Letter to Christians in Rome: Chapter 13 (pt 14 of 15)

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When you came to Jesus, you received the capacity to love. Jesus of Nazareth had a tremendous ability to love. He put his hand on a loathsome leper and healed him, despite the fact that it violated the law. He reached out to a lost woman or a drunkard and spoke a healing word to them. He treated the poor and lowly the same as he did the higher-ups. He loved people. When you came to Jesus, you received the ability to love. When you put on Christ, you are putting on the power to deliver. Christ is the word for anointed; it means “Messiah.” It refers to his work. Christ came to deliver us, to set us free. When you put on Christ, you have an amazing power to free yourself and others from what they are going through. So put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remind yourself of his presence throughout your day. Depend on his power to supply love when you begin to obey the command to love. When you start to pay the obligation to love, he will supply the power to follow through. As Paul says, “Do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature.” Stop doing that, planning for evil and self-indulgence. That always ends in strife, rivalry, jealousy, and debauchery. Instead, learn to love by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider the conversion of Augustine. Augustine was a young man in the 4th century who lived a wild life, running around with evil companions, doing everything they were doing. He never withdrew himself from anything his mind came up with. He went into anything and everything. As you would expect, he began to hate himself for all the evil things he was doing. One day he was with a friend and began to complain about his inability to change. “O, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! How can I free myself from these terrible urges within me that drive me to the things that hurt me!” In his despair he suddenly heard what he thought was the voice of a child—perhaps some children were playing in the garden next door—and the voice said, “Take and read, take and read.” He could not remember any children’s games with words like that, but the words stuck. He then saw a copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans. He flipped it open and read:

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies, and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ . . . (Romans 13:13-14a NIV)

Augustine said that at that moment he opened his life to Christ. He had known about him, but had never surrendered to him. That moment he did, and he felt the healing touch from Christ cleansing his life. He was never the same man again. He went on to become a great leader in the Church, and later became: Saint Augustine.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome


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