Romans Bible Study #43
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. NASB
8-10Don't run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don't sleep with another person's spouse, don't take someone's life, don't take what isn't yours, don't always be wanting what you don't have, and any other "don't" you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can't go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.
11-14But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! The Message
Verse 8 This is not a new theme or a return to the theme. This is the theme, it was the theme when we learned how to relate to enemies, it was the theme when we learned how to relate to our government. It is the theme now. LOVE. When you love, you honor others, you pay your debts, you pay your taxes, you are a good citizen. You can only love when you know you are loved by God. Love fulfills the law, with joy.
Verse 9 All the do-nots are obliterated in the doing of Love. The Spirit working through our laid down lives chooses love. Lasagna over vomit is an easy choice for the flesh. Love over sinning is an easy choice for the spirit that lives in us.
Verse 10 The neighbor, the question of the Pharisee that brought one of the most memorable parables of all time out of the heart of God. “Who is my neighbor?” The one in front of you that is in need. When we walk in the ‘knowing’ of having the abundance of God’s love at our disposal, we can meet the needs of our neighbor and not do wrong to them.
Verse 11 “Knowing the time” is our hope-filled existence. God is closer today than yesterday. The ‘dawn'- the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has happened, so the ‘day’ of His second coming will happen. Our hope, keeps us looking up, looking forward, moving onward. It was heavily taught and emphasized in the early church which was experiencing strong persecution. Kept from having delight in this world the hope of the next was more real to them. Our delight in this world, our being entertained by it and put to sleep by it takes away this very real hope and joy for us.
Verse 12 Eternity with its rewards and punishments is around the corner, LIVE like it! This is war, we don’t just need light, we need the ‘armor of light.’ (Eph. 6:10-20) Read the Bible, hear good preaching, don’t let thoughts in your head that would lead you to sin, that would awaken the desire to sin.
Verse 13 Be aware that strife and jealousy, inward acts of the heart are placed side by side with outward obvious ‘big-time’ sins. “Carousing” keep thoughts out that lead to substance abuse.
“Promiscuity” keep thoughts out that would stir up inordinate desires for sex. “Strife” don’t give place in your thoughts for desires for preeminence or control or attention. These things breed quarreling and jealousy. Forgiveness, Forbearance, Patience, Kindness, Meekness, Love, don’t rip apart the Body that Jesus is putting together. If you are bored or lonely or tired or discouraged or feeling hopeless don’t even ponder the relief that alcohol or drugs or illicit sex would bring. Don’t daydream about what another man has. Misunderstood, dis-respected, abandoned, get back to Jesus. Put on the armor, you are under attack. The thoughts come in, but what we do with them is our choice, and we desperately need to the grace of God to put them down.
Verse 14 A lustful, greedy or self-pity thought comes in, say “NO! get out of my head.” AND become pro-active. Actively put in the words of God that awaken faith, think of the promises that awaken hope. Think of Jesus, dying and resurrecting. Call somebody.
Piper emphasized the idea of being a debtor in verse 8. It would seem our debt is to God, not man, but Christianity is different from all religions in that its premise is that we cannot pay God back, or do for God, anything. Romans 1:14 “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.” Our debt is to our neighbor, in whom we see God. His love shed abroad in our hearts, must have an outlet, our ‘neighbor’ is that outlet. They are our opportunity to keep the circle of love going around and around. No one would come to this conclusion naturally. God does an eternally good work for you, and that work obligates you to people who never have or will do anything for you... huh? How in the world does that exchange take place? If you find the best, most reasonably priced mechanic ever, you want to tell others about your find. You have been blessed and you want to share the blessing. As a satisfied customer of God you want others to know of His goodness. AA and NA live by this principle in gratitude for finding a higher power and a program that works they look to serve others who need this news.
There is a true story of a young girl, who knew a railroad bridge by her house had been washed out. She risked her life on a stormy night to travel to the nearest station to warn the people to stop the next train before it got there. Her knowledge of the danger, obligated her to tell others. It meant risking her own life going over another bridge that was being battered by the storm, river and debris. But she did it. The Lamb that was slain bought the life of every person. We know this, we have this knowledge and so we are under obligation to enlighten others to the knowledge of His sacrificial love.
In verse 9 Piper made it clear that we should recognize as a lie the teaching that implies there are 2 commands in the statement. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is only 1 command and one thing that is understood as occurring naturally in everyone. Love of self is a ‘given.’ Everyone seeks food and water and safety. We love ourselves consistently and well. Do that to others also. There is a thinking that ‘self-esteem’ not the gospel is the universal need of mankind. That thinking is clearly wrong.
Barth had a section that I felt needed copied word for word.
“Love edifies the fellowship, because it seeks fellowship only. Love expects nothing, because it has reached the goal already. Love does not intend, because it has already done. Love asks no questions, it already knows. Love does not fight, it is already the victor. Love is not the Eros the lusts ever, it is the Agape that never fails.”... “Therefore love is in itself perfect: it is the NEW doing, THE new doing, which is the meaning and fulfillment of all ‘not-doing’.”....Therefore-Love works no ill to his neighbor. Love is the good work by which the evil is overcome. Love is that denial and demolition of the existing order which no revolt can bring about. In this lies the strange novelty of love. In the cycle of evil unto evil, of reaction unto revolution, it plays no part. Love is the inversion of all concrete happening, because it is the recognition of the pre-supposition that lies in every concrete event. Love, because it sets up no idol, is the demolition of every idol. Love is the destruction of everything that is--like God: the end of all hierarchies and authorities and intermediaries, because, in every particular man and also in the 'Many’, it addresses itself, without fear of contradiction--to the One. Love does not contradict; and therefore it cannot be refuted. Love does not enter into competition’ and therefore it cannot be defeated. Capable of being defined only in negative terms in the sphere of evil (1 Cor. 13), it is, therefore, the action which is altogether pre-eminent over all evil. No impossibility of my not doing good in the realm of evil--the only realm we know!--can rid me of the duty of love. If, therefore, as a protest against the course of this world, I cease to love, I thereby simply--do not love God, offer no sacrifice, and do not renew my mind (12:2) This is the relentless, impelling, earnestness of the command of love, and--Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”