For an absolute certainty, beginning with Romans chapter 12, the Apostle Paul has “switched gears.” Chapters 1 thru 11 were loaded with incredibly important theological content, and it’s intent was to have a profound impact upon the readers thinking and faith. But, now, with this change, Paul is bringing that which was for the head and the heart to fruition in their speech and actions. Chapter 12 is all #9, New Life in Christ instruction. Since these things are all true, and we firmly believe them all; how should we then live?
From the 1st verse of chapter 12, in the light of our incredible and free salvation from sin and damnation, our lives are to be sacrificed up to the Lord, and lived out in #1, righteousness, and not in #2, sin as stated in verses 9 and 17. Verse 2 says that we are NOT to be any part of “Pop Culture,” as that IS this world. Verse 1 is DO THIS, and verse 2 is DO NOT DO THAT! Rather, we see the new role of #7, faith to be lived out in our lives in service to our brothers and sisters says verses 3 thru 8, and in character and personality changes expressed in verses 9 thru 16. This life of service, exhibiting these inner changes is a reflection of the fullness of the Holy Spirit; like that told us in Galatians 5:16 thru 25, will be demonstrated by obvious outward change in our behavior toward those outside says verses 14, and 17 thru 21. The entire passage of verses 9 thru 21 opens and closes with the stark contrast between #2, evil and #1, good. But, if you will see it, the entire chapter does, with verses 1 and 2. DO the good of verse 1. DO NOT do the evil of verse 2!
Chapter 13 continues in the same vein. It is both very simple and straight-forward. As #9, New Life teaching, it is very much about what is #1, good and right to be doing, and what is #2, wrong and sinful. The one reminds us of what lies ahead when #10, the Kingdom comes says verses 11+12, and the other will only result in our experiencing an earthly #3, judgment from government says verses 2 thru 5. The same stark contrast first seen in chapter 12, exists here in 13, as well, especially in verses 12 thru 14. Again, it’s a DO THIS and DO NOT DO THAT instruction in how we should live our #9, New Life in Christ.
With chapter 14, we have a particularly powerful and useful #9, New Life principle taught. Unlike chapters 12 and 13, not everything is either black or white. Verse 1 says there are also issues having shades of “grey,” and we must establish deep, personally-held convictions about such matters says verse 5; and then, keep such things to ourselves and God according to verse 22, and not make such things matters of contention with other believers says verses 10, 13 and 19. That #9, New Life principle is that we are to Limit our personal Liberty in Jesus Christ out of Love for our brothers says verse 15, neither turning to the Left in License, nor to the right into Legalism. It’s a very fine line, and not an easy one to establish, but it is our required duty unto the Lord says verses 7 and 8. This too is what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell