Primacy of Love and the Nearness of the Coming of the Lord

(Rom. 13:8-14)

Todayís lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:

Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)

I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)

    II. Godís Gracious Provision of Righteousness (3:21-8:39
      III. Israelís Temporary Rejection of Godís Righteousness in Jesus Christ (9:1-11:36)
        IV. Practical Applications of Godís Righteousness in Life (12:1-15:13)

             Complete Surrender to God (12:1-2)
             Proper Exercise of Spiritual Gifts (12:3-8)
             Love for the Church (12:9-13)
             Love for Persecutors (12:14-21)
             Christian Citizenship (13:1-7)
             Primacy of Love (13:8-10)
             The Nearness of the Day of the Lord Motivates Us to Live Righteously (13:11-14)

             Care for the Weaker Christian (14:1-15:13)

        (8) Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves 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 statement: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (10) Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the Law.

        Paul starts this section by tying it into the previous section on taxes. He commands us to owe nothing to the government and not to be in debt to anyone else. According to v. 8 there is only one area in which we are to be indebted to others. What is it?

        Now fulfilling the Law is not a neat exercise in theological gymnastics. It is necessary; it is essential. By dying for us on the cross, Jesus traded His righteousness for our unrighteousness. We are now righteous, in a right relationship with God because we are now His sons and daughters. That is who we are. Because who you are determines what you do, we are to live righteously. Jesus' Spirit has come to live in us that we might experience His righteousness. The way His Spirit transforms us into being completely righteous (and thereby fulfill the requirement of the Law) is by guiding us to love others. As we shall see, love fulfills the Law.

        Now if I don't have an illicit relationship with a woman outside of my marriage relationship, which of the 10 Commandments have I taken care of (13:9)?

        If I do not kill somebody, which of the 10 Commandments have I taken care of (13:9)?

        Which commandment does love for others take care of (13:9)?

        Fill in the blanks to see how verse 10 explains why love takes care of all the commandments. "Love does _____ ___________________ to a neighbor." Think about the commandments from v. 8 which Paul lists. How many of them tell you to do something? None of them. They tell you not to do something, specifically not to wrong somebody. Does love ever wrong a person? If love does not wrong a person, then it has kept the Law.

        The beautiful thing about love though is that it goes beyond the Law. You can sit in a chair and do nothing and fulfill most of the Law. That's not life though. It's the negation of life. Love though, while fulfilling the Law, gives us a life, God's life.

        Now Paul did not come up with this concept himself. What he is saying is definitely in accordance with and is most likely based upon what Jesus Himself said. According to Jesus what is the relationship of love to the commandments in the OT (Matt. 22:37-40).

        Remember the context though of these 3 verses. Love should not become the end in and of itself. We are looking at the life produced by the Spirit. When we follow the Spirit of Jesus, we are going to love because He will command us to love. He will guide us to which people we are to loveómany times not the people we would want to love, and He will guide us how to love these people--many times in ways we would not normally love them. You can love people and not be Spirit-led because you are loving people you want to love and loving them in ways you want to love them. On the other hand, if you are truly Spirit-led, you will love.

        Many times we love people and yet they don't feel it. Why is that? It is probably because we are loving them in ways that we experience love, not in ways they experience it. Below is a list of 5 ways that people experience love. Circle the one that applies to you (the way you experience love). Think about the people in your life you try to love. Which way do they experience love? Now which way are you loving them?

        1. Affection
        2. Time
        3. Gifts
        4. Service
        5. Words of Affirmation

        (11) And this do, 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 first believed. (12) The night is almost gone, the day is at hand; let us, therefore, 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 regards to its lusts.

        In these verses Paul not only tells us how to live (vv. 13-14), he also supplies us with a motive to live this way. Many times we want to hear only about the good life Jesus gives us. We want that to be the only thing to motivate us to live for Him. Whereas that might be the noble motive, it is not the one Paul appeals to here. According to verses 11 and 12, why should Christians live the loving life of the Spirit?

        What is Paul referring to when he writes: "Salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is almost gone and the day is at hand"?

        Non-Christians are not the only ones who fall asleep. Even Christians fall asleep when they are not alert in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We may be physically awake; however, if we fail to honor Jesus as Lord in all areas of our lives, we fall asleep. According to Jesus prayer is a key way to remain alert and sensitive to Him. (That assumes, of course, that we actually obey Him whenever He does speak to us.)

        Why should Christians not be asleep? Because they are supposed to be living spiritually in the day. Before Jesus came, the world was plunged into darkness. There was only a flicker of God's light seen in the insignificant nation of Israel, insignificant in the eyes of the world. When Jesus came into the world, He came as the "light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5). Christians have a relationship with Him and are thus in the day. Their lifestyle demonstrates that they are in the day.

        According to Paul what part of the day do Christians now live in (verse 12)? Midnight? Dusk? Dawn? Noon? Be ready to defend your answer.

        John agrees with Paul. Does John call Jesus the evening star or the morning star (Rev. 22:16)?

        The fact that spiritual darkness and spiritual light coexist helps us to understand why we fail at times. Jesus the light does live in us; however, until He returns, we still have a dark nature within us. Moreover, the forces of darkness are still operating in the world (Eph. 6:12). Although we have no excuse to sin since Christ lives in us, the fact is that we are still going to sin. For this reason confession and repentance are still important features of the Christian life (1 John 1:9-2:2).

        In agreement with the rest of the Bible, Paul assumes we understand that who people are is seen in what they do. In this particular instance, people of the night will act like people of the night, while people of the day (Christians) act (or at least should act) like people of the day. According to v. 13, what are some activities of people of the night?

        Christianity is not a kill-joy kind of religion. It's a religion though which (like Aristotleís Nicomachean ethics) is against excess. Again like Aristotleís ethic, the Bible stresses moderation in all things. The Bible does not say you can't drink; however, carousing and drunkenness are drinking taken to excess. Sex is a part of human nature. God made us male and female (Gen. 1:27), that is, sexual beings. Promiscuity and sensuality are sex perverted and taken to excess. Anger is also a natural emotion and can be properly harnessed to stir us to action (Eph. 4:26). Strife and jealousy though are anger out of control.

        Verse 13 informs us what the people of the day will not do. According to v. 14 what will people of the day (or what should they do if they are truly people of the day)?

        First, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ is another way of saying being led by and filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit obeys Jesus; for this reason, He is called the Spirit of Jesus (Rom. 8:9). Second, putting on the Lord Jesus has the idea behind it of putting on a garment. I put Jesus on my mind, on my eyes, on my tongue, on my heart, on my hand, on my feet, on the will of my neck, etc. When people see Carey Ford, they should see Jesus.

        According to v. 14b when we put on the Lord Jesus we will make "no ______________ for the flesh in regards to its _____________." Does this verse mean that the spiritual person will not lust?