July 20, 2003
LOVE FULFILLS LAW
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law . For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law .(Romans 13:8-10)
How can this be? Paul was a debtor. His own words declare, "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Rom. 1:14-15). Believers are debtors: " we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh..." which implies that we are debtors to the "spirit," our new nature as the children of God (8:12). And to Roman believers Paul wrote, "It hath pleased them [Gentiles of Macedonia and Achaia] verily; and their [ Israel 's] debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their [ Israel 's] spiritual things, their [Gentile] duty is also to minister to them [ Israel ] in carnal things [financial offerings Paul collected among the churches]" (15:27). We owe much to many!
How can such debts be repaid? Clearly all sorts of debts are forbidden for the believer, except the debt of love. Repayment of this debt is by installment payments at every opportunity! This debt of love is repaid as we "walk in the spirit [the new nature]," and do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, to which we owe nothing! Since to Paul was committed the great treasure, the gospel of the grace of God and the revelation of the mystery, God's sacred secret, that debt could be repaid only by a life dedicated to telling every Jew and Gentile he could about this glorious gift from God. Paul discharged his debt by a life of personal sacrifice and love, both "publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20), and by writing "whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4).
"What the law could not do," Christ did by presenting Himself an offering for sin. We respond so "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (8:4).
Ivan L. Burgener