Romans 12:9

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Romans 12:9

Starting here in verse 9 and continuing through the chapter, there are approximately 20 commands given by Paul. A command in the epistles is a prescriptive statement given with the intent that it will be followed by the believer. It should be obvious from reading these commands that many are things we fail at, either openly or in our heart, on a regular basis.

Unlike the law, however, there is no statement which says, “If you do these things you will live by them.” Life has been granted through Jesus’ work. The commands then are intended to bring us into a harmonious way of life, both for ourselves and those we interact with. When we fail to meet up to these directives, we can lose our joy, our health, and our rewards. However, failing to meet these commands will not result in a loss of salvation.

For example, a similar sentiment to Paul’s admonitions is found in 2 Peter 1:7. The surrounding verses there show how to remain fruitful and also how to increase in being fruitful. But should one fail to do so, there is no indication of a loss of salvation. Rather, there is the chastisement for having been “shortsighted, even to blindness.” Understanding this, Paul begins with, “Let love be without hypocrisy…” It’s a similar thought to what John states in his first epistle –

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Our love is to be sincere; not merely paying lip-service to those around us. The use of the word “hypocrisy” means that we are not to be two-faced in this love. Such love then is a volitional act of the will. There are times that we have to put aside ourselves and our negative feelings and sincerely endeavor to love those around us. It’s often not an easy task, but it is what we are called to do.

Next we are told to “abhor what is evil.” That which is evil is opposed to that which is godly. We are told to hate such things. Hatred then is not necessarily evil. God is said to “hate” things in Scripture and yet God is all-good. Therefore, anything contrary to what is holy and godly can and must be hated. Perversion, untruth, immorality of any kind, etc., is not just to be avoided, but to be hated. The things our leaders do which are contrary to Scripture are included in this. Even though we are instructed to be obedient to the laws around us, unless they violate God’s law for us, we are to hate them if they are evil. Abortion is a perfect example of this. We are not only to refrain from abortion, but we are to abhor it and work against it. This is a mandate, not a hope.

Finally, we are told to “cling to what is good.” The word for “cling” is kollōmenoi. It carries the thought of gluing two things together. We are in essence to be “glued to goodness.” The root of this Greek word was commonly used throughout ancient Greek medical writings when speaking of the repairing of wounds. This then is the reciprocal of abhorring evil which could be considered a wound in what is good. In order to accomplish the latter (cling to what is good), we need to perform the former (abhorring evil).

Life application: The Bible doesn’t waffle on the issues of sin and evil. We are to hate them in all their forms. Clinging to the world and its fallen system is contrary to what God expects of us. Let us be determined to live holy, godly lives and to cling to that which is good.

Heavenly Father, I love You. Amen.

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