The pattern of the world vs. The transformation by renewing of your mind

Posted by admin on 10 February 2013 in The Book of Romans |
Romans 12:9 - 21
The following is a scrap from the article: The New Mind (Romans 12) by Bob Deffinbaugh

The Grace of God Reflected in Relationships

Nowhere does the contrast between the world’s way of thinking and the transformed mind become more apparent than in verses 9-21. Here we see the new mind illustrated in Paul’s pointed guidelines for human relationships.

True Love (Romans 12:9-10). The love of the world seems to be amoral, often immoral. The love we see reflected in the television screen is a love of infidelity. This is not true love at all. True love is not divorced from morality. True love clings to what is good and hates evil. Situation ethics informs us that pre-marital sex is good if practiced in love. The biblical kind of thinking tells us that it cannot be love if it is outside the bonds of marriage.

Love expresses itself in the church by devotion to one another. It holds the other in honor, and gives to the other the place of preference. True love seeks the good of our brother, even at our own expense. The world’s love seeks personal gratification, even at the expense of others.

Endurance and Diligence (Romans 12:11-12). Christian character is contrasted with that of the world in that it endures hardship and difficulties. “… not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” (Romans 12:11,12). There should be a diligence and zeal in our lives not typical of others. While Christians serve God with zeal, the world-at-large views them as fanatics. The Christian is characterized by hope; the world by despair. The Christian holds up in trials and tribulation; the unsaved folds up. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” is the motto of the world. The Christian is diligent in his prayer life, while the unbeliever thinks it is a waste of time.

Sensitivity to People and Their Needs (Romans12:13-16). The way of the world is to look out for old number one. As in the story of the Good Samaritan, the world walks on by the person in need, for he only represents a liability, a demand on our time and money. The world suggests we spend our time and money with those who can further our own interests. But notice the way of the Christian:

contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation (Romans 12:13-16).

The Christian observes a material need and meets it (verse 13). The Christian opens his home to those who need hospitality. The way of the world is expressed by this ancient proverb: “A guest is like a fish. After three days he stinks.”

The Christian responds to ridicule and rejection by speaking a word of blessing, rather than a curse. The Christian is at ease with those of humble means and does not cater to the affluent.92 The Christian knows himself, his sinfulness and the waywardness of his heart. He is not proud, but humble.

Absence of Vengeance (Romans 12:17-21). The way of the world is all too evident in terms of our response to those who caused us hurt. Sock ’em!

We communists have many things in common with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” Nikita Krushchev, ex-premier of Russia, once stated to American pressmen. He continued, “My sole difference with Christ is that when someone hits me on the right cheek, I hit him on the left so hard that his head falls off.”93

As Dr. MacIver, professor of political science at Columbia University, put it, “In war the principle must be, do to the enemy as he would to you, but do it first.”94

As Augsburger rightly comments, “That’s merely the savage law of retaliation. ‘Do back to others as they have done to you.’ Or even worse, ‘Do to others as you expect them to do to you.’”95

There is no place for this kind of thinking in the Christian’s life. We are to strive for peace to the extent that it depends upon us (verse 18). We are to recognize that vengeance is the Lord’s prerogative, not ours (verse 19).96Our response should be to repay good for evil, not in order to cause our enemy torment, but to bring him to repentance and restoration.97

92 “The vice against which the exhortations are directed is a common one and gnaws at the root of that community in the church of Christ on which the apostle lays so much emphasis. There is to be no aristocracy in the church, no cliques of the wealthy as over against the poor, no pedestals of unapproachable dignity for those on the higher social and economic strata or for those who are in office in the church (cf. I Pet. 5:3).” Ibid., pp. 137.

93 Nikita Krushchev, as cited by Steward Meachem in address given to Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship, Bluffton College, Bluffton, Ohio, March 31, 1960. Quoted by David W. Augsburger, Seventy Times Seven, The Freedom of Forgiveness (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1970), p. 118.

94 Earnest Trice Thompson, Sermon on the Mount and Its Meaning for Today (Richmond, Va.: John Knox, 1946), pp. 117-118, as quoted by Augsburger, p. 111.

95 Ibid., p. 111.

96 “Here we have what belongs to the essence of piety. The essence of ungodliness is that we presume to take the place of God, to take everything into our own hands. It is faith to commit ourselves to God, to cast all our care upon him and to vest all our interests in him. In reference to the matter in hand, the wrongdoing of which we are the victims, the way of faith is to recognize that God is judge and to leave the execution of vengeance and retribution to him. Never may we in our private personal relations execute the vengeance which wrongdoing merits.” Murray, II, pp. 141-142.

97 “Rather, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing this you will heap up burning coals upon his head.’ Again Paul turns to the LXX (cf. Prov. xxv. 21f.). In view of v. 21, it can scarcely be doubted that the ‘burning coals’ are the fire of remorse. If an enemy is treated in this way he may well be overcome in the best possible fashion—he may become a friend.” Barrett, pp. 242-243.


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