another, rejoicing together, sharing with one another, and so on. Please note, He is not looking for this behavior in us with the unsaved. He doesn’t want His children tainted by close relationships with those who still reject Him. The church has gotten the idea that we must be all things to the world; Paul will explain that in a later book, but the Bible does not present close relationships with the unsaved.
Verses 18–20 tell us what to do when the unsaved take advantage of us, mildly or savagely. I venture to say, we’re not equipped to do that with the unsaved if we haven’t already practiced with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve seen enough of the vengeance of God to know that He does repay, and I’m glad to know that He is the one who does it, not me.
In chapter 13, Paul gives a dissertation about governmental control. I think it is interesting to note that even though the Ten Commandments tell us not to kill, here we see that God gives the heads of governments the authority to assemble armies and to send them out to kill. He tells us to obey. The difference between the two is that “Thou shall not kill,” means for us individually to decide to kill someone for our own personal interests is not allowed. But the defense of a nation is allowed. People always like to throw these words about: “Well, does that make Hitler one of God’s ministers?” Absolutely not! God ordained the position, not the person. The people wanted Hitler.
Romans 13:8–10 speaks of our behavior with the people around us—those who are not born again. How do we treat them? With love. This love effort is far less than His love expectations for His children with each other. Love gives respect. Love helps.
Verses 13:11–14 tell us to put on the armor of light and to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We were taught in Bible School to pretend to put on the armor of God. We would recite it: “I am putting on the girdle of truth.” And we’d wrap an imaginary girdle around our waist and pretend to secure it, and so on. I thought this was kind of a silly exercise until I realized it was a spiritual exercise, and on our spirit-man we were actually applying spiritual armor. (We do that with words, you know. I mean that we operate spiritually by speaking.) When demons in the second heaven look at us, they are looking to see first and foremost if we have on our armor. They can attack where armor is missing. Some people say they never take their armor off so they don’t have to put it on again. That’s probably true, but I know myself. I like to get sloppy comfortable wherever I am, spirit or body.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Ephesians 6:14–17).
In the Roman Scriptures, we’re talking about the armor of light. It’s the only time in the New Testament the armor is called light, so I conclude it is still referring to the Ephesians armor. As to how do we put on the Lord Jesus Christ? This, also, is the only reference to putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. So I am going to leave you with this to ponder and meditate. How do you put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
I’m going to give you the Scriptures that I am asking you to:
Here’s your homework:
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.