You Shall, Shall Not
Romans 13:8-10 ESV
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
In our day and age, and in our present culture, this word “love” has come to mean so many different things, most of which seem not to coincide with the kind of love this passage of scripture talks about. For one, “love” has come to mean just being “nice” to people, but “nice” is not always kind, and it isn’t always honest, either.
For “nice” is what is agreeable to people. It is what is pleasant to them. Or, it is amusing and charming, but charming can be deceptive and manipulative. And, “nice” can mean to be polite, but “polite” can mean to lie to people to their faces and then complain about them behind their backs, and that is not kind, nor is it loving. And, “nice” can mean to be appealing, and so we won’t say anything that might offend anyone.
“Nice” can also coddle people in their sins, and it can mean being a peacekeeper who will compromise faith and convictions to avoid conflict. So, “nice” will never confront people with their sins nor will it call for repentance or warn of judgment if one does not repent, because that makes people uncomfortable and it offends them. And, so to “love” people we have to do what makes them feel good about themselves and what makes them happy, not what might tell them that how they are living is not loving or kind.
But, the truth of the matter is that to love people with God’s love, we aren’t going to coddle them in their sins. We aren’t going to lie to them. We aren’t going to be one thing to their faces and something entirely different behind their backs. We aren’t going to tell them just what makes them happy or what makes them feel good about themselves, but we are going to tell them the truth, in love, so that hopefully they won’t continue on a sinful course.
For, when we choose to sin against other people, we are not acting in love. We can call it love, but that would be a lie. For, it is not loving to commit adultery, to lie, to steal, to cheat, to hate, to slander, and to lust after others. For love does no harm to its neighbor, i.e. to its fellow humans.
Time to Wake Up
Romans 13:11-12 ESV
“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
It is always time for people to wake up from being spiritually asleep or lazy. It is always God’s will for people to be saved from their sins or to return to him out of a time of rebellion and apathy and waywardness. For, it is God’s will that we walk in holiness, and that we follow our Lord in surrender to his will and in obedience to his commands (New Testament/New Covenant).
So, it isn’t that it isn’t God’s timing for people to repent of their sins and to walk righteously with God, although I hear people say that. They talk as though it is God’s will for them that they live immoral lives so that they will learn what not to do, or because God just hasn’t changed their hearts yet.
I have heard many excuses over the years for why people continue to live in sinful rebellion against God – excuses which remove responsibility from them and it puts it on others or on God, as though it is God’s fault that they are still walking in immorality and that they are not walking in victory over sin. Yet, they’ll claim they didn’t know when they knew fully, or that they are “not perfect,” which is just another excuse for continuing in willful sin.
So, this is a reminder that time is short. Not one of us knows if he has tomorrow. We can’t be assured another day. No one can! Every day is a day nearer to when Jesus returns and he takes his bride to be with him forever and our salvation is then complete and our marriage to Christ consummated.
So, the encouragement here is to cast off (throw off), to get rid of the works of darkness, such as lies, adultery, hate, stealing and coveting or lusting after what is not ours to have. We need to forsake these fruitless deeds of darkness. In the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we need to put them to death.
And, we need to put on the truth and righteousness and holiness in God’s power and strength at work within those of us who are his. And, we need to walk in the light as God is in the light, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin. And, we need to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh if we want to have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; Rom. 6:1-23; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 2:6-8).
Let Us Walk Properly
Romans 13:13-14 ESV
“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
The modern teaching within the church is that once you are “saved” it doesn’t matter how much you sin or if you continue on a sinful course, because God’s grace covers it all. But, that teaching is dispelled in Romans 6 alone where it teaches that we are not to continue in sin that grace may abound, but we are to die to sin and live to righteousness. For, we are slaves to whatever we obey – if sin, it results in death. If obedience, it results in righteousness which then leads to eternal life with God.
It is dispelled in the teaching in Titus 2 where it says that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and to fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. And, it is dispelled in Ephesians 4 where we learn that the way to know Christ is to forsake our former lives of living to sin and self and to be transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind, and it is to put on our new self in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
And, it is dispelled for us in Romans 8 where it says that the righteous requirement of the law if fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live. And, Luke 9:23-26 and 1 John 1:5-9 agree!
So, this is not just a mere suggestion or a recommendation. It is not something just to be encouraged but that we have the option to refuse it. Paul is not teaching this as a “good idea” but that it doesn’t matter if you follow it or not. For, he didn’t teach that our sins don’t matter to God once we believe we are saved. He taught consistently that if we walk in sin we will die in our sins and that one day we are going to reap what we sow on this earth (Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
So, God’s grace to us is not an “out” so that we can continue living in sinful rebellion against God and yet still have heaven guaranteed us when we die. Even in the book of Revelation it tells us who will not get into heaven –
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Rev. 21:8, 27
So, we need to take this to heart. If we continue on a sinful course, thinking that God’s grace will cover it all, and that no harm will come to us, and that heaven is guaranteed us regardless of how we live our lives, then we need to think again. For, many are going to say “Lord, Lord,” and he is going to reply, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” So, know what the scriptures teach about what it means to know God and to be known by God.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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