“Love and the Law” – Romans 13:8-10

December 18th, 2016

Mt 22:37-40; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:13-15; Jam 2:8-12

“Love and the Law”

Call to Worship: Psalm 119:1-8

Aux. text: Romans 13:8-10


Service OrientationAs we prepare to dive into Deuteronomy, never forget that God is love and His Law reflects His loving nature and His desire to see us love one another.  We can never truly be a follower of Jesus without love.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  The entire law is summed up in a single command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Galatians 5:14


Background Information:

  • (v. 13) Besides legalism, they must avoid giving in to the “flesh” (Greek, sarx–translated as “self-indulgence” in NRSV). All people are subject to this type of slavery, for every human being has a sinful human nature, inherently bent toward sin.  The context determines that Paul is not denigrating the human body or our identity as made in the image of God.  But this verse also makes clear that freedom in Christ does not mean elimination of the sarx, for it continues to urge us to indulge ourselves rather than pursue the true purpose of freedom:  the opportunity to practice genuine love in service of others.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 172)
  • (v. 13) Paul has already used the Greek term sarx eight times in this letter to describe physical life (see 1:16; 2:16, 20; 3:3; 4:13, 14, 23, 29). But at this point, he used sarx with a decided negative flavor.  Translating the word as “sinful nature” (NIV) or “self-indulgence” (NRSV) reminds us that “flesh” can be an inherent source impelling us to sin.  “Flesh” does not mean just a weakness but an almost insatiable, self-oriented power in human nature.  Our fallen nature rebels against God and resists his Spirit, producing what Paul called the “works of the flesh” (5:19 NRSV).  The demands of our human nature present a constant threat to our real freedom in Christ.  We need his ongoing help to keep our “flesh” under control.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 172-3)
  • (v. 13) Turning liberty into license is an evil ingrained in sinful human nature. It is so easy to interpret liberty as “the right to sin,” and to construe freedom as “the privilege to do whatever one’s evil heart wants to do,” instead of looking upon it as the Spirit-imparted ability and desire to do what one should do.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Galatians, 210)
  • (v. 14) Love, then, is both the summary (interpretive epitome or condensation) and the realization in practice of the entire God-given moral law, viewed as a unit. True, in harmony with the immediately preceding context (“through love be serving one another”), the apostle here refers specifically to the second, not to the first, table of the law, but that first table is in the background, for the two are inseparable (1 Jn 4:20, 21).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Galatians, 211)
  • (v. 15) The attitude toward “one another” that is described and condemned in this passage is the very opposite of the one that was urged upon the addressed in verses 13 and 14. Here, in verse 15, people–church-members at that!–are pictured in the act of rushing at each other like wild beasts.  By means of an ascending series of gruesome acts their violence and its threatening woeful result is pictured:  they bite each other, “gulp each other down,” and, if they persist, will in the end be totally consumed by one another.  They obey the dictates of their old self, and resemble nature “raw in tooth and claw.”  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Galatians, 212)
  • (v. 15) The source of the conflict went back to the false teachers and the confusion they were causing among the believers (5:10). The presence of the conflict supports the theory that factions were developing in the church–some people going with the law-centered teachers, some staying with Paul and the gospel, and some deciding to pursue their every sinful whim based on the “freedom” they had in Christ.  Such continued confusion would ruin their faith, their testimony, and ultimately the church itself.  While some differences of opinion would be natural, the Galatians had gone beyond that.  They disagreed on foundational issues.  Like piranhas, they were destroying one another.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 176)


Love is not a noun; it is a verb.  What do you do to show love for someone else?  When you give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, regardless of how you feel about that person, the giving is in love.  When you reach out to a brother or sister who is in need, no matter how you feel about them, that is love, too.  (R.C. Sproul; Doubt and Assurance, 76)


Background Information on “agape” – love:

  • Love is not a feeling it is an act of the will
  • The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. — Tim Keller
  • To love is to give to someone what that person needs. In the same way that individuals are called to care for themselves responsibly and attune their lives to carry out God’s will in their lives, they are to give themselves to others to care for them responsibly and help them attune their lives to carry out God’s will.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 725)
  • Love in response to goodness is not love, it is reward. You don’t earn love.  If you earn it, it isn’t love.  So when the Bible talks about love and grace, it is always in the context of sin and rebellion.  The Prodigal Son is not the exception of love, but the very definition of it.  (Steve Brown, Born Free, 138)
  • What do you mean when you say, “I love you”? Do you mean I love you or do you mean I love what little bit of me that I can detect in you?  Which in reality, is not love but arrogance, ego, pride, vanity, and narcissism.
  • Godly love, whether as His love for man or man’s love for Him, is measured by what it gives, not by what it might gain. It does not love because love is beneficial but because love is right and good.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 339)
  • To love my neighbor as myself is to be concerned with my neighbor’s troubles, needs, pains, sorrow, problems and issues of life as I am with my own and to use my own resources to resolve those issues with the same investment of time, creativity, abandon, and perseverance as I do trying to resolve my own issues. — Pastor Keith with conceptual credit to Tim Keller
  • Love cannot be identified as real love until it manifests itself in the face of that which is unlovely.
  • Love always pays a price. Love always costs something.  Love is expensive.  When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account.  Love is for you, not for me.  Love gives; it doesn’t grab. . . . Love is sacrificial action.  (Dave Simmons; Dad, The Family Coach, 124)
  • You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. -Amy Carmichael
  • A love that will not bear all, care for all, share all, is not love at all.
  • The measure of our love is the measure of our sacrifice


Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re worthy.

Agape makes them worthy by the strength and power of its love.

Agape doesn’t love somebody because they’re beautiful.

Agape loves in such a way that it makes them beautiful.  (Rob Bell, Sex God, 120)


Jesus purposely left our ability to know for certain when we had perfectly fulfilled the Law vague; first because there is no checklist of complete fulfillment just as there is no checklist of when you have fully loved someone.  Also, so that we would continually be seeking His Word for clarity, his Spirit for guidance and his Son for grace.

One can satisfy earthly, civil claims; but love’s claims are never fulfilled.  Taxes and revenues can be paid, so that they are no longer owed.  One can show respect and honor to those to whom they are due, so that one no longer owes anything further in these matters.  But as to love to his neighbor the Christian is always under obligation, however far he may have gone.  Love can never be “fulfilled,” but it is itself “the fulfillment of the law.”  (Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans, 432)


The questions to be answered are . . . What is the connection between Love and the Law?   Why should we care?


Answers:  God is love.  God’s Law reflects His love.  We are not following God’s Law if we are not acting in love:  and vice versa.  Only Jesus comprehensively and faithfully fulfilled the entire Law of God through His life of love.  Living in harmony with our design to love and recognizing the loving work of Christ on our behalf leads us to a blessed life.


The Word for the Day is . . . Love


Love needs law for its direction, while law needs love for its inspiration.  (John Stott, Romans, God’s Good News for the World, 350)


What is the connection between Love and the Law and why should we care?:

I-  God is Love and His Law reflects His loving nature and values.  (Mt 7:12; 22:35-40; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Cor ch 13; Gal 5:15; Jam 2:8-12; 1 Jn 4:7-17)


It is one of the great troubles of life today that people do not like law and contrast it with love, and by love they mean lawlessness, license, lust; that is the whole confusion in modern thinking.  But here (Rom 13:8-10) the Apostle shows us the intimate relationship between the two, and if people have not grasped this, they have completely misunderstood the whole nature and purpose of the law.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 172)


God loves us; not because we are loveable but because He is love, not because he needs to receive but because He delights to give.  (C. S. Lewis; Letters of C. CS. Lewis, 231)  (red bold emphasis Pastor Keith)


“Love is ever the activity of God” — Martin Luther


God’s Law is an expression of His nature.  (Tim Keller; “God’s Law)


God is love.  God is love in the NT and God is Love in the OT because God never changes.  That means EVERYTHING that God does, is ultimately to be understood as an act of love.

If we look at God’s treatment of Egypt and Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, and we do not see God’s love in those acts, we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we look at the conquest of Joshua and the eradication of the Canaanite people and do not see it ultimately as an act of love, it means we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we look at the cross of Christ, and the suffering, anguish, and punishment that He underwent, and do not see it as an act of love, it means we do not understand God’s motivation.

If we can not understand an act God does and see it as love, then we are either ignorant of the circumstances and God’s motivation or we do not understand what love is.  — Pastor Keith


When we love others as God loves them, we are fulfilling the very essence of the Lord’s commands to us.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Relating to Others in Love: Romans 12-16, 27)


In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus commands the love which cannot be commanded.  — Tim Keller


Keeping the law is not a prerequisite to saving faith, but saving faith is a prerequisite to keeping the law (3:31).  Love is the visible side of faith in relation and responsibility to others.  The law is fulfilled and summed up in love, for love penetrates to the intent of the law and thereby exceeds the outward minimum prescribed by the commandments.  (James R. Edwards, New International Biblical Commentary: Romans, 312)


II-  To faithfully fulfill God’s Law we must be acting in sacrificial, selfless, serving love.  (Mt 7:12; 22:35-40; Jn 14:15-24, 31; 15:9-11, 17; Rom 13:9-10; Gal 5:13-15; Phil 2:1-11; Jam 2:8-12; 1 Jn 3:14-4:21; 2 Jn 1:4-6)


The two texts chosen by Jesus are together sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the whole OT.  This does not mean, as some modern ethicists have argued, that “all you need is love,” so that one can dispense with the ethical rules set out in the Torah.  It is rather to say that those rules find their true role in working out the practical implications of the love for God and neighbor on which they are based.  Far from making the law irrelevant, therefore, love thus becomes “the primary hermeneutical principle for interpreting and applying the law.”  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 847) (red bold emphasis — Pastor Keith)


As faith without works is dead, so love that does not manifest itself in a detailed observation and carrying out of the law is nothing but sheer sentimentality and ceases to be true love.  Love is orderly, love is lawful, love is the fulfilling of the law.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 174)


There is no question here of the priority of love over law–i.e., one system over another–but of the priority of love within the law.  These two commandments are the greatest because all Scripture “hangs” on them; i.e., nothing in Scripture can cohere or be truly obeyed unless these two are observed.  The entire biblical revelation demands heart religion marked by total allegiance to God, loving him and loving one’s neighbor.  Without these two commandments the Bible is sterile.  This pericope prepares the way for the denunciations of 23:1-36 and conforms fully to Jesus’ teaching elsewhere.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 465)


I think God is saying, “I want you to meet the needs of other people with all of the joy, all of the eagerness, all of the urgency, all of the ingenuity, creativity, and industry with which you meet your own needs.  That’s the standard.  That’s how I want you to live your life.”  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 40)


When Paul warns the Galatians not to turn freedom into an opportunity for the flesh but through love to be serving one another, he is placing service over against selfishness, the positive over against the negative.  Paul does this frequently: see Rom 12:21; 13:14; 1 Cor 6:18-20; Eph 4:28, 31, 32; 5:28, 29; 6:4; Col 3:5-17; 1 Thess 4:7, etc.  Vice can only be conquered by virtue, which is the Spirit’s gift, man’s responsibility.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Galatians, 211)


Law leads to pride or despair.  The person who thinks he is pleasing God through law may have a smug self-righteousness that holds his head so high he cannot even see the needs of others.  And the person who fails to please God by breaking the law is so consumed by his own problems that he has no energy to reach out to other persons.  Besides, he is sure they would not want his love anyway, so wretched is his view of himself.  (David Allan Hubbard, Galatians: Gospel of Freedom, 86-7)


The two commandments were basic, touching all of life’s relationship.  The precepts of the law and the preaching of the prophets were simply expositions of the two basics.  The tedious tomes of the teachers of the law and of the inventors of tradition could be swept aside.  One does not need lawyers to understand God’s law.  One needs only love.  Everybody understands the law of love.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 430)


Mere outward conformity to commandments is not what God wants.  He wants “sincere love”:  an honest, consistent concern for other people that spills over into actions of all kinds.  When we love rightly, with the love that the Spirit inspires in us, we cannot help but obey whatever commandments God has given us.  For he does not speak with two voices.  What he requires is what his Spirit inspires.  But because our minds are not perfectly renewed and because we can misunderstand what love requires, we still need commandments to remind us of the absolute demands of God and to keep us on “the straight and narrow.”  (Douglas J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary: Romans, 437)


You must not talk only about the spirit, the letter is also vital.  But you must not only talk about the letter, “For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” [2 Cor 3:6].  No, we need the letter and the spirit, and that is what the Apostle is teaching here.  Letter and spirit; law and love; “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”  As Paul puts it in 1 Cor 13:1, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity”–love–“I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  You have gifts, yes, but if they are not accompanied by love if they are not manifestations of love, they are no use.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 204)


By bringing these two texts together Jesus asserts that the one principle of love applies equally to the two main aspects of religious duty, one’s attitude to God and one’s attitude to other people.  It is these two foci which provide the framework of the Decalogue, with its two “tables” covering these two aspects in turn.  If the Decalogue is itself a sort of epitome of the law, these two quotations in turn sum up the Decalogue.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 843)


Observe what the weight and greatness of these commandments is (v. 40); On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets; that is, This is the sum and substance of all those precepts relating to practical religion which were written in men’s hearts by nature, revived by Moses, and backed and enforced by the preaching and writing of the prophets.  All hang upon the law of love; take away this, and all falls to the ground, and comes to nothing.  Rituals and ceremonials must give way to these, as must all spiritual gifts, for love is the more excellent way.  This is the spirit of the law, which animates it, the cement of the law, which joins it; it is the root and spring of all other duties, the compendium of the whole Bible, not only of the law and the prophets, but of the gospel too, only supposing this love to be the fruit of faith, and that we love God in Christ, and our neighbor for his sake.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 326)


When we believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others.  We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults.  Soon we lose our unity.  Have you talked behind someone’s back?  Have you focused on others’ shortcomings instead of their strengths?  Remind yourself of Jesus’ command to love others as you love yourself (Mt 22:39).  When you begin to feel critical of someone, make a list of that person’s positive qualities.  When problems need to be addressed, confront in love rather than gossip.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 176)


Am I to decide what to do in a given situation by looking for a commandment to guide me?  Or should I do what seems to be the loving thing?  The interpretation of this text given above may suggest that we subscribe to this last viewpoint.  For we have suggested that Paul teaches that obeying the love command is itself the fulfillment of all the other commandments of the law.  (Douglas J. Moo, The NIV Application Commentary: Romans, 436-37)


When the Bible says I am to love my neighbor, it means I am to be considerate to my neighbor.  It has to do with action:  what I say, what I do with my money, what I do with my body, what I do that may bring harm and injury to another person.  I am to care about other people.  Christians should be the most caring, considerate and neighborly people in the world.  To be a lover of God requires that we show that love through being kind and considerate to people.  (RC Sproul, The Gospel of God: Romans, 226)


III-  Only Jesus comprehensively and faithfully fulfilled the entire Law of God through His life of love.  (Mt 5:17; Jn 3:16; 15:10-13; Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:10; 5:8-9; 7:28; 1 Pt 2:22; 1Jn 3:5, 16; 4:9-11)


The greatest test of godly love is its willingness to sacrifice its own needs and welfare for the needs and welfare of others, even to the point of forfeiting life if necessary.  “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus said, “that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).  The supreme example of such love was the Lord Jesus Himself, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).  We are to be “imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [us], and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:1-2).  As John reminds us, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 3:16).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Romans 9-16, 249)


I can’t brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily.   But I can brag about His love for me because it never fails.   I love God.   —Lacie Keef e-mail 3-3-14


When God loves, he loves the world; when he gives, he gives his Son, hence himself.  He gives him up; he spares him not.  Greater love is impossible (Jn 15:13; Rom 5:6-10; 2 Cor 8:9).  Surely, the response to such love must not be less than that indicated in Rom 11:33-36; 2 Cor 6:20; 2 Cor 9:15; Eph 5:1, 2; Phil 2:1-18; Col 3:12-17.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 809)


To say that Jesus died for man’s sin is to say that He died for man’s hatred of God, which is the essence of all sin.  Christ died for man’s lack of love for God.  And just as He offers forgiveness for past lack of love for God, Christ also provides for future love for God.  The great Forgiver is also the great Enabler, because through Christ, “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 341)


IV-  Living in harmony with God’s design for us to love and recognizing the loving work of Christ on our behalf leads us to a blessed life.   (Gn 1:26-27; Ps 1; 19:7-14; 119:1-2, 16, 35; Lk 11:28; Jn 10:10; 15:9-11; Rom 1:16-17; 3:19-31; 10:4; Gal 2:21; 3:5-24; Phil 3:9)



The blessed life begins when obsession with self ends.  — Pastor Keith


To say I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.  — Thomas á Kempis


All obedience begins in the affections, and nothing in religion is done right, that is not done there first.  Love is the leading affection, which gives law, and gives ground, to the rest; and therefore that, as the main fort, is to be first secured and garrisoned for God.  Man is a creature cut out for love; thus therefore is the law written in the heart, that it is a law of love.  Love is a short and sweet word; and, if that be the fulfilling of the law, surely the yoke of the command is very easy.  Love is the rest and satisfaction of the soul; if we walk in this good old way, we shall find rest.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 325)


Paul called the believers to “serve one another in love” (NIV).  This was freedom at its deepest level, for it allowed people to submit voluntarily to slavery to one another (the Greek verb douleuete translated “serve” actually refers to the service of a slave).  Serving in this way gives the believer deep joy.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 174)


Vanstone says, In false love your aim is to use the other person to fulfill your happiness.  Your love is conditional:  You give it only as long as the person is affirming you and meeting your needs.  And it’s nonvulnerable:  You hold back so that you can cut your losses if necessary.  But in true love, your aim is to spend yourself and use yourself for the happiness of the other, because your greatest joy is that person’s joy.  Therefore your affection is unconditional:  You give it regardless of whether your loved one is meeting your needs.  And it’s radically vulnerable:  You spend everything, hold nothing back, give it all away.  Then Vastone says, surprisingly, that our real problem is that nobody is actually fully capable of giving true love.  We want it desperately, but we can’t give it.  He doesn’t say we can’t give any kind of real love at all, but he’s saying that nobody is fully capable of true love.  All of our love is somewhat fake.  How so?  Because we need to be loved like we need air and water.  We can’t live without love.  That means there’s a certain mercenary quality to our relationships.  We look for people whose love would really affirm us.  We invest our love only where we know we’ll get a good return.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 98) (red bold emphasis – Pastor Keith)


Nobody can give anyone else the kind or amount of love they’re starved for.  In the end we’re all alike, groping for true love and incapable of fully giving it.  What we need is someone to love us who doesn’t need us at all.  Someone who loves us radically, unconditionally, vulnerably.  Someone who loves us just for our sake.  If we received that kind of love, that would so assure us of our value, it would so fill us up, that maybe we could start to give love like that too.  Who can give love with no need?  Jesus.  (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 98-9)


When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.   (Family Circle 12/23/03, 23)


In whatever age or with whatever group of people, it has been the almost universal belief that love is the greatest thing in life, the summum bonum, the virtue par excellence.  Consequently, volumes upon volumes of poems, songs, plays, novels, and films have been produced about love.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 335)


Christianity is the only true democracy, because in a Christian state everyone would think as much of his neighbor as he does of himself.  Christian freedom is not license, for the simple but tremendous reason that the Christian is not a man who has become free to sin, but a man, who, by the grace of God, has become free not to sin.

Paul adds a grim bit of advice. “Unless,” he says, “you solve the problem of living together you will make life impossible.”  Selfishness in the end does not exalt a man; it destroys him.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: Galatians, 45-6)


The one who would have God’s power must lead a life of self-denial.  There are many things which are not sinful in the ordinary understanding of the word sin, but which hinder spirituality and rob men of power.  I do not believe that any man can lead a luxurious life, overindulge his natural appetites, indulge extensively in dainties, and enjoy the fullness of God’s power.  The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit do not go hand in hand.  “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:  and these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal 5:17).  Paul wrote:  “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor 9:27; see ASV, Greek; note also Eph 5:18).  (R. A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, 75-6)


It is only when we love God that other people become lovable.  The biblical teaching about human beings is not that we are collections of chemical elements, not that we are part of the brute creation, but that men and women are made in the image of God (Gn 1:26-7).  It is for that reason that human beings are lovable.  The true basis of all democracy is in fact the love of God.  Take away the love of God, and we can look at human nature and become angry at those who cannot be taught; we can become pessimistic about those who cannot make progress; we can become callous to those who are cold and calculating in their actions.  The love of humanity is firmly grounded in the love of God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 324-5)


There is an indivisible linkage between loving God with all your soul and loving God with all your mind.  Wonder and curiosity are spiritual cousins.  When the soul stops wondering, the mind stops learning.  And vice versa.  A lack of wonder breeds a lack of curiosity, and a lack of curiosity breeds a lack of wonder.  Either way, when you stop learning, you start dying intellectually.  But the spiritual implications are more profound than that.  When you stop learning, you stop loving.  Why?  Because loving is learning more and more about the one you love.  True love is never satisfied.  It always wants to know more about the object of its affection.  The more you love God, the more curious you become.  When it comes to loving God with all your mind, curiosity is both the cause and the effect.  (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 91-2) (red bold emphasis – Pastor Keith)


If you have to ask who your neighbor is it shows your heart.  A person who is motivated by love is looking for anything he can do to help his neighbor to satisfy his needs because love is his MO.  The lawyer wants to know the minimum standard of what it means to be neighborly in order to satisfy righteousness.  But to even ask such a question reveals that you do not love at all but that you are only wanting to do what is necessary to get God off your case.  — Pastor Keith


A musician may play the piano absolutely correctly, without a single wrong note, yet be entirely devoid of any true art.  The playing of the notes is not enough; the piece of music has a soul and the artist is the one who, while technically correct, brings out the soul of the music.  The great artist, or course, must not make mistakes.  The pianist must not say, “Ah well, I’ve got the touch.  I’m an artist.  I don’t bother about my exercises.  I don’t mind if I make a mistake here or there.”  Every great musician pays absolute attention to details, to every single note; yes, but not only to that because he knows that without the soul, the music is lifeless and fairly useless.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 204)


If you love it enough you will find a way.  If not you’ll find an excuse.


Love asks:  How much can I give?   Legalism asks:  How little can I give?


God loves you right where you are but he doesn’t want to leave you there. — Max Lucado


Worship Point:  Love and worship God Who is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16) and Whose Law is love.  The life He has planned for us is a life filled with love.  (Rom 5:5; Eph 3:17-19)


You can only love when you know you have been loved.  And only then can you love to the degree that you know you have been loved.  — Steve Brown


We are divinely enabled to pay our great debt of love “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5).  God’s own love is the inexhaustible well from which, as it were, we can draw the supernatural love He commands us to live by.  Paul prayed for the Ephesians that, “being rooted and grounded in love, [you] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17-19).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Romans 9-16, 249)


By logical syllogism we deduce a very important fact.  If a person is not loving, John says, he or she does not know God.  How will that individual become more loving, then?  Can we grow in love by trying to love more?  No, our attempts to love will only end in more frustration and less love.  The solution, John implies, is to know God better.  This is so simple that we miss it all the time:  our means for becoming more loving is to know God better.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 146)


Love to God must needs be undivided.  God is one and all; man is one and finite.  To love such an object with half a heart is not to love.  True, our weakness leads astray, but the only real love corresponding to the natures of the lover and the loved is whole-hearted, whole-souled, whole-minded.  It must be “all in all, or not at all.”  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 137)


The person who truly loves the Lord with all his heart and soul and mind is the person who trusts Him and obeys Him.  That person demonstrates his love by meditating on God’s glory (Ph 18:1-3), trusting in God’s divine power (Ps 31:23), seeking fellowship with God (Ps 63:1-8), loving God’s law (Ps 119:165), being sensitive to how God feels (Ps 69:9), loving what God loves (Ps 119:72, 97, 103), loving whom God loves (1 Jn 5:1), hating what God hates (Ps 97:10), grieving over sin (Mt 26:75), rejecting the world (1 Jn 2:15), longing to be with Christ (2 Tm 4:8), and obeying God wholeheartedly (Jn 14:21).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 340)


Gospel Application:  God is love.  By asking Jesus into your heart you are opening up your life to the control and guidance of the triune God Who is love.  The only way you can live the life of love and obedience to God is by inviting Jesus into your heart and allowing Him to be Lord of your life.


The only way we can love our neighbor as ourselves is with a new heart (Jer 31:31-34) by becoming a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) by being born again (John 3 & Peter).


The believer’s incentive to obey this summarizing command is gratitude for the redemption accomplished by Christ; the strength to observe it is furnished by the Spirit of Christ (Gal 5:1, 13, 25; cf. Eph 3:16, 17; 4:20 ff.; 5:1 ff.); and it was also Christ who himself supplied the example of obedience (Jn 13:34).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Galatians, 212)


Love can enslave a person as surely as can evil.  The man motivated by evil is a slave to sin, while the one motivated by love is a slave to others.  Consider the boy who spends his last dime on his girl, or the mother who goes without to provide the best for her children.  The Christian who loves others, finds himself doing from the heart what the Law once commanded him to do.  Now he does it because he WANTS TO, whereas before he was COMMANDED TO.  Paul says, don’t use your freedom for evil purposes for you will become slaves to sin.  Choose love instead, and become the slaves of each other.  When you do, you fulfill the whole Law.  Surely it is better to fulfill the Law out of internal desire, than trying to fulfill it by taking heed to the external, legal suggestions of the Judaizers.  (C.S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Galatians, 65-6)


In order to love as God commands, Christians must submit to the Holy Spirit.  In doing so, we must surrender all hatred, animosity, bitterness, revenge, or pride that stands between us and those we are called to love.  “Now as to the love of the brethren,” Paul says, “you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thes 4:9).  Through His own Holy Spirit, God Himself teaches us to love!  And because God Himself is love (1 Jn 4:16), it is hardly surprising that the first “fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal 5:22). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Romans 9-16, 249)



The law had been given, but nobody could keep it; teachers have taught, and so have philosophers and others, but they have not helped at all.  It is just as if they had never lived.  Why?  Because man is completely helpless.

So it comes to this:  the gospel of Jesus Christ not only establishes my guilt, but establishes that I am so rotten by nature that I must be born again.  It tells me that I cannot possibly love my neighbor because my nature is wrong.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 188)


To live “in Christ,” to walk “in love,” is something entirely different from living under the law and striving to fulfill all its requirements; and yet the law is fulfilled in it.  Therefore it can be said at the same time that the Christian is “free from the law” and that in him the law is fulfilled.  Not by fulfillment of law is the law fulfilled, but by life “in Christ” and “in love.”  It is in this sense, and only in this sense, that “love is the fulfilling of the law.”  (Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans, 435)


The fact is, I need God to help me love God.  And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans.  Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts.  The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.  (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 104)


Until you see you can’t really love you can’t really love.  You can only really love when you come to realize you can’t really love.  — Tim Keller


When we practice love, there is no need for any other laws, because love covers it all!  If we love others, we will not sin against them.  This explained why the Ten Commandments were not referred to often in the NT.  In fact, the Sabbath commandment is not quoted at all in any of the epistles.  As believers, we do not live under the Law; we live under grace.  Our motive for obeying God and helping others is the love of Christ in our hearts.  (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Right, 146-7)


It is a hard and a dangerous matter to teach that we are made righteous by faith without works, and yet to require works.  Here unless the ministers of Christ are faithful and wise disposers of the mysteries of God, rightly dividing the Word of truth, faith and works are soon confounded.  Both these doctrines, faith as well as works, must be diligently taught and urged; and yet so that both may remain within their bounds.  Otherwise, if they teach works only then faith is lost.  If only faith is taught, then carnal men soon dream that works are not needful.  (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 355)


He who through faith is righteous walks “in Christ” and “in love.”  Such a life he has to carry on in the midst of the old aeon and its orders.  It is impossible for the Christian to be indifferent to these orders.  To be sure, the earthly and civil righteousness must not be confused with the righteousness of the new aeon, the righteousness of God.  But it would be bad if the Christian, who shares in the righteousness of God, were not even to measure up to the demand which human righteousness lays upon him.  (Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans, 431-2)


We do not observe the commandments in order to make ourselves Christians, but we observe them, the details of the law, because we are Christians.  You see the difference?  The trouble with the Pharisee, with the moralist, with people who deny the gospel, is that they are trying to make themselves Christians by attempting to keep the commandments.  It cannot be done.  It was a yoke, says Peter, that we could not bear [Acts 15:10].  It was grievous.  Nobody could do it.  No, it is the other way round.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 201)


Spiritual Challenge:  Seek to die to your selfish, unloving nature and allow Christ to live in you.  (Rom 6:6; 8:13; 1 Cor 5:5; Gal 2:20; Col 3:5; 1 Pt 2:24)


We should WANT to meet the needs of our neighbors with all of the speed, joy, eagerness, creativity, sacrifice and determination that we do for our own needs.  — Tim Keller


Love is a heart that moves…Love moves away from the self and toward the other. — Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III


We must rid ourselves of this constant tendency to be watching the interests of self, to be always on the lookout for insults or attacks or injuries, always in this defensive attitude.  That is the kind of thing He has in mind.  All that must disappear, and that of course means that we must cease to be sensitive about self.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 257)


The worth and value of our soul is measured by what we love.  If we love corrupt and wicked things we become corrupt and wicked.  But the person who loves God spiritually grows and matures until he becomes like the One he loves.  What a person loves is constantly on his mind.  And what we think about has a power to transform our soul.  We become like what we behold.    (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 39)


Perfect love is a kind of self-abandonment and self-sacrifice.  Love requires us to die to ourselves and our own interests for the sake of the one we love.  To love a person we must sacrifice ourselves to please him.  Because of this high price love demands we become quite upset if love is not returned or the person we love does not pay us any attention.  (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 42)


When Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, he assumes a healthy dose of self-love is already in place–a self-love that is natural (it is the way we were created; we naturally care for our bodies, our needs, etc.) and a self-love that is sinful (an egocentric affection that continually seeks self above and before others).

Like most people I have not had to work on loving myself.  I naturally love myself more than I love my congregation, more than I love my God.  That’s not a good thing to say, but it is an honest thing to say.  It is only by God’s grace that I ever think about loving others and loving God more than I love myself.  Looking out for number one will always be our number one priority.  So the call here is that we take this inclination and focus it elsewhere.  Instead of focusing inward, we focus outward.  We must focus our self-love on loving others.  The measure by which we love ourselves now becomes the measure (it’s a high measure) by which we are called to love others.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 661)


The Spirit calls us to an even higher way, to love our neighbor.  If we love our neighbor, of course we will not covet what is his, nor in any way do him harm.  The Spirit does not just command; He imparts the ability to love–He imparts His love.  Jesus did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it–He came to lift us above the Law; He came to give us the power to exceed its requirements.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 175)


If we love our neighbor, we do not steal from him or slander him, nor do we allow ourselves to be jealous or envious or to bear false witness against him.  If we love somebody, we do not want to harm him.  That is the way we are to live as Christians; we are to be known by the love that we have for one another.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans, 468)


If you tell the modern man or woman, “You must love your neighbor as yourself,” you are telling them to do something that they cannot do.  Their selfishness makes them incapable of it.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 183)


Satan and the flesh use our freedom from law as an opportunity to inflame our desires.  Sinful human desires lead to the problems mentioned in 5:26 (conceit, provoking one another, and envy) and to the lack of mutual help described in 6:1-10.  When we indulge the sinful nature, we open the door to these kinds of behaviors and attitudes (see 1 Pt 2:16; 2 Pt 2:8-10; Jude 4).  The antidotes for indulging the flesh are living in the Spirit and serving one another.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Galatians, 174)


Every time you refuse to forgive or fail to overlook a weakness in another, your heart not only hardens toward them, it hardens toward God.  You cannot form a negative opinion of someone (even though you think they may deserve it!) And allow that opinion to crystalize into an attitude; for every time you do, an aspect of your heart will cool toward God.  You may still think you are open to God, but the Scriptures are clear:  “The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20).  You may not like what someone has done, but you do not have an option to stop loving them.  Love is your only choice.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 70)


“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”   —Dorothy Day  (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 158)


The expression, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” merits a word of explanation.  What Paul–and before him Jesus–actually means must at least include this thought:  it is a certain thing that a person will love himself, and it is also certain that he will do so in spite of the fact that the self he loves has many faults.  So, then, also he should most certainly love his neighbor.  He may not like him, but he should love him, and should do so regardless of that neighbor’s faults.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Romans, 440)


If I love you I would seek your best and highest good, wouldn’t I?  And that’s completely connected to your understanding of and obedience to divine truth.  So if I don’t…if I say…Well, I want this superficial tranquility…I don’t think it’s loving to do that.  Truth is, you don’t love them, you love yourself, that’s the issue, and what you really do is love yourself so much you don’t want them not to like you.  Self-love, that’s sin.  You’re afraid if you confront something they won’t like you so you’d rather love yourself and have them like you than to love them enough to confront their error, show them the truth which can lead them to the blessing and well-being that produces God’s greatest good in their lives.  Loss of truth, loss of conviction, loss of discernment, loss of holiness, loss of divine power, loss of blessing…all they want is to get their ears tickled.  Tell me a little about success.  Tell me a little about prosperity.  Give me some excitement.  Elevate my feelings of well-being, self-esteem, and give me a bunch of emotional thrills.  (John MacArthur, www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/80-180_5-Reasons-to-Preach-the-Word, 7)


The Apostle therefore earnestly exhorts Christians to exercise themselves in good works, after they have received the pure doctrine of faith.  The remnants of sin still remain in those that are justified, which hinder us from doing good works.  Wherefore godly preachers should diligently teach and urge the true doctrine of good works.  Let no man think therefore that he thoroughly knows this commandment:  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Indeed, it is very short and easy as far as the words; but show me the teachers and hearers, that in teaching, learning, and living, exercise and accomplish it rightly.  If the faithful omit a minor religious obligation, they soon are troubled in their conscience, but if they neglect charity or bear not a sincere and brotherly love for their neighbor, they are not so troubled.  For they do not regard the commandment of charity as seriously as they do their various religious acts.  (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 351)


The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behavior.  Suddenly I discover that I am ministering to AIDS victims to enhance my resume.  I find I renounced ice cream for Lent to lose five pounds.  I drop hints about the absolute priority of mediation and contemplation to create the impression that I am a man of prayer.  At some unremembered moment I have lost the connection between internal purity of heart and external works of piety.  In the most humiliating sense of the word, I have become a legalist.  I have fallen victim to what T. S. Eliot calls the greatest sin:  to do the right thing for the wrong reason.  (Brennan Manning; The Ragamuffin Gospel, 131)


If God did not love His enemies, there would never have been any Christians.  God loved us when we were enemies.  “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” [1 Jn 4:11], and with the mind of Christ in us we are able to love, because, as we have seen, we do not see the man, but the victim of the devil and of hell.  We love our enemies and do good to them that hate us.  If we do not, then we are probably nothing but sentimental religious people.  Here is the test–“love your enemies”!  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 198)


So What?:  God is loveYou were created in God’s likeness and image (Gn 1:26-27).  You were created and designed to love.  You will never experience life in its abundance (Jn 10:10) until you live a life of love through a faithful obedience to the Law of God by your being “In Christ” (Jn 14:15, 21-24; 15:10, 17).                   


We must always remember that the law is not meant to be mechanical, but to be living.  That is another most important distinction.  We are not meant to keep the law mechanically–one, two, three, tick them off.  That is to miss the whole point.  It is a living matter, a life matter, not a matter of mere rules and regulations.  We are meant to keep the law intelligently.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 13, 172-73)


The more you love God, the more God reveals.  If you love Him enough, not for what He can do but for who He is, then God will give up His secrets.  Why?  Because that is the essence of love.  The more you love, the more you reveal.  And there are so many secrets waiting to be revealed.   (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 128)


I challenge those who come to me for marriage counseling this way:  “If you do what I tell you to do for an entire month, I can promise you that by the end of the month, you will be in love with your mate. Are you willing to give it a try?” When couples accept my challenge, the results are invariably successful.  My prescription for creating love is simple:  do ten things each day that you would do if you really were in love.  I know that if people do loving things, it will not be long before they experience the feelings that are often identified as being in love.  Love is not those feelings.  Love is what one wills to do to make the other person happy and fulfilled.  Often, we don’t realize that what a person does influences what he feels.  (Dr. Anthony Campolo, Homemade: June, 1988)


Law by itself cannot provide an adequate foundation for the good life.  What faith does for theology, love does for ethics.  It provides a practical alternative to the self-defeating claims of legalism.

The weakness of the law is that it multiplies requirements without providing a sufficient motive to enable us to satisfy them.  For innumerable demands with no adequate enabling power, Paul substitutes one inclusive motive.  Love gathers up all the diverse requirements of the good life and fuses them into the perfect unity of one comprehensive claim.  While supplying the simplicity which shows us our duty and helps us to understand it, love also provides the power without with we cannot do the things we should.  (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. IX, 607)


“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple, Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.   If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 116)




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