The Book of Romans, like the other writings of the Apostle Paul, follows a similar pattern of doctrine, being expounded first and then applied. Romans Chapters 1-11 are Doctrinal and Chapters 12-16 are Duty. This order is important to acknowledge, especially in a day when the cry from the pew is “Give us something practical!” Let’s put some shoe leather on the road! ‘Let’s talk about our duty!” – and then let the pulpit cater to this plea by giving them what they want! Wrong! Doctrine is the foundation; it must be first! You must know something before you can do your duty. And yes, practical application is extremely important, but you can’t, as the old saying goes, “Get the cart before the horse.” The passage before us falls into the category of Christian Duty – under three points.
Government was God’s Idea (Vss. 1-7)
There is no authority but from God, and those that resist are put in place by God (Gen. 9:6). Paul taught that God had instituted human government as a restraining power, an agent of justice, and peace (1 Tim. 2:1-6). Pagans and Christians alike are to recognize that government is a Divine Institution to be respected and obeyed. Lawlessness of the last days is coming upon us, and we see it everywhere. Nevertheless, we are to pay taxes, show respect for those who govern, and in other ways be good citizens.
Paul and other writers of Scripture are not here giving a blanket endorsement of every and any form of human government; in fact, when challenged about the limits of government into the life of the believer, Peter and the other Apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Why? Because believers are now citizens of Heaven (Phil. 3:20 – see the word “conversation” = “citizenship” = gk, politeuma). The duty of the believer as a citizen of Heaven is spiritual. The duty of a believer as a citizen under a government is secular.
We are to Love our Neighbors (Vss. 8-10)
All citizens of society owe a debt of love! Here, Paul quotes some of the Ten Commandments to show that any violation harms people. If we truly love our fellow man, we will do nothing to bring them harm, and love will lead us to fulfill the Divine law as well as keep us from violations of human law.
Paul is saying that our love for our neighbor is revealed in what we do rather than in what we say. He is not putting the Christian back under the Law; he is saying that love manifests itself in not committing adultery, not killing, not stealing, not coveting. You can talk about love all you want to, but if you commit these acts against your neighbor, you have no love for Him. This love is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25).
The Time is Short – Make No Provisions for the Flesh (Vss. 11-14)
Paul sounds an alarm for Christians in a Pagan society! Wake up! Time is short! Take off the old and put on the new – “put on the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Every generation of believers seems to struggle with heavy eyelids. “A Little slumber a little folding of the hands to sleep” (Prov. 6:10.) Verse 11 reveals a common tendency to slumber and sleep into a state of spiritual stupor – unaware that the hour of labor – duty is at hand. Believers are to “know the season.” Christ sternly scolded the religious leaders of His day for their ignorance concerning he time (Lk. 12:54-56).
Grace at Work
“Cast off the works of darkness” – immoral living (vs. 12). You must identify the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:12-21). This is a serious struggle (Rom. 7:14-25). Consider yourself dead! (Rom. 6:1-13; Gal. 2:19-20).
“rioting and drunkenness” (vs. 13)
“chambering and wantonness” (vs. 13)
“strife and envying” (vs. 13)
“make no provision for the flesh” (vs. 14) (cf. Gal. 5:16-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
- “Put on the amour of light” (vs. 12) (cf., Col. 3:8-12).
- “Walk honestly (decently and well behaved) (vs. 13).
- “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 14) Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus (cf., Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 18).
Many believers are making every provision for the flesh but are making no provision to live for the Lord (1 Cor. 15:34). Are you using your time and what you possess for God?
This is what you are supposed to be doing. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom.12:1-2)