What Does It Really Mean to Love Our Neighbor?
Verse by verse study of Romans 13:9-14
Romans 13:1-14, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (6) For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (9) 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; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Theme of Romans 13-Relationship to Government
and Relationship to Neighbors
As we work on Romans 13, we are still talking about servant leadership from Romans 12. (Spiritual gifts.) The believer has citizenship in heaven, but he also is a citizen in the world down here which gives him a two-fold responsibility. If there is a conflict between the two, always our first responsibility is to our Lord in heaven. The Lord Jesus made it very plain that we have a responsibility to human government. You remember that He was asked by his enemies, “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, or no?” He asked them to show him a coin–He wanted to teach them from something they themselves had, and also I don’t think He had a coin in his pocket that day. He asked them whose superscription and whose image was on that coin. They said Caesar’s. Then he made this significant statement: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
We learned last time that we are to obey the government, pray for the government leaders, unless they are commanding us to not preach the gospel. They are ordained and appointed by God.
13:8-9, (8) Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (9) 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; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Loving one another means to obey the commands of God found in His Word. Notice the phrase in vs 8, “Owe no man anything.” This means we have to pay our bills. It is a part of love your neighbor! You do not cheat or defraud your brother by not paying your bills.
You borrow something you take it back. We are to owe no man anything but the love of Christ.
Notice vs 8 the phrase, “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” How? By being obedient to God’s Word.
The believer always has the debt of love to his neighbor. You are to love all people with whom you come in contact by keeping the commandments of God in your dealing with them. It is a poor testimony for Christ not to pay our bills. This love is not some sentimental hog wash thing. I get very concerned when I hear the New Evangelical thought of love, love, love all the time, where God’s Word specifically defines it to be obedient to the commands of God’s Word. Interesting the commands the Apostle under the inspiration of the Spirit gives us.
Romans 13:9, 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; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Notice the phrase, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Now do not tell me you love someone and are committing adultery with that person! You do not understand what love is. Lust yes, love no!
I have been pondering a thought today that sadly side tracks many Christians. God does not answer the prayer of disobedient people.
Psalms 66:18, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
One of the things we learned last week was this Biblical definition of what “love one another” really means. It is not to be disobedient to God’s Word. The Bible tells us something totally different than what the average Christian understands it to mean about “loving one another.” It does not mean to compromise with sin. This verse tells us if we love one another we will obey God’s Word, not go by how we feel or be feeling led. If I am disobedient to God’s Word therefore I am out of fellowship with God. I can rationalize a lot of things believing God spoke to me when in reality it was not God’s voice! Listening to the wrong voices rather than God’s voice. God’s love is always in agreement with God’s Word.
There are several things mentioned here in Romans 13:9 that are given as examples to us. Are we obedient to God’s Word on these things and others? If not, we are a real candidate to be deceived into thinking “God told us” but are deceived. Sadly, much destruction comes to out of fellowship deceived Christians who are disobedient to God’s Word. It becomes very easy to put a spiritual spin on our disobedience and be totally emotion led rather than be Spirit led. A Spirit led Christian is a Word controlled Christian, Colossians tells us.
Ephesians 5:18-21, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20) Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Notice the language here in Ephesians 5:18-21 of what a Spirit controlled person is. Now notice the language of Colossians.
Colossians 3:16-17, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (17) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
So, a Spirit controlled person is a Word controlled person!
Colossians 3:1-2, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Disobedience=emotionalize, rationalize, spiritualize, and then compromise which produces a worldly life, (results) rather than a godly life. The person lives an unguarded heart life.
Proverbs 4:23-27, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (24) Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. (25) Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. (26) Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. (27) Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
It is very hard to get this across to people who are emotion led and out of fellowship with God and totally rationalizing their behavior. They fail to listen! They are spiritually and emotionally immature. That is why we really have to be serious about checking and changing our heart! We must focus our life on Biblical truth! A person who does not have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God is out of fellowship with God. They are easily deceived! Deceived people make poor life choices and rationalize their choices. They do not understand what it truly means to “love their brother.”
Romans 13:9, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” If a person is involved in adultery it is what the Bible calls licentiousness, it is fornication, and it is a sin in God’s sight! God has not changed His mind about it.
Notice the phrase, “thou shalt not kill.” I don’t think you are loving someone if you murder them! Also, there are many ways to kill a person. You can kill them with gossip, hatefulness, and your ungodly behavior.
Notice the phrase, “Thou shall not steal.” If you love you are not going to get something dishonestly. Sadly, there are a lot of ways to do that. Also, goes back to paying our bills. Are we stealing from the person we bought something from and then failed to pay for it? Are we robbing God?
Notice the phrase, “Thou shall not covet.” When your neighbor drives up in a new automobile, how do you feel about it? Do we want it? Then go out and get one? Of course, the Bible tells us not to covet thy neighbor’s wife as well! Goes back to adultery.
Paul has made it clear here obedience to God’s Word is how we love our neighbor. This is not putting us back under the law. A Spirit controlled Word filled person will want to obey the Word of God and the authorities God has put over them. He is saying that love manifests itself in not committing adultery, not killing, not stealing, and not coveting. You can talk about love all you want to but if you are not having a real, consistent, daily time with God every day in His Word you are deceived and you do not know what true Biblical love is. Spirit controlled people are Word controlled people. If you commit these acts against your neighbor, you have no love for him.
Romans 13:9, Notice the phrase, so we do not get confused. “And if there be any other commandment.” All of God’s Word! Did you notice here? So we might put it in proper perspective, notice the phrase, “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.” Do you steal from yourself, kill yourself, and covet from yourself? Well, no you do not. So, don’t do it to your neighbor and say you love the Lord and love your neighbor.
Romans 13:10, Loving your neighbor is the fullness of the law. This love, let me repeat, is the fruit of a Spirit filled-Word filled life.
Romans 13:11-12, And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Verse 11, Notice the phrase, “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” Are you asleep today in regard to what true Biblical love is? I am afraid many are. They love themselves rather Christ. It is evidenced in the way they live. Why should we wake up? Notice the next phrase, “For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Christ could come today.
– On May 14, 1948 US President Truman publicly recognizes Israel as an independent nation.
– On May 14, 2018, exactly 70 years later, US President Trump moved the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a move that formally and publicly recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
70-years to the day! Seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible that is made up of the factors of two perfect numbers, seven (representing perfection) and ten (representing completeness and God’s law.) As such it symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power. There are multiple things 70 is involved with in the Bible. As an example, ancient Israel spent a total number of 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah 29:10.
Romans 13:12, Notice the phrase, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand:” We are seeing things happen right before our eyes. So, we need to understand the importance of living a Spirit filled-Word filled life.
Notice the phrase, “let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” The armour of light is God’s Word. It is time to wake up and put it on in your life and have a real relationship with Him.
Romans 13:13, Notice the word “honestly.” God wants us to be honest people. It is part of loving our neighbor. Every husband should be honest with his wife and every wife honest with her husband. We build our marriage relationship based on trust. We need to be honest with our neighbors, co-workers, church family, and understand this is a part of loving one another. Paying our bills, focusing on honestly encouraging others. It is part of loving our neighbor.
Notice the phrase “rioting and drunkenness.” Obviously, these should not be the life of the Christian. What does the word rioting mean? Uproar; wild and noisy festivity. Excessive and expensive feasting. Interested in excessive luxury. To run to excess in feasting, drinking or other sensual indulgences.
Drunkenness is exactly what it says. Both of these are lusts of the flesh.
Notice the word chambering. It means lewd behavior, illicit immoral activity. In other words, let us walk honorably as those in the day; not in the wickedness of the world in revelings and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality, and dissolute abandon of spiritual living, not in strife and jealously of each other.
We are not loving our neighbor that way. We hear a great deal about the night-life. The believer is identified with the day-life! He walks as one who belongs to the day.
1 John 1:5-10, This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, (word) we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Verse 10, make sure your walk is in the Word of God, filled with the Spirit so you will not consider these flesh appealing sins.
John 3:19-21, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
As we tell people your walk with God cannot be on the rim of the world and the desires of the flesh. Don’t spend your time looking at ways to appease the flesh. Do you excessively lust after things you want to do rather than building up yourself in the faith?
When a person is involved in thinking about immoral activity, such as pornography, immorality, or other moral sins, their spiritual desire is just deadened and killed! Don’t go there! It is always a heart break to Kim and me when we make every effort to help someone and they go off and become involved in the lusts of the flesh. Their thinking changes to acceptance of sin and lusts rather than a holy walk with God. They regress and their standards go down. Their attitude for spiritual things goes down. Their attitude for lusts go up! Their life spirals downward!
What is God’s standard for our lives?
1 Peter 1:13-16, Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (14) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: (15) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Did you notice in vs 13 where this all starts? In the mind! We are to gird up the loins of our mind. “Gird up the loins of our mind” means to get ready for a dangerous situation. To gird is to prepare for a military attack but more loosely it refers to readying oneself for any kind of confrontation in the spiritual realm. Loins means to put on the girdle to be ready for service. In Bible times it was a matter of clothing. Tighten it up! Literally, focus your mind spiritually. We can live a holy life dealing with our lusts as they come up. We need to be prepared.
Vs 14, Notice the phrase, “As obedient children.” Who are the obedient children? Notice the next phrase, “Fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.” The people who do not “fashion” their life in the wickedness of their lusts! Instead notice:
1 Peter 1:15-16, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
What is God’s answer for each of us? To live a holy life!
Romans 13:14, Did you notice it said, “Make no provision for the flesh.” Thinking, action, participating etc. How do I not do that? Notice the phrase, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is to have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with the Lord! You have to be focused on a real walk with God by being real with God in His Word. Submitting yourself and asking God and allowing God to teach you. A real consistent daily time with God will take down temptations. In essence, by being a Spirit controlled person in the Word of God and submitting at the point of impact you are putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. Make him real in your life!
Notice the phrase, “to fulfill the lust thereof”. So, what is the issue then of not loving your neighbor? What is it? It is each individual’s desire to fulfill their lusts! As we said, the way to not do that is not make provision for it, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. Make no provision means you do not play with the thoughts, ideas, or actions. You do not hang around with people who make provision for the flesh, people who are not cautious, and they do not guard their heart. You do not go out of your way to actively seek out ways yourself to fulfill your lusts of the flesh. All of the people we counsel have a lust problem! In James 4 the context is talking to Christians.
James 4:1-4, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (2) Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (3) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
God wants you to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and focus on having a real walk with Him, therefore you can truly love your neighbor!