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Love Fulfills the Law, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 8, 2024 3:00 am

Love Fulfills the Law, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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February 8, 2024 3:00 am

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And here we learn that love is faithful. It is loyal, single-minded, true, not fickle, and it is faithful.

That is, it keeps its promise, is devoted to its object, and it obeys. This is just another kind of love. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It's said you can tell a lot about a person by looking in the trunk of his car. Relatively uncluttered means he's relatively organized, and a trash can on radials means, well, you get the idea. You know, you might be able to keep the mess in your car or desk or even your house a secret, but there is no way to hide your genuine Christian concern for others or the lack of it. John MacArthur explains why today as he moves ahead in his series, Love No Matter What. But before we get to the lesson, we want you to know about something important, something special that we have planned for tomorrow, February 9th. And with that, John, let me hand things off to you.

Please give the details to our listeners. Well, it is amazing to me, Phil, but tomorrow is my 55th anniversary as the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church here in Los Angeles. Congratulations.

It's amazing. And that means Grace To You will also celebrate its 55th anniversary tomorrow. And in recognition of that milestone, Grace To You wanted to do something special. So tomorrow only, you heard that, right? Tomorrow only, we're going to offer the complete MacArthur New Testament commentary series at the lowest price you will find anywhere, anytime, significantly lower than even our normal price for the complete set, which is already very reasonable for a 33-volume set of New Testament commentaries. We're able to make this offer tomorrow only, so get ready. The sale starts on our website at midnight Pacific time on Friday, February 9th. And note that we are able to make this special offer only to the first 250 orders. Again, the MacArthur New Testament commentary series includes 33 volumes, including an additional index volume, very helpful. If you happen to be the 251st person who wants to order the commentaries, we still will have a great discount for you that will run through Friday, February 16. But get in on the first 250 for the best price. Get ready to go to Grace To You—that's—starting at midnight tomorrow Pacific time, 3 a.m. Eastern time, and be one of the first 250 to order the MacArthur New Testament commentary series at the special 55th anniversary price. Thanks, John. And again, friend, this special one-day sale begins tomorrow morning at 12.01 a.m. Pacific time. And note that it's available only on orders placed in the United States and Canada.

Go to to take advantage of it. And right now, here is John MacArthur with the lesson. We want to take some time in the Word of God, so let me encourage you to open your Bible, if you will, to Romans chapter 13. We're looking at verses 8 to 10. The title of this particular section is, Love Fulfills the Law. Romans 13, 8 to 10 says this, Owe no man anything 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 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 its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Now as we noted in our last study of this particular text in which we began to take a look at these verses, one of the results of justification, one of the results of salvation, one of the results of being made right with God is a new and unique relationship to society, and that is a relationship of love. A new commandment I give unto you, Jesus said in John 13, 34, that you love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another. The distinguishing mark, as we know, then, of a Christian is love. It is love that not only distinctively marks a Christian but that fulfills the law, says the Apostle Paul.

Now in this brief passage I pointed out to you that there are three features of Christian love discussed, the debt of love, the discharge of love, and the design of love. Verse 8 says, Owe no man anything but to love one another. Now remember the statement, Owe no man anything, is a bridge from the prior section. In verses 6 and 7 he's been talking about paying your taxes which you owe the government, and you are to pay your taxes. That is a debt.

He bridges from there to the point about love by simply saying, Owe no man anything but love. In other words, pay all your debts and the one debt you'll always pay and never really have paid is the debt of love. Now we suggested last time we discussed the passage that this is not meaning that Christians cannot have a debt. It means that they must pay the debt they have. It is not forbidding us to borrow. It only obligates us to pay back. The wicked, says Psalm 37 21, borrows and does not pay back.

And the wickedness comes not in the borrowing but in the failure to repay. What Paul is saying is pay your debts when they're due. No debt should be outstanding.

No debt should be overdue. And that means that we have to be a bit careful about how we get indebtedness. I would suggest to you that most people get into an indebtedness they can't pay their way out of. Most people have debts they can't pay based upon the facts of carelessness. That is, they incurred debt they were unable to pay because they were thoughtless or careless, acting on impulse, or because of a love of display. That is, they wanted to have something to show off to other people to such a degree that they didn't consider their inability to pay it back. I suppose sometimes people incur debt because of envy. They desperately want to have what other people have. They want to stay up with everybody else and so they feel they have to have certain things they're not in a position to buy. And another way that people incur debt is the love of comfort.

They're dissatisfied with the things they have and feel they would be more comfortable if they had something else. Now when you incur debt because of carelessness or a love of display or envy or a love of comfort, those are unwise processes. Those are unwise ways to incur debt and as a result you may find yourself unable to pay back. There are, however, some reasons for incurring debt that are much more legitimate than those.

One is, for example, a wise investment. And Scripture indicates to us that there is a place for borrowing money to make a wise investment, to assist in a business that is going to be profited by the investment. People could borrow money in biblical times, both in Old Testament and New Testament times, and incur a certain amount of indebtedness on the basis of an investment. There were times, for example, when a farmer who wanted to plant his crop needed to borrow some money to buy a seed. Or a farmer who wanted to breed some animals needed to borrow some money to breed the animals which he then paid back and profited by his diligence in breeding or in farming.

Incurring that kind of debt was reasonable because it was an investment necessary to make a profit to be gainfully employed and support your family. Borrowing that way, borrowing for business, was commonly done both in Old and New Testament times and along with it it was not uncommon to have interest paid. There is nothing in the Scripture that forbids interest being paid on a borrowing that is based on an indebtedness for the sake of profit and investment. In fact, in Matthew 25, 27, even the Lord suggested to the unfaithful servant that he would have done well to put his money in the bank so that it might have earned interest. If somebody earns interest, somebody pays interest.

And so there were times when the Lord is even saying that's obviously legitimate. Interest, which is called in the Bible usury, was not forbidden then in cases where you were borrowing for the sake of profit. But there was a second kind of borrowing that is at least legitimate in Scripture in which interest was forbidden and that was borrowing in the state of desperate need. There may come a time in your life when you actually had nothing and you borrowed in order to live.

In a case where you borrowed in order to live, no interest was to be charged. That would be indeed usury beyond the purview of Scripture. In fact, in Leviticus chapter 25 verse 37, thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest nor lend him thy food, supplies for profit.

And who is he talking about? Verse 35, if your brother has become poor and cannot support himself, you never give money to someone who is poor and charge them interest. The same thing is indicated over in the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy in verse 19, thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother, interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of anything that is lent upon interest. Unto a foreigner you may lend on interest but unto your brother you shall not lend on interest that the Lord thy God may bless you and so forth and so on.

And this again has reference to someone who is in need. So where there was an investment involved, it was just business practice and interest doesn't seem scripturally to be forbidden. But where there was a need to charge interest was to violate the law of God. Now since Israel was not primarily a commercial people, money was loaned mostly for relief of poverty. And so the Old Testament really doesn't say much at all about money being loaned for business interests.

And in the case of loaning money for poverty, any interest was forbidden in the law. In fact, a generous man who gave without thought of interest and who even gave without necessarily thinking of being paid back at all was considered to be a truly godly man. True godliness was demonstrated in the generosity that reached out to a destitute person. In Psalm 15 for example, who shall abide in thy tabernacle, who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

Who is it that really comes into the presence of God? The one that walks uprightly, works righteousness, speaks the truth in his heart, doesn't back bite with his tongue, does not do evil to his neighbor, doesn't take up a reproach against a brother in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors them who fear the Lord. He that swears not to his own hurt and changes not, he that puts not out his money to interest nor takes reward against the innocent. A truly righteous man then is someone who gives money to people and doesn't charge them interest.

That is the mark of a godly person. One of the reasons that God actually came in judgment against Israel in the Babylonian captivity was that they were charging interest to poor people. They had violated the law of God to such an extent that they were charging interest to gain off someone else's destitution. In the 18th chapter of Ezekiel we find this indicated in verse 5, if a man is just and does what is lawful and right and has not eaten on the mountains nor has lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither has defiled his neighbor's wife, neither has come near an unclean woman and has not oppressed any, but has restored to the debtor his pledge, has spoiled none by violence, has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with a garment and has not given forth upon interest. This is a man God will bless and Ezekiel is really saying I'm indicting you because these people aren't in your land.

This is the man God is looking for, one who gives without charging interest. The people had disobeyed. I remember reading back in the fifth chapter of Nehemiah that Nehemiah himself made an oath to stop the people from continuing to do this even after the time that they were taken into captivity. So the Bible does allow for borrowing with interest in a business way, not in the way where you're charging interest against someone who is in a poverty situation.

That is binding an unkind burden upon them and violating the law of God. But where interest is legitimate or where a debt is legitimately incurred, whether it has interest or not, it is to be paid back. And that is the indication of chapter 13 verse 8, Owe no man anything, pay your debts.

That is how Paul begins his point. Now then he goes from there to the real debt that we always pay and never pay off and says the debt we want to continually pay and yet never have paid is to love one another. That is the debt of love.

We talked, didn't we, last time about the fact that it is possible to pay that debt because we have a new capacity. In other words, God has poured into our hearts a capacity to love. Romans 5, 5, the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts. We have been given the capability of love in our salvation. And so we draw on that new capacity. We sink the bucket, as it were, of faith deep into the well of love and we share love with others.

That is our indebtedness. We are to love others. That capacity is planted in the heart of every Christian.

And a Christian who does not demonstrate love, who does not pay the debt of love to everyone no matter who they are, no matter how much in competition with you they may be, how unkind, how bitter toward you is one who is not drawing on the capacity God has given him. And so we begin then with a debt of love which is served by a new capacity. The second point we want to note is the discharge of love which is based upon a new command. The discharge of love in verses 9 and 10.

Now here Paul illustrates this new love in a very marvelous way. He shows how the new law is the royal law of love, as James 2 calls it. It is an all-encompassing law and he makes his point in just a very, very marvelous way.

Notice verse 9. For this, he says, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbors thyself. Love works no evil to its neighbor. Now here is a wonderful summation of the law of God. And the Apostle Paul gives one law, the law of love, and says that one law fulfills all other laws. In other words, all of the Ten Commandments, and he names four of the ten, and then he adds the one about loving your neighbor as yourself. But all of those commandments are fulfilled in the one new royal law that James calls the royal law of liberty.

That is the law of love. And I think it wonderful to mention at this point that Paul shows us that love and law are not contradictory. Love and law are not mutually exclusive. Love is the fulfilling of the law. In fact, you can take the whole of the Ten Commandments and you can summarize all Ten Commandments into two statements. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. In those two commandments you have all the law and the prophets together.

And this is the point that Paul is making. If we as Christians say, how can I fulfill the law of God? How can I keep all of God's law?

The answer is in love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Now Paul suggests four of the commandments, the seventh one, the sixth one, the eighth one, and the tenth one. He leaves out the fifth and the ninth of the second half of the Ten Commandments.

And I don't think there's any particular reason for that. He's just selecting them as samples of the Ten Commandments. And that's why he says, notice verse 9, and if there be any other way.

He's really just sampling the Ten Commandments and drawing out four of them. Now they are sort of out of sequence from our Hebrew text. That is, they come from the Hebrew text, the seventh, the sixth, the eighth, and the tenth. But in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, they are in the order of the listing there as listed in Deuteronomy 5, 17 to 21. So Paul here is referring, at least in his own thinking, to a text that is the Septuagint.

That is a Greek translation of the Old Testament. And he simply lists four of the commandments and says, if you just know this, you've got the whole law. The law is summed up in this statement, you will love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law is collected into that one statement. So the key to obeying the law is love. If we love, we're going to obey the law. I mean, it's this simple, folks. Thou shalt not commit adultery as a moot point if you love somebody.

Right? And you hear a couple say, well, we committed adultery because we loved each other too much. And my reply to that is, no, you committed adultery because you loved each other too little. Because love doesn't defile, see. Love doesn't steal purity.

Love doesn't rob holiness. Love doesn't do that. Lust does that.

Selfishness does that. You never commit adultery and you never commit fornication because you love too much. You do that because you love too little.

You lust too much. And the same thing in regard to killing. Thou shalt not kill. Now, if you love someone, it precludes the command, doesn't it?

I mean, I don't need somebody to remind me not to kill people if I love them. And it's a moot point to say, thou shalt not steal. I'm not going to take what belongs to someone if I love that someone. Nor am I going to covet what they have if I love them. So love is not to replace the law.

We're not saying the old is gone and the new is arriving. What we're saying is love is what Paul says is the fulfilling of the law. Love is to give us a bottom line so that we understand how God's whole law can be fulfilled. And what God is after is not outward obedience.

And that's what this says. I mean, the Pharisees would like to say, well, we don't commit adultery and we don't kill and we don't steal and we don't covet. But in their hearts, they were full of it, weren't they? They were committing adultery with their minds. They were murderous in their thoughts with hate.

They would steal anything they could steal and they coveted what they did not have. And so if all you had was the external law and its external definition, you could actually fulfill it without fulfilling its intent. That's why the scripture says the intent is that you love so that you do not commit adultery, not because you're afraid to get caught or want to be pious, but because you love the person. You do not kill, not because you don't want to get caught or you want to appear religious, but you do not kill because you love the person. In other words, the keeping of the commandment flows from the heart of love. You can obey the law out of fear.

Sure. Men may be afraid of God's punishment. They may be afraid of God's judgment and so they obey out of fear. But you don't really fully obey the law because fear is not the basic motive for obedience. The Bible doesn't say you shall dread the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The scripture says many people draw near to God with their lips, but their hearts are what?

Far from him. Fear will restrain you from some evil and its effect can be somewhat productive, but it is incomplete. We are to keep the law not out of fear only, but out of love. Now there are other people who keep the law out of self-interest. They do it because they think they'll get something out of it. There are those people who want to live a moral life because they feel that God will owe them something and they'll get repaid for it. But that itself is not a pure motive. That is the motive of selfishness.

It's not complete. It may restrain you from evil. It may even assist you in doing some good outwardly. But the true intention of the law is to cultivate love from the heart. That is how the law is really fulfilled. And remember back in Matthew 22, what the Lord said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, right?

I mean, it's a marvelous thing to understand. Now if you were to go back to the law for a minute, can we do that for just a brief moment? Go back to Exodus chapter 20. And I'm going to give you the condensed version of this. But go back to Exodus chapter 20. And I want to show you how that the 10 commandments are simply the law of love. The first four of the 10 relate to God. The second half of them relate to relationships to men. And it begins really in verse 3.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Now that's a perfect description of love. Love first of all is loyal.

Did you get that? Love is loyal. Love is loyal. It is true. It is not fickle.

It is single minded. It doesn't have other gods. True love toward God will mean that there's no love for any other deity, right? Love is loyal. And if you really love God, you'll be loyal to God. Secondly, love is faithful.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any carved image, any likeness of anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. And here we learn that love is faithful. It is loyal, single minded, true, not fickle, and it is faithful. That is, it keeps its promise, is devoted to its object, and it obeys.

This is just another kind of love, another dimension of love. Thirdly, love is reverent. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. If you love God, will you curse his name? If you love God, will you be unfaithful to his word? If you love God, will you be disloyal to him and follow another deity?

Of course not. Therefore, the summation of those first three is love. They are simply ways to demonstrate love. And then finally, in reference to God, verse 8, remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you'll labor and do your work. The seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall not do any work, you nor your son or daughter, man-servant, maid-servant, cattle-stranger within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. Rest of the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

And what is he saying here? Love sets apart itself for pure, undefiled, uncompromising devotion and worship. We could say love is holy. Love recognizes the place of God.

Love sets apart itself for devotion and worship. If you say you love God, you're going to worship God. If you say you love God, you're going to serve God and keep his commandments. If you say you love God, you're going to be faithful to all of his word. You're going to be reverent to his name. You're going to be loyal to him as your only God. So you might say then that the first four of the Ten Commandments sum up the first and great commandment of Deuteronomy 6 quoted by the Lord in Matthew 22 and that is, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Now listen to me. If I love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and strength, am I going to have to worry about these laws?

Not really. Because if I love him like that, I would never have any other God. I would never make any graven image. I would always obey him. I would never take his name in vain and I'd always remember that he is a holy God who is to be worshiped, right? So love fulfills all the law.

It's just that simple. It's grace to you with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. The title of his current study is Love No Matter What. Well friend, a reminder about the special sale on the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series.

John talked about that before the lesson. We are able to make this special offer only on orders placed in Canada or the United States. And remember, tomorrow is the day to get your order in. So make sure you have our contact information. The best way to order the Commentary Series will be at our website,

Again, that's You can also call during regular business hours, 730 to 4 o'clock Pacific time at 800-55-GRACE. Again, the special offer is available tomorrow only. We have 250 complete sets of the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series. Each is available for $355. That's the lowest price you'll find anywhere. And shipping is still free. Remember, the sale starts at 1201 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow morning, Friday, February 9th. And even if you're not one of the first 250 people to order, we still will have a great deal for you. A savings of more than 25% on the Commentary Series that will be available through next Friday, February 16th. So get ready to place your order for the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series tomorrow starting at 1201 a.m. Pacific time at

Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. And here's a question. What says love more, when you pay for dinner or when you pay for a new diamond necklace? Well, be back tomorrow to see why the most extravagant love can also be the humblest. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-08 07:36:05 / 2024-02-08 07:46:54 / 11

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