by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
He doesn’t say, “I command you!” He says, “I beseech you.” After all, he is writing to those who have already believed in Christ, and therefore should of their own accord behave as believers. There may be many things we cannot do, and there might be much that we cannot give, but by the grace of God we can all behave.
Friends, the verses that I just read have three points to make about our conduct.
First, our conduct should be voluntary. Paul said, “Present your bodies.” We should give God all we have, and that includes more than our hearts. We need to act like His children, and seek to do what pleases Him.
Another point made by these verses is that we should not allow our conduct to be molded by others. It says in verse 2, “Be not conformed.” Christians are not to be like everyone else because we are not the same. We are indwelt by God’s Spirit. We are to be like our Savior, who was different from those around Him.
Finally, these verses tell us that our conduct should come from within. We read, “But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Until we have a genuine belief that results in salvation, we lack the power within us to behave. But when Christ comes into our lives, we become new creatures. Christ becomes the center of our lives, and we have the power that He gives to help us behave.
So you see, belief in the gospel does affect our conduct, but it also affects our citizenship.
Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of Romans, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 5:1).
Our citizenship refers to the way that we relate to those who have been elected to positions of authority. Our citizenship may be one of the greatest testimonies that we have. In God’s family, there is no place for the destructive spirit of rebellion.
Now, we have arrived at the last point, “The gospel has an effect on our concern.” In chapter 14, Paul said, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended or is made weak” (Romans 14:21). The gist of this verse is that salvation enables Christians to place the concerns of others above their own selfish interests. When we reach this level of behavior, the criteria is no longer merely “Is it right or wrong? But rather “Will it cause a brother of sister to stumble?”
If our belief in Christ is genuine, we will behave as Christ would. We won’t be out to please ourselves, to prove our point, or to insist on our own way. Rather, our lives will be characterized by the Christian love that Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
D.L. Moody said, “God hates the great things in which love is not the motive power, but He delights in the little things that are prompted by a feeling of love.”
Love puts quality into service for the Lord. When you have love, your words and actions amount to something and help other people. Love also puts maturity into character. The Corinthians were impatient with each other, suing each other, tolerating sin in the church, and creating problems because they did not have love. Whatever qualities you may have, they are nothing without love. Love puts eternity into life. Love lasts, and what love does will last. Love is the greatest and does the greatest because “God is love”
Believe and behave! That’s the message of the book of Romans. “Believe and behave”—not “Believe or behave.” When we understand and then get a hold of both of these truths, so that they become part of our everyday lives, then Paul’s letter to the church at Rome has accomplished its purpose. So let’s listen to what God tells us in His word, and then obey Him. And let’s act like children of God, and be more like Jesus.
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