Summary: A Teaching message on Romans 13:8-14.
Romans Series # 54 September 18, 2002
Title: The Basics of Christian Living
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. We are currently in Chapter 13 of Romans as we continue with message #54 of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Romans.
Read Romans 13:8-14
Tonight I will be sharing of the topic: The basics of Christian living. By basics, I mean the fundamentals of the Christian life. In the sport of golf, there are certain fundamentals, which are necessary to hitting the ball well. You must keep your head down, swing on plane, and follow through. Even for the professional golfer, these basics are continually reiterated, since they are essential to success. In a similar way, there are two basic things that are fundamental aspects of Christian living; therefore they are repeatedly reiterated in the Bible. Paul speaks of both of them in this passage: love and righteousness.
The main message of this passage could be simply summarized like this: The basic principles of Christian living are to love others and to live righteously. With that said, let’s look at the particulars of this passage verse by verse.
Read Romans 13:8
Paul is transitioning from a section on dealing with the governing authorities. At the conclusion of that section (verses 6, 7) Paul emphasizes the need for the Christian to fulfill their obligations/debts, such as their obligation to show respect and honor for those in authority, and their obligation to pay their tax debt. Paul then uses the idea of being in debt or having an obligation, as a springboard to discuss the obligation we have to love others.
First he says, "Let no debt remain outstanding." He is referring to all kinds of debts, whether monetary (loans, bills, taxes, etc.) or non-monetary (civil service, honor, respect, etc.) This verse just means that we are to fulfill or to pay our debts in accordance with what was agreed upon, is morally right, or is required by law. The King James Version translates the first part of verse eight as, "Owe no man anything..." This has led some people to conclude that all debt is wrong, such as having a mortgage, credit card, are buying a car on time. This is probably not the point Paul is making. The Bible does not forbid believers from going into debt, though it does indicate that doing so should be done with great care and understanding. What the Bible does forbid is for the believer, is failing to pay their debts. We are not to take a cavalier approach toward our financial obligations and allow them to "remain outstanding."
Paul does say that there is one debt or obligation that Christians always owe. That is the obligation to love others. This is why Paul says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another..." The point is that loving others is a lasting obligation. One can never get to the point where they can say, "I have done enough; I have loved enough." You and I will never get to the point that we have, in love, sacrificed enough for others, given enough of our time, energy, money, and efforts for others, been kind enough or even patient enough with others. There is no end to our obligation to love. No matter how loving we may have been in the past, we’re still indebted or obligated to love others. Loving others is a lasting obligation.
At the end of verse eight Paul says, "He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law." I will explain what is meant by fulfilling the law in a moment, but first I want to note the expression "fellow man." If we love our fellow man we have fulfilled the law, but who is our fellow man? Is Paul talking about other Christians? Is he talking about our family and friends? The word translated as "fellow man" is the Greek word heteros, which basically means, "Love people who are different from you." We are to love those that have different likes and dislikes, different opinions, a different understanding of Scripture, etc.
Paul also tells us that loving others fulfills the law. Similarly, he tells us in verse nine, that all the Commandments (Law) are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." What is Paul’s point or purpose in making this statement? In New Testament times there was a great emphasis on knowing and doing what God wanted; i.e. obeying or fulfilling the Law or Commandments. In their efforts to do this, people had come up with a list of over 600 Commandments, which they have found in the Old Testament that conveyed what God wanted of people. Obviously, this was very complicated, so people were often looking for summary of the essence of what God wanted of people. Therefore, they would ask various teachers questions such as, "What is the greatest commandment?" Of course they asked Jesus this very question and he answered him like this, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...and the second is like unto it: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) ."