A Life Of Love

July 25, 2021 Series: Romans

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Romans 13:8–13:14

[8] Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. [9] For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [10] Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

[11] Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. [12] The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. [13] Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. [14] But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. - Romans 13:8–14

Illus: some years ago, a play here at MLC, Stephanie and I were playing a role, Rob Swanson (who did such a wonderful job with our evening together for Good Friday) directed a play here. I’ll never forget the first night that the cast gathered together and he gave us this helpful call: “when acting and interacting together, preparing a play, be careful with your emotions that you not ‘fall in love’ with a castmate. Especially those here who are married, this is acting, not reality”

It had a profound effect on me to hear someone speak to this so plainly, why?, because of how easy it is to become infatuated in that type of context, in our text today…

Paul speaks plainly to the selflessness, boundaries, urgency and difference of Christian love. He instructs us in how we are called to live for the good of the society that we’re in.

Why does he do this? So we don’t become infatuated with the world around us…

Love In a Selfless Way (v.8)

[8] Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

As we are coming to maturity as followers of Jesus, Ambassadors for a Heavenly Kingdom. That means we’re learning what Paul has been helping us to understand since the end of Chapter 11 going into the beginning of chapter 12 namely- we’re called to be living sacrifices, called to lay down our lives with a genuine love toward others.

Last week Paul used this to help us understand this principle: public debts (taxes, revenue)

This week: Paul names a perpetual PRIVATE debt we’ll never pay off this side of heaven -that is LOVE- This is an obligation with no limits, it can never be paid off!

We’re called to love others without end.

Real love extends to ALL PEOPLE - Christians, non-Christians, rich & poor, people of every nationality, age, etc. because God’s love is toward all, with boundaries that are provided for our good.

Love in the Boundaries God’s provided (v.9-10)

[9] For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [10] Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 5:5 reminds us that God is the source of this love that can fill us as willing vessels to live for him:

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” - His agape (divine) love reaches down to us in Christ, it is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and we return it back to God and to those around us.

His great love is the source and motivation of our love.

What else have we learned so far in Romans about the fulfillment or abolishment of the law and our relationship to it as followers of Jesus?

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

These verses teach us that; properly understood and applied, all God’s commandments are good and important. They’re important because when we understand them and understand them in combination with one another, we learn about the embodiment of God’s own nature - that is, his attributes, character and care.

We love others. Not to earn God’s love but because we’re sure of God’s love - Love needs the law for direction, while the law needs love to come to life!

So, in learning to live this out, selflessly and within the boundaries that God has provided for our good, when should we express this love to others? Paul next helps us understand how to...

Love with a sense of Urgency (v.11-12a)

[11] Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. [12] The night is far gone; the day is at hand.

ILLUS: (came across this past week in study, from Romans Commentary: Preaching the Word) We ought to be like the little boy whose family clock malfunctioned and struck fifteen times, so that he rushed wide-eyed to his mother crying, “Mommy, it’s later than it’s ever been before!” What sanctifying logic! We should also keep in mind that if Christ does not return in our time, he will certainly come individually for us in death. Each ache, each pain, each gray hair, each new wrinkle, each funeral is a reminder that it is later than it has ever been before. It is time to love our neighbors as ourselves.

As many of you know; I’m fascinated by watches and documentaries, they came together in a powerful way for me a few weeks back when I was watching the story of a man who was killed by the Washington DC sniper. His watch, which was given to the family, stopped the moment he hit the ground from the sniper's bullet.

There was something powerful about seeing that image on my screen and realizing it was the moment of someone’s death, captured there in perpetuity.

It might be said this way; We seem to be most concerned with “what time is it now?” God is more concerned with the time that is drawing near!

Think of it this way, We all have a moment when our earthly watch will stop, for those who are here and followers of Jesus, we have the hope of heaven. That is a hope produced by us understanding the love of Christ in saving us.

That hope should be part of what drives us to share the love of God with others with a sense of urgency. Why?

We want anyone who walks through those doors week-in-and-week-out to know hope and the love of Christ. We want you to hear a call and have opportunity to respond in saving faith and on the day your time is concluded on earth and you stand on the edge of eternity facing one of two options: heaven or hell, you can know that you would have experienced the love of God for yourself so that you too may experience the hope of the age to come.

There’s no other way than Jesus Christ and his love expressed through the cross to gain access to the Father in heaven. Place all of your hope and trust on him today for your salvation.

As we urgently and selflessly love others within the boundaries that God has provided for us that will mean that we will love differently than the world around us.

Love Differently (v.12b-14)

So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. [13] Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. [14] But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Wide-awake, not walking around as if in the darkness, being in the light as 1st John calls us to be. Note Paul’s use of light / darkness theme along with an analogy about time.

I could’ve even titled this point ‘dress differently’ rather than ‘Love Differently’ (but that would’ve messed up my streak of using L’s) because Paul begins by telling us to cast off the works of darkness, but we don’t become vulnerable in casting something off, we’re told to put on the armor of light! God equips us, clothes us even to walk in the way that he’s called us to.

Ray Stedman gives this illustration: When I get up in the morning I put on my clothes, intending them to be part of me all day, to go where I go and do what I do. They cover me and make me presentable to others. That is the purpose of clothes. In the same way, the apostle is saying to us, “Put on Jesus Christ when you get up in the morning. Make him a part of your life that day. Intend that he go with you everywhere you go, and that he act through you in everything you do. Call upon his resources. Live your life IN CHRIST.”

Note here that Paul bookends some language that he used back in Romans 12:3 - where he told us that we are to think soberly in judgement of ourselves.

Today, Paul calls us to be on guard and not to be intoxicated by the world. That is a dulled sense.

Back in verse 11 we’re told to WAKE UP, now we’re told not to have our senses dulled by the things of the world in the ways that we seek to love others. That is, lulled into an infatuation with the world, having our spiritual senses dulled to the point of intoxication or slumber.

Now, I realize that this is where the language of today’s text is, as I’ve warned, a bit more PG-13.

Paul here uses a variety of sins to illustrate what the darkness of our time includes: sexual sin (orgies, sexual immorality or sensuality), sin that leads to addiction (drunkenness), what we might call social sins (quarreling and jealousy)

Our passage began today in v.8 talking about Love as the fulfillment of the law
Fulfilled: a satisfaction that results from fully developing one's abilities or character.

Now, paul tells us not to gratify the desires of the flesh in v.14
Gratification: pleasure, especially when gained from the satisfaction of a desire.

Unfortunately today, there is an entire industry built on the idea of instant gratification. A promise of a sense of fulfillment. It is, I believe, an exploitation of God’s good design. That would be the porn industry - a cheap substitute for the intimacy that a man and woman are given as a gift in marriage.

We have an enemy who understands we're created for intimacy, so what he wants to do is take our eyes off of something pure and holy, that God calls ‘good’ in his creation. Taking our eyes off of that, putting it on something that's a fake, a replica. And that's what we're doing when we engage in the sexual, addictive or social sins of the world. We are substituting the Glory of God with cheap knock offs and lesser gods.

Can I acknowledge that as pastors and leaders through the church we’re hearing more and more from both men and women about issues with pornography as well as anger.

If we’ve been in pastoral counseling with you recently, don’t be alarmed, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about all of us - Metro Life Church.

You may wonder; why the ‘leap’ from today’s passage to these topics?

I believe today’s passage, in talking about orgies, sexual immorality or sensualness is calling us to a chaste heart and porn is the death of a chate heart and a toxin for a mind that should be a living sacrifice submitted to God for renewal.

Today’s passage, in talking about quarreling and jealousy, may be talking about social sins but anger left unchecked will destroy the social fabrics of our homes, relationships and witness in the world.

I believe, and I submit for your consideration in your own heart, as we prepare them for communion today - that many of the issues of anger that we’re hearing about can be connected to a culture of instant gratification, especially sexually, directly related to the issue of pornography.

I don’t believe we should normalize or accept pornography as a regular part of life or a healthy view of sexuality.

I believe that Christ, in his overcoming of the world, also overcame the sin of Anger.

James 4:1-4a instructs us in this way:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are yat war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! - James 4:1-4a

So, you may find yourself asking; What is it, then, that can overcome the sins of the flesh? V.14 of Romans 13 tells us - A powerful union with Christ. The savior we’re called to ‘put on’.

That will lead to a healthy community, flowing out of a renewed mind and a transformed heart.

That will lead to a fulfillment and satisfaction in him that can equip us to bring him glory in our homes, relationships and witness…

I’d want to acknowledge today, while I want us to encounter the conviction of the Holy Spirit in these areas where that’s needed. I also want us to encounter a Savior who is willing and able because he has already overcome the world so we can take heart. I want us to encounter a loving God, who has made a way for us to draw near in his presence through his son’s life, death, resurrection and interceeding on our behalf.

I also recognize that a message alone on this subject can bring about radical change in our perspective or even healing to the brokenness in our hearts and minds in the ways that we think or act.

The reality is, it’s going to take some time to walk out a renewed life of love in the areas of sexual sin or anger - that’s why we need Godly relationships and community with other mature or maturing believers to find help in our time of need.

For today, let’s start with this step: Think about who it is that we’re called to communion with, we’re given the gift of abiding in an intimate union with… God. through Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit.

We know God and when he speaks... Universes come out of his mouth, he says, Let there be light. And behold, there's light, it just comes out of his mouth, we can have intimacy with Him, welcomed into the throneroom of his grace through Jesus. // Jesus, a savior who when he says ‘it is finished’ totally receives the wrath of God on our behalf and extends grace and mercy toward us, destroying the gates of hell, calling us brothers and sisters, benefactors of his divine inheritance. // we have the Holy Spirit who pours out gifts to use that we get to use to be a part of this work of restoration that he is doing, building up, unifying and encouraging the church!

Communion

[summary shared - source linked] Now that we are united to Christ, we are called to have authentic fellowship with our Lord and Savior. Paul reminds us that we have been given this privilege by the Father: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship (koinonia) of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). We have not been called into the type of union whereby two strangers are dwelling together under the same roof. Rather, we are called into a sweet and intimate type of koinonia in which our lives are necessarily interwoven with Christ. His will, plans, and affections must grow into and become our will, plans, and affections. His kingdom is now our kingdom and his glory is now our daily pursuit. - source

Last week I talked about reconciling one-to-another, if appropriate and you’ve not had opportunity to do so, please be released to go to your brother or sister now.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 // Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 // Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 // Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 // And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 // Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 // Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. - Ephesians 4:17-32

[summary shared - source linked] Owing more than we have resources to pay is familiar to many. And what counsel does one give debtors? Answer: find out exactly how much the debt is. No proposed solution to financial difficulty is sound unless it addresses the actual problem. And what is the extent of our debt to God? More than we can ever imagine. - source

Our prayer in receiving

[9] Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
[10] Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
[11] Give us this day our daily bread,
[12] and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
[13] And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
- Matthew 6:9–13