Romans 12:14-21 / True Justice (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on June 26, 2014


This is the fifty-second in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Romans. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of June 22, 2014. This message deals with the Biblical warning against vigilante and mob justice, and details the governments role in executing justice. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

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Rom 12_14-21




Romans 12:14-21

To bless means to “speak well of” or “praise”

It is easy to talk bad about someone who gives you a hard time, even more so one who persecutes you, but that’s not how Christians are to act.

Matthew 5:44

Rather than put others down, we are to share in the joys and trials of our brethren, not be indifferent to them.

1 Corinthians 12:25–26

This won’t happen if we dwell in a self centered attitude. We need a Christ centered attitude.

As was previously stated in this chapter, don’t think too highly of yourself.

Humility is the order of the day.

It is the self-centered, prideful attitude that always wants to get even, but that’s neither our job nor our place.

Do not repay evil, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Evil simply cannot begat good. Spite and vengeance simply increase evil.

1 Peter 3:9

The Christian must retain a standard that is beyond reproach.

Peaceful coexistence with everyone may not be possible, but that doesn’t negate our obligation to try.

One thing us sure, a vengeful person will never live in peace.

We are not to seek vengeance, it is not our place.

Instead, we are to demonstrate love and mercy, just as God has shown to us.

This, in itself, will confound the enemy, and bring shame to him and his own actions.

Does this mean that sin and hurtful ness gets a free pass? Of course not.

It doesn’t mean we can’t appropriately address sin.

It doesn’t mean that there cannot be justice in the world, and that we simply have to wait for eternal judgment.

What this means is that we can’t dole out our own justice. Biblical justice is never to be personally carried out.

First, we need to understand that God has set properly ordained governments to be the executors of justice on earth.

1 Peter 2:13-14

Vigilante and mob justice was and is a major problem. Justice was never intended to be carried out by an individual.

An eye for an eye is the Biblical model of justice, but God intends for it to be carried out in the proper way.

Some of you might say “but wait, Jesus abolished that law.” Well. . . not exactly.

This law is mentioned three times in the Old Testament and partially mentioned once in the New Testament.

The first of the Old Testament mentions is in Exodus, then Leviticus, and finally Deuteronomy.

Exodus 21:22-25

Leviticus 24:19-21

Deuteronomy 19:15-21

First, we need to identify why the law was given.

The law was given as the judicial system of the government. This is very important, in that it was not given for individual use.

You will see in Deuteronomy that the execution of the punishment came only after the presentation of witnesses and careful inquiry by the judges.

It was an orderly and structured process, that was carried out by the government. If the requirements were not met, there would be no punishment.

So, what did Jesus say about this law? We see it recorded in Matthew.

Matthew 5:38-39

As we address this, let’s identify Jesus’ audience.

He was speaking to the multitude, they were a group of individuals, rather than a government entity.

So, in this case, the audience sets the context of Jesus’ words.

That’s important, because the law did not authorize personal vengeance or mob justice.

Remember the judicial process in Deuteronomy?

Jesus said nothing that would change the role of the government.

Secondly, the example that Jesus gives is that of someone who slaps you. He did not address the scenario of someone who is continually harming you.

His example is a single slap. Never does Jesus say that a person can’t defend himself if someone poses a legitimate physical threat.

Third, by way of examples that He cites, Jesus tells us that mercy and forgiveness are the best options, on an individual basis.

Still, this does nothing to change the role of government.

So, what about Jesus and the adulteress?

John 8:3-7

This was mob justice, not the type of orderly proceeding, by the proper officials, which would lead to such a sentence. Mob justice has never been authorized.

Justice can happen when properly executed by the proper authorities. Eye for and Eye simply dictates that the punishment must fit the crime.

This is the very reason why the death penalty is Biblically justified, but let’s not presume to take matters into our own hands.

The execution of justice is very serious, and must be properly done.

This is why God set the rules and safe guards that he did.

This is why vigilante and mob justice are not authorized, because in such cases raw emotion can supersede true justice.

We need to allow God’s plan to take its course, and remember that good will overcome evil.

There is no reason to let evil overcome us.

We don’t need to stoop to satan’s levels. We need to follow God’s law, and let us not even begin to think that we can improve on it.

When someone wrongs you, be humble and loving. Let God’s plan work itself out. What this really means, is that we have to push pride aside!

Posted in: Sermons