Following is an English transcript of the message from this morning.
The Bible has dozens of books that contain hundreds of verses. All those verses add up to nearly one million words. Many of these words are instructions for us to keep.
Did you know in English and Spanish languages, people generally know or use fewer than fifty thousand words? So how are we ever supposed to be able to remember nearly a million words from the Bible? How can we hope to obey God completely?
In this section of Romans 13, we learn that there is one thing that everything else hangs on. If we know this one thing, we can rest assured that we are not forgetting something important or critical. Let’s find this one thing.
Let’s read Romans 13:8-14.
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”
Romans 13:8-14 NLT
Love is the one thing that fulfills the whole law. If we love everyone in every moment, we will be loving and living like Jesus. We will be keeping all of God’s way. How can this be? Let’s look at these verses more closely and consider.
Verse 8 says we are to consider ourselves debtors to others. Someone in debt must pay until that debt is paid in full. But the debt of love is never complete. We pay it all of our lives. Why are we in this debt of love?
Let’s read 1 John 4:7-19.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.”
1 John 4:7-19 NLT
Here we learn a few important things. First, we are to love one another because God loved us so much. Second, we see God’s love in the person of Jesus who came to earth and gave His life for us. Third, this type of sacrificial love is the same sort of love we are to have. Fourth, because of Jesus’ sacrificial love, we have access to new life and power to live in love. Fifth, those who live in love are born of God and vice versa. Sixth, this love removes fear, the fear of God, the fear of death, and the fear of others. And seventh, we show our love to God by our love for others.
This is the same love that Romans 13 says completes the whole law. Verse 9 enumerates some of the ten commandments found in Exodus 20. If you love a person, how could you ever steal from them or kill them? If you truly love your spouse, you will not commit adultery with another person. If you love your neighbor, you won’t covet his things, but you will rejoice at his success.
The verse closes by saying whatever other commandment you can find in Scripture should be run through this filter: Love others as much as you love yourself. Verse 10 clarifies. Love does not damage others. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law of God.
Let’s read Matthew 22:36-40.
““Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.””
Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
Here Jesus himself says that all the law and all the prophets hang on the command to love. That is to say that love is the main point; all other things are subpoints that are subservient to love.
Therefore, as you study the Bible and consider the story of God, ask yourself, “What is the lesson of love in this passage?” Always, the histories in the Bible are either a result of love or a result of a lack of love. And throughout the Bible, we can see the story of God’s love to mankind. From that, we can learn what our love to Him and to others should be.
In Romans 13 verse 11, we are told to wake out of sleep, that is the sleep of sin and selfishness. Why? Because our salvation, the great day of the Lord Jesus, is nearer now than ever before. Verse 12 says the night is nearly over. Time is coming to a close.
We do not know when the earth will end, but we know the day is coming. Jesus and the Apostles prophesied that as the end came near, things on earth would become worse and worse. We will see this in natural disasters, in diseases that cover the world, in wars and rumors of more wars, and in the increasing nature of sin. Those things are certainly happening today.
So, let us cast off actions and attitudes of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light, that is the life of love. The person who is walking in love and obedience to God will not be part of the party life of the world. Verse 13 describes various elements of the passions and entertainment of the world of unbelievers. Those things must never be attributed to God’s people.
Instead of losing ourselves to the sinful, selfish passions of the world, we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the picture of putting on protective garment. You might think of it as the protective clothes that people are wearing now to cover their whole body to avoid the corona virus. This is the same way we are to cover ourselves with the life of Jesus.
The world is full of darkness and diseases that can pollute and kill our souls. If we can be so careful to protect against a virus for the body, should we not much more work to protect our eternal souls? We do not allow any virus to come near us. We wash our hands and feet with alcohol, we wear masks and protective clothing, and we stay far away from sick people.
The same should be true of our spiritual health. We do not look for ways to feed the desires of the sinful nature. Rather, we stay far away from anything or anyone that could contaminate us with sin.
I want to read a few scriptures in closing.
Let’s read 1 John 2:15-17.
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”
1 John 2:15-17 NLT
The warning here is that everything that is of this world and everyone who loves the things of this world will be destroyed and will pass away. But the one who loves and obeys God will live forever.
Let’s read Colossians 3:1-17.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:1-17 NLT
This passage from Colossians is an excellent complement to Romans 13. We could spend much time going over everything in these verses, but I encourage you to study it carefully for yourself.
I want to leave you with this thought in verse 17. Everything we do or say or think, let us do only those things that can be done in Jesus’ name. That is to say, let us live in love in every way to everyone.