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Summary: Paul is a very powerful writer and at times we may be intimidated by him. He shares with us here the incredible power we have through Christ to overcome the evil we face in our Christian Walk.

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OVERCOMING EVIL

ROMANS 12:9-21

I THINK WE ARE SOMETIMES OVERWEALMED BY THE WRITINGS OF PAUL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. I BELIEVE THAT OVER ONE QUARTER OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS ATTRIBUTED TO HIM.

WE SEE THE BOOKS HE IS CREDITED WITH WRITING AND FAIL TO REALIZE THAT THEY ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST LETTERS. DEPENDING ON THE URGENCY OF THE ISSUE PAUL WILL SPEAK OF IT IN ONE OR MORE BOOKS.

IT IS NOT SURPRISING THEN, THAT WE SHOULD FIND COMMON GROUND IN MORE THAN ONE OF PAUL’S LETTERS. THE BOOK OF ROMANS THOUGH, BECAUSE IT IS A LETTER GOING TO AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH, IS GOING TO DEAL WITH A VARIETY OF ISSUES, SOME IN GREAT DEPTH, THAN HE DOES WITH OTHERS.

THIS IS THE SITUATION THAT WE FACE WITH THIS TEXT. THE IDEA OF AGAPE LOVE IS NOT NEW TO PAUL, AS HE PRESENTS THE SAME TEACHING TO THE CORINTHIANS AND SOME OF HIS OTHER BOOKS.

IT FORCES US TO REALIZE THAT JUST DOING THE RIGHT THING IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE ARE SOME GREAT MEN IN THIS WORLD WHO DO GREAT THINGS FOR HUMANITY, BUT THEY DO THEM FOR THEIR OWN LEGACY AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTIANITY.

THERE HAS TO BE A DEFINING MARK THAT IS UNMISTAKEABLY CHRISTIAN IN ORIGIN. IT HAS TO BE A MARK THAT CANNOT BE DUPLICATED BY THE WORLD, COMMON IN THE PRACTICE OF BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, AND EASILY IDENTIFIED AS BEING SOMETHING POSITIVE AND DESIRABLE.

FOR PAUL THAT DEFINING MARK WAS AGAPE. HE SPEAKS OF IT IN MANY OF HIS LETTERS AND MAINTAINS THAT USING GOD GIVEN TALENTS WITHOUT GOD GIVEN LOVE IS WORTHLESS.

THE BIBLE IDENTIFIES THREE GREEK WORDS THAT WE ARE MOST FAMILIAR WITH:

1. EROS: THIS IS A SENSUAL, SEXUAL TYPE OF LOVE. WE SOMETIMES REFER TO SEXUAL INTERCOURSE AS MAKING “LOVE”.

2. PHILEO: THIS IS A FRIENDSHIP TYPE OF LOVE. IT IS A LOVE WITH CONDITIONS, AND ONLY EXPRESSED TO CERTAIN PEOPLE. IT CAN BE DUPLICATED BY NON-CHRISTIANS.

3. AGAPE: THIS IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. IT IS EXPRESSED TO ALL PEOPLE, MIRRORING JESUS CARING ATTITUDE. IT CANNOT BE DUPLICATED BY NON-CHRISTIANS.

PAUL REMINDS THE CHRISTIANS IN ROME OF THIS FOR THE SAME REASON THAT WE AS CHRISTIANS AT TIMES NEED TO BE REMINDED,

AND THAT IS THAT WE WILL BE RECOGNIZED BY OUR “AGAPE”.

HE REMINDS US THAT OUR CHURCHES ARE GLASS HOUSES TO THE WORLD. THEY SEE HOW WE TREAT THOSE WHO ARE NON-CHRISTIANS, AND ALSO THOSE WHO ARE IN THE CHURCH.

THIS IS AND SHOULD BE A GREAT CHALLENGE FOR US. WE WOULD NOT LIKE TO ADMIT IT, BUT WE WANTY TO PICK AND CHOOSE THOSE WHOM WE SHOW PHILEO TO. THAT’S RIGHT, I SAID PHILEO. THE CHURCH TODAY EXPRESSES “PHILEO” TO A MUCH GREATER DEGREE THAN WE EXPRESS “AGAPE”.

THIS PASSAGE CONTAINS A VARIETY OF CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE THAT CAN ONLY BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH THE HELP OF GOD. CONSIDER TYHESE THREE THIS MORNING:

POINT ONE: AGAPE LOVE IS AUTHENTIC:

ROMANS 12:9-12:

9 LOVE MUST BE SINCERE. HATE WHAT IS EVIL; CLING TO WHAT IS GOOD.

THERE IS AN AUTHENTICITY ABOUT AGAPE LOVE THAT IS EASY TO PICK UP ON. IT IS AMAZING HOW MANY VOLITILE SITUATIONS CAN BE DIFFUSED BY THE PRACTICE OF AGAPE.

PROVERBS 15:1: A GENTLE ANSWER TURNS AWAY WRATH, BUT A HARSH WORD STIRS UP ANGER.

A QUIET WORD IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS, TURNING AWAY AND REFUSING TO FIGHT, JUST SITTING WITH SOMEONE AS THEY TALK ABOUT THEIR DAY, AND SOMETIMES PROVE MORE BENEFICIAL THAN THE BEST MEDICINE AND IS PRACTICING AGAPE.


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