Fulfilling the Law
Lord, thank You for allowing me to fulfill Your law by deploying the love of God, which is shed abroad in my heart.
Read Romans 13:8–14
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The Day Is Near
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37–40).
Paul’s words in verses 8–10 hinge from his theme in chapter 12 about Christian living and, like those words, remind us of Jesus’ moral teaching. Love for God is closely linked with, and indeed verified by, love for neighbor. In principle love is about avoiding doing harm to others. In practice it means avoiding adultery, murder, stealing, covetousness and anything else that falls short of a fully loving life. All of this makes clear that Christian living involves far more than keeping a number of rules (though these can and do help): it is about attitude, disposition, character and virtue. What we do springs from the kind of people we are, and what we are is determined by our capacity to love.
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (14). It is through these very words that the church father and theologian Augustine was converted from the kind of life described in verses 12 and 13. The image of putting on Christ like a set of clothes is a strange one. It may here be associated with baptism—in preparing for baptism one set of clothes is removed, those that speak of spiritual and moral darkness. After being buried with Christ in baptism another set of clothes is put on, those that are full of light and decency. Being in Christ enables this new way of living to become possible. Christians now live as those who have wakened from slumber, for whom the night of sin has passed and the light of salvation has dawned. It is important not to lose the urgency and immediacy of verse 11 by lapsing into sleep.
When it comes to sin and righteousness, the New Testament gets very specific. Why is this so? It is to provide clarity, that we may examine ourselves, embracing the good and refusing the bad.
Reflect on these words of Psalm 139: “Search me, God, and know my heart… See if there is any offensive way in me” (23,24).
God of Grace and Mercy, grant to me the same eye-opening experience that You gave Augustine many centuries ago, enabling me to avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.