Up until now we have been studying the book of Romans. Today is the end of Romans. I would like talk about “the God of victory”, today’s message title, from this passage.
If we compare our life of faith to the methods of car maintenance, notice that there are two types. One is the maintenance type, and one is the repairing type. The maintenance type of person services the car before it breaks down or something happens so the car rarely breaks down, and has a steady car life. The repairing type of person is the kind who doesn’t react until something happens. For example, until the snow falls, he doesn’t change the tires. Until the care breaks down he doesn’t service it. He’ll think about it when it breaks down, so at an important time, his car doesn’t move, and it’s broken down so he has a lot of troubles. What kind of type are you? Are you the type that before something happens you are always by prayer and the Word firmly armed? Or are you like the type that until something happens, you don’t do anything? At a short glance, even among people who are earnestly living a life of faith, in reality there are many cases of the repairing type. This type of people are praying for God to help them, but in reality they aren’t living by following the Word of God, but put their own thoughts first, so when something happens, they fall into a panic. When a problem occurs they call out to God, but when the problem is solved, they just stop praying. Since they are always repeating this pattern of faith everything is like a tornado. However, the maintenance type is different. Before temptation comes he prays, and he is armed in the Word so wherever he goes he can have victory by the power of God. He is not perfect, but basically he follows this pattern so in the midst of many trials he can have a life of thankfulness. How can we have such a maintenance type of Christian life? Today I would like to talk about three aspects of this.
- 1. The warning “to watch for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way.” (17) We must “be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (19)
- 2. Leave all in the hands of the God of victory.
- 3. Live by the power of magnificent Gospel.
- I. Being wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil (vs. 17-19)
First of all let’s look at verses 17 to 19.
Up to verse 16 Paul sent greetings to friends, and finished saying everything he had to say. However, when you look at these greetings you can see that one more thought popped into Paul’s mind. That is verse 17. That is in the Roman church there were some people that were spreading wrong teachings. In other words, a heretical flock had entered into the church.
If we look at Galatians 1:6-8 we can see that Paul was in other areas very patient, but toward those who bent the Gospel, we can see that he took a very firm attitude.
Here Paul is calling this teaching “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) Even though it is called “another gospel” that does not mean that there is a different gospel. It looks like the Gospel, but is a different teaching than the real Gospel. When you listen well to what they are teaching it is a little different from what the Bible says, and there are people who plainly say things that deny the Gospel. Recently, someone said that they heard someone’s talk that in Japan there are 3 great shrines. One is Izumo Shrine which is God the father. Another is Hiyoshi shrine which is Jesus, the son of God, and the other is Kasuga Shrine which depicts the Holy Spirit and the person became confused. There are some people who advocate such things. Among those people who don’t know the Bible, when they hear such a story, they think that’s interesting, but it is clearly different than what the Bible says. There are some people that interpret the theory that Japanese Shinto was influenced by Judaism, but that is not the Gospel at all. Well, even if they don’t go that far as to denial the Gospel so plainly, and even if it’s like the contents of the Gospel, in reality there are cases when it is not the Gospel. Such a difference is a really small one, but in time it develops into a big difference so one needs to be careful. Paul is saying that if there are people that are preaching a different Gospel, then they should be “condemned”. (Galatians 1:8) Paul is this strict because of the Gospel being preached wrongly. Wrong teachings not only knock down one or two Christians, but the foundations of the entire church of God are shaken. Therefore, the most fearful thing for the church is really not persecution from the outside, but heretical teaching within the church. When there is persecution, it is amazing, but the church burns in enthusiasm. But when heretical teachings spread within the church, the church becomes sick and collapses. It is like a swarm of locusts that come at harvest time. Even though the farmers have worked on the crops for a whole year, the locust swarm comes at once and completely eats all of the harvest. In the same way the Word of God that was spread by sweat and tears is completely shaken, and God’s people are changed into servants of Satan. That is what the Word that is bended and spread as heresies does.
If we look at verse 18, their characteristics are recorded.
This type of person does not follow Jesus, “but their own appetites”. (18) They don’t follow the cross of Christ, but they are people who live following their own desires and own thinking. While they are saying this is the Gospel they are spreading a bent Gospel. Moreover, they use sleek and flattery words. It is difficult to distinguish whether it is a heresy or not. They are like Grimm’s fairy tale, “The wolf and the 7 kids”, where the wolf puts flour on his feet and then comes near the goat kids, so the kids carelessly open the door.
The other day I heard this story from a Korean missionary that came to my house. Recently in Korea there are a lot of these kinds of heretics. They look like sincere believers and enter the church. They study earnestly, help in the church, and even become officers in the church, but the moment they become an officer, they leave the church taking other believers with them. They use sleek and flattery words and deceive simple and honest people.
In verse 17 Paul is advising to watch out for such people and to “keep away from them.” Paul definitely didn’t say, “fight with them” or “deal with them”, but advised “to watch out…keep away from them.” (17)This seems like such a passive way of dealing with them, but the Bible consistently teaches about heretics to “keep away from them.” (17) For example,
II John 1:10,11
Therefore, for us to stay away from people who teach heresies is wise. If not, people with wrong teaching will especially cleverly draw us into their side. Often such people come to us. They are out to get Christians. Christians know the Bible somewhat so they think that to attack Christians is the quick way to find people to follow them. Also Christians are also nice so they think to flatly refuse to listen to their talking is bad. Therefore, they listen to the heretics without thinking. However, such heretics are tools of Satan so they attack with exactly the same clever tricks as Satan. While being in touch with each other the Christian begins to see how nice the other person is and all too soon the other person is setting the pace. Towards such people, the best counter measure is to watch for them and to “keep away from them.”(17)
Paul says in verse 19, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” It is dangerous to be just obedient. In order to stand firm in this world as believers we must “be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”(19) We must have wisdom to distinguish what is good and what is evil and also so that we don’t easily do wrong, we must carefully watch out for evil.
- II. Leave all in the hands of the God of victory (vs. 20)
The second thing is to leave all in the hands of the God of victory. Please look at verse 20.
In verses 17 to 19 Paul taught about what man should be careful about, but here he is stating that at the same time God’s help is necessary. Without God’s help, we cannot have victory over Satan. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (20) This expression is also in Genesis 3:15. This means that God’s victory over Satan who should be called the father of heresies will be fulfilled. Jesus by the cross and resurrection crushed the head of Satan, the enemy, and declared an absolute victory. However, in the end this will be completed at Jesus’ second coming. This will be “soon”.(20) Paul believed that the final victory of God would come “soon”.(20)
Paul had hope in this. Certainly the Lord will come. That time is getting closer. This is our real hope. When we grasp onto this hope, we can rejoice in the Lord’s name, cry out to God, and praise Him. The contradictions and conflicts of this world cannot be solved by human resources and methods. However, when our Lord Jesus comes again, then all absurdness and persecution by being righteously judged will become clear. For Christians one of the most important things is to daily, keep awake and look forward to the coming of our Lord. In our daily life if bad things happen or we are hurt, we don’t have to be discouraged or despaired, but can have faith and look forward to the fact that the Lord will righteously judge all things. This is a certain hope and the answer to our problems. What is necessary is not working hard to solve the absurdities of this world, but to leave everything in the hands of the Lord who will victoriously “crush Satan under your feet.” (20)
- III. Living by the Gospel (vs. 25-27)
The third point is to live by the Gospel. Look at verses 25 to 27. These are the last words by which Paul concludes this letter.
Verses 25 to 27
This is a benediction. A benediction praises the glory of God. The benediction that closes the book of Romans has a lot of content, and is so long so the meaning isn’t so clear. What Paul wanted to say is like what verse 27 says, “to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!” What “the only wise God” (27) is like is written in verse 25, He is “able to establish you”. How he is able to do so is by “the revelation of the mystery”.(25) In other words, it is “by my Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.” (25) Paul had assurance that the Gospel that was revealed to him and that he proclaimed was the real Gospel. It was by this Gospel that we are established. Therefore what Paul is saying is that by the Gospel that Paul is preaching, “to the only wise God” (27) “who is able to establish you” (25) “be glory forever through Jesus Christ!”(27)
The Gospel, indeed, is what establishes us in the faith.
The Gospel is power. It isn’t just a notion.”It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) For example, even if all around us is full of idols, and there are people who bend the Gospel, and even if there are people who are teaching things that look like the Gospel, but in reality is completely different, or if by that the church or society is in a condition of dried bones, the Gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) This is not an old story that has been passed down from 2000 years ago, but is alive now working and is the power that changes our souls and our lives.
Bounty is the name of a ship that in 1787 the English government that sent out with 100 people to Tahiti to pick up breadfruit plants, and transport them to the West Indies in hopes that they would grow there and become a cheap source of food for slaves. When they arrived at the island it was like paradise and they became very excited .Especially the native girls were all very appealing. However, gradually they began ignoring commands from their county. The relationships between the crew deteriorated. Especially, the relationship between the captain and his men became very tense. The captain frequently punished and flogged his men and tensions arose. On April 5,1789, after five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its breadfruit cargo. On April 28th a mutiny broke out. Several of the crew men entered the captain’s cabin, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt. The ship was taken bloodlessly and apparently without any struggle. The mutineers ordered the captain into Bounty’s launch, and it was lowered into the sea.
Immediately after setting sixteen men ashore in Tahiti in September 1789, nine mutineers, six Tahitian men, and 11 women, one with a baby, set sail in the Bounty hoping to elude the British Navy and avoid being caught. The mutineers passed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but feared that they would be found there. Continuing their quest for a safe haven, on Jan. 15, 1790 they rediscovered the Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy’s charts. They settled there enjoying the native women. As a result there was continuous fighting among the men. They made a still and began brewing an alcoholic beverage from a native plant. The mutineers began drinking excessively, and the fighting increased. They killed each other and they made life miserable for the women. Finally there was only one mutineer remaining, John Adams. All the other Westerners had died and there were a lot of children of mixed blood to be raised.
However, 30 years later when an American ship passing by there landed on the island, they saw a surprising sight. There a sanctuary had been built and John Adams was the pastor.
John Adams had found a Bible in the Bounty. When he started to read it, he was drawn to the Words. He repented and became a man of God. After that by the leading of the Holy Spirit, he taught the children of the island how to read, and he taught God’s Word the Bible. The natives respected him, made him King, and obeyed him. Then the island became a paradise. That is the power of the Gospel, the power of one Bible.
“For the word of God is living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12) By the Word of God, the Gospel, we are saved, changed, and are established in the faith. Also we are able to be victorious over all kinds of attacks by Satan. Now, what God desires of us is for us to live by the Gospel
If we give our lives to God, and depend on the power of the resurrection, no matter what happens we won’t get lost. No matter what, we will never be devoured by it or destroyed by it. “We are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37) That is the message of the Gospel.
What do you desire in your life? Is it your thinking or your effort? That is important. However, there are times when only those things will break us. Only by depending upon Jesus Christ who died on the cross and three day later rose again can we overcome all kinds of troubles.
In 1968 a scientist discovered a necklace made of seeds at an Indian grave that was thought to be 600 years old. The scientist took each seed and planted, and it sprouted and began to grow! For 600 years the seed was in torpor (sleeping), but the seeds had life in it. The important thing is to plant the seeds. If you plant the seeds of the Gospel in your heart, no matter how much you are sleeping, you too will sprout, grow, and bear the fruits of an abundant life. This seed has the amazing magnificent power of God in it. Now, plant this seed in your heart and also in the society that we live in. If we do so, the omnipotent God will work, and perform a great work.