This is the sermon dad preached today, at the Fountain of Grace Church (I hope, like all of us did, you enjoy it too):
First Scripture Reading: 1 Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. 4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 8 he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. 9 He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. Psalm 113:1-9 (NIV)
Second Scripture reading: 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NASB)
We’ve come now to the second half of Romans chapter 13; the first half tells us of our duty to submit to the authorities, and this section tells us of our duty to our neighbor.
Now one of the characteristics of a believer in Jesus is that we have a real desire to fulfill our duties; to obey the Lord. Before we were saved we didn’t think twice about what God required of us, we didn’t care that we were breaking His laws, and we didn’t want Him telling us what to do. But in salvation a man’s heart is changed, his desires and interests are changed, and He really wants to obey and please the Lord.
We’ve seen that God is holy and righteous and that He hates sin and cannot even look on it, and that when we were living in sin and unbelief we were under His wrath. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3:36 (NIV) But then we came to understand that Jesus took our sin on Himself, and in doing so God’s anger was redirected away from us and onto His Son, who bore the punishment of our sin. And God gives us faith to turn away from sin and believe that good news, to trust in it fully and in doing so we are saved. Saved from sin’s penalty and sin’s power. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NASB)
And those who are saved long to do God’s will. We realize that doing God’s will is the evidence of being saved. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father.” Matthew 7:21 (NASB) He also said, “”For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 (NASB) And so doing the will of God confirms that we are in the family of God. Jesus said, “”For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38 (NASB) And when we become Christians we want to know “what is the will of God, that I might do it?” And we study God’s Word so that we might know God’s will, and then we depend on God’s Spirit to enable us to do God’s will.
Not that we ever obey perfectly; in Romans 7 Paul says, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 (NASB) Every Christian struggles against sin, and falls often, but notice that Paul said, “what I would like to do”. Paul would like to obey God, and all believers would like to obey God and so we study God’s Word to find God’s will.
For the believer God’s Word is beautiful and powerful and majestic and life-changing. When we become Christians we are like a newborn baby, we begin to eagerly crave the pure milk of the Word. Like David we say, 15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. Psalm 119:15-16 (NASB). “My soul is crushed with longing After Your ordinances at all times.” Psalm 119:20 (NASB) and “The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Psalm 119:72 (NASB) This was a man who craved God’s Word and desired to obey it.
And so Christians come to God’s Word and say “In light of what He has done for us, how can we live to obey and please Him. How can we fulfill God’s requirements?”
And we come to our passage of study today and we see one word repeated over and over, and that one word tells us exactly how to fulfill the requirements. Let’s see that Word as we read the passage: 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 (NASB)
Love fulfills the Law, so that the word “love” is the short spelling of the word “righteousness.” So let’s just notice the two main points of this passage:
- Owe nothing to anyone—verse 8
- Owe love to everyone—verses 8-10.
So let’s look at these two points together. First, we’re told to “owe nothing to anyone” so that if we love people we will make sure we pay them what we owe them or die trying. This is a characteristic of righteous people. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives” even as Jesus was gracious and gave His life for us. “Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.” Deuteronomy 24:15 (NIV) “Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness And his upper rooms without justice, Who uses his neighbor’s services without pay And does not give him his wages, Jeremiah 22:13 (NASB) We are to owe nothing to anyone.
Think of what the understanding of this passage would teach us:
- To work hard. To not be lazy. Adam had to cultivate the garden “by the sweat of his brow”, working 6 days out of 7. In this day and age millions of people are out of work, not due to them being lazy but due to the economy. And they are trying to find work so that they can pay their debts. But we’re taught to work hard so we can owe no man anything.
- To not go into debt. And to be radical in paying it off. Jesus gave His life to pay off your debt of sin, so that anyone who believes is debt free. You owe nothing to God for your sins, we should owe nothing to man either. Therefore we don’t go in to debt and we pay off whatever debt we have.
- To be frugal and economical. We should live humbly, and do away with things we don’t need. We don’t ever want to be in a position of owing somebody something that we can’t pay.
- To help our children. We should raise up our children teaching them the value of hard work, and saving money and avoiding debt.
First principle here today: we are to owe no man anything.
Second principle: we owe love to everyone. Love is an ongoing debt we must pay to all people, and the wonderful thing is the more we pay it the richer we get. So we have an ongoing debt to love one another. I invite you to turn with me to 1 John 4, and let’s notice that passage together:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11 (NASB)
The Instruction: “let us love one another”—verse 7
The Definition: “God is love”—verse 8
The Manifestation: “God sent His only begotten Son…to be the atoning sacrifice…that we might live through Him”—verses 9 and 10
The Origination: “not that we loved God, but that He loved us”—verse 10 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Motivation: “if God so loved us…”—verse 11
The Instruction: “we also ought to love one another”—verse 11
Short summary: God is love. He showed it by giving His Son to die that we might live. So let’s love one another. After all, that is how the world knows that we are Christians. 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NASB)
Well then what does it mean to love someone? Well first it means to do no harm. vs. 10: “Love does no harm to its neighbor.” It says about the Noble wife in Proverbs 31: 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:11-12 (NIV)
And under this heading of “Love does no harm” Paul reminds us of the commands of God, given in Exodus chapter 20. And he says in verse 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9 (NIV)
If we loved our neighbor as ourself, and we understood that love does no harm, we would not commit adultery, for adultery harms both people, their spouses, their families, their churches and everybody who knows them.
We’re not to commit adultery in our actions, but neither are we to commit adultery in our thoughts: Jesus said in Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB) Under the new covenant we are not to commit adultery with our actions or even with a look. This prohibits pornography and all forms of impurity. Peter describes people who have 14eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin. 2 Peter 2:13-15 (NASB) Love does no harm to its neighbor in action or in thought.
If we are to do no harm to our neighbor we certainly wouldn’t commit murder. Now most people agree that we should not murder, but how about committing anger? Again Jesus says 21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. Matthew 5:21-22 (NASB) So that unrighteous anger is the seed of murder.
Some people say “well I’d never murder somebody” and then they go on to say “but did you hear what John did? He…” and they slander someone, in essence murdering their reputation. Some of us have been horribly humbled by this, and we’ve had to learn not to slander the hard way. We’ve learned by experience the truth of Psalm 101:5: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” Psalm 101:5 (NASB) No Christian should ever talk behind someone’s back in any way.
Think of this for a moment: Jesus’ hands were tied to a post, and the Roman soldiers beat His back mercilessly. And if you look in Roman history the reason they beat the back is because they didn’t have to see His face. It’s easier to hurt someone when you’re behind their back. Remember that next time you hear slander, or are tempted to slander. Remember that “He who spreads slander is a fool.” Proverbs 10:18
And then Romans 13:9 says “Do not steal” because that does harm to the one we take from. And “Do not covet” because that the seed of stealing. In other words, “Love does no harm to anybody.”
And so we end with verse 10: “Love is the fulfillment of the Law” as if to say “all that the law requires is that we love others.” But the reality is that no human being is able to keep the Law perfectly. We fail and fall short. So for our final thought today let’s compare two verses of Scripture. Compare Romans 13:10 “Love is the fulfillment of the Law” with John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down His life for His friends” and here’s what we come up with. Jesus fulfilled the Law for all believers when He died on the cross. If you repent, that is turn away from your sin, and put your faith in what Jesus did, then God looks at you as having lived perfectly, as having kept the Law in the Person of Christ.
So for just a moment consider the cross. Look at Jesus as they place the cross on His shoulders, and He struggles up to the top of Mt. Calvary. There He is laid out on the cross and His hands and feet are pierced, and then He is raised up on that cross. Look at Him hanging there. Know what that is? That is perfect love fulfilling the Law for all of God’s elect. The Law is now competed, fulfilled and finished.
28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:28-30 (NIV)
Love is the fulfillment of the Law and greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on it!
You are Loved!