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Lesson 12: Overcoming Evil With Good *

Introduction: Recall that last week Paul was concerned about his fellow Jewish countrymen? He wanted them all to be saved, but their failure to follow God's will had a positive side: it made it possible for Paul's special mission to the Gentiles. Paul wrote that Gentiles should be grateful for this special opportunity to be "grafted in" with those chosen to share the gospel. This week Paul continues with this thought by telling us that our gratitude for what God has done for us should work a change in our lives. Let's continue our study of Romans by plunging into Romans 12 and 13!

  1. Living Sacrifice

    1. Read Romans 12:1. Why do you think Paul tells us that we should be "living sacrifices?" What does that suggest about the way we live our life? (Our salvation by faith alone comes as a result of Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf. That should cause us to sacrifice to advance the Kingdom of God. Sacrifice means to give up yourself for something greater. We should give up our selfish desires for the greater good of bringing glory to God.)

    2. Read Romans 12:2. How can we know God's will? Does Paul tell us to study the Ten Commandments very carefully? (Paul tells us that we need our minds renewed. We need to be in accord with the will of God.)

      1. Read Matthew 5:27-28. What does Jesus say about the commandment against adultery? (He says that it is not just a matter of gritting our teeth and not committing adultery. If we do not understand His will, we are looking too low. God wants our minds, not just our bodies, to be out of the adultery business. This is what Paul is writing about in Romans 12:2 when he says that we need our minds renewed to be proper followers of Jesus.)

      2. How would you suggest you go about renewing your mind to better understand God's will?

  2. Putting the Renewed Mind to Work.

    1. Read Romans 12:3. What is the first result of renewing our minds? (We need to avoid arrogance. Instead of thinking, based on our works, that we are better than others, we need to consider our level of faith.)

      1. Have you ever tried to evaluate yourself when it comes to trusting God? What would be the result of a sober evaluation of your faith?

    2. Read Romans 12:4-5. Why would viewing yourself as only one part of a body help you to have a more reasonable view of your individual value? (A body cannot function with just one part. The arm is nothing without the rest of the body. Thus, understanding that our role in the Kingdom of God is like one part of a body helps us to remain humble.)

    3. Read Romans 12:6-8. Should you decide what role in the church you would like to play? (Paul tells us that, by grace, we are given gifts. You should determine your gift and then fulfill your role in the church.)

      1. What does Paul's reference to the fact that we are given these gifts by grace do for our effort to avoid arrogance? (It is not your fault if you are given a gift that you think is more desirable. You should not think you are better because of your gift.)

    4. Read Romans 12:9-13. How does this statement about how we should live in a way pleasing to God differ from the Ten Commandments? Would you prefer to be charged with keeping the Ten Commandments or doing what this says? (This is why those arguing for the Ten Commandments are so confused. Keeping the Ten Commandments is not the high standard, it is the low standard. What Paul writes here reflects exactly what Jesus taught us about adultery - it is not simply avoiding the act, it is about having the right attitude.)

      1. How would you describe what Paul encourages us to be in these verses? Are these acts or attitudes? (These are attitudes: love, devotion, zeal, joy, hope, patience, faithfulness, hospitality.)

      2. If I told you to start loving or start being devoted, what would you do? (These are obviously not something that you "do" (or refrain from doing) like one of the Ten Commandments. The are not don't steal, don't kill, etc. These are changes in your mind, changes in your attitude.)

      3. Re-read Romans 12:2. Is it now clear why it is so critical that our minds be renewed and transformed? This should also make it obvious that this is not to be achieved by following a list of commands. Rather, it is achieved by the Holy Spirit transforming our mind. Once again, this is simply grace. You need to choose. You need to ask the Holy Spirit to transform your mind.)

  3. Mind to Hand

    1. Read Romans 12:17-21. Are these actions that we can take? (Yes, this is generally a list of actions as opposed to attitudes. But, these are very difficult actions to take without a change in attitude.)

    2. Read Romans 13:1-2. What is to be our attitude towards our government? (We should not be rebels.)

      1. How would you apply this if you were one of my clients. My clients are told by their employer (often the state) that they must financially support a labor union. The clients do not want to pay money to the union because they believe it is involved in evil activity. Is it rebellion to resist paying the union? (It depends on the nature of the government. The system of courts in my country are part of the government mechanism to resolve conflict. Going to court to avoid participation in what you believe God forbids is not rebellion, it is using the tools the government provides to avoid conflict.)

    3. Read Romans 13:3. Is this what you have observed?

    4. Read Romans 13:4-5. Paul tells us that it makes practical sense to obey the government. By obeying you will avoid punishment. What is the second reason Paul gives for obeying government? (Our conscience. It is what God wants of us.)

      1. Why should our consciences be involved in this decision? (The idea of authority is a God-given idea. It makes life better to live under the rule of law.)

      2. What if you have an evil government? What if it is killing those who are weak and helpless? (Since Paul tells us that conscience is a reason to obey, it makes sense to conclude that if government is engaged in evil - or worse, requiring you to be involved in evil - then conscience would be a reason not to obey.)

    5. Read Romans 13:6-7. In my country, my taxes go to help kill unborn children. Should I look at this as a matter of evil - and refuse to pay part of my taxes? Others might consider not paying taxes for an unjust war. Is that wrong? (With regard to taxes, Paul says give what you owe. Those who govern are responsible to God for the evil they engage in with tax money. No doubt Rome was engaged in all sorts of evil with the taxes it collected.)

    6. Read Romans 13:8. What does Paul say about love and the law?

      1. Consider this for a moment. Do you see that loving others is the foundation for the Ten Commandments? Do you see that being selfish is the foundation for sin? (Read Romans 13:9-10. Love means that we do not harm our neighbor!)

    7. Read Romans 13:11-13. We are back discussing actions. Is the attitude of love for others at the bottom of avoiding these specific sins as well?

    8. Read Romans 13:14. How do we clothe ourselves with Jesus? (He loved us so much that He died for us. Immerse yourself with that attitude when interacting with those around you. This is the key work of the Holy Spirit - to clothe us with a godly attitude.)

    1. Friend, how much of your life turns on being concerned that you are being treated right and being given your fair share? How much of your life concerns being sure that your needs are met? If this lesson spurs you to reconsider your attitude, to incorporate an attitude of unselfishness, why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to come and change you?

  1. Next week: Christian Living.
* Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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