Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Offering our Bodies as Living Sacrifice (Romans 12-13)

I lectured on Romans 12-13 yesterday. It was a fruitful study of Paul's exhortation on presenting our bodies as living sacrifice for our rational worship ten logigen latreian. At the end of Romans 13, an imperative on "putting on our Lord Jesus Christ" and making no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires serves as an inclusio to these 2 chapters of Paul's advice to the Romans to act out the Gospel in church (Rom 12) and society (Rom 13). In church, one has to exercise the gifts which God in his grace has given to each one of us and the exercise of such gifts must be in accordance with the measure or proportion of faith with the view to edify the whole body since there is one body but many members.

The glue to church unity is love and in particular not giving way to retaliation or revenge as "Vengeance belongs to the Lord and I will avenge, saith the Lord" and learning to overcome evil with good. Romans 13 on the other hand deals mainly with Christians' relations with the State and the believers' obligations to the State including paying taxes and giving honour where honour is due (13:1-8) and then another love command and doing no evil to another person. "Owe no one anything but love" is a command hard to comply with as the modern day living is often characterized by debt - home mortgage, car loans, credit card debts, etc. How wonderful it is to live without debt since as Scripture says, the borrower is slave to the lender. I ended the lectures by reading from my favourite Christian writing, the Confessions where Augustine shared how he was converted through reading Romans 13:13-14: "let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (At TTC library where I showed my NT 1 class how to look up commentaries).

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