Journey through the Book of Romans
Paul says “Let us Live Like Christ Followers” Part 5
Romans 12:19-21 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NKJV
Paul left us the last time with the admonition to live peaceably with all men, if it is possible to do so. As we documented in the last study, Paul knew from experience that it is not possible to live peaceably with all men as he spoke of the much harm inflicted upon him by a man named Alexander the Coppersmith. However, despite Paul’s afflictions at the hands of wicked men snared by the devil, Paul never retaliated against them in like manner. Paul now urges and exhorts us to never lash out against our persecutors trying to take revenge for how we have been wronged or mistreated at their hands. Paul so wants us to know that he understands the temptation to strike back at the one or ones who bring physical, emotional, or spiritual pain into our lives. Paul once responded even to the Jewish High Priest and no doubt his heart was wanting to strike out physically if he were in the position to do so but he said this, Acts 23:1-3 Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day. “The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” NKJV
As we listen to these words spoken by this great Apostle, we are quickly reminded that he is just a man of like passions as are you and I, but redeemed by and living by the grace of God also just as you and I. Therefore, we can hear the pleading in his voice as he refers to the Christians in Rome and to you and me as “Dearly Beloved”, as he speaks with the heart of an earthly parent to their children. Paul says that we are to do just the opposite by committing, yielding, or suffering ourselves to the wrath of men, but he is also saying that we must give place or way to allow God’s Divine Wrath to work on our behalf against those who wrong us and we would be a hindrance by trying to avenge ourselves in some feeble way. The English word wrath Paul uses comes from the Greek word orge which means anger, the natural disposition, temper, character movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but especially anger, wrath, indignation or anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself of punishments inflicted by magistrates. Paul knows (not from theory) but from his own personal experiences of man’s wrathful, indignation, and anger against him for Christ sake and that for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as he said this on one occasion speaking of himself, Galatians 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. NKJV
When Paul said this to the Christians in Galatia, he used the English word marks and this word is translated from the Greek word stigma and it is where we get our English word stigmata from. Stigmata means marks resembling the wounds on the crucified body of Christ. Stigma means a mark incised or punched (for recognition of ownership), that is, (figuratively) scar of service. Paul listed for us the marks or scars of service he received on behalf of his love, obedience, and service to our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Paul is a man qualified to tell us not to retaliate against our persecutors and with his marks of service on his physical body and the integrity of his life we have no choice but to listen to him. Paul now goes back to the words documented for us by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35 that declares to us and for us that our God is Sovereign and in control of all things and he will repay the evil perpetrated against us in a far more powerful manner, method, and might than we could ever do in our feeble and finite humanity. Remember what Paul said in speaking of Alexander the Coppersmith who did him much harm, 2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. NKJV And surely the Lord Jesus did just that regarding that man and so will he do in regard to every person used by satan to bring much harm to any of us, as Paul spoke of the enemy hindering him from going to the believers in Thessalonica here, 1 Thessalonians 2:18 For we wanted to come to you--I, Paul, more than once--and yet satan hindered us. NKJV
Paul confirms his words by going back into the Old Testament as he was so very keen to do quite frequently to give credence to the words he wrote here of exhorting us to let God avenge the wrong shown to us, he quotes King Solomon in Proverbs 25:21-22. Paul finally urges us to not allow evil to conquer or prevail or get the victory over us, but on the contrary we are to conquer or prevail or get the victory over evil by our good or the Greek word agathos which means pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy excellent, distinguished upright, honorable behavior or response. Paul knows that to meet evil with more evil will only serve to add more wood to the flame or fuel to the burning fire, but to greet evil with good will serve to do as the writer of Proverbs says with these words, Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. NKJV Therefore, let us take heed to the words of the Apostle Paul and gain the complete victory over all evil by our pleasant and joyful response to it, even though it is very difficult, but our Lord Jesus said to Paul this, 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” KJV
“It requires perfect knowledge of the true evil of an action, which no one has who cannot read the heart; it requires perfect freedom from passion; it requires perfect immunity from evil desert on the part of the avenger; in a word, it belongs to God, and to Him alone. We have nothing to do with apportioning retribution to desert, either in private actions or in the treatment of so-called criminals. In the latter our objects should be reformation and the safety of society. If we add to these retribution, we transcend our functions.” Alexander MacLaren
“Let not the evil of any provocation that is given you have such a power over you, or make such an impression upon you, as to dispossess you of yourselves, to disturb your peace, to destroy your love, to ruffle and discompose your spirits, to transport you to any indecencies, or to bring you to study or attempt any revenge. He that cannot quietly bear an injury is perfectly conquered by it. Learn to defeat their ill designs against you, and either to change them, or at least to preserve your own peace. He that hath this rule over his spirit is better than the mighty.” Matthew Henry
“If as the Scripture declares “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13, then certainly that means I can overcome evil brought against me from satan, his demons, and the human instruments they work through, because greater is He (Christ) who lives in me, than he in the world (1 John 4:4).” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…
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