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THE VICTORIOUS LIFE

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									                            THE VICTORIOUS LIFE


Romans 13:1-14
Key Verse: 13:14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and
do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

In the previous passage, Paul urged us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices
to God. In today‟s passage, Paul teaches us lessons in regard to our attitude
toward authorities, fellow Christians and ourselves. He encourages us to
clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us learn how to be victorious
in our Christian lives through Paul‟s teaching.


1. Submit to the authorities (1-7)

Look at verse 1. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities
that exist have been established by God.” Fallen men want to exercise
authority over others. Some people want to exercise their authority over their
dogs. But they don‟t want to submit to other‟s authority. Especially the people
of Israel regarded submission to the Roman authorities as surrendering to the
evil of the world. But Paul wanted to lay down the principle of how to deal with
the authorities.

In verse 1, Paul counsels Christians to submit to the authorities absolutely.
Let‟s think about why God‟s people should submit to the authorities. Paul‟s
view of the state was that the authorities were established by God. Even
pagan rulers have been established by God. For example, God told Pharaoh “I
raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and
that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Ro 9:17) God raised up
Pharaoh to train his people under slavery in order to mold them as holy nation
people.

When the Israelites were corrupted after deserting God and His word, God
raised Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to destroy the city Jerusalem. The
Israelites faced the darkest time in history in Babylon under pagan kings and
culture. After 70 years of exile, when God wanted to return the Israelites from
Babylonian captivity, God raised King Cyrus of Persia and destroyed Babylon.
God moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to build a temple at Jerusalem in
Judah. The rise and fall of the kingdoms is in God‟s hand. The best example of
submission is our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus was on trial, the Roman
governor Pilate thought that he held Jesus‟ life in his hand. He said to Jesus,
“Don‟t you realize I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Jesus
answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from
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above” (Jn 19:10,11). Jesus obeyed Pilate‟s authority because it was the will
of God.

God is ruling history, especially the leaders of the nations. Likewise the Roman
Empire was also established by God. Paul saw that the Roman Empire was in
the hand of God. When the Roman Empire conquered the world of the time,
people only thought about the cruelty of the Roman authorities. But behind the
scenes, God was working for his own purpose. He was preparing to send the
messengers of the gospel to the whole world through Roman roads, which
extended from Rome to all other countries. Paul understood God‟s plan for
world salvation through Roman roads. Verse 2 says. “Consequently, he who
rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and
those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” The major function of the
government is to bring order to human society where people live together. In
order to maintain the order, it punishes those who do wrong and commends
those who do right.

Look at verses 3-4. “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for
those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?
Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God‟s servant to do
you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for
nothing. He is God‟s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the
wrongdoer.” This is a practical reason for us to submit ourselves to the
authorities. I have one question for you. “Were you peaceful when you violated
the traffic law? How did you feel when the police car approached behind you
blinking with loud siren? You would be terrified due to possible tickets.” It is
absolutely necessary for us to submit to the authorities if we want to be free
from fear of the one in authority and to have peaceful sleep. Our conscience
will suffer greatly when we do wrong. The guilty conscience will torment our
soul when we do wrong. It is easy for us to fear the authorities for no obvious
reason. But we should not fear them. Instead we must pray for them to work
hard doing what is right.

Look at verse 6. “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God‟s
servant, who give their full time to governing.” This is from a material aspect.
Usually we are not happy to pay taxes, but eager to get bountiful tax returns.
But as Christians we must be willing to pay taxes. Jesus paid the temple tax of
4 drachma by letting Peter catch a fish in the lake. Verse 7 is from a moral
respect. Paul exhorts Christians to submit to the authorities and do all the
basic duties as citizens. When we live as law-abiding, exemplary citizens, we
can enjoy the privilege to serve God freely.

However, we must not submit to governing authorities blindly. We must do so
prayerfully. There are times when Christians may be called to obey God, not
the authorities. When Jewish Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John not to
speak at all in the name of Jesus, they replied “Judge for yourselves whether it
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is right in God‟s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Act 4:19) When we are
forced to give up our faith in God, we must stand up and obey God rather than
worldly authorities. God is above the king. We must obey God first and next
submit ourselves to the governing authorities. We confront many forms of
authorities while we live in this world such as family, working places, schools
and church. We should respect the authorities. When we do so, we please
God.


2. Love one another (8-10)

Look at verse 8. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to
love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” There
are two kinds of debts here. First one is debt like the credit card payment,
school loans and house mortgages. We must pay all of our debts as
responsible people of God.

Second one is the continuing debt to love one another. There is one debt that
we should never pay off. In this verse “debt to love” means an obligation to
love others. This debt is owed to our Lord Jesus Christ. While we were still
sinners- unlovely, useless, harmful and weak- Christ died for us. Christ poured
out his precious blood without holding anything back to purchase our
redemption. God accepted his blood as the full payment for our sins. This
wonderful new life came to us by the one-sided love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Our God is abounding in love. We are the debtors to God‟s immeasurable love.

Loving one another is not an option but a new command that Jesus gave to us.
Jesus said in Jn 13:34 “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I
have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus loved his disciples to
the end though they were not lovely. Jesus loved all kinds of people. Later, his
disciples loved one another. Love begins from our closest neighbour, our
roommate. If we cannot love our roommate, we cannot love anyone. Many
common lives are going on in and around our church. It is time for us to
practice the love of God toward others. We can never pay this back as long as
we live. But we must do our best to practice the love of God. We can practice
this love when we take care of one person with Bible study and prayer from a
shepherd‟s heart. This love can change the world we live in. Verse 10b says
“Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the
law.”


3. Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (11-14)

Look at verse 11,12. “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour
has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is
nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is
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almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of
light.”

The Second coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory is nearer than it has
ever been before. Jesus warned us that the day would come suddenly like a
thief in the night when no one expected it. Jesus may come in this afternoon.
1Thessalonians 4:16-17 say “For the Lord himself will come down from
heaven with a loud commands, with the voice of archangel and with the
trumphet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who
are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to
meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Christ will
come again to judge the world and even the saints by their fruits. The time of
his coming is getting nearer and nearer. Understanding the present time, we
must wake up from our spiritual sleep and struggle hard to live as God‟s
people.

The word “night” is the symbol of darkness. In darkness, many people do evil
and shameful things. But we are sons of the light and sons of the day. Here,
the words “armor of light” describe the act of a soldier who resists his enemy.
The Oxford dictionary defines the word „armor‟ as follow: protective metal
covering formerly worn in fight. But this armor is the armor of light. The armor
of light protects us from devil‟s schemes, dark world and spiritual forces of evil.

When we lived in the darkness, we enjoyed dark pleasures. What the deeds of
darkness? Look at verse 13. “Let us behave decently, as in the day time, not
orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality, and debauchery, not in
dissension and jealousy.” These acts did not come from God. These are the
work of the devil, angel of darkness. These days many young people have
deep love of darkness. They indulge in wild parties in outspoken despair, and
in drunkenness and indomitable desire for sexual immorality and rock-parties.
They also become slaves of jealousy. They really don‟t like other‟s success or
promising future. By doing so, they become the children of darkness.

Look at verse 14. “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and
do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” As we know,
we really want to live a victorious life of faith and render glory to God. Also, we
want to live a decent life in Christ. Then, How can we do that? Paul said,
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul compares Jesus Christ to
a clothing that Christians should wear everyday. We wear our different clothes
according to changing seasons. However, there is a spiritual clothe that we
need to wear in all seasons. He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does it mean that we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ? When
we repent the deeds of darkness, Jesus imputes his grace and perfect
righteousness to us. Only Jesus‟ precious blood can wash away all our sins,
guilt and shame. Only Jesus‟ righteousness qualifies us to serve God‟s work
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and to enter the kingdom of God. Every morning we must come to Jesus, put
aside our sinful self and clothe ourselves with Jesus‟ grace of forgiveness of
sins and his perfect righteousness. Next, we must live our lives in imitation of
Jesus not according to the desires of the sinful nature. Instead of imitating
worldly people‟s lives, we must imitate Jesus. When we imitate Jesus in our
daily lives, we can grow in his image, in his likeness until we become like him.
Paul said in Gal 2:20 “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” We belong to
Christ and Christ lives in us and wants to rule our hearts with his grace and
truth.

Still living in this world, often we are ruled by our situations. Our personal
situations are always hard to bear. But when Christ lives in us, he drives out all
kinds of fears from our hearts and leads us into the paths of peace. Often we
are ruled by our sinful desires and emotions. But when we surrender ourselves
to Jesus and imitate his wonderful life based on his life-giving words, he frees
us from our sinful self and blesses us to grow in his image, in his likeness until
we become like him and live our lives as he lived.

By the grace of God, I attended South America intercontinental conference
2007 in Mexico. It enlightened my soul with abounding grace of Jesus. I
received one word of God through Jn 10:11 which says “I am the good
shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” The good
shepherd goes in front of sheep showing them the example of his life. The
image of good shepherd was imprinted in my heart as a spiritual direction. May
I clothe myself with the image of good shepherd Jesus until I grow like Him.

One hymn song „More like the Master‟ depicts our earnest desire to grow like
Jesus. “More like the Master, I would live and grow, More of His love to others
I would show; More self-denial, like His in Galilee, More like the Master I long
to ever be...” May we have great desire to imitate Jesus and his divine
characters. May we clothe ourselves with the grace of Jesus‟ forgiveness and
grow in the image of Jesus.

Conclusion: Through today‟s passage, we learned 3 secrets how to live a
victorious life. These are to submit ourselves to authorities, to love one another
and to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. May we obey God‟s word
by faith.

								
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