Paul utilized a great portion of his letter to the Roman Christians explaining how one is saved through faith in Christ instead of works of the Law of Moses. He also reminded them that the gospel had been presented to the Jews first, but after their rejection, it had been extended to the Gentiles. The latter part of his letter dealt with acceptable Christian living.
The Jews had for many generations, under the Law of Moses offered dead animal sacrifices to God. Christ had offered Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind. Paul admonished the Romans to present a different type of sacrifice—their bodies as a LIVING sacrifice.
As previous sacrifices involved a death, a living sacrifice entails a death also. One dies to sin, rejecting the sins and so-called pleasures of the world and grasping a spiritual life of service for Christ.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church a few months earlier, he had pointed out the different abilities of Christians. He made these same observations to the Romans. As the human body has different organs with different functions, the church also is made up of different members with differing abilities and functions. Christians are to perform these functions vigorously but with humility. All members are essential.
The family is the closest human relationship on earth. Paul explained how that brothers and sisters in the church are to have that same kind of loving kindred relationship with one another. They were living in a world of sin, hate and persecution. It was and is imperative that Christians have a deep love and affection for one another in order to defend themselves from the world. When one member of the physical family is in pain or rejoices, all members are affected the same way. The same care and concern should be present within the spiritual family. That also includes sharing their blessings with the needy Christians.
Paul commanded the Romans to abhor (hate) what is evil. Jesus said that one is to love his enemies. Christians are to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. People of the world today still have a problem with Christians speaking out against sin. They think that when a Christian condemns a sin, that he is actually judging and hating the person that is involved with the wickedness. Christians should avoid leaving that kind of impression when rebuking sin.
The apostle Paul, stated, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” If you cannot be at peace with your neighbor, be sure that it is his fault.
Human nature leads one to seek revenge for evil that is done against him. Paul admonished the Romans to leave vengeance to God who will repay the evildoers. Instead of seeking revenge, Christians are to do good to their enemies. Being kind and helpful to one’s enemies can make them ashamed and even lead them to Christ. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
As Paul continued his admonitions regarding Christian living, he turned to the relationship that Christians are to have with civil governments. During the earliest history of the world, one finds that God had placed authorities to oversee the civil affairs of man. It is the responsibility of government to punish the evildoers under their authority.
According to Paul, it is man’s responsibility to obey the laws that are enacted by the government. This command is as binding on Christians as any other that the Holy Spirit guided the apostles to write. One who breaks the laws of government breaks the commands of God. Think about this when you are exceeding the speed limit on the local highway.
However, when the laws of the land are in direct conflict with the laws of God, Christians “must obey God rather than men.”
Paul said, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”
Christians are expected to show their love for God and their fellowman by completing their obligations regarding spiritual, governmental and social debts. They will do good and not evil to others. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.
Paul urged the Romans to become alert to the occasions that they had to serve others. One does not know how much time he has before Christ will return or that death will end all opportunities for service. He encouraged them to turn from the sinful fleshly works of darkness and to clothe themselves with the spiritual works of light.