Christian Authenticity – Fulfilling the Law Through Love

by Mike Ratliff

8 Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν· ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν. 9 τὸ γὰρ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις, οὐ κλέψεις, οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις, καὶ εἴ τις ἑτέρα ἐντολή, ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται [ἐν τῷ] · ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 10 ἡ ἀγάπη τῷ πλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται· πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη. 11 Καὶ τοῦτο εἰδότες τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι ὥρα ἤδη ὑμᾶς ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθῆναι, νῦν γὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν. 12 ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν. ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, ἐνδυσώμεθα [δὲ] τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός. 13 ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ εὐσχημόνως περιπατήσωμεν, μὴ κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, μὴ κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις, μὴ ἔριδι καὶ ζήλῳ, 14 ἀλλʼ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. (Romans 13:8-14 NA28)

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. 11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:8-14 NASB)

Human Reason can be an idol. In those who consider themselves to be “intellectual” or have been educated in philosophy thereby become existentialists, Human Reason is seen as the path to perfection. These will discount in various degrees how relevant or pervasive Holy Scripture, God’s Word, is in being the basis of truth. To these, Human Reason far outweighs the Bible in determining truth. Some see Scripture as totally irrelevant. Others see it as a valuable “historical” book. Sadly, many professing Christians are guilty of worshiping at the altar of Human Reason while their Bibles gather dust somewhere.

God’s Word, is His wonderful gift to His people. It reveals God to us. We know Him primarily through getting His Word into us and it doing its supernatural work of mind renewal via the Holy Spirit. It is sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the division of soul and spirit. It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Through this process, our sanctification, Christians are transformed from flesh driven, selfish, self-centered, baby Christians to mature, spirit-filled, mature Christians. These mature Christians take on God’s character. Godly character is marked by the very nature of Christ that we see in Scripture. That character, all by God’s grace, is expressed in many facets all with their source in Love.

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)

The Greek word that is translated as “owe” here means to be under obligation to someone else. Christians are commanded to love others. That is our obligation. (John 13:34,35; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 6:10; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 4:8; 1 John 2:10; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:7,21; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27,35; Luke 6:28, 34 Romans 12:14, 20; Galatians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15) What does it mean that Christians who do love others, even the unlovely, have fulfilled the law? Christ fulfilled the law and when believers are Christ-like they too fulfill it in that they do not violate any part of God’s law regarding interpersonal relationships because true love does no wrong to others.

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:11-14 NASB)

The Greek word for time here refers to a period or era or age. In this evil age believers must not be apathetic or dull to the things of God nor should they be tolerant that which is evil being called good while that that is good being called evil. This age is rapidly approaching its end. The closer we come to the end of this age the more this trait becomes manifest. Christians are called to not be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. (Romans 12:2) By becoming Spirit-filled, Christians walk in the light. Their godly, Christ-like character is marked by love for others, moral character, and spiritual acumen. They have put on the Lord Jesus Christ and are in the process of crucifying their flesh and submitting their wills to the Lord in all things.

Please do not be discouraged in the comparison of your walk with these standards. All of us are in process. The tragedy is that many believers are still Christian babies. This is a call to become the spirit-filled believer who is actively pursuing God and His ways in all areas of their lives. We know that this process starts with becoming a living sacrifice who is not conformed to this world. From there we proceed through tests and trials and mind renewal to become those who walk in the light instead of the darkness of this flesh bound world. Every day we live in our lives is one day closer to the day when our salvation will be fulfilled in our glorified bodies to be with our Lord forever. If that is our treasure rather than self-gratification we will do these things and cooperate with God in our sanctification to become fruitful disciples this side of eternity who bring our Heavenly Father glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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