LOVE THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW – 29 Mar 2003

(Presented at Arab Open Brethren Conference in Nazareth)

Rom 13:8-10   owe no one anything except to love one another

This passage is sandwiched between the instruction and commandment for us as believers to submit ourselves to the civil authorities in the countries where we live or sojourn for the honor of the Name of our God and Father, and of His Son, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, and between the call for revival to holy living in expectation of the coming of the Lord.  To Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth, and it is by His authority that the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to instruct the Body of Messiah.  In the State of Israel we have the challenge and the privilege to be an example of godliness by the manner in which we live as being in the world but not of it, and of being ambassadors of Messiah and of His Kingdom.  Let the Law of Messiah go out from Zion!

Love for God; love for our fellow-man; love for our enemies.  We can not escape the responsibility which God has placed upon us to have our hearts purified and our spirits renewed so as to show ourselves children of the Living God and disciples of Yeshua our Lord and Savior, to whom we surely owe much love.

To love one another is to keep the commandments – to obey God — because God is love.  His law is love.  Love needs no one to rule over it, because love is the fulfillment of the Law.  Government of man over man came in after sin entered the world and man.  The law is for sinners.  Love causes no harm to a neighbor.  Jesus did not come to break or to cancel the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.  This heaven and earth – this creation – will pass away, but not until every jot and tittle of the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled.  In the new heavens and new earth – the new creation – there is no government or authority or power as we know it now.  It is written that even the Son Himself will deliver the Kingdom to God the Father, and forever be subject to Him with us, that God will be all in all. (1Cor 15:24-28)  Love for God and for one another will have been perfected.  The Law will have been full-filled.  This heaven and earth will then pass away.  Those who belong to God in Christ will be like Him, in His image and likeness.  Then LIFE really begins as God intended from before the foundation of the world! 

In the meantime, we are to overcome ourselves and the world by faith in God and in Yeshua, who has given us the power to be the children of God, to those who believe in His Name.  We can love one another.  There is no question that it is difficult enough to love another as I love myself.  For this is contrary to our nature, and so our Father in Heaven gives us a commandment to do so.  Simply to keep the essential commandments, given in our verses, at the level of the thoughts and intentions of my own heart  can be near impossible.  Yet for God and the Lord Yeshua, even this is not the highest definition of love.  Our brother and our Lord Yeshua has commanded us to love one another within the household of faith as He has loved us:  He came in the flesh to give His life for us in demonstration of Father’s love for us.

It is evident that we are indebted forever to love one another for Messiah’s sake.  In keeping all the commandments, we are simply doing our duty to honor our Father, who is training and chastening us as His sons and daughters.  But to do these things out of love for each person whom He has created in His image and for whom Jesus came and died as a sacrifice for sin and guilt, this demonstrates the truth of our new birth and union with the true God.

We all know that we live in troublous times.  Where there is no love there is some measure of conflict.  Where love abides there is joy and peace.  The genuineness of our faith is being tested, and will be tested.  The Holy Spirit within us helps us to be overcomers through all these trials so that we will be more than conquerors by the Word of God and the blood of the Lamb.  Even sinners, if only in our own estimation, are used by God to help work in us the fruit of the Spirit of Holiness.

Praise the LORD!  He has promised us that we will not be adulterers; we shall not murder; we shall not steal; we shall not bear false witness; we shall not covet.  In other words, we will do no harm to one another outwardly or inwardly.  Rather, we will love YHVH our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves.  To see Jesus high and lifted up, to see Him as He is, changes us into His likeness.

When the Son sets us free, we are free indeed to love.  For this is His commandment and the great need we each and all have:  to love and to be loved.  Every child wants and needs the love of his parents.  Every parent wants to see their children getting along well together and caring for each other’s welfare.  It is therefore no wonder that the Father of spirits and of all flesh – our Creator and Redeemer – wants His children to love each other.  The honor of our Father and of His beloved Son should be uppermost in our hearts and minds.  Fidelity, righteousness and justice, honesty, carefulness to uphold another’s good name and reputation, being satisfied with our own things.  These attributes belong to godliness – to being like YHVH God.  Blessing one another in the Name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah brings great pleasure to our Father and to each one of us His children – brothers and sisters in the family of God by His lovingkindness.

With God all things are possible, including completing in us what He has begun.  We can, and we will, love each other because we have been born of God.  To Him be everlasting glory and praise!

FAILING FROM THE GRACE OF GOD – 15 Mar 2003

Gen 4:3-15  Cain murdered his brother Abel in jealous anger, and despised the goodness and grace of God
Gen 21:5-10  the son of the bondwoman scoffed (ציחק ) at the son of the free woman
      Gal 4:28-29  he that is born after the flesh persecutes him born after the Spirit, according to promise
Gen 25:29-34  Esau despised and sold his birthright to Jacob
Gen 27:32-41  Esau wept, but without repentance, and determined to kill his brother
1Sam 18:1-9  Saul was very angry, displeased, and began to eye David from that day forward
Est 3:5-6; 5:12-13  Haman despised the integrity of Mordechai, and the gracious honor bestowed upon him
Mt 21:33-46  the natural heirs reject and kill the choice of God, who takes the Kingdom of God from them
                  and gives it to another nation bearing the fruits of it
Heb 12:5-17  root of bitterness springing up, causing trouble, defiling many

Last week I spoke about the necessity of our examining the thoughts and intentions of our hearts by the truth of God’s Word.  Our hearts can deceive us, even as believers with a new heart and a new spirit given by YHVH.  It is only the truth of God concerning both heavenly and earthly things which can keep our hearts in sync with our Father in Heaven, and even then we find it difficult and sometimes have to be rebuked and corrected and instructed in righteousness. 

What prevents some people from maturing spiritually?  The Holy Spirit warns us in Heb 12:14-17 that a root of bitterness is a chief cause of trouble, both to oneself and to the defilement of many otherwise innocent people.  The root of bitterness is the opposite of the commandment and challenge of the Lord Jesus to those who would be His disciples:    Instead of loving the LORD our God above all – and by comparison hating those nearest and dearest to us, even our own soul (Lk 14:26) – bitterness springs forth from the ground of love of self first of all – and in reality hating others, including the sovereign LORD God Himself, who has determined and revealed all these things. (Lk 11:54; Jn 3:20; 15:23; Ps 69:4)

 Those who live godly in Messiah Yeshua will suffer persecution.  Darkness does not comprehend the light.  Grace is more powerful than law – in fact, law is incapable to produce righteousness and its fruit.  Self-pity and bitterness can not accept God’s unmerited sovereign favor towards others where it affects our own ego and our natural sense of privilege and status.

The historical record in the Bible was given for our instruction in these last days.  What we have read regarding Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob – and of the Arab and Israeli nations proceeding from them—applies also, as we read, to the Jewish people and Gentile Christians, to Israel and the Church.  Indeed the Word of God here is clear that it applies to all which is born of flesh – carnal, natural – towards that which is born of the Spirit – spiritual, chosen, and promised by God according to His grace.

In all these episodes from both the Old and New Covenants, those who thought that the inheritance and blessing and kingdom were theirs by right – by legality – found that it is God’s sovereign wisdom and grace which bring peace, joy, holiness.

Brothers and sisters, we will never mature spiritually if we are harboring unforgiveness or jealousy towards another – ESPECIALLY – when the other person or nation is firstly the chosen recipients of God’s grace, apart from any works or righteousness of their own which earned them His favor.  If we allow this bitterness to take root in our HEART – if we do not bring our initial reaction and disappointment under the rod of God’s discipline – then we will cause many others to act in such a way as to defile themselves by our own sense of injustice, insisting that they defend us against what we deem unfair.  And those who side with us in our bitterness will justify their own misconduct and expect even more compensation in the course of time (Gen 4:24).  We will dishonor God as we take the side of the ‘victim’.  The truth lies in our own unrepentance from our rebellion against the sovereign ways of God.

God is love, and everything that He does is righteous.  Bitterness takes the smile off the face, the joy out of life, the hope out of precious promises.  Bitterness will cause us to stop doing good for its own sake, and will ‘rub off’ and defile many others.  It is unholy, unloving, unclean, ungodly.  If we have reasons for bitterness – and there can be many – the cross we are called to bear daily requires us to overcome it, repent of that sin which is in us to make us bitter, and to seek to understand better the thoughts and ways of our God and Savior.  Esau could not give it up, and his end is total failure and loss. (Mal 1:1-4)  Job could have become bitter, but he did not, and God blessed him with not only double what he had previously, but also to know God in a way he had only heard about before.  He was blessed by trusting God more than his own emotions and hurts.  The end of learning the grace of God is everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord.  May we all be overcomers by His power and grace, and to His glory.

1Pet 1:22 – 2:3  Our souls are purified through obedience to the truth, the Word of the LORD.