The Epistle to the Romans
LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR
13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another:
for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not
kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false
witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any
other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in
this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
This section of Romans is a commentary on the practicality of the "justification of life" (Rom 5:18). It reveals
how spiritual life behaves itself in this world - when men are in a "house of clay" (Job 4:19), hounded by a personal
"adversary" (1 Pet 5:8-9), and assaulted with "all that is in the world" (1 John 2:15-17). These exhortations are
infinitely more than theoretical goals for successful living. There is a compulsory tone to them that does not permit
them to ignored.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
This is an Apostolic exposition of the second commandment: "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt 22:39). It is part of the summation of the Law - a sort of heading under which many
of the detailed laws were Divinely grouped. The Ten Commandments dealt with interpersonal relationships.
"Honor thy father and thy mother."
"Thou shalt not kill."
"Thou shalt not commit adultery."
"Thou shalt not steal."
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's . . . " (Ex 20:12-17).
The Levitical Law gathered these commandments, together with all of their implications, and declared, "Thou
shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself: I am the LORD" (Lev 19:18). These precise words are found nowhere else in the writings of Moses and the
Prophets. Nowhere do any of the prophets refer to this as "the second" commandment. If the Holy Spirit had not
"moved" holy men to speak in such a manner, I do not believe humanity would have concluded such a thing.
Jesus and the Apostles, however, frequently refer to this commandment. Jesus grouped it with the commands
to do no murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not bear false witness, and honor your father and mother (Matt
19:19). When asked concerning "the great commandment in the Law," He said it was "the second" great
commandment (Matt 22:39; Mark 12:31). Our text affirms it briefly comprehends all of the commandments
regarding human relationships ( Rom 13:9). Galatians 5:14 declares "all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this;
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." James 2:8 refers to it as fulfilling "the royal law." We are not, therefore,
speaking of something inconsequential, as though "second" suggests a lack of importance.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT HONORED FIRST
Notwithstanding, the Holy Spirit is careful to deal first with our relationship to God. Within the framework of
that "first and great commandment," the "second" obtains its significance. A brief review of this thrust will serve
to set the stage for the exposition of this section.
Let me be clear: I am showing here the superiority of our relationship with, and duty toward, the God of heaven.
Until this matter is satisfactorily addressed, no person will approach the second commandment with seriousness
Jesus is preeminently
"the Son of God with power" (1:4).
The Gospel of Christ is "the power
of God unto salvation" (1:16).
The subject of the revelation contained in the Gospel is "the righteousness of God" (1:17).
The fall of the Gentile world is directly related to its rejection
of God (1:19-32).
It is "the goodness of God" that leads us to repentance (2:4).
The whole world was guilty because it did not
"seek after God" (3:11).
The Law produces the realization that the whole world is "guilty before God" (3:19).
The sin of humanity reveals it comes
"short of the glory of God" (3:23).
Abraham's justification was based upon him believing
Being justified by faith, we have
"peace with God" (5:1).
The Holy Spirit sheds "the love
of God" abroad in our hearts (5:5).
"reconciled to God" through the death of Christ (5:10).
We are to reckon ourselves to be "dead indeed unto sin, but alive
unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord"
We ourselves are to be "yielded
unto God" 6:13).
In Christ, we have become
"servants unto God (6:22).
We have been married to Christ in order to
"bring forth fruit unto God" 7:4).
With our minds, we serve the "law
The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us according to "the will of God" (8:27).
Our bodies are to be
presented "unto God" (12:1-2).
It is not until these fundamental responsibilities to God are expounded that we are brought to consider human
relationships. Right here I must mention what I believe to be an underlying weakness in modern Christianity. The
fulfilling of "the second" commandment appears to have been given precedence over "the first and great
commandment." However, this is never done in Scripture. Man-to-man responsibilities are never delineated until
man-to-God obligations are first declared. What is more, issues related to loving our neighbors as ourselves are
always expounded within the light of our relationship to God in Christ Jesus. This is absolutely consistent
throughout the Apostles' doctrine.
Our text is a sterling example of this Apostolic manner; i.e., God first, man second. Not until the matter of living
unto God has been established, is our duty toward one another taken up. The reason for this is apparent. Man is
made "in the image of God" (Gen 9:6), "in the likeness of God" (Gen 5:1), and "after the similitude of God" (James
This circumstance is what mandates that we love our neighbors as ourselves. They are the "offspring of God"
(Acts 17:29), whom we are to love. This is not a heartless social law, but a reasonable moral and spiritual one. It
flows more from a perception of the truth than from the compulsion of mere obligation. It is, in the strictest sense
of the word, an expression of a new heart and spirit-the result of the Law of God being written within the heart, and
put into the mind.
Relation to God is the root of the matter. That is where everything valid begins. Reconciliation to God precedes
reconciliation to man. Love for God antedates love for man. You can never begin with man and end up with God. Loving
your neighbor will never bring you to love God. Being mindful of your neighbor does not lead to mindfulness of God.
THE MATTER OF DEBT
13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the
This is a text that has, in my judgment, been greatly distorted by those with a propensity toward legalism,
or cold and lifeless law. While care must be taken not to become loose in our views of debt, equal care must be taken
not to impose human opinion upon this text, or make it say something that conflicts with the general tenor of
Scripture. Living by faith is difficult enough. We have no need to be brought under the rules and opinions of mere
mortals. The early church took care not to impose upon Gentiles too many rules (Acts 15:29). We do well to be as
considerate toward those who are genuinely seeking to live by faith. Spiritual life is not nurtured within the
framework of regulations. It derives its strength from faith, not rules.
This verse is a continuation of the thought introduced in verse seven.
"Give everyone what you owe him: If you
owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
NIV None of these are
to be left outstanding, as though we were free to choose when such dues were to liquidated.
OWING NO MAN
"Owe no man anything . . . " Other versions read, "Let no debt remain outstanding," NIV "Be in debt for nothing,"
BBE "Pay all your debts." NLT The thrust of the passage is not to avoid debt, but to satisfy the debt, paying
what is due. The debts to which verse seven refers cannot be avoided. They were created by God, not man, and
they are to be honored with dispatch and without hesitation. Once again, the only exception to this rule is when
the authorities honored require us to dishonor or disobey God. Such occasions, however, are the exception to the
rule. Sound doctrine is always built around the norm, not the exception.
Many people who would consider it reprehensible to refuse to pay back monies or goods that were borrowed,
think nothing of refusing to pay their taxes, or give honor and respect to those to whom it such due. "Owing," in this
case, is withholding what is due to the person.
Indebtedness for Service
Owing does not always involve those under authority honoring those having authority over them. Sometimes
the table is turned, and the one in authority gives honor to the ones under him. The Law sited a rule involving
indebtedness that dealt with employees, or hired serv ants.
"You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and
needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall
give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against
you to the LORD, and it be sin to you" (Deut 24:14). Leviticus 19:13 reiterates this law. The labors of a hired servant
incurred a debt, and they were to "owe not man anything."
Note, the hired servant was "poor and needy." That is the circumstance that required this law. This does not
mean it was wrong to accrue wages, according to a mutual agreement. An example of such an agreement is found
in Laban and Jacob (Gen 30:28-29; 31:8). Another such agreement was found between Pharaoh's daughter and
Moses' mother (Ex 2:9). The requirement for daily payment did not hold true in these cases.
An Example from Jeremiah
Another example of not paying debts is found in Jeremiah 22:13.
"Woe to him who builds his house by
unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor's service without wages and gives him
nothing for his work" NKJV (Jer 22:13). Here, the service and labor of one's neighbor is not to be considered worthless.
Unless an offsetting agreement has been made with the neighbor, his labor in the behalf of the individual is to be
considered a debt to be paid.
This particular example is considerably prevalent in the Christian community. Countless churches regularly
expect men of God to expend labor without proper remuneration. While no covetousness is to be found within the
laborer, the people receiving spiritual benefit from the work are to consider the following. "Let him who is taught
the word share in all good things with him who teaches" NKJV (Gal 6:6). The idea here is that the teacher has shared
what God has given him. Those with whom he has shared those things are to share with him what God has given
them. It is a matter of debt, and they are to "owe no man anything."
Again, it is written,
"For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor
among the saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have
been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things" NKJV (Rom 15:27).
The benefits the Roman brethren had derived from the saints in Jerusalem rippled into eternity. They had become
"debtors" to them, and were not to leave the debt unpaid.
This exceedingly practical area is regularly ignored among professing believers. It has, in my judgment, brought great
disgrace upon the name of the Lord. With a few gracious exceptions, this has been the manner among churches of the
Restoration Movement, with whom I have been affiliated. This is largely owing to the neglect of sound teaching on the
Debts of Ability
Solomon spoke of the debt of doing good to your neighbor in his time of need. "Do not withhold good from those
to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come back,
and tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you" NKJV (Prov 3:27-28). Here is a different kind of debt, yet it
is very real. When a need is experienced by our neighbor, and we have the power and goods to meet that need, we
are debtors to him. That debt is to be paid. We have robbed him if we withhold such things from him.
Withholding Is Robbery
To withhold what is due another is to "owe," in the sense of our text. Such debt is actually a breach of the eighth
commandment: "Thou shalt not steal" (Ex 20:15). In such a case, the theft is failing to pay what is due, rather than
breaking into the neighbor's house and taking something already in his possession. This is the very thing for which
God upbraided Israel. They had robbed Him, the Lord declared. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me" (Mal
3:8). Israel remonstrated, asking how it was possible that they had robbed God. The Lord's answer unveils
something of the magnitude of our text. "But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are
cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that
there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the
windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal 3:8-10). It
is not wise for believers to ignore this text.
Many a professed believer has committed this very sin - they have robbed God by withholding what is due to
Him. Although some teachers are fond of telling us tithing is not valid under the New Covenant, they only betray
their own ignorance of the Divine nature. Tithing, like faith, preceded the Old Covenant. Both Abraham and Jacob
paid tithes, or the first tenth of their goods (Gen 14:20; 28:22). Further, neither of them was commanded to do so.
"Owe no man anything" covers every aspect of debt, and every individual to whom such debt is owed. Taxes are
debts to be paid. Honor is a debt to be discharged. Fear toward the authorities ordained by God is a debt to be paid.
Honor for those in places of authority is a debt to be satisfied. Hired services are debts to be cleared. Assistance given
men in times of need are debts to be liquidated. Profiting spiritually from those who have communicated the truth
of God is a debt to be honored. Opportunities to be helpful to those in need are a debt to be settled.
You see what an exceedingly large matter this is. It is to be taken seriously by every believer.
N THE MATTER OF FINANCIAL DEBT
It is not unusual for certain teachers to used this passage to condemn all financial indebtedness. I now approach
this matter with great care, for the strictest allowance must be made for the conscience of every believer. However,
the conscience of one believer cannot be bound upon another, particularly when it is based upon a view of Scripture,
and not the Scripture itself.
It should at once be obvious to you that this passage is not condemning debt itself. Where there is
no debt, nothing can be "due." The very idea of not allowing a debt to "remain outstanding" NIV suggests that one
has been incurred. It goes without saying that we should never incur debts we know we will not be able to pay. Debt
should always be taken seriously, for in it we become obligated to the world. Debt can cause our roots to sink too
deeply in this present evil world, and should therefore always be approached with great sobriety.
Under the Law
Under the Law, provision was made for lending money to the poor among God's people. No usury, or interest,
was to be charged a fellow Israelite. Yet, the money was to be repaid. "If you lend money to any of My people who
are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest" (Ex 22:25). Of
course, if it is morally wrong to incur debt, it would be a sin to create it by lending.
In one of His parables, Jesus likened the Kingdom of heaven to a king to whom certain servants were indebted.
The Lord forgave debts, while one of his forgiven servants demanded that debts owed him be paid by those with no
means to pay them (Matt 18:23-35). The point germane to our text is this: if debt itself was sinful, it would not be
used in as a key factor in the exposition of the Kingdom of heaven. The parable itself presumes the legitimacy of
debt. Else, there would be no point to the parable.
The Widow and Elisha
All debt is not self-incurred. On one occasion, a recently widowed wife of one of the sons of the prophets came
to Elisha. Although her departed husband was a prophet and feared the Lord, he had incurred a debt. Her crisis was
that the debt was due, yet she had no means by which to pay it. She reported, "Thy servant my husband is dead; and
thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be
bondmen." The prophet did not rebuke her for being in debt, nor did he cast aspersions upon her husband for falling
into debt. Instead, he was used of God to provide a miraculous means for paying the debt (2 Kgs 4:1-7). Thus, by
paying the debt, she "owed no man anything."
In Nehemiah's day, the people "borrowed money for the king's tribute," offering their lands and vineyards as
collateral. Nehemiah did not condemn the people for borrowing. Rather, he rebuked the Jewish rulers for exacting
usury from their brethren (Neh 5:4-7).
Jesus taught us,
"Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away"
(Matt 5:42). Of course, if it was sinful to create a debt, those who acquiesced to it by allowing someone to borrow
from them would be causing their brother to stumble. Jesus did forbid lending as a money-making venture (Lk 6:34-35). He did not, however, condemning lending or asking for something to be advanced. Another of His parables was
based upon an individual petitioning his neighbor, "Friend, lend me three loaves" (Lk 11:5-9). If indebtedness itself
was sinful, it could not be an example of obtaining an answer to prayer.
Debt is not wrong. Refusing to pay debt is what is wrong. Our text assumes the existence of debt, not the sin of
it. Further, it is not limited to financial matters, and not one syllable of the text suggests financial priorities.
A Word of Caution
This by no means suggests believers can take a loose view of financial indebtedness. Nor, indeed, does it intimate
it is proper to pile up needless debts. Such an approach to life requires a covetous spirit and a sense of being at home
in this world. Faith will not allow either attitude. A spirit that grasps after carnal things stands on the precipice of
It is ever true, "the borrower is servant to the lender" (Prov 22:7). Indebtedness is always to be taken seriously.
All debts are to be paid, whether they are debts of money, tribute, customs, fear, or honor. While earthly
associations are inferior, they are not to be regarded as beyond godly obligation. Those who wear the
name of Jesus are to live in view of their relationship to God through Christ. They are not free to grasp the things
of this world as though they were primary, or incur debts as though life in this world was fundamental. At no point
are they at liberty to ignore their debts.
As to making laws concerning the extent to which borrowing and debt is allowed, God has not given us license
to legislate to our brethren. I have every confidence that when our text is taken seriously, it will move the trusting
soul to carefulness in the matter of making debts. Also, as I have shown, there are numerous debts you owe that
were not created by you, but by your Lord. They are to be paid as well as the ones we ourselves incur.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER
" . . . except to love one another." Other versions read, "except the continuing debt to love one another," NIV "but
to have love for one another," BBE and "except the debt of love for others." NLT
The meaning of the text is this: loving one another is a debt that cannot be liquidated. It cannot be fully
paid or thoroughly satisfied. It is not only a large debt, it is a growing one. It is as though the interest on it keeps
on accruing at a large rate. What is more, it is a debt that is not intended to eliminated.
The Reasoning of Flesh
Flesh will reason there is no need to pay on the debt at all, seeing we cannot pay it off. However, this is erroneous
reasoning, for the debt is very real. Hence, payment must be made on it, else we have, in fact, stolen from our
brethren, taking from them what rightfully belonged to them. It is as though we only paid off the interest on the
debt, never really reducing the principle.
A Focused Debt
Love is what we
"owe" to our brethren. Notice, the debt of love is to
"one another" - the people of God, or the
"household of faith." We have a "special" relationship to them that transcends all other human relationships (Gal
6:10). This does not mean we are not responsible to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who
hate us, or pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us (Matt 5:44). However, our love toward the saints
is of a different order. It is more profound, more extensive, and associated with greater benefits.
The particular comparison being made is between what we owe to civil authorities, and what we owe to the
people of God. Our obligation to the "higher powers" involves paying tribute and customs, fear, and honor (13:7).
Our relationship to the brethren is on a much higher level. That level does includes the matter of honor. However,
civil authorities make demands of us, the people of God do not. We do not love the brethren because they have
required that we do so, but because we desire to. Our hearts are knit with them, and we have been made one with
them. That is not the kind of relationship we sustain to other men, whether they be political leaders, those who
maintain law and order, or those by whom we have been employed. It is more personal and more rewarding.
Our Relationship to the Saints
The relationship we sustain with the people of God is a frequent subject in Scripture. The variety of references
to this association serve to accentuate the importance of our text.
Brethren. Redemption relates its constituents to one another. Because we have participated in a "common
salvation" (Jude 3), and have a "common faith" (Tit 1:4), we are "brethren." This is by Divine design.
He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the
firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29).
Same body. Because of their connection to the Head, Jesus Christ, the people of God are "one body." They are
motivated and governed by the same head, and are designed to work together.
"That the Gentiles should be
fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph 3:6).
Same Household. God has a household over which He presides. He sustains and cares for this household, giving
them exclusive gifts and privileges. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens
with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph 2:19).
Members of one another. By virtue of their common Father and life, believers are actually integrated with one
another. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Rom 12:5).
Same Father. Those who are in Christ Jesus have been begotten by the same Father.
"Now our Lord Jesus
Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and
good hope through grace" (2 Thess 2:16).
Same Savior. Our deliverance from sin has come from a common Source-one mighty Deliverer. "But is now
made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life
and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim 1:10).
Partakers of the same nature. In salvation, people receive the same nature. They have the same mind set, sense
of values, objectives, and appetites. This is the direct result of participating in the very nature of God Himself.
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of
the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet 1:4).
Same Status - Strangers and pilgrims. Believers have the same relationship to the world. Ultimately, because
they have received eternal life, they are misfits in this temporary and cursed world.
"Dearly beloved, I beseech
you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Pet 2:11).
All of One. The saints have the unique privilege of sharing the Fatherhood of God with the Lord Jesus Himself.
"For both He that sanctifieth (Jesus Christ) and they who are sanctified are all of One
(God the Father): for
which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb 2:11).
Same Family. While men speak of differing organizations and church affiliation, God speaks of a single family.
Here is where all spiritual resources are received-the solitary family among whom God has taken up residence.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven
and earth is named" (Eph 3:14-15).
One Body, Spirit, Hope, Faith, and Baptism. The oneness of God's people is not a mere formality. It is marked
by the same initiation, persuasion, animation, and goal.
"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one
faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph 4:3-6).
The Work Is of God
Our participation in this blend of human spirits is owing to the work of God Himself. As it is written, "It is
because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness,
holiness and redemption" NIV (1 Cor 1:30). And again,
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph 2:10). The effectual willingness and work that
is found in us is actually traced back to God, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good
pleasure" (Phil 2:13).
The conditions mentioned above are the circumstances that have created the debt of love we owe one another.
Our indebtedness is not owing to what we have done for one another, although that is significant. God Himself has
created this debt, just as He did in the matter of civil authority.
If we begin to imagine we no longer owe a debt of love to the people God, let us remember they are His people,
and He has charged us with their care and encouragement. The new birth is accompanied by the payment
of the debt incurred by sin. It is also accompanied by the creation of a debt to the people of God that
cannot be fully paid by us. Should the time come when this is clearly seen, denominationalism will collapse
immediately. In fact, sectarian walls can only exist to the degree this indebtedness is not perceived.
Such a condition is totally inexcusable. Not only has God spoken extensively on this subject, He has given us a new
heart that IS CAPABLE OF sensing and enjoying that circumstance.
THE ONE WHO LOVES
" . . . he who loves another." While we are a part of a large family, our associations with it are intensely personal.
Our text does not read "WE who love," but "HE who loves." The word "another" refers to "another" member of the
household of faith. This is not a selective word, as though we loved only certain members of the body. Rather it
denotes the extension of our hearts on a personal and individual level.
There are ways in which we benefit the people of God without knowing it. Our mutual preferences and interests
move us to be profitable to those of like precious faith, often without being aware of it. However, love for
another is not inadvertent. It is focused and intentional. The love of God flows out from one believer to
another as an act of the will. It is with a purposed intention to do the person good, bringing eternal advantages to
them. It is done at personal expense, and with an objective in mind.
Often the outpouring is wrapped in temporal concerns and ministries, relieving the afflicted, fatherless, and
widows. But it is always what the person wants to do, delights to do, and sees a need to do.
This is a love that is taught by God Himself. It is not the result of natural politeness or culture. It is a special
kind of love that cannot be generated from the earth. It is sent to the earth, and wrought by God through personal
involvement with Himself. The Thessalonians, for example, were commended for the extensiveness and consistency
of their love for God's people. Yet, it was acknowledged their love was not the product of their own natural discipline.
"But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by
God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia." That Divine
instruction was effective indeed, even rippling out to all the brethren in Macedonia. Yet, their debt of love had not
been paid. The Apostle continued, "But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more" NKJV (1 Thess 4:9-10). They were making payments on a debt that continued to grow. Only God can teach people to love in this
manner, and He is quite willing to do so because of the vicarious atonement made by His only begotten Son.
Abounding more and more. The love of the brethren is an area where ever-increasing expressions are to be
found. In fact, God can "make" us to increase in our love for one another. Sensitive and perceptive souls will seek
this for one another. As it is written, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward
another, and toward all men" (1 Thess 3:12). The word "make," or "cause," NASB does not speak of forcible
improvement that is against both our wills and natures. Such a work would bring no glory to God or benefit to man.
Rather, it speaks of the Lord pushing our love beyond the boundaries of creation and natural aptitude.
In knowledge and in judgment. This love of the brethren is not rooted in emotion, although it is emotional.
Here is a love, taught to us by God, that involves both knowledge and judgment. Again, this is a subject of Apostolic
prayer. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment"
(Phil 1:9). The word "judgment" refers to discernment, not condemnation. The love taught by God perceives the
needs of brethren, and rushes with joy to meet them. Such love makes the individual aware of what to do, and the
will heartily acquiesces to meeting the need.
The evidence of passing from death to life. The preference for the people of God, coupled with the desire
to do them good, is evidence that we have moved from death in sin to life in Christ. "We know that we have passed
from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). It should not be necessary to comment on what
is evidenced by the absence of such love. Where the love of the brethren is not possessed, death reigns, and people
have not been taught by God - profession notwithstanding.
From another perspective, if we do not love one another, we are not making payments on the debt we owe. In
such a case, the debt is growing larger while we are getting smaller and less capable. In failing to love the people of
God, we have taken from them what belongs to them, thereby becoming robbers instead of those who bless. It is not
possible to overstate the seriousness of such a circumstance.
FULFILLING THE LAW
" . . . he who loves another has fulfilled the law." A number of versions read "neighbor" in the place of "another"
(RSV, NASB, NAU, DOUAY, BBE). The NIV reads "fellowman." Etymologically, the emphasis of the word
"another" is "of another kind or order."Doctrinally, its meaning is that our love is for those outside of ourselves.
That is, we do not love them out of selfish interests, because they are precisely like us, or because we are seeking
to gain advantages from them. This kind of love flows from the well of Divinity, seeking the welfare of
Whereas the Law demanded that love be executed out of mere human energy, for it was a system of merit, this
love is of another order. It accomplishes what the Law itself could not achieve. The Law set forth a righteous
standard. It was "spiritual," "holy," "just," and "good" (Rom 7:12,14). However, that very circumstance put its
fulfillment beyond the reach of "the natural man." Instead of the Law becoming a basis for justification, it was the
reason for condemnation, for "the strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor 15:56).
The Law was right in demanding such love, but man was too weak to fulfill it. Now, apart from the Law, and by
the grace of God, "brotherly love" fulfills the Law, meeting its demands precisely and consistently. This is involved
in the wonderful proclamation, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending
his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the
law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" Rom 8:3-4).
Apart from its ministry of information - for "by the Law is the knowledge of sin" - the Law, as an enforced code,
was necessary because of man's faulty heart. Apart from Christ, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9). However, when the heart is made new, and the law of God is
inscribed upon it, the Law is no longer required as an enforcer.
Let it be clear, "the righteousness of the Law" is not the same as "the righteousness of God." It is more of a goal
than a reality, for no one was ever made righteous by keeping the Law. In fact, Christ's vicarious death was
necessary because of man's inability to measure up to the standard of righteousness set forth in the Law. As it is
written, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal
Because of this circumstance, Christ has terminated the Law as a means to becoming righteous. He has inducted
a righteousness that is realized by faith, not by doing. Thus it is written, "For Christ is the end of the law for
righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, 'The man
who does those things shall live by them'" (Rom 10:4-5).
Notice, the one who "loves another" HAS, by that very posture, already fulfilled the Law. While this love is
carried out "in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18), it is essentially found in the heart. This is a love that is produced
by one's love for God, which is the fountain from which all other valid human love springs. That is precisely why the
"second commandment" is "like unto" the "first" (Matt 22:39). Through the Spirit, Peter admonished us to
one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Pet 1:22). This love is an expression of the "new creation" (2 Cor
5:17). It is the result of a more precise image of God (Col 3:10), not a human effort to become like God.
The fulfillment of the Law that is here declared is not inferior. It is not a sort of token fulfillment
that lacks spiritual substance. It does not brush the Law aside as though it was not good and holy. This is not
a meager fulfillment of a robust and spiritual Law. It is not a kind of reduced righteousness! This love not only
fulfills the Law, it exceeds the demands of the Law.
All that the Law demands regarding our neighbors is fulfilled when we love them as ourselves.
Loving another is not a single deed, nor is it fulfilled at a point in time. By its very nature, it is ongoing - a debt that
can never be liquidated. What the Law demanded from without, love compels from within. What the Law required,
with threats of death, love delights to do without the need of an enforced code. Love is the fulfilling of the Law, for
it desires nothing contrary to the Law! It fervently desires to fulfill the Law. Surely you must see this to be a most
marvelous and beneficial circumstance.
WHAT NOT TO DO
9a For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt
not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet . . . " When speaking of our neighbor, the Law majored on what
NOT to do, rather than things that were to be done: "Thou shalt not . . . Thou shalt not . . . Thou shalt not . . . Thou
shalt not . . . Thou shalt not."
THE RELEVANCY OF THE LAW
As regards human conduct, the Law was put into place to stop the outbreak of the corruption of the heart. It
was the appointed means of restraining the fallen nature. The days of Noah confirm to us what occurs
among sinners when there is no Divine law. Upon beholding the entirety of the human race, young and old, the Lord
said, "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually" Gen 6:5). The utter devastation of the flood, leaving only eight souls upon the face of the
earth, did not change this wicked propensity. This is precisely why the Lord declared He would never again destroy
every living thing as He did in the Noahic flood. Following the flood, with a fresh start for humanity, the Lord said
in His heart, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart
is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done" (Gen 8:21).
In His mercy, however, God did not allow depraved human nature to remain unchecked.
The Law was given
to address man's sinful condition, not to release an imagined innate goodness.
The Law was given
"that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Rom
The Law was not intended to produce a knowledge of righteousness,
"for by the law is the knowledge of sin"
The Law, because of its abrasiveness against fallen humanity, became
"the strength of sin" (1 Cor 15:56).
When the commandment of the Law came,
"sin revived," producing a wellspring of iniquitous thoughts and
deeds (Rom 7:9).
Sinful passions, or the "motions of sin,"
were aroused by the Law (Rom 7:5).
The Law was "added" to the Abrahamic promise
"because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom
the promise was made" (Gal 3:19).
The Law was designed to be a schoolmaster, or tutor, to "bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by
faith" (Gal 3:24).
Although the Law itself was spiritual and holy, it was given
"that sin by the commandment might become
exceeding sinful" (Rom 7:13).
The "Law" is not, nor ever has been,
"made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the
ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for
manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for
perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tim 1:9-10).
The Law shined a Divine spotlight on the human condition, but provided no remedy for what was uncovered.
It defined sin, but provided no power to overcome it. Although it was spiritual, the Law could not produce
spirituality. Even though it was holy, it could not produce holiness. Although it was good, it could not produce
goodness. It commanded love, but provided no strength or ability to be loving. It judged, but did not help. It
condemned, but did not save.
At least two indispensable needs were addressed by the Law.
First, it uncovered the condition caused by sin, thereby preparing men for a Savior.
Second, under the threat of death (Ezek 18:4,20; Gal 3:10), it restrained the uncontrollable outbreak of sin - as
existed in the days of Noah.
It is with particular regard to the latter, namely the inhibiting of prolific sin, that our text is declared. When love
exudes from the new heart, there is no further need for Law to restrain the outbreak of sin. Thus the one who loves
does not destroy the Law, but removes the need for it by fulfilling the Law. The Law still exists, but in quite another
capacity. Rather than condemning the individual, it now confirms the presence of the Divine nature. It has been
"fulfilled," and is thus satisfied, no longer stopping the mouth of the individual, or condemning him.
Unless there is some understanding of these things, the text before us will make no sense. It will be seen as a
sort of Divine compromise that brings dishonor to God, and robs the believer of Divine power.
A Critical Distinction
Our text provides a critical distinction that must be seen. The Law that is fulfilled is not a new law, but the one
which "was given by Moses" (John 1:17). The fact that it is "fulfilled" by the one who "loves another" confirms that
Law has not been eradicated, or replaced by another moral code. You cannot fulfill something that was previously
abrogated. The Law has been ended as a means to righteousness (Rom 10:4), but it still stands in tact.
"You shall not commit adultery." While adultery is often committed in the name of "love," our text shows it is
the result of NOT loving our neighbor. Adultery is one of the more reprehensible sins in Scripture, and is never
taken lightly or excused - in either the Old or New covenants. "Adultery" includes infidelity, as well as all manner
of sexual corruption. It is all intimacy of every sort outside of the sacred bond of marriage - unity between one man
and one woman.
Adultery is never accidental, inadvertent, or without intention. It is always deliberate, thought out, and intensely
selfish. It involves the prostitution of the body, which has been purchased by God. Thus it is written of fornication,
which includes adultery, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth
fornication sinneth against his own body" (1 Cor 6:18).
A person who commits adultery - particularly one who wears the name of Jesus - must do the following.
The Holy Spirit must be quenched.
The Holy Spirit must be grieved.
The Word of God must be ignored, and even stifled.
The conscience must be ignored and suppressed.
The coming of the Lord must be forgotten.
The day of judgment must be put out of the mind.
The world must be viewed as primary.
The conviction of the Holy Spirit must be ignored.
Personal desires must be exalted above the will of the Lord.
The individual must refuse to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
The one who is the object of lust must be seen after the flesh.
The way of escape, which accompanies all temptation, must be refused.
If married, one's spouse must be despised.
The presence of holy angels must be forgotten.
One must cease to fear God, who has spoken clearly on this matter.
One must cease to love God, who has supplied what is required to avoid such sin.
It is necessary to frustrate the grace of God.
The Gospel of Christ must be violently thrust from the mind.
Eternity must be forgotten.
The Law of God must be ignored.
All of the warnings of Scripture concerning this sin must be rejected.
All of the Scriptural examples of those committing this sin must be pushed out of the mind.
One must make a place in their heart for Satan to work.
Satan is not resisted.
One must yield to Satan.
It is necessary to step out of the light and begin walking in darkness.
The love of the truth must be suppressed.
Rather than subordinating the body, it must be allowed to rule.
In a revelation of the scope of this commandment Jesus said, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on
a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt 5:28). Again, the voluntary
nature of this sin is underscored. The individual described in this text looked in order to lust. But whether it is
looking to lust, or engaging in the sinful deed itself, the Law powerfully declares, "Thou shalt not commit adultery!"
Those who commit this sin need not give us an explanation for what they have done. We already know why they
sinned. They had no regard for the commandment of God. They did not hide His Word in their heart. Instead, they
nurtured the nature the Spirit commanded they crucify and mortify (Rom 6:6; Gal 5:24; Col 3:5).
I have taken the time to mention these things because of the remarkable rise of adultery within the professed
church. It is found among the leaders as well as those who are being led. It is found among the old as well as the
young. However, no matter how prevalent it may be, and whatever reasons may be cited for its existence, it is
forbidden by God. "Thou shalt not commit adultery!"
There are no "ifs" or exceptions. The Law forbids adultery,
and the Law is spiritual, holy, just, and good. That means adultery is unspiritual, unholy, unjust, and evil. Those who
commit it have broken the commandment, and done so willingly. They have become unspiritual, unholy, unjust, and
evil. They have sinned against God and their neighbor as well.
I understand there is forgiveness and plenteous redemption with the Lord, but it is that He "might be feared"
(Psa 130:4,7). When faith takes hold of the forgiveness and redemption of God, it will never condone involvement
in sin, or the transgression of the Law.
The principles I have cited apply to the remainder of these sins. There is no need to repeat them.
"You shall not murder." The second recorded sin is that of murder. Cain killed his own brother Abel. Before he
committed this dastardly deed, the Lord reasoned with him about doing good. "So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are
you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well,
sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." NKJV But Cain's heart was hard, and he gave
no heed to the words of a gracious God. Immediately after that, while talking with his brother in the field, "Cain rose
up against Abel his brother, and slew him" (Gen 4:6-8). Thus the first murder was committed.
What Is Murder
Murder is taking the life of one who is made in the image of God - a fellow man. Capital punishment is not
murder as the opponents of it claim, for it has been ordained by God, and civil authority has been put into place to
carry it out (Gen 9:6; Rom 13:4). Killing an animal is not murder, as the animal-rights people affirm.
Murder, or killing, is taking the life of another out of anger, like Cain did Abel (Gen 4:8). It taking the life of
another for personal advantage, like Pharaoh did the newborn male children of Israel (Ex 1:16,22), and Herod the
males under two years of age around Bethlehem (Matt 2:16). It is plotting the death of another, life David did Uriah
(2 Sam 11:14-17), or Barabbas in an insurrection against the government (Mark 15:7; Acts 3:14).
Abortion is murder. Suicide is self murder. The least conspicuous murder is hatred for a person within the heart.
As it is written, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life
abiding in him" (1 John 3:15). The most atrocious of all murders was the killing of the Son of God. As it is written,
"Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the
coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52). But whether in the
heart, or in actuality, the Law cries out, "Thou shalt not murder!"
A murderer has assumed the prerogatives of God, who alone is "able to save and to destroy" (James 4:12).
Murder is an affront to God, in whose image man is created.
"You shall not steal." Stealing is taking what belongs to another, assuming the ownership of something that has
not been given to us, or for which we have not paid the price. Stealing can also be withholding what rightfully
belongs to another-like not paying tithes and offerings to God (Mal 3:8). Kidnaping is stealing - man stealing (Ex
21:16; 1 Tim 1:10). Stealing disregards the things God has given to others, and presumes to take them for oneself.
NOT BEARING FALSE WITNESS
"You shall not bear false witness." Modern versions omit this prohibition (NASB, NIV, NRSV). Jesus, however,
cited a nearly identical summary of the commandments regarding men in Matthew 19:19, including the prohibition
against "false witness." We are in strict accord with the Law and its Scriptural representations by including false
witness here. False witness is a lie offered as evidence - as the false witnesses at the trials of Jesus (Matt 26:60),
and Stephen (Acts 6:13).
From another view, "false witness" is a misrepresentation of the facts-a total fabrication. Solemnly we are told,
"lie not one to another" (Col 3:9). We are told that God "cannot lie" (Tit 1:2), and therefore men should not lie.
Israel "lied" to God "with their tongues" (Psa 78:36). Ananias and Sapphira "lied to the Holy Spirit" when they
misrepresented the amount of money they gave to the work of the Lord (Acts 5:4). Men can lie by exaggeration, and
by deliberate understatement. They can preach lies, write lies, and even sing lies. Those with a love of the truth
really have no desire to lie. All such speaking is to be thrust from us. As it is written, "Wherefore putting away lying,
speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another" (Eph 4:25). Let it ever be
remembered that whoever "makes a lie" will not be allowed to dwell forever with the Lord (Rev 21:27; 22:15).
Instead, "all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second
death" (Rev 21:8). We do well, therefore, to take the Divine prohibition against false witness and lying seriously.
"You shall not covet." Coveting precedes stealing. It is desiring what has been allotted by God to another. In this
text it is to set your heart upon something that rightfully belongs to another. From another view, it is longing for
something God does not intend for us to have - like Israel longing after the foods of Egypt when God was giving
them angel's bread (Num 11:15). Another example is Achan, who "coveted" and "took" what God had cursed (Josh
A man can covet another man's wife, like David did Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:3). He can covet another man's
possession, like Ahab when he coveted Naboth's vineyard (1 Kgs 21:1-5). A person can covet after money, causing
him to err from the faith and be pierced through with many sorrows (1 Tim 6:10). A covetous individual has no
regard for the person or possessions of his neighbor, and thus feels at liberty to violate the holy commandment of
God (Ex 20:17).
THESE ARE THE DEMANDS
OF THE LAW
"The Law" is God's Law, and hence represents God's demands. They are not suggestions, or mere targets toward
which men are to casually aim their lives. The transgression of the Law, in all forms, caused the death of the Lord
Jesus Christ. Those violations were what was "laid" upon Christ, making Him to "become sin for us," and mandating
that God make Him "a curse" (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13).
It is not the purpose of this text to lay out the scope of sin. Rather, it deals with sin as it regards our neighbor:
person-to-person relationships. The Law actually protected men against those with calloused and
unbelieving hearts, by enforcing civility. The new creation enforces civility in a better way. It is implemented
by means of a new heart and spirit, not by fleshly discipline or threats. It is effective by grace through faith.
9b . . . and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Here is an example of instruction calculated to impact the life of the
hearer or reader. Sound instruction is more than passing along information, or providing a thorough and orderly
account of some facet of the truth. Much of the instruction of our day is too academic. It does not seem to be aiming
at anything, and leaves the hearers in a state of spiritual confusion.
In our text, the aim is to show that love meets the demands of the Law, fulfilling its requirements. Those who
are changed within do not need to be regulated from without. In this sense, salvation is not merely a "way
of life," as some suggest. Rather, it is a Divine accomplishment in which the individual is conformed to the image
of Jesus Christ, God's Son. God is not honored by people who must be forced to live godly, if such a thing is even
possible. Those sophists who promote accountability to one another in order to the maintenance of moral purity do
well to rethink their distorted theology. If "love is the fulfilling of the Law," then lawlessness reveals lovelessness.
You cannot legislate love. That is something that must be taught by God and advanced by faith.
" . . . if there be any other commandment." Other versions read, "and any other commandment," NASB "and
whatever other commandment there may be," NIV and "and all the other commandments that there are."
Here we see there is a commonality in all of the commandments, so that one cannot be pitted against another.
It is as though they were all one gender, even though they may have differing personalities. Here the
Spirit views all of the commandments from the standpoint of the common thread that is woven through each one
of them - LOVE.
" . . . it is briefly comprehended." Other versions read, "are all summed up," NKJ "are summed up in this
Only statements that are interrelated can be "summed up." In this case, the summation is a single statement
from which all of the others are derived. To put it another way, if you did all of things commanded, the Divine
commentary would be the single phrase into which they have been summed.
Divine summations occupy an important place in "sound doctrine." I have found that one of the marks of
false doctrine is the requirement for extensive explanation. You cannot "briefly comprehend" error. All
error deviates from the truth, and thus cannot be pulled together. Truth, on the other hand, can be stated in a
concise manner without losing any of its power. When a lie is stated concisely, if that is possible, it loses its power.
Truth lends itself to conciseness and summation, falsehood does not.
LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES
" . . . and all the other commandments that there are, are summed up in this single phrase: You must love your
neighbor as yourself." NJB There is a marvelous principle to be seen here. The commandment to love our neighbor
as our self is completely contrary to the flesh. It demands the same kind of concern for our neighbor that we have
for ourselves. We seek to meet his needs with the same enthusiasm as we address our own. This is, in fact, beyond
our ability. Yet, if we will believe the Word of the Lord, and seek with our whole hearts to do it, our great God will
enable us to do precisely what He has commanded.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus taught us that our neighbor was the person who stands in need of
our assistance. In answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?", Jesus delivered this parable. At the conclusion
He asked the interrogating lawyer, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell
among the thieves?" When the lawyer wisely answered, "He that showed mercy on him," Jesus replied, "Go, and
do thou likewise" (Lk 10:29-37).
Loving our neighbor as our self, therefore, has more to do with meeting his need than with a mere emotional
feeling. From one point of view, "your neighbor" is all men, with a particular focus upon those who stand in need
of consideration and mercy. From another point of view, it is everyone within the sphere of our influence. For
example, the good Samaritan was not in his native area. He was journeying when he came upon the wounded man.
Yet, he did for that man what he would do for himself. He "went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil
and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him" (Lk 10:34). He also made
provision for his care until his recovery was realized (verse 35). The sphere of his influence had been extended.
Within the Body of Christ
This commandment is brought to its highest level within the body of Christ. There, our neighbor is all of the
saints, particularly those with whom we are journeying to glory. Of such it is written, "Let every one of us please
his neighbor for his good to edification" (Rom 15:2).
Again, an application of this commandment is made in the Spirit's word concerning those who are not yet mature
in Christ - those who can be harmed by thoughtless living.
"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use
not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even
in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Gal 5:14).
James also deals with this commandment, applying it to having respect of persons, and the consequent neglect
of the needy. "But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the
scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,
and are convinced of the law as transgressors" (James 2:6-9).
The point of our text is that all of the details of Law concerning not harming or disadvantaging others are only
delineations of having love for another. They are a kind of breakdown of how love reacts to the need of our neighbor.
It is both consistent and effective.
WHAT LOVES DOES
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The strength of
this text is seen in the manner in which it is stated. Here is a statement - an unwavering utterance - based upon
the nature of love. Two affirmations are made. Both of them are strong, and neither of them can be negated. We
are told what love does NOT do, and what it DOES do.
THE STRENGTH OF LOVE
In the world, love is not considered strong. It is one of those "weak things" through which God chooses to
"confound things which are mighty" (1 Cor 1:27). Solomon once wrote, "love is strong as death" (Song of Sol 8:6).
While he was writing of romantic love, the principle he stated also applies to spiritual love. The phrase "strong as
death" conveys the idea that nothing but death itself can interrupt love. Just as death in the flesh finally triumphs
over life in the body, so love triumphs over all of the challenges of life. Thus "many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it" (Song of Sol 8:7).
However, allow me to state the strength of love in the superior words of Apostolic doctrine. These come more
to grips with the intention of our text. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth
not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh
no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things. Charity never faileth" (1 Cor 13:4-8). Where is a human virtue with such strength and stability?
Can such things be accomplished by will power? Is the free will of man sufficient for such an assignment? Can
human discipline or regimentation produce such consistent and powerful results? There is no need to answer these
questions. The answer is obvious. Love is superior!
This is the love that, "with faith" comes "from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 6:23). It is the
love that is part of the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:22)P. It is personally "taught by God" (1 Thess 4:9). He alone can
"make" us "increase and abound in love one toward another" (1 Thess 3:12). This is the love of which our text
WORKING NO ILL TO ONE'S NEIGHBOR
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbor."
Other versions read, "Love does no harm to a neighbor," NKJV
no wrong to a neighbor," NASB
"Love does no evil to the neighbor," NAB
"Love can cause no harm to your
Just as God "cannot lie" (Tit 1:2), and a "good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit" (Matt 7:18), so love
harm, do wrong to, or commit evil against one's neighbor! Just as a "house divided against itself cannot stand"
(Mark 3:25), and Satan "cannot rise up against himself" (Mark 3:26), so love
cannot cause harm to one's neighbor.
Just as we "cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk 16:13), and a man "cannot enter the kingdom of God" without
being born of the "water and of the Spirit" (John 3:5), so love
cannot sin against one's neighbor.
Working ill toward, or harming another person is not something love should not do, it is something love
do. It is impossible for love to yield harm, hurt, ill-will, or disadvantage. It simply
cannot be done. Wherever,
therefore, inconsideration, neglect, and harm are done, love is not present. It is not in the heart of the evil doer.
The Implications of this Truth
The implications of this are alarming. John states it this way. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother,
he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God
whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also"
(1 John 4:20-21).
We see from this that the first and greatest commandment, together with the second, which is like unto it, cannot be
separated. It is not possible to keep one and violate the other. The knowledge and embrace of this reality will assist us in
evaluating our own heart in these matters. If we are deficient n one of these areas, we are deficient in the other as well.
THE IMPOTENCE OF THE LAW
The fulfillment of the Law by love reveals the impotency of the Law itself. Love comes to us outside of the
boundaries of Law. It is granted to us through the grace of God, not developed in the energy of the flesh. The Law
simply cannot impart life, which is required to have love. Thus it is written, "for if there had been a law given which
could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law" (Gal 3:21). It is not possible for spiritual life
to result from Law - any law. For this reason, those with a propensity to Law are consistently lacking in the natter
FULFILLING THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW
The righteousness of the Law must be satisfied! Wherever this does not take place, the Law rises to stop the
mouth of the pretender.
The righteousness that is imputed to us through faith is very real. One must not begin to imagine that because
it is imputed it does not penetrate into the various expressions of the individual. That imputation is preceded by the
very real remission of sin. God is fully satisfied with the atoning death of Christ, and therefore sends the Holy Spirit
into the hearts of His sons and daughters. He empowers them to do what the Law demands, and thus the Law is
When the Law is written upon our hearts and put into our minds, we are brought into accord with that Law. The
love that it demands finds a place in our hearts and minds. That means we are in accord with the Law, love it, and
serve it with our minds (Rom 7:25). Those so characterized will do no harm to their neighbor. "Therefore love is the
fulfilling of the law." It is a fulfilling olf the Law that is pleasing to God. It also genders confidence in the person
motivated by such love, and benefit to those around him.
The Fulfilling of the righteousness of the Law is not the pinnacle of spiritual life, although it is imperative.
There are higher expressions of spiritual life than obeying commandments. This does not diminish the
necessity of obeying the commandments, for "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the
keeping of the commandments of God" (1 Cor 7:19).
he Words of Jesus
Jesus once said, "And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come
in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my
supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he
thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have
done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our
duty to do'" (Luke 17:7-10).
If our service to the Lord ends with simply doing what we are told to do, we remain "unprofitable servants." That
is what the Lord affirmed! This means it is not enough to live by a code of Law. That may appear wise to men, but
it is only evidence of a fundamental ignorance of, and enmity toward, the Living God.
The blessing of genuine spiritual love is that it moves you to fulfill the righteousness of the Law without having
to continually be reminded to do so. That condition, dear child of God, brings honor to the Lord. It confirms before
men and angels that God has provided a just and effective salvation for a hopeless race!