Lesson 85 - Chapter 12 verses 14-21

Lesson 85 - Chapter 12 verses 14-21

Verse 14

Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not.

The Greek word for bless is “eulogeo,” which means to speak well of someone.  The Greek word for persecute is “dioko,” which means to pursue (in this case in a bad sense).  Perhaps you are being pursued by those who follow the satanic policy of human good and evil.  Perhaps they are do-gooders who feel that their job in life is to mind everyone else’s business, who persecute in the sense of telling you how to live your life, how to dress, what to do, etc.  Perhaps they are genuinely evil, wishing to cause harm to you. “Speak well of those who persecute you” does not mean that every time someone runs you down you have to say something nice about them.  The Greek word for curse is “katakraomai,” which means to pray against or to wish evil against a person or thing.  It is an antagonistic attitude.

With Bible doctrine in the soul, a believer who is being persecuted is not to react, but he/she is to act like Royal Family of God and refrain from wishing evil on another person or persons.  Speaking well, as we will see in a few verses, “heaps coals of fire” upon the person who is persecuting you.

Verse 15

Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Rapport in the Royal Family of God means a relationship of harmony, conformity, accord and affinity.  It does not mean to cater to self-pity.  It does mean to share the same capacity for life, mental attitude and integrity.  Rapport depends on the filling of the Spirit, and it is part of the Royal Family Honor Code.  There is no rapport without mutual positive volition toward accurate Bible doctrine.  Rapport is sharing the legitimate enthusiasms of other believers.

Rapport with those who are suffering or in agony requires even more doctrine than the first command to rejoice.  If people are sad, disturbed or upset because they are in suffering for some reason you can have rapport with them if you have sound Bible doctrine in your soul.  This doesn’t mean to work up a cry; it has to do with the person who has spiritual depth from Bible doctrine.  This is simply harmony and rapport for believers in their time of trouble. It is rapport of sympathy which does not include any emotional binge in which self-pity is encouraged so that one feels sorry for himself/herself even more than before you arrived.

Verse 16

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.

The Greek word for mind is “phroneo,” which means to think.  This verse does not mean that your thinking should conform into a cookie cutter pattern and that you should think exactly the same as someone else thinks. This word means to think, and it also means to hold an opinion.  Be thinking the same mental attitude. Not the same things, not the same thoughts, but be thinking in the sphere of the same mental attitude (the mind of Christ).  Believers are required to have the same mental attitude.  To have the same opinion about another believer is to remember that every believer is a child of God and He will bless or discipline at His discretion.              

The Greek word for haughty is “hupselos,” which means arrogant or high-minded.  Arrogance is the great enemy to living the Christian life.  Arrogance leads to legalism and self-righteousness.  The Greek word for lowly is “tapeinos,” which means do not be a “respecter of persons.”  Treat every believer with the same respect - as children of God. 

Being wise in your own estimation is human viewpoint not divine viewpoint.  Arrogance and resultant snobbishness keeps the believer off-balance and disoriented to the plan of God.  By not being arrogant and conceited the believer has removed the barrier to being what God wants him/her to be as royal family.  The grace mental attitude from maximum doctrine resident in the soul avoids the pitfalls of arrogance and disassociation from reality.  This means that the natural human trend toward arrogance must be displaced by accurate Bible doctrine and by the function of God’s honor code. 

Verse 17

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 

The Greek word for pay back is “apodidomi,” which means to give back, to restore or to refund.  Here it means to pay back in the sense of revenge.  By paying back evil for evil you lower yourself to the standards of the other person and you abandon the Royal Family Honour Code.  Revenge and retaliation is a major violation of the Royal Family Honour Code.  First, it causes the positive or mature believer to abandon his/her own standards by violating the privacy of another believer’s priesthood.  Secondly, it results in the mature believer lowering his own standards to that of the other person.

To lower one’s self to someone else’s standards by taking revenge is tantamount to blasphemy: failure to trust the justice of God to do the job.   Furthermore, this becomes a distraction to perception of doctrine which hinders the possibility of the believer advancing to maturity and keeps the mature believer from progressing from one stage of maturity to the next.  Furthermore, it brings down divine discipline on the believer who tries to seek revenge or to retaliate.  Retaliation brings down compound discipline from the justice of God for interfering with the function of divine justice.  But above all, retaliation and revenge is arrogance.  It is a way of saying you can do a better job of righting wrongs than God can.

The Greek word for respect is “pronoeo,” which means to take thought for.  Here it means to respect.  This means respect for divine establishment.  It means that part of the Royal Family Honor Code is respect for all principles of authority (specifically God’s authority).  The Greek word for right is “kalos,” which means honourable or honest.  By respecting the authority of God and His honor code, a believer demonstrates his/her faith in the sight of all men. 

Verse 18

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

The word “possible” in this passage is a synonym for capacity.  There is no such thing as a miracle as far as the spiritual life is concerned; it is strictly a matter of capacity, which comes as a result of study and application of accurate Bible doctrine.  Capacity for blessing also means capacity for the execution of the Christian Way of Life.  This verse means to live in harmony, to reconcile, to live in peace and to keep the peace.  Living in harmony means that you have to be thoughtful of others.  This means harmony based on the principle of “live and let live.”  And harmony means that you recognize the privacy of other people.  

Verse 19

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

When a believer takes personal retaliation he/she takes the matter out of the Lord’s hands.  By leaving the matter in the Lord’s hands, perfect justice will be administered by God.  The justice of God possesses all the facts and never makes an error in judgment.  All royal family “squabbles” demand the action of the justice of God rather than revenge or retaliatory tactics of imperfect human beings.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Retaliation is the prerogative of divine justice, therefore to add wrong to wrong brings down divine wrath upon your own head rather than divine discipline on the one who wronged you.

Verse 20

“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him.  And if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” 

Why are we told to feed this person?  It has nothing to do with socialism.  This has to do with lending assistance to someone who is personally antagonistic toward you. It doesn’t necessarily mean to feed him by getting him/her to sit down to dinner with you, though that is one way of doing it.  It can be accomplished by giving him food or by supplying the means to get food.  By feeding a hungry enemy the positive, mature believer leaves all hostility in the hands of the Lord.  Your attitude of grace in feeding your enemy does not depend on who and what your enemy is; it depends on who and what you are.  Never reduce yourself to the level of what you dislike in others.  Revenge and retaliation lowers your norms and standards to the level of evil, pettiness, implacability, vindictiveness, etc.  Grace demands that you leave all matters of hostility in the hands of God. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

If your enemy is thirsty, it would be easy to dismiss your responsibility to the honor code by simply turning around and walking away and pretending that you never heard the cry for help.  However, this attitude is not in keeping with the Royal Family of God Honor Code.  The justice of God will deal properly with hostility against you.  By honoring God’s code of conduct, a believer who feeds or gives a drink to his/her enemies “heaps coals of fire upon their heads.”  This means that by so doing your enemy’s conscience may be stung, and he may be filled with shame and perhaps become more friendly.

Verse 21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This verse emphasizes the fact that a believer who is positive toward doctrine and stays in fellowship with God will be able to conquer evil (Satan’s policies) and stay out of the devil’s trap (human viewpoint thinking).  But the believer who is negative toward doctrine will be conquered by evil and will live his life based on the devil’s world system.  The negative believer fulfils all of the concepts of human viewpoint thinking which are completely and totally destructive to him.  Good in this verse is good of lasting value (God’s good).  Only a believer in fellowship with God, filled with the Holy Spirit and utilizing the accurate Bible doctrine in his/her soul can produce good of lasting value and conquer evil.