Real Love-Romans 12:9-21

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AmyCarmichaelSweetWaterRealLoveRom12.9ppt. You Can't Fake Love. Romans 12:9-21 (Verses below). The loves of my life (in approximate descending order) are Christ, Christy, children, church/Christianity, comrades/companions, Chicago cuisine, cinema, coffee, cats and at least one more.

Just how important is love? What is the place of love in Christianity? What is the evidence that you truly love God?

The difficulty about preaching on love is not in teaching it correctly, but in being a person of love. The most difficult person to preach this to is before my wife, who knows every possible angle of how I fall short of what love truly is.

Sadly, much of what is so called love in the world is not love. Sorry to say, Christians also often do not display love as God intends. Christians love others with their own agenda of enhancing and magnifying their reputation or their own church. They love to show themselves to be right, and others wrong. They gossip about others--often viciously--while claiming to love them. Without a doubt love is our common failure as flawed fallen beings, Christian or not.

Because of a lack of love in the world, Paul says, "Love must be real' (Rom 12:9, N.T. Wright, The Kingdom New Testament). Other translations say, "Love must be sincere, genuine." Love must be without pretense, without hypocrisy.

What Who When Why How: What is love? Who do you love? When do you love? Why do you love? How do you love?

Romans 12:9-21 - Love Must Be Real; Love and its manifestations. [The transforming power of the gospel: Christian conduct (12:1-15:13).]

From Rom 12:1 Paul shifts his focus from instruction to exhortation, from theological to practical, from "indicative" to "imperative," and from "what God has given us" (Rom. 1-11) to "what we are to give to God." Yet it must be noted that what we are to give to God cannot be produced independently of God's continuing gracious provision; it cannot be anthropocentric.

Commands are rare in ch. 1-11 (Rom 6:11-13, 19; 11:18, 20). To Paul, what he teaches in Romans has an eminently "practical" significance. For if we take the gospel to heart it will affect our lives in uncountable ways. In ch. 6 Paul makes clear that our union with Christ in his death and resurrection leads to "walking in newness of life" (Rom 6:4) and demands that we "present ourselves to God as those who are alive from out of the dead" (Rom 6:13). Now in 12:1-15:13 he fleshes out these general principles about the transforming power of the gospel by urging Christians to manifest the power of the gospel in specific areas of day to day life.

Ro 12:1-2 is one of the best-known passages in the NT. Its fame is justified. Paul succinctly and with vivid imagery summarizes what the Christian response to God's grace in Christ should be.

12:9-21 is a parenesis. It strings together admonitions of a general ethical content and is characterized by eclecticism (borrowing from many sources). Rom 12:9a is regarded as the heading for the entire section. Genuine love is the overall topic and the underlying motif of the section. In Rom 13:8-10 Paul spotlights again that love is the fulfillment of the law and basic to the section. Paul keeps coming back to love as the single most important criterion for approved Christian behavior.

There is no verb in the Greek in Rom 12:9. Paul says, literally, "sincere love," "genuine love" or "real love." These words are the heading for what follows, as Paul proceeds in a series of clauses to explain just what sincere love is. The addition of an imperative verb in all major English translations is not off the mark, as Paul's purpose is to exhort, not simply to describe.

Jesus singled out love for others as the essence of the OT law (Mk 12:28-34), and the central demand of the New Covenant (Jn 13:31-35), which is enshrined as the traditional and characteristic ethical norm of Christianity (1 Th 4:9; Gal 5:13-14; 1 Cor. 13; Jas 2:8-9; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 Jn 2:7-11; 3:10-18; 4:7-12, 18-21; Rom 13:8-10). The love of Christians for others is grounded in, and enabled by, the love of God expressed in the gift of his Son (Jn 13:34; 1 Jn 4:9-11). Love is a necessity and is an indispensable mark of the new creation in Christ.


Rom 12:9. Paul has already reminded us of this love (Rom 5:5-8). So basic does Paul consider love that he does not even exhort us here to love but to make sure that the love he presumes we already have is "genuine." In urging that our love be genuine, Paul is warning about making love a mere pretense, an outward display or emotion that does not conform to the nature of the God who is love, and who has loved us. The Greek word literally means "without hypocrisy," not playing the part of an actor on the stage. This same adjective is applied to love in 2 Cor 6:6, 1 Tim 1:5 and 1 Pet 1:22 (2 Tim 1:5 describing faith; Jas 3:17 describing "wisdom from above").

Romans 12:9-21 (N.T. Wright, The Kingdom New Testament) … and other verses regarding love

“Love must be real (sincere, without pretense). 



Hate (abhor) what is evil; 

stick fast (cling) to what is good. 

Be truly affectionate in showing love (show family affection) to one another (be heartfelt in your love to one another);

compete with each other in giving mutual respect (honor one another above yourselves). 

Don't get tired of working hard (do not lack diligence; never be lacking in zeal; in zeal do not be lazy). 

Be (set) on fire with (by) the spirit. 

Work as slaves for the Lord (serve the Lord). 

Celebrate your hope (rejoice in hope); 

be patient in suffering (bear up under tribulation); 

give constant energy (be devoted) to prayer;

contribute to (participate in) the needs of God's people; 

make sure you are hospitable to strangers (pursue hospitality).

Bless those who persecute you; 

bless them, don't curse them. 

Celebrate with those who are celebrating (rejoice with those who rejoice); mourn with the mourners (mourn [weep] with those who mourn [weep]). 

Come to the same mind with one another (be in agreement [live in harmony] with one another). 

Don't give yourselves airs (do not think highly of yourself; do not be proud), 

but associate with the humble (lowly; people of low position).

Don't get too clever for yourselves (do not be wise [proud] in your own estimation; do not fancy yourself sages; do not be conceited).

Never repay anyone evil for evil; 

think through what will seem good to everyone who is watching (take thought of what is good in the sight of all people).

If it's possible, as far as you can (as far as [to the extent that] it depends on you), live at peace with all people. 

Don't take revenge (do not avenge yourselves), my dear people, but allow God's anger room to work (give place to wrath). The Bible says, after all, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay (I will avengeI will pay back), says the Lord." 

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a (something to) drink. If you do this, you will pile up burning coals (heaping coals of fire) on his head. 

Don't let evil conquer you (Do not be overcome by evil). Rather, conquer (overcome, vanquish) evil with good” (Rom 12:9-21).

“But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another” [you yourselves have been taught by God to show loving care for one another] (1 Thess 4:9, NLT, NT).

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s lawFor the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law [so love is the fulfillment of the law {NT}]” (Rom 13:8-10).

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters [When God called you, my dear family, he called you to make you free {NT}]. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love [you must become each other’s servants through love {NT}]. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command [in one word, namely this {NT}]: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:13-14, NLT).

 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (Jas 2:8-9, NIV).

“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth [resulting in a sincere love for all your fellow believers {NT}], so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other [eagerly, from a pure heart {NT}] deeply with all your heart” (1 Pet 1:22, NLT).

“Dear friends [my beloved ones {NT}], I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it” (1 Jn 2:7-8a, NLT).

“This is how [it is clear] we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 Jn 3:10-11, 14, 16-18, NIV).

“Dear friends [beloved], let us love one another, for love comes [is] from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love [Love consists in this]: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete [completed] in us” (1 Jn 4:7-12).

“There is no fear in love. But perfect [complete] love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect [completed] in love.

19 We love because he first loved us20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must [should] also love their brother and sister” (1 Jn 4:18-21).



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