Marks of a Christian


Today’s Reading: Jer 50:1–46, Rom 12:9–13:7, Prov 27:1–27

Today’s Theme: Marks of a Christian

Today we have a very practical lesson form Paul where he lists the marks of the true Christian and calls us to live out our faith by living in the way God intends. This is almost the practical outworking of all the theological and spiritual truth established concerning the Gospel and our salvation earlier in the letter.

So read Paul’s bullet point list of virtues and seek to live out the miracle of regeneration today. You are a new creation now live like one, work out (for all to see) what God has “worked in” by His Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel of God.

Today is Boxing Day in the UK, a day in our household at least where the children practically play with the gifts they received on Christmas day, so it seems quite significant to today’s lesson. We received the gift of salvation, now we need to use it for everyday life.

Jeremiah 50:1–46

God’s pardon

In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant. (Jeremiah 50:20, ESV)

Although The Lord appointed these nations to judge His, they themselves still qualify for judgement. God knows how this all balances in His wisdom and purposes.

God has mercy and so pardons the elect remnant… or none would be saved, this will also be true in the final days.

God is great

“Behold, like a lion coming up from the thicket of the Jordan against a perennial pasture, I will suddenly make them run away from her, and I will appoint over her whomever I choose. For who is like me? Who will summon me? What shepherd can stand before me? (Jeremiah 50:44, ESV)

This is a repeated self revelation of God (we saw it yesterday). God states that no one can summon Him. Some teach that we can call and command God but this is simply not true. God is the sovereign king, He appoints whom He will and is not summoned as though He were any man’s servant.

God is the king, not a genie in a bottle.

Romans 12:9–13:7

Love genuinely

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9, ESV)

Our love must not be a saccharin veneer, it should be genuine love poured out from our hearts in truth.

It is significant that Paul mentions the need for truth and discernment alongside the call to be genuine in love. This is because we cannot love apart from the truth and the abhoring of evil.

Love like family

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10, ESV)

As Christians we are called to love each other with the same affection we show for our families. For this to retain its context we must love our families in the way God intended in the first place.

Loving like family will include making sacrifices for each other, bearing with each other and being kind to each other.

We can’t get away with detached love as a duty, either it is family like love or it is not the kind of love God intends between His children.

Paul’s language is great we should outdo each other in showing honour to each other, this way everyone is honoured, and loved.

Be passionate

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11, ESV)

A timely word after a long Christmas Day. We are called as Christians to be zealous and fervent, full of passion and fire and hunger and desire and delight as we serve our glorious King… Hallelujah!

Be steady

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12, ESV)

This is a call to steadiness in the Christian life. We are made steady by our hope found in the Gospel which causes us to rejoice even in difficult and trying times. Patience steadies and matures the soul to remain faithful under trial while the constant faithful position and power of prayer sustains the spiritual vitality and life of the believer.

So be steady, be constant, hopeful and patient to the glory of God.

Be Empathetic

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15, ESV)

Empathy should be part of our make up as saints. We should not be cold, indifferent or aloof from the pain, suffering, hurt or even the jubilation of others. We are called to live our lives on mission just like Jesus, living alongside the people being touched by their infirmities as it were.

We are God’s royal priests in the earth, so do the work of a priest by empathising with those around you. You are their connection to God so show them that God cares.

Be teachable

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:16, ESV)

Have a teachable spirit, this is how we live in harmony with each other. We should associate with those who are humble as the proud will only make us prideful as well.

Retaliation forbidden

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (Romans 12:17, ESV)

Retaliation is forbidden for us as Christian individuals if we seek to live out the example God has shown us in Christ.

Do your part

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:18, ESV)

You can not live in peace for other people you can only do your part… but you must do your part.

Love your enemy

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20, ESV)

Quoting Old Testament wisdom and the teaching of Jesus, Paul reminds us that we should love those who have made themselves our enemy.

Be good

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21, ESV)

The secret weapon against evil is good not counter evil. Our mandate is to be good, to be so good that our goodness overcomes evil. This is not man made goodness but is dependent on the righteousness God credits to our account and the work and fruit of the Holy Spirit (one of which is goodness).

The Christian and the Government

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1, ESV)

This is because God is the sovereign Lord of the universe, so all authority is under His authority. This gives us context for how we should conduct ourselves with governing authorities and dispels the notion that Jesus was a rebel leader for the rebels.

We submit to the authorities as good citizens as long as they do not demand that we deny our faith. In those cases they have perverted their delegated authority and we are to obey God. This is true in much of the suffering church where the authorities are corrupt.

God’s purpose in punishment

for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:4, ESV)

Capital, punitive and remedial judgement is here defended. God uses institutions like the police to exact His judgement on those who break the law. If God had not set up and empowered society with officers in this way we would have anarchy.

One of God’s great purposes in the world is human flourishing but where there is anarchy there can be no flourishing.

Pay your taxes

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. (Romans 13:6, ESV)

This is why we pay tax. In Old Testament Israel this was even tied up in the tithes for the Levites etc. We should pay our taxes in honesty.

Pay the bills

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:7, ESV)

Taxes and all the other dues mentioned are the building blocks for any good civil society. If no one pays the electric bills there will be no electricity so let’s all pay what we owe to the glory of God.

Proverbs 27:1–27

Don’t be presumptuous

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1, ESV)

Jesus picks up on this in the New Testament.

Be hungry

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. (Proverbs 27:7, ESV)

This is true, I’ve had some of the best eating experiences when I’ve been really hungry. This is also true in the spiritual world, this is why Jesus said we must hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Are you hungry today?

Avoid unnecessary danger

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (Proverbs 27:12, ESV)

Avoiding danger is a good principle, courage not withstanding.

Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.

Additional resources

The Gospel Coalition on Romans 12

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