May 14, 2022
“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep...”
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“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual impurity and promiscuity: not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on Messiah Jesus, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.” Romans 13:10-14
Today’s passage begins with a pretty bold statement about love and the Torah’s (first five books of Moses, i.e., “the law”) requirements. It echoes Jesus’ message.
“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend on all the law (Torah) and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22: 36-40
Remember when the Beatles sang, “All you need is love”? Many naïve Christians try to weave Jesus & Paul’s statements together with those of John Lennon & Paul McCartney. They say, “Just love people and don’t get hung up on obeying the Bible.” While the Beatles and Jesus seem to say the same thing, their statements are very different.
We use the word “love” often in our culture. We say we love our mothers, and we also love apple pie. Some people say they love the person they are dating, so they sleep together. Others remain abstinent because they love the person they are dating. (They rightly know that God would never approve of pre-marital sex.) So, the real question is: What kind of LOVE fulfills the Torah?
Paul (not McCartney) goes on to define such love as being self-denying and others-serving. Displays of selfless love are not catalysts for salvation; instead, they should be our response to having already received salvation by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus. Our sincere devotion to Messiah does not fulfill the Torah. Instead, because of His overwhelming love for us, while we were yet sinners, He has satisfied the law’s requirements on our behalf.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son; that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
When believers accept the challenge of “loving others as Jesus loved us,” we are fulfilling the Torah, in essence. Obeying God’s Word is not a means of salvation. Still, of our appreciation for the salvation we have received from Jesus alone, it is our outward acknowledgment that we understand Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf.