12th October 2023
Read (Romans 13v8-10)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
In response to the Gospel the Christian is to ensure that taxes are paid and debts are fulfilled but, with that said, we owe a constant debt to one another. What is that debt? Love. Paul states in verse eight "owe no one anything, except to love each other" and at a stroke he teaches us what our ongoing relationships should be like. You may have paid back the money you borrowed but you are never free from the debt of owed love. The importance of this is realised when we consider Paul's wisdom that whoever loves has fulfilled the law (v8).
For some any discussion of "law" provokes an immediate negative reaction. They reason that the law is an Old Testament concept and it has no lasting authority over the Christian, they say "The Old has gone and the New is all about grace". I'll tackle this attitude next time but we must understand that the moral law is binding upon the Christian. Let us stress that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we cannot be saved by law observance! Nevertheless, the Christian should have a love for God's law and strive to keep the moral law in response to the Gospel.
What is the moral law? Paul offers us a reminder with some of the commandments “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” (v9) These are but four of the famous "Ten Commandments" that you can find in Exodus 20 and these commandments are still of much relevance to the Christian. We don't try to keep them in order to be saved but we do try to keep them because we have been saved.
This life of obedience can be summed up by doing our best to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (v9). Often, this idea has been called "the golden rule" in an attempt to describe its importance and Paul explains it by saying "Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (v10).
So what does practical Christian living in light of the Gospel look like? Your neighbour may treat you badly but you are to love him in response. The money you borrowed from your neighbour should be returned. The gossip currently doing the rounds which casts your neighbour in a poor light should be ignored. I could give another ten examples but a repetition of Paul will suffice - love does no wrong to a neighbour.
I suspect none of us truly grasp the size and scale of God's love for us. It was displayed for all to see at Calvary where the Lord Jesus died so that we might be forgiven. If we have been loved in this extraordinary manner and we bear the name Christian upon our lives, let us love God and love our neighbour.
Q68 What is required in the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.