Loving Others Fulfills God’s Law
Truth Taught- When we love others, we are fulfilling God’s law and redeeming the time.
At the end of Chapter 12 we are told how we should relate to someone who is an enemy. Paul writes…
Romans 12:19–21 (ESV)
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
On an individual basis we are to show love to our enemies. For us we must show love and mercy to our enemies. God, however, is different. He stands ready to pass judgment upon His enemies. He does so by using the government that He has set in place. Last week, we saw that God carries out His vengeance by using the government. Because it is God’s tool for order and peace we are to submit to it.
Today, we’ll see that again God calls us to show love to others.
In between the commands to show love and not vengeance Paul explains that God will take care of the vengeance so that we can show love to others.
Romans 13:8–14 (ESV)
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other
Last time we were told that we should pay the taxes we owe to our government because it is God’s arm to keep order in a society. Today, we are told to first not owe anyone money… Owe no one anything. In this case, this is not teaching to stay out of debt (that’s for another time). The teaching in verse 8a is that we are in debt and we are seeking to pay that debt.
Romans 1:14–15 (ESV)
14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
We owe the lost world the Gospel.
Romans 8:11–12 (ESV)
11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
We owe the Holy Spirit obedience
Romans 13:6 (ESV)
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
We owe the government taxes
Here in Romans 13:8 we owe others love. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other. This debt, beloved, we will never pay off. Every time we meet someone new we owe him or her love. This is not just a good thing God wants us to do but it is a command He makes to all believers.
There are a few reasons this command is to be obeyed by Christians…
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Paul explains that when we love others, we have fulfilled the Law of God. We have seen in Romans that Jesus has fulfilled the Law of God for us by living a perfect life, which means that He didn’t need to die for His own sins and that He did die to make the payment for our sins. Now God’s Law is fulfilled in all who believe. At that point we are declared legally Law-Keepers. Yet, we all know that we are really still Law-Breakers.
As Christians we must be in the process of catching up to our legal status. In other words, while God declares us righteous now we must be in the process of actually becoming righteous. So, God gives us a very good way to actually keep His entire Law ourselves…love one another. As we love one another we are fulfilling the Law of God. To love others is in keeping with the entire Law of God.
We are in debt to all people because we owe them love. We will never pay this debt off. We must keep fulfilling the Law by continuing to love others. We owe them this. Every time we show love to someone we have just made a payment but guess what? We will never get out of debt to them.
How does Paul show us that this is the case? How does he show us that loving our neighbor is fulfilling God’s Law?
9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The proof Paul gives is to explain to us that loving your neighbor is the safeguard or guarantee that these commandments are being obeyed. Love does not replace the Commandments; it is, however, a very strong ally with them.
The Commandments Paul mentions come from the second part of the Ten Commandments, the part that is about our relationship to others. Love is the pure motive to fulfill them.
You shall not commit adultery- When a person commits adultery he/she is not loving their neighbor the way God has intended but is, in fact, loving themselves. If a person loves their husband or wife they will not commit adultery. If a person loves others like God wants, they will not commit adultery.
Godly love does not commit adultery, because such sinful defilement of a person shows disregard for another’s purity. Love highly values the virtue of others and will do nothing that is morally defiling. Like every other form of sexual immorality, adultery comes from impure, sinful lust, never from pure love.
So, loving others keeps us from committing adultery. Love did not replace the command but is the command’s ally.
You shall not murder- This one is pretty basic, if you love others you’re not going to kill them. However, self-love may lead to murder. Again the safeguard to murder is to love others.
You shall not steal- Here a person loves what someone possesses. The thief loves the victim’s stuff more than they love the person the stuff was stolen from. A person loving their neighbor gives to them to help them out, they don’t take from them in the sense of robbing them.
You shall not covet-
Because it does not always have an outward manifestation, when we covet, the Lord may be the only one, besides ourselves, who is aware of that sin. But again, if we are loving, we will not covet, because love has no part in any unrighteousness (1 Cor. 13:6).
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
So, Paul proves just how it is that love for others fulfills the Law of God.
Next, he gives us another reason we are to obey the command to love one another…
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand.
Time is always ticking away. We race to get somewhere on time. We set our alarm clocks to wake up at the right time. We wear watches to keep track of time. Here in these two verses Paul gives us the real time.
11 Besides this you know the time… He tells us that we are fully aware of the time. What is he getting at here? He’s telling us that the reason we must show love to others is because time is running out to do so.
Here what the Apostle teaches is that the consummation of our salvation is nearer than it was yesterday. Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification are all in mind. They together represent the whole of salvation. He has in mind our future and final salvation. Sometimes we get tripped up when we think of salvation because most often we just think of justification but actually salvation is comprehensive from justification (I have been saved), sanctification (I am being saved), glorification (I will be saved). In this, he also has in mind our final adoption as God’s children, and the redemption of our bodies, and our eternal inheritance that is waiting for us. Every day brings this closer, so we don’t have time to waste.
The old age of darkness is past and the daytime is approaching. It is in the morning when Christ returns. So we’re told the darkness is over and daylight is starting to lighten up the landscape. We’ve not yet experienced the daytime of His return but it is getting closer all the time.
With all three time references in mind, we are called to wake up from sleep because time is growing short. Love others because the time is now.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Now we see the transition. Because all this is true we must begin to act accordingly. It’s not enough to know the time and the fact that the time is at hand but we must also act accordingly. Beloved, we don’t live in darkness any more so cast off the works of darkness because we have daytime work to do.
Do you see the action words…let us?
let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime.
There is a time to sleep and a time to be awake. We live in the daylight so we must not sleep. We need to put on daytime clothing and then proceed with daytime behavior.
This should remind us of Ephesians 6
Ephesians 6:10–18 (ESV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
We must be suited for battle because the Sun has risen.
In our current text, Paul tells us: 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
What does it mean to put on Christ?
John Stott tells us that what Paul is referring to is not only putting on Christ’s characteristics such as walking in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The context, however, suggests protection rather than adornment. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ. In any case, it’s not Christlikeness only that we are to assume, but Christ himself, laying hold of Him, and living under him as Lord.
We put on Christ as we submit to His lordship. This really goes two ways and Paul explains that on the one hand we put on Christ, live under Him as Lord by submitting to His rule in our lives and two we put off sin and sinful desires. So, we live under Christ’s Lordship by obedience to Him and we stop living under sin’s dominion or lordship and begin to disobey it’s leading.
In our text today, obeying Christ means to love others and disobey sin’s command to love ourselves. Fulfill God’s Law by showing love to your neighbor and put to death the deeds of darkness because the morning has dawned.
How should you show love to someone here in the local church? What would God have you do?
How should you show love to someone in your community? What would God have you do?
When you do, you are fulfilling God’s Law and redeeming the time.
Romans by Christopher Ash
Romans by Douglas Moo
Romans by John Stott
Romans by John MacArthur
Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 13:9). Chicago: Moody Press.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 13:9). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Romans by John Stott, 353