Living near God, loving other people

By Ed Wilcox

Romans 12:1, 2; 13:8-10

So far, our lessons based on Paul’s words to the Romans have taught us about great doctrines of the faith. Now, the challenge for us becomes applying what we have learned.

Knowledge for the sake of knowing a thing is useless. Christians ought to desire a kind of knowledge that deepens our spiritual lives and brings us into the kind of relationship honoring our heavenly Father.

In Romans 12:1-2 the apostle beseeches, or calls for us, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, “holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” This, Paul wrote, should be done according to “the mercies of God.”

Paul is calling for us to do something that should not require a reason, but he gives us a reason and it is “by the mercies of God.” Consider the majesty and holiness of God whose Son suffered and died for us, and then consider our wretched, sinful lives. If anyone should need a reason for doing anything for God, let him think seriously about how mercifully his Father has dealt with him.

He invites us to present ourselves so completely to God that it might be said we have become living sacrifices. In light of God’s mercies, our total and continual sacrifice is “reasonable service.”

Do not, the apostle wrote, conform yourself to the world since such conformity removes a person from the will of God and places him hopelessly under the power of his own will. This is harmful not only to a believer, it is harmful to the world since we are no longer the salt and light our Savior spoke about.

Believers are a transformed people as our relationship with the Lord changes the way we think, speak and react. We are different people in the workplace, in friendships and in the home. This transformation is occurring as believers seek to live close to God, a closeness that molds us into people whose desire is pleasing God.

Our lives are to be so transformed that we are more careful in our relationships with other people. Paul wrote in Romans 13:8, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another.” We ought to live within our means, not giving way to any ill effects that might be brought into our lives by debts. Let nothing into our hearts that would keep us from loving people since this is fulfillment of the law, Paul wrote.

Paul gave a list of commandments dealing with our relationships with other people, and he began with “thou shalt not commit adultery.” A believer ought not to do anything that would harm a couple’s marital relationship. Real love produces a desire to never harm someone in this way.

Do not kill, Paul wrote, reminding us human life is sacred. A believer does not want to harbor any feelings in his heart that might lead to murder. Do not steal because in doing so a person decides he should possess another person’s property. When we honestly acquire possessions, it is because God has allowed us to have them. In a way, theft is taking from someone else and from God.

Do not bring false testimonies against other people. This is an offense that verbally murders a person. We are not to covet, or have an unusual desire for anything that belongs to another person. We do not deserve the money of property of other people, and covetousness certainly leads to a corrupt heart.

Love desires only what is best for people, summing up and fulfilling the law.

By Ed Wilcox

The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at

The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at

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