The Practical Side of Love
Owe no one anything except to love one another. For he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore Love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, knowing the time that now it is high time to wake out of sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand, therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the day. Not in revelry and drunkenness. Not in lewdness and lust. Not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
Father we ask for your wisdom now as we look into your word. But more than your wisdom, we pray that you would give us the empowering, by your spirit, to be able to do the things that we are commanded, exhorted to do here. That the passage is not incredibly difficult to interpret Lord. But the ability to do these things is. So we confess our weakness. We ask that you would make your strength be perfect in our weakness, and God that we would be able to display your love in this world as we are exhorted here in this passage. God that people would see you living your life, and your love through us. We ask this in Jesus name, and all God’s people agreed saying amen. You can be seated.
I don’t necessarily want you to raise your hand as I ask this question but maybe just think about it, because I’d be concerned we might have too many people raise their hands. Have you ever had a debt that you could not pay? Could not repay? I said don’t raise your hands. My goodness. I’m protecting you here. We all recognize that we live in a nation that … that’s all too normal in our nation, having a debt that you can not pay. As we look at our own national debt we look at a debt that we probably can never pay, as it continues to increase above 16 trillion dollars. Its pretty phenomenal to consider that amount of money. We can’t even we can’t even cognate that. We can’t even really put our minds around how big of a number that literally is.
In the last section of scripture we looked at a couple of weeks ago there in Romans chapter 13 verse 7. Paul said there that we are to make sure that we render to those that things are due. Render therefore to whom they’re due. Taxes to whom taxes are due. Customs to whom customs. Fear to whom fear. And honor to whom honor. And carrying on with that same thought, Paul states here at the open of verse 8, “Owe no one anything.”
Now some have taken this exhortation, Romans Chapter 13 verse 8, to mean that we should never be a borrower; that we should never take out a loan in any sort of way and there is a lot of discussion about that. This text here in this passage is not necessarily saying that. Rather what is being presented here is that we are never to be unfaithful debtors. We’re never to be unfaithful debtors.
We must responsibly render that which is required to whom it is required. Whether taxes to whom taxes are due; honor to whom honor is due’ fear to whom fear is due; customs to whom customs is due. So we are to make sure that we are making good on whatever it is that we are seeking to pay. But Paul says here, “Owe no one anything except to love one another.”
There is a recognition here that we have a debt that we can not pay as it relates to rendering love to those that we are to render love. Having been the recipients of such great love. We have freely received the love of God, therefore we are to freely give it out. And so we are to love one another, and we are in a debt to keep this, to fulfill this commandment.
The commandment that’s given, to love one another, not just here in Romans chapter 13, but in many other places throughout the scriptures, is a commandment that has no condition, and is to be executed without partiality. It has no condition; no precondition, it is to be executed without partiality. It is one of the commands of scripture that even those who don’t take time to read scripture; those who don’t necessarily go to church, or even believe that Jesus is the son of God, even they sometimes point to this command of scripture and say, “This is a good one.”
Sometimes those who are unbelieving don’t go to church will even hold this up to Christians who do go to church and say, “Don’t you know the Bible commands you to love me? To love one another.” And to that we should rightly say “Yes! Amen. And the Bible says a lot of other things, I’d like to talk with you about it.” But we should recognize that those who don’t believe in many of the things the scripture do, believe that this is an important and good command.
We even recognize that the command to love one another is both good and noble. But to do so with unconditioned impartiality is utterly impossible for you and I to fulfill. We recognize that the law of God given to us, by the Lord, is impossible for us to fulfill in and of our own strength, and this command to love one another, and the other commands in the Scripture surrounding love are impossible for us to do, in and of our own strength. We need enabling power from God to fulfill these things. And even though we don’t have the ability in and of our own strength to fulfill them, the commands are still given. The command is given, in Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 and 5, to love God; to love God with all of our being.
It says their, “Hear oh Israel the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength.” So we are commanded in the scriptures to love God with all of our being, but not only are we commanded in the scriptures to love God with all of our being. We are commanded, in Leviticus Chapter 19 Verse 18, to love our neighbor. And then on top of the command to love God and to love our neighbor, husbands you’re commanded in Ephesians Chapter 5 to love your wives. All you ladies and say amen. But wives, Titus Chapter 2, Titus is told by Paul to make sure that the older women in the church instruct the younger women to love their husbands, so wives you’re not out of that one. If you have a spouse you’re to love your spouse. John tells us, first John Chapter 4 Verse 21 that were to love the brethren; were to love those within the body of Christ. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John Chapter 12, I’m sorry, chapter 13 verse 34, and then again in chapter 15 verse 12. He says that you are to “love one another as I have loved you.” He says “this is a new commandment that I give to you.” The commandment to love one another is not new, but the commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us is new. And this is to the Christian. We are to love as Jesus loved, which means at least two things. Number one were to love sacrificially and number two were to love as Jesus commanded and exemplified. We are to love our enemies.
In Matthew chapter 5 verse 44 Jesus said, “You have heard that it has been said of those of all time you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” That was the teaching of the day. That’s what people were being told in Jesus’s day there by different rabbis and schools of thought in Israel, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Bless them.”
Now this command to love, as we go through all of these different things that we are to love, love God above all; to love our neighbor as ourselves; to love our wives; to love our husbands; to love the brothers; to love as Christ loved; to love sacrificially; and to love our enemies. These are things that we can not fulfill in and of our own strength. We just don’t have the power to do it. Not a bad thing to aim at, but definitely something that we find ourselves falling far short of when we are commanded to do it.
Now of course the culture in which we live has a certain idea about what love is. And it is constantly feeding us this philosophy this idea, in the cultural things that are valued. We see love defined and demonstrated, or illustrated and presented in books. We see it presented in movies and TV shows. We are told this is what love is. And when you look at the landscape in which we live the idea of love it seems to follow some sort of emotional leading. It seems to be filled with a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. And so there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what love genuinely is. And yet the scriptures command us to love one another. And Paul says here that “loving one another is the fulfillment of the law.” So we need to try to wrap our minds around what exactly is meant by this command? What are we to do to fulfill the command to love one another?
In answering that question I want to begin with what the command to love is not. If you’re taking notes you may want to jot some of these things down. The command to love is not, number one, a command to have strong feelings towards, or have affection for, or to have stirring emotions about.
The command and scripture to love is not to have strong feelings of affection or stirring emotions about. Although that’s what our culture reduces love down to. That’s what they say love is. And therefore if you have stirring emotions and strong feelings for someone, then you love that person. And because you love that person you might even ask that person to marry you. And they might, if they have strong feelings for you, actually say “yes” to that request. And then you get married, and then you realize after you got married that many of those warm fuzzy feelings that you had about that person, when you get to know who they really are, like when they wake up in the morning and they don’t clean up after themselves, whatever that may be, then you realize that some of those warm fuzzy feelings are gone. And now all of a sudden you, as our culture says, fallen out of love. And therefore you should depart. You should quit. You should give up, because “I just don’t love you any more. I don’t have those warm feelings that I had. You know, the first night that we met. The first time we held hands. The first time we embraced. Those are all gone. I don’t have those anymore. So I guess I just don’t love you anymore, and so I’m giving up. Our culture says that love is filled with good feelings of affection and stirring emotions. But when we read here in the scriptures that we’re to love one another. It is not a command to have that.
Secondly the command to love is not a command, by which we pretend to enjoy the presence of those that we don’t particularly like.
Let’s just be honest there are some people in this world that we don’t particularly like. Unfortunately that person might even occupy the same row as you here at the church today. I hope not, but it might be the case. To love one another is not to feign acceptance, or feign some sort of pretend faux, “I really am nice to this person, even though I can’t stand them.” The command to love one another is not to pretend that you enjoy the presence of someone you don’t particularly like.
Thirdly, it is not a command to never feel anger towards the practice of evil.
You see Jesus, He is the personification of love. “God is love,” the Scriptures say. His very nature is love. And we see represented, both in Jesus while he was here upon the earth, and in God throughout the scriptures that there are things that God is angry at or toward. So the command of love is not a command to never feel anger toward the practice of evil.
Fourth, the command to love is not a command to never punish transgression or discipline disobedience.
Now there are some in our culture who tell us that that actually is a demonstration of love. When you overlook the trespass; when you overlook the disobedience, and you don’t necessarily punish that disobedience, that’s showing love. We’re told that. Especially for parents parenting children, that they’re not to show any sort of punishment, or corporal punishment especially to their children, because in so doing you’re showing them that you don’t love them. The reality is actually the inverse.
The scriptures make it very clear, the person who does not discipline; does not chasten, does not love. Hebrews chapter 12 is the best place to go to for that scripture reference because there it says, “Whom the Lord loves He,” what? “Chastens.” That is disciplines.
How many of you like the chastening of the Lord? If you don’t raise your hand it’s it’s OK, because the scriptures make very clear, no one likes chastening. We don’t really use that word today but it doesn’t sound good. “Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges,” another king James word we don’t use, it sounds really bad. “Scourges every child whom He receives. If you are without discipline, you are not a child.”That’s what the scriptures say.
The command to love is not a command to overlook wickedness. We are told by some people in our own families, who do not believe in God; do not submit to the Scriptures, that “you just need to accept me the way I am if you love me.” That’s not necessarily a demonstration of scriptural love.
Well then what is the command to love. I suggest that the command to love is a command to demonstrate sincere kindness and tender hearted affection towards others in our actions. That our actions towards others should be dominated by kindness and tender hearted affection towards them.
Secondly, the commands of love is a command to do no harm to another individual.
Third, the command to love is the command to hold no malice toward another individual.
You may be a person who would never even think to strike out physically at someone. Maybe because you just have a smaller stature, and you figure if “I did strike out physically I’d end up getting hurt.” And so you say, I”‘d never try to physically harm someone.” But even though you’re not physically harming them, in your mind and in your heart you’re wishing their demise. That’s called malice. Even when you’re pretending to like that person; pretending to enjoy their company, but in your heart you’re going to get hit by a truck. That’s called malice.
The command to love, is a command to hold no malice toward another individual.
Fourth, the command to love is a command to not murder, not slander, not steal from, covet after, or lie to. The command to love is a command to be faithful toward and honest with even when it is difficult. That’s what we glean from the scriptures as we begin to break down this concept of loving one another. Because you see the command to love fulfills the law. It fulfills the whole of the law. How do we know this? Look at Romans Chapter 13 verse 9.
Romans 13 9. “For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet.” Paul lists five of the Ten Commandments. “These commandments, and if there is any other commandment.” Now we know that there are more than these five commandments, because of course in Exodus Chapter 10. God gave Moses to give to the children of Israel Ten Commandments, but as you go through the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, you know that there are six hundred and thirteen, at least that’s what Jewish rabbis tell us. 613 commandments that are given to us. You can actually punch in on Google, I’ve done it before, “613 Jewish commandments” you’ll get a long list of 613 commandments. You can read through all of them, if you want to take the time. It’ll tell you every single one of them.
You know what you find when you read through all of those? We don’t fulfill them. We’re guilty. But even those 613 commandments, they are not representative of the full nature of God and the law of God is a representation of His nature. So there’s far more that could be written and called law than just the Ten Commandments or the 613 commandments. But what we are told here is that all the law, because God is gracious and he wants us to pass the test. He’s not saying “Hey remember and do every single one of those 613.” He just sums it up for us. He says, “Hey, I’ll just give it to you in one bite sized chunk. All the commandments are summed up,” Paul says, “in this saying You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now it’s important to recognize that the 5 commandments that Paul articulates, from the ten, are commandments that relate to our interaction with other people: not stealing, not murdering, not slandering, not bearing false witness, so forth. So these have to do with how we relate to human beings. This is not necessarily talking about a relationship with God. Why? Well because Paul is speaking to Christians who have been brought into a relationship with God in Christ Jesus. And as a Christian who is in right relationship with God, how are we now to be in right relationship with one another? Well he says there, “All of the law is summed up in this saying, namely you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
About a week ago. My wife and I we had all four kids in the car and we had to stop by Vons on our way home from somewhere. We pull into the parking lot there, and we didn’t want to get all four kids out, you know. If you have four kids you know getting them all in and out of a shopping center is a nightmare. And so we just figured, we’ll just sit in the car. I’ll sit the car with the kids, Andrea ran in to get a few things. While she runs in, we had one of the Christian radio stations playing music in the car. And I was kind of half paying attention, and I think probably looking at an e-mail or something on my phone, and this song was on there. Some girl. I don’t remember the name, but there was one line that caught my attention, where she said, “You’ve got to learn to love yourself before you can love another.” And I went, “What? What channel is this?” Because that’s not in the Bible. You see the reality is every single one of us inordinately love ourselves already. We need to learn how to divert that to love our neighbor as ourself. So the whole of the Commandments, in our relationship with other people, can be summed up in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now these truly powerful words did not originate with the apostle Paul. This was a well known concept among the Jews of Jesus’s day. And Jesus himself actually articulated it as well. This concept it originated with God. “All Scriptures given by inspiration of God, and it’s useful.” in Matthew Chapter 22 Jesus is being confronted by various religious leaders of the day. by the scribes and the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, and the lawyers of the day, the heroines, and they’re questioning Him. They’re trying to find a way that they can accuse Him of some sort of sin that they might put him to death. And in Matthew chapter 22 a lawyer came to Jesus, in Verse 37, and he said to him than the previous verse 36, “What is the law? What is the greatest commandment in the law?”And of course this lawyer is hoping that Jesus might say something other than what the Jews of the day and what the scripture taught, so they might catch him in something. There were people who were saying that Jesus was teaching contrary to the Law of Moses, and so this lawyer says to him. “What’s the greatest commandment in the law?” And Jesus answers in verse 37 of Matthew 22, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
These were commonly understood truths among the Jews of the day. But Jesus went on Verse 40, He said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Everything in the first five books of the Bible. Everything that God spoke prophetically to the nation of Israel, can all be summed up in these words, “You shall love the Lord your God and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul even goes a step further in the book of Galatians. He said the entire law can be summed up in one word what do you think it is? Love.
You see every child born in a Jewish home. From the time that the children of Israel received the law until now. One of the first things that they are to be instructed is what is called The “Shema.” It comes from Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 4 and 5, I already quoted an earlier: “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength. That is quoted, as it was two thousand years ago in every synagogue in Israel, it is quoted in every synagogue on the Sabbath today. Not just that, but a couple other references. But key to their profession is “The Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and strength.” Every Sabbath every Jew would go to the temple and they would say those things. It’s one of the first things that they would learn. One of the first things that they would memorize.
Of course Saul of Tarsus who would become the Apostle Paul as a young Jewish child. He knew those words. He was taught those words. He understood it. And not only Deuteronomy chapter 6 the commands of love God, but Leviticus 19 the commands of Love your neighbor. It was commonly held in Jesus’s day, and in Paul’s day, that those were the greatest commandments in the law.
In Luke Chapter 10, would you turn in your Bibles to Luke Chapter 10? Luke Chapter 10, another lawyer approached Jesus with a question.
Luke Chapter 10 Verse 25. “Behold a certain lawyer stood up and tested Jesus, saying “teacher or rabbi, what shall I do to inherit eternal life.” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? What’s your interpretation of the law?”
He answered, the lawyer did, verse 27. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
You see this lawyer, he understood. He knew exactly what that question was. It was a common question in Jesus day: “What is the greatest commandment of the law?” And here he answers, and Jesus responds. Verse 28 he said to him, “You have answered rightly. Do this and live.” How many of you recognize today that it’s one thing to know it’s totally different thing to do? “Do this and live.”
Now while those two commandments, Deuteronomy 6 verses 4 and 5, and Leviticus 19 18, were well known and understood by the people of Jesus’s day. There was a huge debate over them. And the debate went something like this. Look at how the lawyer responded to Jesus there in Verse 29. But he wanting to what wanting to make himself righteous, that’s what justify means, wanting to make him self righteous said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Now of course we could ask Mr. Rogers that question but you don’t have to. Who is my neighbor? That was the debate. That was the discussion in Jesus’s day. “OK I know that I’m supposed to love God. That’s a given. I know that I’m supposed to love my neighbor but who’s my neighbor?” “Let’s give some sort of criteria. Let’s give some sort of litmus test.” And there were lots of ideas and teachings in first century Judaism about who your neighbor was. Different schools of thoughts had different criteria for who your neighbor was. And basically what it was was a way that you could reduce this commandment down so that you could couple all your neighbors into this small little bubble and then everybody else you could just hate. Because our nature is to hate. It’s just who we are in our fallen sinful selves. And so wanting to justify himself. Who is my neighbor?
Well Jesus gives an answer. Gave an answer in the form of a story, as Jesus often did. Look at verse 30. “Then Jesus answered and said, “a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among thieves who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest, a certain priest came down that road, and when he saw him, he sees the man that is bruised, and beaten, and left for dead, and he passed on the other side.”
“Likewise a Levites.” Now the Levites they were the priestly tribe of Israel. But not every single one of them practiced as priests in the temple. Many of them just lived as civil servants as judges in the nation. So he’s something of a politician if you will. The priest and now the politician sounds like a joke doesn’t it.
“And now the Levite. When he arrived at that place. He came and he looked.” He actually took the time to actually look, and go, “Oh pity.” And what did he do after he came and he looked he passed on the other side.
“But a certain Samaritan.” Now some of you realize that the Samaritans they were considered by the Jewish people to be racially different. There was a lot of racial tension actually not just racial tension racial hatred. Racism was standard in the world for most of human history. Thankfully we live in a time; we live in a place we recognize that we are created equal. But there is huge tension, huge hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews, because the Samaritans were they had some Jewish heritage, some Jewish lineage, but they were inbred with just Gentile peoples they were looked down upon as the lowest of the low.
They used the word Samaritan as a curse word. They accused Jesus of being a Samaritan to kind of belittle him. So now a Samaritan comes by. The priest and the Levite, they’ve already passed, but a Samaritan came and as the journey became where this man was, and when he saw him he had.” What? “He had merciful compassion.” He had tenderhearted affection for this man compassion for this Jewish man left for dead. So he went to him. He bandaged his wounds pouring oil and wine, he set them on his own animal, and he brought him to an end to take care of them and on the next day he departed. “He took to Denari,” that’s two days wages, and “gave them to the innkeeper and said. “take care of him and whatever you spend more than this when I come again I’ll repay you.””
So there’s the story. Now the question with which Jesus is intending to make application. So He said to this man, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among thieves?” And the lawyer answered, “He who showed mercy on him.” And then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
His teaching is still the same. “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. OK, go and do this.” And now after this story, after He brings this guy to the conclusion that, who is the neighbor? It’s not by applying some litmus test, or criteria and saying, “Well all of these people that fit in this little bubble, that fit in this room here, I’ll be nice and like them, but anybody else outside. Sorry you missed the… You missed the call.”
Romans Chapter 13 Verse 10. Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Now that word “harm” is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “evil.” Love does no evil. It connects us, although it’s a different Greek word, the idea is the same. It connects us back to Romans chapter 12 verse 9, where we saw a few weeks ago, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil.” Renounce, reject, stay away from what is evil. And so Paul connects that idea. “Love does no evil no harm to a neighbor. Therefore Love is a fulfillment of the law.” The idea is very clear.
You cannot fulfill the command of the Ephesians Chapter 5, to walk in love, while also bringing in wickedness, or evil. You can’t. These things cannot coexist. They cannot be together. You cannot walk in love and harbor bitterness, and malice, and anger, and ill will in your heart towards another person. That’s the clear teaching here. These things can not exist together. And love fulfills what is righteous it fulfills what is of the law.
And since it is true that love fulfills the law. Therefore if our aim, if our desire is to be obedient to what God has called us to be obedient to, then we need to aim at loving one another. And to love one another we need to love in the same way Jesus did. Jesus and John Chapter 13 verse 34 he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” And John Chapter 15 verse 12. “My commandment is that you love one another as I have loved you.” So His form of love is the standard at which we are to aim. We’re to love like He loves.
Now in that same passage in John Chapter 15 when he says, “My commandment is that you love as I have loved you,” He also says, “Greater love has no one than this but that a man would lay down his life for,” who? Say it loud. “His friends.” That may be the greatest expression of our human love: to lay down our friends … or our lives … Lay down our friends. Yeah I’ll gladly. Lay down our lives for our friends. Greatest expression of our love. God’s love supersedes that right? Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His love towards us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us,” when we were His enemies. He loves us far greater.
This debt that we are called to pay, is a debt that we’re unable to fulfill. We can not pay this debt to love one another, because we have insufficient funds. We’re lacking in this area of love. So what do we do?
If you would turn in your Bibles to Second Kings chapter 4 in the Old Testament. First and Second Samuel, first and second King’s, first and second Chronicles. Second Kings Chapter 4. Second kings four, verse 1. There we read, “A certain woman. She was the wife of one of the sons of the profits, she cried out to Elisha the prophet saying, “Your servant my husband is dead. And you know that your servant he feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take away my two sons to be his slaves.”
Solomon, the Great Wise Guy of the Scripture he said that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” That was much more literal thousands of years ago in Israel, than it is in our day because during that time if you owed a great debt and you could not pay it then you would oftentimes become the slave, the servant of the one that you owed the debt to, to pay it off. And here this woman was married to a man who had a great debt to some creditor, and he died leaving her with the burden of the debt. And the only thing that she had was these two sons and now the creditor is coming and saying, “I’m going to take your two sons to be my slaves.” The debt was too great for her to pay. Elisha responded verse two, “So he Elisha said to her what shall I do for you?”
The admission in Elisha’s words are, “I don’t have the ability to to help you in and of myself. I can’t physically fix this problem that you have here. What shall I do for you? Tell me what do you have in your house?”
And she said, “Your maid servant has nothing in the house, but this one jar of oil.” Well then Elisha said, “Go borrow vessels from everywhere. From your neighbors, empty vessels. Do not gather just a few, get as many as you can. And when you have come in you shall shut the door behind you. And you with your sons, and then pour out the oil into those vessels and set aside the full ones. “And so she went away from him, and she shut the door behind her with her sons. She brought the vessels, they brought them to her, and she poured it out.
“Now it came to pass when the vessel’s, all of them, were full, she said to her son, “bring me another vessel.” He said, “There’s not another vessel.” And so the oil ceased. And then verse seven, “She came and she told the man of God, she came and told Elisha, and said to him … And he said to her, “Go sell the oil, pay your debt and you and your sons shall live on the rest.”
You see she could not, in and of herself, provide what was needed to deal with this debt. In the same way we, in and of ourselves, can not fulfill this command to love one another. But God miraculously enabled her to be able to pay the debt by giving what she could not do for herself. And so I would say, based on the illustration of this passage, the same is true for us. We can not fulfill the debt to love one another as God has commanded us. We are … We just don’t have enough oil to go around if you will. And yet God by his indwelling Spirit, God in His power, enables us to do what we can not do.
What is the fruits of the Spirit? Love. From that joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, self-control, these things, but the evidence of God’s presence in us, love. Well
Paul continues, look at this, verse 11. Romans Chapter 13. “And do this.” Would you underline those words in your bible if you wouldn’t mind: “and do this.” You see a lot of Bible teachers will teach verses 11 through 14, out of context with verses 8 through 10, don’t, not making the connection here. But what is it that we are to do? Do what? Well I would suggest to you that we’re to do what verses 8 through 10 tell us to do. We’re to love one another, “and do this.” Love. Why? “Do this, knowing the time, that it is high time that you awake out of your sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Do this. Love in a practical manner without hypocrisy. Why? Why should we do this?
Well, Number one, because it fulfills the law.
Number two, because it honors and glorifies God.
Number three because it’s a witness of him. Jesus and John Chapter 15 verse 12. I’m sorry John Chapter 13:34 he says, “You shall love as I have loved you.” And then in the very next verse he says, “And by this shall all men know that you are my disciples by the love that you have one for another.
So we love because it fulfills the law, because it honors and glorifies God, because it’s a witness of him. Fourth because our time is short. That’s what Paul says there in verse eleven: “and do this knowing the time.” What time is it? “That it’s high time that you wake up out of your sleep, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” We’re one step closer to our salvation than we were yesterday, amen? We’ll be one step closer tomorrow than we are today.
“Your salvation is nearer than when we first believed. “We need to know the time. We need to observe what is happening around us, and the world in which we live. And as a result we need to make certain applications. We see the data, we see what’s going on, and therefore we walk differently. We should be aware of the times and the seasons in which we live.
Solomon ecclesiastics Chapter 3 Verse 8, he says, “To everything there’s a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born. A time to die. A time to plant. A time to pluck up what is planted. A time to kill, A time to heal. A time to break down, A time to build up.” Some great words there. Someone should put it into a song and be really good. So Solomon recognizes that there are times and seasons in this life. And according to the times and the seasons that we observe we should make certain decisions and respond accordingly.
Jesus in Matthew Chapter 16 he said, “Listen, you know how to discern the weather.” You’re able to look at the sky and see where it’s red and so we have to get ready for rain. “You know you know how to discern these things. Then also discern the times in which you’re living.” And make certain decisions and alterations to how you’re living because of what you’re seeing.
Psalm 90, many people believe that Moses is the author of it, he said this. Psalm 90 Verse 10, “The days of our lives are 70 years and if by reason of strength 80 years.” Verse 12 he says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” It’s wise to take an observation of the world in which we live, the time in which you are living and say, “how shall I now live in response to what I’m seeing?”
First Chronicles Chapter 12, I believe around Verse 32 it says, “There was a tribe in Israel, the tribe of Issachar, and the man of the tribe of Issachar, they understood the times.” But then it goes a step further and it says, “And they knew what Israel should do.” They were able to observe what was happening, and they were able to make application in their lives based on what they were seeing. And we too need to do the same thing.
And so Paul says, “The night is far spent the day is at hand.” Verse 12, “Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light.” Now I don’t know about you, but when Paul says stuff like that sometimes you go, “Yeah that sounds really cool.” But you know, what in the world do you mean? “Let us cast off the works of darkness.” That sounds so like Lord Of The Rings-ish, and put on the armor of light. Yes! Give me that sword that glows blue when the evil ones come around. Explain this to me. Paul what do you mean, “Cast off the works of darkness and and put on the armor of light?”
Verse 13, “Let us walk properly.” OK. What does that mean? He gives us three “nots” and six things that we are not to do to fulfill this. “Walk properly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.” Now what exactly are these things? We don’t have a lot of time to dig into these words, but let me just throw it out like this. These words describe the first century Roman world. These words describe the 21st century Western world. This describes what the world is all about and like. Y
ou see the entire Roman world existed around a religious life in which they worship then bowed down to all kinds of different deities. Things like Apollo. Things like Diana. Things like Hermes. And then one called Baucus. And the worship of existed in a very interesting way, that always resulted in what was called revelry. It was like this, they would gather and go to the temple of Baucus and they would get smashed drunk. That’s how they would worship Baucus. And then they’d leave the temple of Baucus in the night and they would parade through the city of Rome in this big drunken parade. That was the culture of the day surrounding the worship of you say, “We don’t do anything like that anymore.” Well you know, the Lakers. Staples Center. The Lakers have just won the championship, and out the doors flow this big drunken party into the streets turning over cars jumping up and down. And we say, “That’s the worship of Baucus. It just is in purple and gold now.” Which happened to be the colors of royalty. Interesting. It’s just changed names. The temple doesn’t have Baucus on the side of it it says “Staples” or “Qualcomm.” I know I’m stepping on someone’s feet. I know. “Petco.”
So he says, “Let us walk properly.” OK, what does proper walking look like? Well it doesn’t look like that. Good indication. Not in revelry or drunkenness. Of course drunkenness is connected with this revelry. Yeah, the Bible makes very very clear, drinking alcohol is not a sin, but drunkenness is. Now for some people, merely drinking alcohol is sin. We’ll talk about that next week.
Not in lewdness, not in lust. Now again these are describing common daily Roman life. Lewdness and lust. The word “lewdness” means adulterous immorality. You see the Goddess Diana. People would go and worship at the temple of Diana. There was a huge one, the biggest one, in Ephesus. And this is how they’d worship. They’d go to the temple and there were Temple priestesses, who were actually temple prostitutes, and the way that they would worship was engaging with them, and that would fund the worship of Diana. Lewdness. That’s what it is. The word “lust,” there in this text when, he says, “Not in lust,” it means “promiscuous wantonness.” The idea is searching after promiscuity, looking for the next opportunity to engage in it. So he says, “Walking properly, in the light with the armor of light, is not walking like that.”
Well then he says not of strife or envy. Not in contentious battling, and divisions, and fightings, and jealousy. But instead verse 14, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh. You see our flesh longs after the things of this world. We’re told to make no provision for that. Why?
Well look back at Chapter 12 the passage that opened this whole section of Romans. Look at 12 verse 1. Romans 12 verse 1, Paul says, “I beseech you,” I’m begging you, “Brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world.” Do not walk in conformity to what this world establishes as normative, for a world that has fallen. But instead, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its desires.”
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, because love is a fulfillment of all of these things.” And do this knowing the time that we’re living in a time where the love of many is growing cold. just as Jesus predicted it would happen in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. But the life of the follower of Jesus should be dominated by something different than the things of this world. It should be dominated by the fruit of the Spirit, which is chiefly, love. And yet we recognize “God, we don’t have the ability. We’re like that woman and Second Kings, chapter four, that didn’t have the ability to pay the debt.” And God says, “Okay well I have enough love to overflow.”
Romans Chapter 5 says he has “Shed his love abroad in our hearts by the Spirit of God.” And I can think of no better way to finish a passage of scripture like this than to confess, “God we cannot in our own strength do this, we need your strength to enable us.” And if you agree with that prayer, then I’d ask that you’d stand with me, and that we’d pray that together right now. Would you bow your hearts and your heads with me, and if that’s your prayer today, you can just repeat this after me.
“Father I confess that I am unloving. I confess that I am unlovable. I ask that you would enable me, by your power and your Spirit. To love as you loved. That the fruit of Your presence. Would be evident in my life. That those that I know. That don’t know you. Would see your love in me. That they desire to know You. Enable me to walk as You walked. To love is You love. I can’t do it on my own. In Jesus name.