Romans Chapter 13
KLMX May 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. This week, Iíve been looking at Paulís letter to the church in Roman. Weíre in chapter 13 of that letter and getting close to the end of the letter as a whole. Before we dig into todayís passage, I will ask for Godís blessing and pray that this study reflects the truth and glory that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
So far, weíve been focusing mostly on the role of civil authorities and our attitude toward them. Let me review those passages:
Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. (4) For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (5) Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
These verses contain some thoughts that many Christians, let alone people, donít like to address. Our role in subjection to authorities, the establishment of those authorities, and the urging to pay taxes, are some of those topics. Today, though, weíll switch gears. Hereís what Paul says:
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Is this a command to not take out loans? Most people donít think so, because Jesus says elsewhere:
Matthew 5:42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
However, neither is this a open license to borrow excessively.
Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
The idea is that borrowing does indeed make you a slave to the lender. Youíre obligated to the lender until you get the loan paid back. There are times, though, when a person would voluntarily go into slavery. For many, it was the only way to move to another country, or it was the only way to gain something. Jacob was in slavery to Laban for 14 year for the privilege of Rachelís hand in marriage. Therefore, slavery or debt has its purposes, but one should definitely count the cost before going into debt. Other commentators take the verse literally, that one should never go into debt at all. Weíve been talking about conscience- let your conscience guide you here. But I donít think that monetary debt is really Paulís point in this verse. Rather, heís pushing us to a greater point that is "love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Paul explains a little more now:
Romans 13:9-10 For the commandments, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," "YOU SHALL NOT MURDER," "YOU SHALL NOT STEAL," "YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS," "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (10) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Paulís not repeating a new thought here. Jesus said the same thing:
Matthew 22:34-40 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. (35) Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, (36) "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" (37) Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' (40) On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
If one loves their neighbor as themselves, then they will, as Paul says, "do no harm". A person wonít commit adultery because that hurts someone, they wonít murder because that hurts someone; they wonít steal, they wonít lie, and they wonít covet because all those things hurt someone. Since true love wonít do any of those things, Paul can rightly say that love is the fulfillment of the law.
Now, earlier I said that morality canít be legislated. That is laws can slow down or prevent bad things from happening, but they canít change the hearts of people. In fact, if the hearts of people were good and right, then laws wouldnít be needed. People would love one another as themselves and adultery, murder, theft, lying, and coveting would not occur. Or, as Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.
Just think if we each loved each other enough to seek the otherís well-being before our own. But, we donít, and therefore, we have laws.
The verse says:
Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighborÖ
And Iím sure someone will ask "Fine, but who is my neighbor?" Someone else asked that question as we find here:
Luke 10:25-29 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (26) He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" (27) So he answered and said, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND,' and 'YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" (28) And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." (29) But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Jesusí response, of course, was the parable of the Good Samaritan:
Luke 10:30-37 Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. (34) So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' (36) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" (37) And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
In the parable of the Good Samaritan we see love as it should be. The Samaritan had compassion, he put his own needs aside for awhile, and he gave generously to ensure the comfort of the traveler. He was a neighbor, indeed. There is another passage, this one in Galatians, that reinforces these thoughts:
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
While love is the fulfillment of the law, bearing one anotherís burdens fulfills the law of Christ. A burden, of course, is something unpleasant. If it were a pleasant load, it wouldnít be a burden. Carrying an elk off a mountain isnít a burden- itís work, but the hunter can look forward to a freezer full of meat. Carrying oneís broken down 4WD truck off the mountain is a burden. One has broken parts to fix, expenses to spend, and work ahead just to get the ungrateful bucket oí bolts running again. When we carry one anotherís burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ, because thatís what Christ did for us. He took our sins and burdens and unfruitful thoughts upon himself and replaced them with his purity, freedom, and ability to do good works. As Peter says:
1 Peter 2:21-24 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (22) "WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH"; (23) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; (24) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness- by whose stripes you were healed.
Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example. When we love our neighbor enough to bear his burdens and suffer with him, maybe for him, then we truly have been changed by Jesus Christ. This doesnít save us, but itís evidence of our salvation at work.
Weíll stop here and pick up tomorrow with the last section of Romans 13. Tune in to KLMX tomorrow at 9:45 and finish up with us.
Romans 13, Part 3
Romans 13, Part 5