Well, we’re going to be back in Romans chapter 12.

If you turn there with me, Romans chapter 12, starting in verse 14.

Yeah, I know we talked about over the last few weeks, what is the tangible everyday fruit from walking with Christ, abiding in Christ? So we talked about, in verse 9, that love’s genuine, that we hate evil, we love truth.

We talked about loving one another with a brotherly affection.

We talked about being ardent, fervent in spirit, not slothful in zeal.

We talked about patient tribulation, these different things that we’ve looked at. And always, I would encourage you to go back sometimes and listen through them again, just to kind of work them into your heart and mind. A lot of these things aren’t, they’re certainly not things you hear once and get it. I know I’ve said it before, but the best thing a pastor can do is re-say the same thing in a hundred different ways over your lifetime. But this… This one is, I think, really, really hard.

And I would say, for me, it’s really, really hard. And I feel a great inadequacy in myself when I approach this one. So I’m going to pair up several of these verses, because Paul really doesn’t say anything logically. He just kind of throws them out. Kind of a blob of words here, from 14 to 21. So I’m going to pair up different ones as we go. But what he’s saying in different ways throughout these verses is simply this. You should love your enemy. You should bless the person that hurts you. You should not act with evil when evil is done against you. Now, maybe you are just… You’re just on cloud nine in the Christian life, and you do not struggle with that. Get up here, and you preach this sermon. This is a hard one. Elizabeth Elliot is one of those individuals who kind of perennially, I think, pops up in popular Christian culture, and for a good reason. For a very good reason. You don’t really hear about or see that kind of example of loving your enemies the way you see it in that story. You’ve probably heard of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, but they went to be missionaries in Ecuador, and her husband really wanted to get a hold of this Alka tribe. These Indians, they’re hostile. They gave them gifts for quite a while, dropped off gifts. But long story short, when they found Touchdown and tried to meet them, they were speared to death. Jim and his friends were speared to death. Now, you would think a relatively new wife. Ain’t a brand new mother with a 10-month-old baby. Let’s get on back to the United States of America. Good try. But she doesn’t do that. She moves closer. She gets to know them. She does life with them. She loves them. She forgives them. How do you do that for yourself, and then how do you take a baby into that situation? I mean, that’s radical love for your enemies. It really is. So as I read these, I mean it when I say I would rather see this play out in my life or in the life of the church I’m at than anything else, like a dead person raised, if I could see someone get their sight back or their hearing back, if I could get like a 30-minute window into like seeing what heaven looks like, all the things that I think I would want or would be amazing. I really think if we were honest. Honest with the biblical text, this is the one that if Christ did this work in you, the greatest of miracles would be done.

Paul says in 14, bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse them. And when Paul says bless here, he doesn’t mean like a southern bless your heart, right? It’s superficial. It doesn’t really mean much. The word bless. Bless here means to invoke divine favor. It means to provide someone with benefits as opposed to cursing, which means invoke divine harm. So Paul might as well have said to us and to people who are purely in the flesh, grow wings and fly away or walk on water because that is laughable for us. It’s laughable. Go back to Genesis chapter 4. Genesis chapter 4 verses 23 and 24. Genesis 4, 23 and 24. This is the great, great, great grandson of Cain who murdered his brother. It says, As Lamech said to his wives, Ada and Zillah, hear my voice, you wives of Lamech. Listen to what I say. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s seventy-sevenfold.

Lamech is in a lot of ways, I think, the manifestation of the human heart detached from the reality of God. Lamech. Lamech. In the line of Cain. Cain was detached from Adam, from what it meant to be God’s people, and you have Lamech just being completely honest about how he treats people who mistreat him, even to a young man who has maybe youthful passions. No mercy. No mercy. That’s Lamech. And we have to be honest, I think, and say we all have a little bit. Or a lot a bit of Lamech in each of us.

Would you not say that you’re often covering outwardly the rage and hate you feel inwardly at times from people who hurt you, people who cross you, whether in word or deed?

And let’s be even more honest, because honesty is the only thing that’s helpful when we talk about this stuff. If you’re not willing to be honest, then you’re not going to be honest. If you’re not willing to admit that, you’re not being honest, and you’re not going to change. You’re not going to change. I remember being years ago at a church up in Louisville where Jessica’s mom goes, southeast. Huge church. Over there, like 20,000 people. It’s like the biggest sanctuary I’ve ever been in. And the pastor preaching that morning, his name’s Dave Stone, and he was telling the story of being on an airplane with his wife. And they’re flying away, and there was a guy in the seat next to him, and man, he was using every expletive under the sun on the phone. He was screaming at this guy. So Dave tried to lovingly reach over and touch him and say, could you, make sure you please not use so many curse words, expletives, I appreciate it. And the guy ripped him to shreds. And Dave was angry and seething, and at the time I thought, how could you say that? You’re a pastor. But he said, I wanted those things to fall out of the ceiling so I could take the cord and choke the guy.

And it’s just honesty. We’re vengeful. We would curse every enemy to their face. We get eaten up with pure malice when we’re harmed in word and deed. Again, if you’re not willing to be honest, you can’t change. So yes, it’s impossible for you not to hear Paul’s words to us and ourselves. You don’t have the strength. You don’t have the goodness. You don’t have the forbearance to do otherwise. But this is the amazing thing, again, about these quick little commands that Paul gives. He’s giving these little things that seem like they’re not a big deal because they’re just short sentences, but they’re only possible for people who have believed in the Christ of this whole book of Romans. These things are truly only possible for those who have the spirit of Christ within them. It’s completely different.

This is the way of Jesus.

And Jesus says, Matthew 5, 44, Matthew 5, 44.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven. For he makes his son rise on evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even tax collectors do that? So Jesus is taking this very popular maxim from the law, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. And in its proper application, it means nothing more than any punishment should be equal with the crime committed. It’s all that really is supposed to mean. Where it probably had more of a feel for them of you wrong me, I’m going to wrong you back. Revenge is good. It’s kind of the way it was used. And where the Old Testament simply says, love your neighbor, the Pharisees added on to that and hate your enemy. Jesus gives divine clarity on what those things really mean.

It’s not to say justice isn’t important. It is very important. And God is a God of justice. But what Jesus is saying to us in those verses is this. In light of our special cause, which is the gospel. We. Need not at every turn. Defend ourselves. And we need not defend ourselves at every turn because of the implications of the gospel. And what are the implications of the gospel that set us free from living like that? Well, the gospel teaches us that the father had every reason to put every consequence and punishment, even suffering and death on your back for your sins. Yet Christ bore them in your place. And here’s the real kicker. Jesus didn’t just carry your sins. He carried the sins of your enemies. The very sins that are being committed against you. Christ has already paid for them. The cross makes it possible to love. The cross makes it possible to forgive. The cross makes it possible to invoke divine blessing on you. Your enemy. Because Christ has already dealt with it all. He’s paid for it all. And so when you and I want to act in a justified rage.

We’re showing we don’t really believe that’s the case about Jesus’s cross. God needs a little extra help from me, you know, reinforce that. He needs me to add a little extra punishment just to make sure. Friends, Jesus calls us to follow. Follow the way of his cross. And that’s a lot of dying to self. Daily. You know. Daily. I got to give up my pride. I got to give up my hurts. I got to give up my ego. And I got to suffer. The hurts of others. That by my loving response. I will be shown to be what? A son of the father. In Christ Jesus. So it’s Jesus’ people. It’s only Jesus’ people. Who can have this supernatural. Blessing and love. And forgiveness. Love in the place of hate. Forgiveness in the place of. Grudge.

In Luke 23.34. We read Jesus as he hangs on the cross. Luke 23.34. It says. And Jesus said. Father forgive them. For they know not. What they do. And you can go. Well that’s good. But that’s Jesus. Of course he did that. The real question is. Can that actually pass from Jesus to other people? Because if it can’t. This doesn’t matter.

But in Acts chapter 7. Verse 60. Acts 7.60. We see that Christ has. And can reproduce it in other people by spirit. We see Stephen. And what does Stephen do? He falls to his knees. And he cries out with a loud voice. Lord. Do not hold this sin against them. And when he said this. He fell. Asleep.

So again. I want to belabor. The importance of this. And the impossibility of this. If we really don’t know Christ. Have you memorized the whole Bible? Good for you. Have you evangelized a thousand times a day? Have you given away all your money to the poor? Friends. It doesn’t matter at all. If you and I cannot love and bless our enemies.

Notice though. Down in.


  1. No I’m sorry. 20. Of chapter 12 in Romans. Paul says. To the contrary. If your enemy is hungry. You should feed him. And if he’s thirsty. Give him something to drink. For by so doing. You will heat burning coals. On his head. Now that’s a Proverbs. That Paul is citing. And we can’t take that literally. Because if you took that literally. It would be pretty antithetical. To the whole loving your enemy bit. If you were like. Like I actually go pour hot coals. On someone’s head. So what is. What is that. What does that mean? One commentator would. Kind of paraphrase it like this. In loving your enemy. You’re putting on your enemy. A burning sense of shame. For how they are. Because you’ve not replied in kind. And I think you have to say. Well to what end is that? Just so my enemy is ashamed. No. What is always the end goal. When we act like Christ. And love those. Who are hostile around us. It’s to see the difference. It’s to show the difference. That as I act godly. In a godless world. The world sees. The light of Christ. And comes to repentance and faith in Jesus. That’s our calling. To love our enemies. I’ve said it before. I haven’t said it in a long time. But I’m going to say it again. Because I really believe it’s true. You and I really don’t want heaven. You really don’t want heaven. If you don’t hope to spend it. With your ends. You should hope to see your enemies. In the eternal place. Sitting right next to you. At the dinner table. The cross. Not only makes that possible. The cross demands it. The cross demands it. The apostle Peter says. In 1 Peter 3.9. Do not repay evil for evil. Reviling for reviling. But on the contrary. Bless. For to this you were called. Why? He says that you may obtain the blessing. So this is the pathway to obtaining the blessing. Being with Christ. Being one in Christ. Receiving the heavenly inheritance of Christ. It’s through. The blessing. Blessing and loving our enemies. Another great woman. Women are making the sermons tonight. For whatever reason. But I think about Corrie Ten Boone. And if you’ve not read her story. Her story is amazing. She and her family concealed Jews during the Holocaust. And they were found out. And they were thrown into a labor camp for it. Horrible suffering. And her sister Betsy died in that labor camp. And so after the war. She’s going around and sharing. Just a message of love and forgiveness. At churches. Wherever she can go. She just gives this. This talk on forgiveness. How great God’s forgiveness is. And she said at the time. You know it was a very dark depressing time. And Germany was just obviously in pieces. And at the end of that talk. She saw one of the men.

Who was a guard in that labor camp.

And she said this is a man. I had to walk naked in front of.

And he didn’t remember her. But she said that he walked up. And he said I know that God forgives me for what I’ve done. I’m a Christian now. But I want to hear it from you. You know do you forgive me? And she said it took all she could. To lift her hand up to him. And shake his hand. And she said she finally did it. And she said it was just like. Something went through her body. And she just overflowed with love. And forgave the man. That. Is the Jesus kind of love. And forgiveness. We’re talking about here.

So I want to encourage you. Before you see the sins of your enemies. See your own sins. See them nailed to the tree. In Jesus. Then see your enemy’s sins. Nailed. To that same tree. Because I believe then we can begin to. Supernaturally. Bless. Our enemies. And not one moment before.

Look at verse 17 with me now. In chapter 12.

Paul says repay no one evil for evil. But give thought to do what is honorable. In the sight of all.

And then 19. Beloved never avenge yourselves. But leave it to the wrath of God. For it is written. Vengeance is mine. I will repay. Says. The Lord. So the cross gives me this. Assurance just as much. That God will deal. With every foe. God will deal justly. God will deal timely. With every foe. Everyone who is against me. And I always have to keep in mind. When I experience harm from other people. Jesus is a way better judge than me. He does not need a sidekick. He’s a way better judge. He’s like so much wiser. And far more merciful. Than me. Which is good because. I need mercy too. But it’s just not always the case. That everything works out. Like a beautiful Christian movie setting. There’s a bad guy. He’s mean. The Christian forgives. The guy comes to salvation on his knees. And all is well. Doesn’t happen like that does it? A lot of times. You repay. Good to evil. And you get more evil. And you get more evil. And it seems like. God is absent. And evil gets to rule the day. And that’s absolutely the case. When you look at the Psalms. When you look at the Psalms. How often is David complaining. Because his enemies are all around. He needs God to sustain him. He thinks God has left him. But David constantly comes back to this truth. And he believes in it. That God is in control. God will destroy the wicked. God will take care of David. And David is someone to trust on that. Because who is pressed to the edge of life. More than David. Well you could say. Jesus. And what did Jesus do to the very end? Trusted the Father. And then when we look at the Apostles. They were pressed to the edge of life. They trusted the Lord. When we look at the church age. Or we even look at the book of Revelation. And all the churches. Suffering. What did they do? They believed. Perhaps not in this lifetime. Perhaps not in this lifetime. God will make all things right. So faith in the cross. Faith in the cross. Is seen then. By my willingness to sit in the suffering. Sit in the wrong doing. Sit in the hurt. The only reason I can do that. Is because the cross assures me. God takes care of Jesus’ people. And that’s very difficult. That’s very difficult. Because you and I want to handle our affairs. Our affairs. But it’s something else. Isn’t it? To suffer quietly. Not meaninglessly. But quietly sometimes. Trusting God’s purposes. When someone has malicious designs against you. I read a couple different things. One from these Christians in Burkina Faso. They were attacked by radicals. And shot up 15 people. And they prayed after. For the consequences. And the conversion of those who did this.

Or I read about a little Nigerian boy. Who, same thing. Recently. Dad was slaughtered by radical Muslims.

Friends, we are called. To believe in the power of the cross. That yes, it saves us. But God is also the one who fights for us. And I don’t have to pick up my sword. Right? And go attack. So it’s. It’s not. It’s not that I’m careless of evil. Like, ah, whatever happens. You know, it’s fine. It’s just that tone has a lot to do with it. It’s the difference between Peter chopping off someone’s ear. Right? And trusting the Lord. Like, I love Jesus so much. And I love the truth so much. I’m willing to chop off your ear for Jesus. Jesus didn’t ask you to do that for him. Actually. Jesus can take care of himself. And he can take care of you. So. So what we say is so often just as important as how we say it. And I think this is important for us, especially in the Internet age. Again, as Christians, especially with the freedoms we have to speak our minds, for better or worse, a lot of times worse. But we can speak our minds as believers. We should stand up for truth. We should say what honors God. We should. And you see people doing that in many different spheres of culture. Whether it’s kind of, you know, I think the takeover of public schools and the way that, you know, there’s overreach and really the wild and wicked things that are being taught to kids. And you see these parents standing up against that. Or just culture trying to force you to believe a certain thing. Or maybe it’s dealing with that same culture at work. And that’s starting to press in on you. It happens in your own family. It happens with friends. It happens all the ways that you and I can be pressed to stand up for what we believe in. It’s really important that I can speak truth, that I can stand for what I believe in, without dumbing myself down to the level of my opponent in how I say it. I mean, it’s really disconcerting, quite honestly, because you see a lot of so-called Christian pastors. I shouldn’t say so-called. I hope they are that. But you see Christian voices even, like, in-house. You see Christian voices even, like, in-house. Whether it’s Twitter or wherever. And they’re just as knifey and sharp-tongued about second-tier, third-tier issues that aren’t even the main point. And you’re willing to stab the person to death on the Internet over your position. So I don’t think we’re good at the tone thing on the Internet. Speak the truth, yes, firmly. But surely we can sound different than the way everyone else is talking.

Especially, and again, what’s the bigger context? What’s the bigger context? I think of what Paul’s talking about through all this. He’s talking about church life. He’s talking about how we treat one another in the church. So, notice what he says then here in verse 17. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought. Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. You see how important that is? We pass over that. In other words, what does that mean, give thought? Paul’s saying you ought to be very thoughtful and careful about how you respond to the people who’ve hurt you because someone’s always watching. And if you don’t, you’re likely to give up your witness to everyone else because you responded the way you wanted to respond, not the way that would have honored Jesus. So, everything’s evangelistic in that sense. Because someone… One, be it a non-believer or be it someone in the church who can grow in their disillusionment if they see Christians responding the same way the world does to the way that they are hurt or mistreated. Always ask yourself, what’s the bigger picture going to look like at the end of this? How is this going to look in the end if I respond in my flesh? What’s it look like for me to honor Christ? And how I respond when I’m hurt? Am I more concerned with how my name looks? Or am I more concerned with how Jesus’ name looks? That’s really important. It’s really important. And again, it has application in so many places, doesn’t it? How many times we can get in things with folks we work with. Again, even extended family. I’m going to tell them what I think. They’re going to get it. Well, congratulations. You gave it. And you look like a heathen.

Whose name am I living for? Whose name am I living for? How you say words is important. I think maybe another paradigm to think about this in, the difference between the word react and respond. So, reacting is more of an impulse. Like when you’re… When your doctor hits your knee and it shoots out. You know, it’s like, whoop, it just happened. Don’t live for your fleshly impulses. You know? Those tend to always get us in trouble. Rather, you and I are called to respond in the spirit. Which takes waiting. Which takes self-control. Which takes a lot of praying.

When wrong is done to you, are you willing to take what’s… proverbially called the high road?

Your enemy, even the enemy, has gotten the best of you when he has drawn out the worst in you. Let me say that again. Your enemy, the enemy, Satan, has gotten the best of us when he’s drawn out the worst in us. Only let us look to God to fight for.

Last, I want to look at verses 18 and 21 together.

Paul says, If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

20… Excuse me, 21. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. I think that verse, I remember memorizing that verse, I think it was like high school camp. What a good verse to have memorized. That one, verse 18, that one’s always stuck with me. As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. And it’s a freeing verse. And here’s why it’s freeing. God does not expect you to control outcomes. At all. You’re not in control of outcomes. What are you responsible for? Yourself. God is not asking you to fix everything that’s broken around you. He’s not asking you to bring about even what your mind conceives of to be an appropriate end in conflict and persecution, whether it’s with a brother, sister, or with a non-believer. What does God really expect from me when I am wronged? What does God expect from me? What does God expect from me? Hebrews 12.14 ties right into this verse. Hebrews 12.14 And again, what’s the book of Hebrews about? It’s about people being persecuted. He’s writing to persecuted Christians. Here’s what he says, 12.14 Strive for peace with everyone. Same thing. Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

To strive for peace with everyone is at the same time the pursuit of holiness. You and I don’t get to pause sanctification when things are really bad in life. If things were not that bad and had some sin struggles and maybe someone just said something mean about me and I was able to correct them, but somebody assassinated my character and I am going to let them have it. I’m taking up arms. Nope. As far as it’s possible, have peace with that person. Walk in the way of Christ. Be holy in how you deal with other people. In all of your dealings. You’re freed from getting even with them. You’re freed from an outcome. You’re freed from anything other than looking at Jesus and imitating Him.

Think about Easter coming up. It’s just a couple weeks away. I think this little verse and everything we looked at here should get us excited about Easter like nothing else. I think Easter is a sham. It’s a sham. If I think about Easter and I think about me, look what God did for me. Friends, Easter opens up this possibility of what nobody, other person religion country entity could do and that is make a way to love all people it makes a way not just for my sins to be wiped out but it gives me a heart and a capacity to love not just my friends and my family but even seeing Easter renewal forgiveness for my enemies Easter is that big Easter is that big it’s the celebration of my enemies being forgiven in the face of great mistreatment so let Easter excite you not to a meaningless command that you and I cannot obey but let it excite you to what you can supernaturally do because you have the spirit of the resurrected Christ who loved you who didn’t repay you in kind with your evil who gave you food and drink who sought your good by his own blood there we have both our model of love and there we have our power to love others in the cross the death and the resurrection of Jesus

let’s pray

, Father these are hard words

Lord I know that we need to relearn this so many times we need to submit ourselves time and time again in humility to your son to what he showed us to your spirit inside of us God that we would not prove ourselves hypocrites to say that we’re people of the cross but we don’t love any different

Lord teach us to love teach us to forgive teach us to bless teach us to point others to the truth of the gospel not just people that it’s easy to do that with but Lord even with our enemy

Lord we pray that by these things we would not be the ones that we are to love to love to love to love to love to love to love Thank you for watching.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Romans 12:14-21