Fulfilling the Law through Love
General Idea: The theme of the Christian life and the reason for us to keep obedient is nothing less than love. Our use of real genuine love is the fulfillment of the law and our highest response of obedience to what He gave us. This goes against our culture and nature, but we can do it with the Spirit's help! In society, our performance gets the attention and respect of others. Most commentators during the Clinton scandals said what he did on his off time did not matter. In other words, if you are an actor or a president and have illegitimate children, cannot not manage your personal life and have a string of affairs it does not matter. But, in Christianity, performance is secondary. Our love is what matters, and our character and behavior will flow from it so we can manage our lives effectively and godly.
a. God's love is amazing when we consider how we are and who He is! We do not deserve His love, yet we receive it anyway. We do not earn it or achieve it in any way or merit whatsoever, yet it is there for our taking because of what Christ has done in our behalf.
1. Love for our Lord and then for our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31; 1 Cor 13). Love always seeks the best "in" and "for" others (I Cor. 13:13). Love cannot exist when the opposite traits are ruling us, so love cannot be in the same program parameters as love. If we are envious we cannot love.
i. When we operate in love, in genuine love and not just out of obligation, we are fulfilling the law. If we operate out of duty while harboring malice in our heart and mind, all we are fulfilling is our un-repentant and un-redemptive sinful nature.
ii. The Ten Commandments are laws of love. Just think it through. If you have love for your neighbor, you will not steal from him, kill him, devise ways to get even, seek to acquire his possessions, or cheat on your spouse with him/her... and, in turn, you will live in peace and harmony by receiving the same from your neighbor!
iii. Love your neighbor as yourself takes for granted one thing. You have to have a degree of self-respect and love for yourself. This goes against some traditional evangelical and reformed thinking, but logically following Scriptural precepts, we are not called to hate ourselves. We are called to see ourselves as sinners in the light of what Christ has done. You have to see yourself as Christ sees you. You are a person of worth and one who is deeply loved. We cannot have a poor me attitude-a view that we are worthless. Yes, we have fallen way short of God and need a Savior, and we do not deserve His Salvation. Nevertheless, God accepts us and so we must accept ourselves. As a result, we can respect and accept those around us. Warning: do not allow self-love and self-respect to turn into pride! Pride goes before destruction!
2. As fallen beings, we do not have this kind of love flowing from us naturally. Therefore, we need to be in Christ (Rom. 5:5; I Cor. 13: 1-8; Titus 3:3; I John 4: 7-12)!
3. Being a person of honor and Christ-like character is the greatest witness and the greatest impact we can make for His kingdom!
b. Our chief obligation in life is.... love, ("to love and glorify God and enjoy Him forever": Westminster Catechism 1). Everything that flows out from us in duty and behavior must be from this foundation (Gen. 1:26-27; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:31).
1. God's characteristics all have love flowing from them, so when He judges us in His sovereignty, He is doing it in love. We may not fully understand this until we are called home. Nevertheless, all of God's actions and motivations are based on love. God's love is holy, which means it is set apart and is different from everything else in the universe. His majesty rises above all things. This keeps Him pure and separated from sin and evil. God cannot be contaminated by sin or by fallen humanity or by any other thing. Christ was needed to take His purity and impute it (place it) on us, so God sees us as pure. That is the work of the cross.
2. In the Hebrew language, God is described as love throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. This was especially true when He led His people from bondage into the Promised Land.
3. In the book of Hosea, the basic theme is loving mercy (Hos. 4: 1-19). The prophet is giving us a subpoena from God that we have committed a crime, which is spiritual adultery. The Hebrews flat out rejected His truth, His priests, His prophets, and everything else that was godly. This was not a "pep talk," but rather was a walk with God the Father to behind the woodshed for a beating they deserved. The Hebrews forgot truth, mercy, and love were left as waste, and waste was used as their spiritual food. "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge"--not because of a lack of food or military might, but because they forgot God and failed to follow His decrees. They forgot to be the light to the world, they forgot who they were in God and what He did for them. Therefore, God asked Hosea to take a wife who was a harlot as an example of what God had gone through. The names of the son and daughter they had illustrated the example of how Israel behaved to God and how God would and would retaliate using the same behaviors against them as they used to God and others. Yet in Israel's extreme disobedience God remains hopeful and still operates to His problem children in Love! God rejects the people for their sins and remains hopeful (this type of hope does not negate God's sovereignty) they will come back to Him. He even states that they will come back to Him.
4. In Micah 6:8 we are asked, "What does the Lord require of us?" The essence of the passage is love, as it is in the operational parameters of all of the work and function in life that we are to do.
5. In I Corinthians 13 God tells us that what love is not is as important as what love is.
6. To sun up this passage: Jesus said, "...There is no other commandment greater..." This sums up the law as a positive command instead of a list of negatives.
1. What is the theme for your life, such as, do you have a slogan or a life verse that motivates you that you try to live by?
2. What are some of the reasons we are to keep obedient in the faith?
3. What does this statement mean to you, to be in Christ?
4. Why does obedience go against our nature?
5. How would you express God's amazing love to a friend? To a stranger?
6. Read Mark 12:30-31. What would happen if your church did the exact opposite?
7. Why must we first love the Lord and then our neighbor?
8. What would you say to someone who objects to the need for loving God first?
9. Love always seeks the best "in" and "for" others. So, think of someone who has been nasty to you. Can you think of their best?
10. If you have trouble doing so, what lies in the way?
11. What does genuine love mean to you? Can you think of a specific example?
12. What would happen in your life if you operated in love just out of obligation?
13. How would it affect your relationships?
14. How and why does harboring malice in our hearts and mind mute the effectiveness of love?
15. Have you ever considered that the Ten Commandments are laws of love? Why or why not?
16. What would your neighborhood be like if everyone lived by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)? What would your church be like?
17. For you to be able to love others, do you think you need to have self-respect and love for yourself?
18. Why does this go against some traditional evangelical/reformed thinking?
19. How should we see ourselves?
20. Are you someone who is deeply loved? If not, what is in the way? If so, how does it feel?
21. What would happen in your live if you had a poor me attitude--a view that you are worthless? Consider job, school, and relationships in your answer.
22. What do you need to do so your self-love and self-respect do not turn into pride?
23. What does it mean to you that "pride goes before the fall/destruction?"
24. As fallen beings, we naturally do not have love flowing from us. Do you agree? Why or why not?
25. Consider the love of non-Christians. Is it real love? Some Christians believe it is not real love. What do you think? Keep in mind there are 4 main and different kinds of love in the Bible; friendship (philos), sexual (eros, which is not in the Bible, but its concept is i.e. temple prostitutes, and its human authors knew full well of it), family (storge'), loving kindness--the Lord's self-revelation of His attitude toward His people (hesedh, Heb) and self-giving/ sacrificial love without merit (agape) which is grace.
26. Why would being a person of honor and Christ-like character be the greatest witness and the greatest impact we could make for His kingdom?
27. Can you give an example from your experience? If not, can you brainstorm what it would be like if your church did this 100%.
28. Read 1 John 4: 7-12. How does this passage tie into Romans 13?
29. How would 1 John 4: 7-12 tie into your personal life outside Sundays?
30. Our chief obligation in life is__________?
31. Why is this so hard?
32. When God judges us in His sovereignty, do you have confidence that His judgment is pure and just? Will you feel His love even in Judgment?
33. God's holiness and majesty rises above all things. So, does knowing this give you confidence and comfort, or something else? Why?
34. How does it feel to know that you cannot earn God's love?
35. Does this motivate you to obey and serve Him out of gratitude even though you will not earn any more of His love? You will be rewarded in heaven for the good things you did, but His love will not increase since it is already on full blast.
36. God is described as love throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. Yet, most people see God as warlike and vengeful. What do you see when you read the Old Testament passages?
37. Hosea speaks about spiritual adultery (Hos. 4: 1-19). Can you think of examples of this today?
38. In Micah 6:8 we are asked, what does the Lord require of us? So, what does He require? What do you need to do to make it real in your life?
39. As Jesus said, "...There is no other commandment greater..." How would your life be different if you really followed Jesus' command, without the "but, but, but," or the "I do not understand," or more "but, but, but…?"
40. What can you do to implement more of an attitude of love in your daily dealings with others, from the clerk in the store, to the hated coworker or boss, to the distant spouse or family member?
Remember is the chief test of Christian discipleship is love! (Luke 14:26; John 13:35; 1 John 3:14)
"Liberation": Is liberation freedom or bondage? If you truly gave up your will to God, will you be liberated or would you be obligated as a servant/slave with no real life as you would see it?
Like driving a car in a strange unfamiliar area, with Christ as a passenger, we, as human beings, spend most of the time arguing, complaining, and debating the destination. Yet, we do not have a clue of where we are going. If we would allow Christ to get into the driver's seat, He would be able to take us where we could never have gone before. In addition, if we sign over the Pink Slip to our Lord Jesus Christ, then He will take us to places that our most wild imaginations could never fathom. Then, perhaps the love we are to receive and exhibit will flow ever so much more freely!
© 1998, 2002 R. J Krejcir, Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.com/