The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz. Click here: Romans 12:9, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: Romans 12:9, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.

Romans 12:9, Evidence One – Fulfilling Personal Duties
• This brief series on the evidences of a faithful believer are for your benefit as individuals, but also as a church family. See, think of being in a circle. At first, it is just you. But the reality is, the circle must expand. Therefore, each week, the circle will get bigger and bigger.
• So as I said, the circle starts with you. It is you and your little bubble. But that is the problem. You know how so many people love to say, ‘hey, get out of my space, your in my bubble?’

• That is such a problem for the church today. I mean we have pop songs about loving myself, taking care of me, you know? However, when looking at the evidences of a faithful believer, according to verse 9, there are 3 personal duties that you and I must fulfil. So let’s start with the first duty:

  1. Love Without Hypocrisy:
    • Text – v9a
    • Explanation – Question; the greatest thing in the life of a Christian is what? Love. That’s 1 Corinthians 13. In Romans 13:8 Paul says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Jesus said if you want to keep the whole law of God, you need to what?
    • Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself. In John 13, Jesus said to His disciples, “You are to love one another and, by this, shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” So love is the greatest thing.

• Illustration – Now 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” In other words, seeing that you are saved, love one another with a pure heart. So the result of the new birth is real love.
• Now to describe this, Peter uses the word ektenes, and it’s basically used of the stretching of a muscle. It is to reach as far as possible, stretching that muscle to its absolute limit. And that’s the word Peter chooses. Stretch yourself to the limit in showing your love to one another since you have been born again.

• So love in this sense doesn’t refer to the term we use so loosely. When we usually appreciate something, we tend to say, ‘I love coffee,’ or ‘I love roses.’ But this ‘love’ changes when the next best thing is presented. So it is a love that can be corrupted.
• However, Christian love, which according to our verse is cleansed of self-motivation and self-fulfillment, is real and true, it is free from play acting.

• Application – But what does hypocritical love look like? I’ve heard people say, “I love so-and-so in the Lord.” Which personally, a lot of the time it means ‘I can’t stand them, but I’m under obligation.’ It isn’t love. It is an idea of love, but still a wrong one.
• Listen, hypocrisy is distasteful and ugly. It pretends affection but it is filled with hate. But turn to 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life.” How do we know that? “Because we love the brothers.” Then go down to verse 18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

• Conclusion – That’s the kind of love that starts in our circle, it is the kind of love that reaches out and meets needs. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” That is because genuine love will be seen in deeds of kindness, deeds of caring, and of support.
• So the first Christian duty, is unhypocritical, honest, legitimate, love. The primary duty is love. The priority is given to love, and it has to start in your own relationships with your family, friends, the church, and all those people in the circle of your friendship and influence.

• Bridge – As Jared Wilson once said, “Loving others isn’t about us at all. And until that sinks in, we’ll never be able to love the way Christ truly loved.” Which brings us to the second duty…

  1. Hate Evil:
    • Text – v9b
    • Explanation – So again, let me start with a question. How can one say that they love you and still tolerate sin? You can’t, because sin destroys every relationship. So anyone who truly loves has to hate evil. This is Psalm 97:10, “you who love the LORD, hate evil.” God is too holy to tolerate sin.
    • God is holy, meaning He is separate, and what that is saying is that God is not like us. And the reason He is not like us is because He is holy, He is without sin.

• Therefore, God cannot look on evil. And so the one who truly knows the love of God and loves God, has to hate evil. We can even translate these word from the original language to say, “be continuously hating that which is evil.” That is to say that evil isn’t something we can tolerate at a lower level. Evil is something we must hate at any level, and with a passion.

• Illustration – Now turn with me to Psalm 101. David says, I will keep a heart that is pure, and when I meet a man who is deceitful, I will put him out of my life. David knows that you must flee from evil, you can’t tolerate it. David talks about eliminating evil doers. Now this does not mean killing the evil doers, okay?!
• It should be interpreted in the light of Matthew 18 – if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. Not literally, it refers to making it hard for yourself to do certain things. It means to deal with sin dramatically. John Owen said, ‘be killing sin, or it will be killing you!’

• Application – So what can we do? Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” And Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” What is evil? Pride and arrogance, a slandering mouth, sexual immorality, slothfulness, idolatry, jealousy, fits of anger, envy, drunkenness, and so forth!
• In fact, Galatians 5 teaches us that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. So do you hate that? Do you hate the evil ways of men? Or do you tolerate that? If you do, then you do not truly love!

• Conclusion – Listen, let me clarify, I’m not saying you cannot struggle against these things. You will always have a struggle against sin. The passage says you need to despise these things. You can be caught in sin, and still be disguised by it. And so we need to understand what sin can do and how defiling it can be; if we’re to truly hate it.
• So the best thing for us to do is recorded in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from every form of evil.” This means, as soon as something appears evil – get out, flee like Joseph did. Don’t wait around to figure out whether it’s evil or not. If there’s any doubt; go!
• Listen, the issue isn’t the consequence of evil. You shouldn’t hate evil because of the consequences it brings upon you. You hate evil because of what evil is! Sure, we should also hate the result of evil – but that isn’t the reason for hating evil.

• Bridge – We hate evil because it goes against a Holy God. If you only hate evil because of the consequence, then you are only entertaining your own selfish motives. Now, no one can hate evil on your behalf. This is a personal duty that is birthed by a personal conviction. Which brings us to the third personal duty that give evidence for a faithful believer…

  1. Hold to the Good:
    • Text – v9c
    • Explanation – Here’s where we go full circle. See you need to love truly, which would also cause you to hate evil, which is continually done when you cling to what is good. Full circle! Now key word here is hold, or cling. It’s a word that means to stick to, like glue. Another way to put it, is to be bonded.

• Illustration – That means to be fused by it. I’m sure you can agree, if super glue accidently gets between two fingers and they kind of get stuck, I mean that’s it. You’re gonna have these two fused fingers for a while. By the way, I tried a new superglue the other.
• It was really intense. I have this 2l gym bottle we use during workouts. But the issue is, when full, this bottle is so fragile and it got busted in the car when I stopped and it rolled off the seat. So I get home, with no hope for the bottle, I tried gluing it together with this new glue – and wow! It fused the plastic together, as if there never was any break.

• Application – now as glue fuses these things together, Paul says we need to be stuck to what is good. So here’s the deal, you can love righteousness and hate evil and still do evil. Therefore, we need to cling to the good. But how do I do that. In Philippians 4:8 we read, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
• It starts up here, in the mind. Think on these things, that’s how you become fused to what is good. It is a battle that takes place in the forefront of our minds. Because the reality is, at the same time, we’ll be battling the flesh that is prone to sin.

• Conclusion – Romans 7:15, Paul tells us that we can be engaged in sinfulness we have no pleasure in, and you say to yourself, “I don’t understand that – I hate this!” In fact, in verse 17 Paul says it is the sin within him, and he hates that.
• Yet, there is comfort in holding onto God’s encouragement, holding on to His promises, holding onto the Spirit of grace, and holding on to the hope that is laid before you. Cling to the Lord, and hate evil.

• Bridge – Remember, we are cleansed by the word! And as we grow in the knowledge of God’s word, we’ll be more aware of what’s good, and we’ll be drawn to it.

Application:
• So we’ve gone full circle today. Love without hypocrisy, hate what is evil, and lastly, we cling to what is good. These personal duties reveal to those around you, whether you are faithful or not. And you can try to fake it, but you’ll only grow tired of it and eventually you’ll fade away.
• The evidence of a faithful believer begins with a pure and true love, a hating of evil and a clinging to what is good. If the deepest desires of your heart are to love God’s people, to do what’s good, to reject what’s evil, you’re on the right track.

• But if you don’t share these truths, then listen up, you have to get with the Lord on a serious note. You gotta go on your knees, or close the bedroom door and ask God why you don’t live this way. Because you cannot say you love God, if you’re not truly loving those around you. When you’re not constantly upset at the evil around you, and when you hold to the truth loosely.
• Yes, a faithful believer can struggle with sin, and can struggle with other issues, because we all need to grow. But we need to keep growing, and therefore, we need to keep reaching out. This little circle or bubble you’re in; it needs to get bigger. But it starts by you fulfilling these personal duties. Let’s pray.