(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!