SUBJ: The continuation of thought
from vv. 1-2 (esp. 2) in being not conformed to this world; dealing with
outsiders after the example of Christ and those who would obey His
precepts and example.
AIM: That we might be in the way of
witness in not reacting to offences as the world does.
INTR: Having set forth the
principles where we are exercised in brotherly love we move to
involvement with all wherein we would counter the tendencies of human
1. Sadly, while we are looking to dealing outside the faith,
these things are found within the realm of professing Christianity.
2. How easily we forget and resort to the movements of pride: Hearken to
me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto
the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are
digged. Isaiah 51:1.
3. Thus, we will look at additional precepts
that grow further out of our presenting ourselves as living sacrifices
and being transformed by the renewing of our minds.
THESIS: If we would know of proper
action or reaction, we must look to Jesus as He was submitted fully to
the will of the Father and did not react as the world in His life,
sacrifice, death and His life from the dead. We would note an important
precept, that precept expanded, and that precept ordered before God.
I. An important precept (vv. 14-16)
1. This passage is perhaps as
difficult to apply as it is easy to understand. It is doubled to us in
1) We are given a direct order here as to how we are to treat
2) That we are not to curse or desire evil on them in any
2. The word for persecute is to pursue and is the same as
“given to” in verse 13. In the one case in the interest of doing good
and here to persecute.
3. Earlier in the chapter we saw distinct
reference to brotherly love and here it is pressed in our dealing with
4. To bless is to desire the very best for them and to be
willing to be used in seeing it happen.
1) Such goes against pride
and human nature.
2) Consider from John Calvin: “I have said that
this is more difficult than to let go revenge when anyone is injured;
for though some restrain their hands and are not led away by the passion
of doing harm, they yet wish that some calamity or loss would in some
way happen to their enemies; and even when they are so pacified that
they wish no evil, there is yet hardly one in a hundred who wishes well
to him from whom he has received an injury; nay, most men daringly burst
forth into imprecations. But God by his word not only restrains our
hands from doing evil, but also subdues the bitter feelings within; and
not only so, but he would have us be solicitous for the wellbeing of
those who unjustly trouble us and seek our destruction.”
5. But then,
to carry it forward, we are to rejoice when they are blessed and happy
and to enter into their sorrows. Christ contributed to the joy at a
wedding and wept over the multitudes in their sorrows. This is to enter
into it with them – it more than just feeling sorry.
6. And he
answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and
thy neighbour as thyself. Luke 10:27
7. When in the same mind, we are
in harmony – this is certainly true of the brethren, but implies a
shared desire for the good of all.
1) Despite what we have in Christ
and what we know of His glory, we are not to be snobs
condescend is to graciously descend to the level of our inferiors (that
is in knowledge and blessedness) desiring the same for them.
An Important Precept Expanded (vv. 17-18)
1. We look again at verse
14, and note a restatement of the same directive – it is imperative. Do
not return evil for evil, in words, deeds, or any other thing. Two
errors will occur:
1) Vindictiveness – the desire to get even and so
forgetting that God did not so with us.
i. See that none render evil
for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among
yourselves, and to all men. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
ii. Not rendering
evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing;
knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9
2) Assuming private individuals have magisterial rights
and can so dole out appropriate punishment. “An eye for an eye” was a
governmental restraint over excessive reaction.
2. To see that our
affairs are right in the sight of all:
1) 3 Let not mercy and truth
forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of
thine heart: 4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the
sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:3-4
2) Having a good conscience;
that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be
ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 1 Peter
3) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no
man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14.
3. John Calvin wrote: “What is
meant is that we ought diligently to labor, in order that all may be
edified by our honest dealings … that they may, in a word, perceive the
good and the sweet odor of our life, by which they may be allured to the
love of God.”
4. IF it be possible – and it will be by the grace of
God, but we may not compromise holiness! He is the God of peace!
III. An Important Precept Ordered before the Lord (vv. 19-21)
consider the tender address at this point showing Paul’s love and
concern and perhaps understanding that these things are difficult. His
concern is for them is saying “Avenge not yourselves.”
2. This is
where “the rubber meets the road” in that we must order all things as in
the presence of the Lord.
1) WE are to abandon any thought of wrath
2) Give room for the working that only God can do – get out of
3. Our business is to treat our enemies with kindness: But
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you; Matthew 5:44.
4. The thought of heaping coals of fire
on his head is to bring him to shame or even to repentance; it is not to
try to inflict harm on him which is God’s business.
5. V. 21 is
another restatement of the precept.
Conclusion: We note vv. 14,
17, 19, and 21 all declare the precept
1. In light of the Gospel and
the example of Christ, there is never an excuse to react in kind to an
2. We need look no further than the cross and to remember
Stephen and others.
3. Our lives are to bear witness to Christ in us.