Summary: Pentecost 16(A) - Love is the fulfillment of the law. Believers obey God’s established government and honor their neighbors above themselves out of love for God.
LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW (Outline)
September 16, 2007 - PENTECOST 16 -
INTRO: What do you think of when you hear the word: Law? Or how about the Ten Commandments? Very often these words do not cause a positive reaction. It is true that the law, God’s commandments, show us our sins. No one really wants to be reminded of his or her sinfulness. Looking further we also see come to understand and see that without the law there is absolutely no use at all for the gospel. We realize that the law is part of God’s word meant for our good. Today we will examine what it means that love is the fulfillment of the law. Love, which is in a believer’s heart, by faith, fulfills God’s law. Where there is love, especially and really only God’s love, there will be, can be and is joy. "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy"(1 PETER 1:8).
LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW.
Today’s text reminds and reveals to us that with joy we fulfill God’s law of love in two ways.
I. We obey God’s established government.
II. We honor our neighbors above ourselves.
I. WE OBEY GOD’S ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENT.
A. Paul reminds the believers in Rome of their Christian life of obedience to the government.
1. Look at verses 1, 2a. Three times it is mentioned: the government is established by God.
2. Looking beyond the earthly authorities these believers would see God in control, always.
B. Verse 2 reminds the believers that rebelling will bring judgment from those in authority.
1. Rebelling against the authorities would mean a life of fear, verse 3a.
2. There is a reason for fear coupled with rebellion and disobedience in verse 4.
3. The government stands as God’s agent of wrath to bring punishment. This can be terrifying.
C. Living in fear is no way to live. These believers would and could obey because of faith, verse 5.
1. Verses 6, 7 list what is owed to the government and then to all. It is a debt of Christian love.
2. All this would be challenging for the believers. Their government was not friendly.
a. Nero would soon be in power.
b. Nero put Christians to death for entertainment.
D. Even today we may not always consider it a joy to pay taxes or revenue or honor or respect to our government. But in comparison we are truly, really blessed beyond all imagination. Our country has freedom for everyone. We are not ruled by an evil dictator. Ours is a democracy that provides peaceful blessings. We may not always agree with how our taxes are spent. We may not always agree with the philosophies of the politicians in power. But we do know that the governing authorities have been established by God. Our love in obeying the government is the fulfillment of God’s law. "Slaves, (here we can easily include the word people or believers for the word slaves) obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ"(EPHESIANS 6:5).
E. Some obey out of love and others obey out of fear. The government has been established by God to carry out his justice and judgment. Man’s justice is not always carried out in a very divine way. But this justice is still the power given to ruling authorities by God himself. Those who disobey and rebel ought to live lives of fear. "Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?"(PROVERBS 24:21-22). Notice the Lord is placed first and the government next. Both can bring sudden destruction upon those who disobey. Our government has been given God’s mandate to carry justice as he declared: a life for a life , an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
F. How challenging to be a believer during this reign of Nero. How challenging to be obedient with a Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin in charge. Yet, the believer is to look beyond these power-hungry rulers and see that God is still, always in control. Today we live a relative life of ease concerning obeying our authorities established by God. Out of love for God we obey those he has placed over us for our benefit. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you"(HEBREWS 13:17). Love is the fulfillment of the law.