The Book of ROMANS
James J. Barker
THE LAW OF LOVE
Text: ROMANS 13:8-10
- The emphasis in Romans 13:1—7 is our duty as citizens of the state.
- The emphasis in Romans 13:8—10 is our duty to one another as Christians. The key word is “love” (vss. 8, 9, 10).
- The Scofield Study Bible refers to this as “The law of love toward the neighbor.” We see the word “love” five times in these three verses.
- Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
- Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”
- Warren Wiersbe said, “As you yield to the Spirit, Christ’s life is manifest in the fruit of the Spirit.”
- Christ’s life produces the fruit of the Spirit, and “the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22).
- In that same chapter of Galatians, we read, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).
- Love comes first. Spurgeon said, “Perhaps ‘love’ is put first not only because it is a right royal virtue, nearest akin to the Divine perfection, but because it is a comprehensive Grace and contains all the others. All the commandments are fulfilled in one word and that word is ‘love.’ And all the fruits of the Spirit are contained in that one most sweet, most blessed, most heavenly, most God-like Grace of love.”
- First John 4:19 says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.”
- LOVE’S DEBT – “Owe no man anything” (13:8)
- LOVE’S DUTY – “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (13:9)
- LOVE’S DEFERENCE – “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (13:10)
LOVE’S DEBT – “Owe no man anything” (13:8)
- “Man” here refers to every man, not just our fellow Christians.
- The Christian is not to take on a debt he is unable to repay, and we are to pay our bills on time.
- Years ago a Roman Catholic businessman and I were talking. He referred to members of an unusual church that gave him extensive business. I say they were unusual because here in the NYC area they stuck out – the ladies all dressed modestly and only wore dresses, the children were all home-schooled, they had no television sets in their homes, etc.
- We used to drive by their church building (they have since relocated) and I often expressed my admiration for their separation from worldliness. My son (who was young at that time) said, “Dad, Bible Baptist Church could never be like that because we are a soulwinning church.” He had a point.
- Anyway, the unsaved businessman and I were talking and he said, “I do not know much about their teachings and such, but I will say this – they always pay their bills on time.”
- W.H. Griffith Thomas said, “Men judge Christians by their promptness in fulfilling obligations and in paying their bills, and it is a fine, natural, and legitimate test. A spirituality that is not ethical carries its own condemnation and is certain to elicit the disgust and opposition of all practical, honest people” (St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans).
- Evangelist John R. Rice said, “More than once when I have urged some businessman to come out to the services at the house of God, he has replied, ‘Well, if the members of that church would pay me what they owe me I would feel a good deal more like going to their church.’”
- John R. Rice continues, “Anyone who is well acquainted with retail credit business knows that multitudes of church people will not pay honest debts unless the bill collector follows them up to get it. Sometimes Christians move out of apartments or houses owing back rent which they never pay. Some Christians owe long-standing bills to doctors, good physicians who cared for them in the time of deepest distress…I know something of the shockingly lax standards of Christians about debt paying.”
- John R. Rice received a letter from a storekeeper in a small town in Texas a who listened to his radio broadcasts in Dallas:
- "The other day a man came into my store and handed me $25.00 to pay a debt that was ten years old. I had given up all hope of ever collecting the debt. I had tried again and again, and the debtor would make no effort to pay. When he came in to pay the debt, I told him frankly, 'That's $25.00 I never expected to see. And he answered back, 'Yes, it's $25.00 I never intended to pay. But I've been hearing Brother John R. Rice on the radio. He showed me from the Bible that if I ever expected God to hear my prayers for the salvation of my children, to hear my call for daily help, I must make things right and be reconciled to those I had wronged, so I resolved to pay this debt. I must make it so God will hear my prayers and save my children!"
- Paying our bills and avoiding the bondage of debt is important, but there is more – “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (13:8).
- “For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (13:8b). The Christian obeys God’s commandments out of love for God and love for his neighbor.
- Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
LOVE’S DUTY (13:9) -- “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (13:9)
- “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (13:9). If a man loves his wife, he will not cheat on her. If a man loves his neighbor, he will not covet his neighbor’s wife. If a man loves his family, he will not want to disgrace them by committing adultery.
- This is love’s duty. John Phillips said, “Love makes the conscience far more tender than law could ever do…Love for the Lord accomplishes what fear of the law could never achieve” (Exploring Romans).
- “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness…” (13:9). If you love your neighbor you will not want to kill him or steal from him or lie to him, or covet anything that belongs to him, etc.
- The Ten Commandments can be divided into two sections. The first section emphasizes our duty toward God (Exodus 20:3-11), and the second section our duty toward others (Ex. 20:12-17).
- Some say the fifth commandment (“Honour thy father and thy mother”) belongs with the first section (Godward) because parents represent divine authority.
- The Lord reduced the Ten Commandments to two, and the emphasis is on love, not on law – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30, 31).
- “And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Romans 13:9).
- The entire law can be summed up in this statement: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Romans 13:9b).
- Back in Romans 6:14, Paul said, “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Therefore, the Christian obeys God’s commandments not because he is commanded to by the law, but because of the law of love (13:8b).
LOVE’S DEFERENCE – “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (13:10)
- Love does no harm to his neighbor.
- Love seeks the well-being of his neighbor.
- The Bible says, love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself; love is not puffed up; love does not envy or boast; love is not arrogant; love doth not behave itself unseemly, love seeketh not her own, and is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
- Love never faileth.
- John Phillips said, “The underlying principle of the Jewish economy was law. The underlying principle of the Christian economy is love” (Exploring Romans).
- W.H. Griffith Thomas applied the law of love in several ways.
- In regards to forgiveness, our Lord said we are to forgive, not just seven times, “but, until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).
- In regards to neighborliness, the Jewish lawyer, who had tempted our Lord, asked, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Our Lord then told the story of the Good Samaritan. In other words, every man is my neighbor.
- In regards to giving, if we love God and love our neighbor, there is literally no limit to giving. The Bible teaches certain principles – “as God hath prospered him” (I Corinthians 16:2); and “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good” (Galatians 6:10); and, “as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give” (II Corinthians 9:7).
- In regards to “certain forms of amusement,” too many Christians have set down strict rules and regulations, but this issue cannot be settled by rules but by the principle of the law of love.