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Pastor Brant Seacrist

October 28, 2018

"BLESS AND CURSE NOT"

TEXT: ROMANS 12: 14-21
READING:  PSALM 148

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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 nature.
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 that:
1) We are given a direct order here as to how we are to treat all and
2) That we are not to curse or desire evil on them in any event.
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 all.
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
2) To condescend is to graciously descend to the level of our inferiors (that is in knowledge and blessedness) desiring the same for them.

II. 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 3:16.
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)
1. We 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 and to
2) Give room for the working that only God can do – get out of God’s way.
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 offence.
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.