Romans 13:8-10 Love fulfills the Law

Romans 13:8-10
Love fulfills the Law

Good Morning. Lets grab our Bibles and turn in them to Romans chapter 13. As a reminder, if you do not own a Bible, we have some on the back table as our gift to you. We are indeed back in Romans after a kind of, sort of, not really, detour last week.
Paul here, in his letter to the churches in Rome has been showing what being a follower of Christ practically looks like. Right application and right action necessarily come from right understanding of doctrine. And Right understanding of doctrine should lead to right application and action.
But just simply having the right doctrine and the right application, might not be enough. In order for the doctrine to be put into practice, our heart needs to be changed. In order for our actions to be rooted in right doctrine, we need the right motivation. And that is one of the things that we are going to see Paul talk about this morning.
This section, chapters 12 & 13, are one big thought by Paul, following up on his long, extended treatise on the Christian doctrine and faith, from chapters 1 through 11. Pastor Ligon Duncan reminds us of the connective thought process Paul has been developing over the last two chapters, as he says:
This whole section of Romans in chapter 12 and chapter 13 is Paul’s fleshing out of what it means to live your life in light of the realities that you are to be a living sacrifice to the Lord as your spiritual service of worship. This is what it means to put your life on the altar. It’s what it means to die for the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s what it means to live the whole of life as an act of worship.
(https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/a-call-to-fulfill-the-law-through-love)

So, with that said, we look at our verses from this week, Romans 13:8-10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and please follow along in whatever version you have with you. Romans 13:8-10, Paul writes:
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.

So, right away here, Paul continues on from verse 7 and follows it up in verse 8. Summing up, verse 7, Paul told us to give to everyone what is owed to them. He went into the specifics about some of the ways that looks like. Taxes, revenue, honor and respect. And here, he writes out the general principle. All of those things fall under how we treat each other and how we treat each other falls under the heading of love.
We know the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19 & 20:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
However, we often forget about the great commandment. This is what we looked at last week in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember in Luke 10, Jesus asks the lawyer, starting in verse 26, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Love God and Love your neighbor. This is the Great Commandment. All other commands, principles, and applications fall under these umbrellas. And Paul says that here in verse 9, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There are a couple of aspects that flow out of what Paul is saying here. Two main ones actually. The first is that all are owed love. We are to owe no one anything except love. This has to come from some place. If we are owed something, it implies something. If we are owed something, it implies that we deserve it. If we deserve it, our minds imply that we did something to deserve it. If we are owed love, it implies that we are loveable.
We know by reading Romans specifically and the bible in General that we are, indeed not lovable. Thats the whole beautiful thing about the Gospel, about what God the Father sent God the Son to do, to love us when we were at our most unlovable. And when we become followers and children of God, through the Power of the God the Holy Spirit, we are to love all those around us who are unlovable. By that still implies that there is a reason for us to love those who are unlovable. And there is.
Imago Dei. Genesis 1:27 tells us So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. We, as in all of us, as in all human beings ever, as in people. We were all created in the image of God. We were made reflecting the glory and image of God. We are evidence of the reality of God. That does not mean that we are all children of God, that we are all followers of Christ or that we all will go to heaven. But we were all created in His image and therefore, through Gods goodness, and nothing we have done, we are all worthy of the dignity and respect, and In this context, love that comes with being made in his image.
As we saw last week, neighbor is not a limited term. It is everyone. That includes all of our enemies. It includes our religious enemies. It includes our political enemies. It includes our personal enemies. It includes our workplace enemies. It includes our friends. It includes our family. It includes each other in this very room. Each of those categories is our neighbor and we are commanded to love them. None of those categories is easy to love.
DA Carson says that Christians are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.” Think about this, Any group, any association you have, any friends, you all spend time together because there are common interests. You get to know people and you spend time with them, “Hey, you like horses? I like horses! You like working on cars? I like working on cars! You like knitting or crocheting? I like knitting or crocheting!” There is a common bond that brings us together.
Now look around this room. We are here together whether we have anything in common or not. We look around this room and we are all different. If we have things in common, great! Added bonus! The Bible says that we don’t need anything in this world in common. Jesus tells us that he is enough.
We talked last week about loving those we don’t like, those who we don’t know. But we need to remember to love one another, even when and especially when its hard and especially when we don’t want to.
The Apostle John writes in his second letter:
And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. (2 John 5&6)
He reiterates the Great Commandment. He points out how we are supposed to be with one another. Peter writes that love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) We are brothers and sisters in Christ, those of us who are children of God. We are family. Think about your family. Nobody can get on your nerves, nobody can irritate you more than your brothers and sisters. You know its true. But they are still family and there are few that we love as much as or more than our family.
The same with our church family. I’m sure there are people in this room that can, at times, annoy us, grate on us, do things we don’t particularly care for. Thais a part of life on earth. Anytime you gather a group of people together in a room, there is 0 chance that at some point, there wont be something that happens in that room where one, two or more are annoyed, hurt or mad.
But the Bible reminds of us that often, we are on the giving end of that hurt. Get a handful of sinners together, we are still sinners.
That brings us to the second main point here in our passage this morning. Paul says that Love is the fulfilling of the law. The law needs to be fulfilled. It especially needs to be fulfilled if we want to be let in to the Kingdom of Heaven. But we are unable to fulfill the law. We cannot live up to the perfect and holy standard that God has set. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:20, during the Sermon on the Mount, what I see as the entire point of the Sermon on the Mount summed up in one statement, I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The scribes and Pharisees were the most righteous of the Jews in their day. God handed down the law to Moses back in Exodus. Forgetting that Abraham was justified by faith and not fully understanding the Great Commandment, which was given in the law and was where the Pharisees got that from, the tried so hard to follow the letter of the law and even added rules and laws on top of Gods laws. But they thought that, by following the commands of God, that their own righteousness could be enough to earn them salvation and eternal life. They were not only wrong, because our righteousness on our own can never be enough, we don’t have perfect righteousness. Only Christ had that. But also, as they trusted in their own righteousness, by following the letter of the laws, they lacked the very love that God command them to have.
We see numerous times in the Old Testament prophetic books that God admonishes Israel for doing the things, the religious rituals, the sacrifices, and offerings and the pageantry in the temple, but doing them without love, with wrong hearts and motivations. God says, through the prophet, in Malachi 1, verse 10:
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.
This is just one of many examples. The priests were making the offerings they were supposed to, but wrong hearts and motivations, without love and in this case too, offering unsuitable animals and gifts for the offerings.
With what Ezekiel calls a heart of stone, (Ezek. 36:26) our outward actions don’t add up to anything in Gods eyes. Moral actions without a heart of flesh, does nothing but make us white washed tombs. (Matt. 23:27) Nice looking on the outside, but dead on the inside.
Paul talks about what it means to do all sorts of good things but to do it without love. 1 Corinthians 13, verses 1-3:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

We cannot love with a heart of stone. We cannot love in and of ourselves. And we can’t change our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. It takes the holy Spirit to do that. And it took Jesus, his perfect life, perfect righteousness and death and resurrection to secure forgiveness from our sins and clothe us in His righteousness.
That forgiveness is a key thing here. Love covers a multitude of sins, right? Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We are forgiven, we are clothed in Christs righteousness. We are made a new creation. Our heart of stone is change to a heart of flesh. Because God loved us and Jesus secured our forgiveness.
God gives us all this through by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing we do can earn it, nothing about us can be good enough. Our forgiveness and salvation is based and solely based on Gods love for us.
God loved us first, and now calls us to love him, to love God with all out heart, soul, strength and mind. He also calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And just have to be careful we put things in the right order. Again, it bears repeating often, we don’t do anything to earn our salvation. We don’t follow the commands of God in order to earn his good graces. We are saved by grace through faith. When we are saved, we follow his commands to show our love for God who loved us first.
Jesus says it clearly in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And love is the fulfillment of the commandments. Jesus says, just about a chapter later, John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5. It is the first and foremost of the visible evidences of our salvation, of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And through love, we show others the love of Christ. Again, in Johns Gospel, 15:35, Jesus says: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Again referencing Ligon Duncan, he shows the love that God gives us as debt to be paid. We pay our debt by pouring out love to those around us. He says the following:
The interesting thing about the exercise of this debt is that you get richer as you pay the debt. Listen to what Robert Haldane says, “The more they pay off this debt, the richer they will be in the thing that is paid.”
You pay off this debt with love, and as you pay off this debt, you don’t end up with less love, you end up with more love.
But just talking about loving each other and loving our neighbor is not enough. 1 John 3:18, John writes: Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. Paul lists a few of the Ten Commandments in this passage, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” And says that these are all reduced and simplified to Love your neighbor.
Heres what he is not saying. No longer follow the Ten Commandments. We are not bound by them, as in required to keep them to achieve or earn salvation. But God gave them for a reason. We have looked at that recently too. The law was given for our benefit. For our holiness. But we are called to be Holy as God Our Father is Holy (Matt. 5:48) We are called to know and follow the word of God. Jesus tells us to repent and believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:15)
But as we also saw just a few moments ago, we can follow the commands the wrong way and missing the point, missing God in that. And so Love God and love our neighbors gives us the umbrella from which we filter all things. Again from 1 John, 5:3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
We love God, we love his word. inerrant, sufficient and complete. No new revelation, no picking and choosing what we like and what we don’t. But to love God means to love all of him, including what he has revealed to us in the Bible.
And We love our neighbors, we love each other by acting on his commands, by following them. We reject the worlds definition of what love is and we act on the Bibles definition. We owe all people around us love, it is a debt that can never be fully repaid, a debt from God. Since all people are created with the Imago Dei, creation in the image and likeness of God, they deserve love and respect.
The two aspects of the Great commandment are intrinsically related. I like and Ill finish with the way John Piper sums it all up these verses: Christ will be my focus, love will be my fruit.”
Lets Pray

Luke 10:25-37 Who is my Neighbor? (Romans Tie-In)

Good Samaritan Sermon
Luke 10: 25-37

Good Morning. Please grab your Bible and open on up to Luke’s Gospel, chapter 10. If you do not have a Bible, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you. So, I know this seems to be a change from our regular series through Romans, and it is, but only just a bit.
The next passage we are going to go through in Romans is chapter 13, verses 8-14, and in that Paul talks about love being the fulfillment of the law. As I was starting to work on that sermon, I kept getting drawn to this passage in Luke, this famous Bible story and I decided that this would be a good primer, it would be laying some groundwork for us to continue into that passage in Romans. So, my next sermon will be on those verses in Romans and it will pick up off some of the themes we look at today.

So, In 2008, ABC News did an experiment. Much of what I am sharing with you about this experiment comes directly from the news article.
They placed ads in a newspaper and on Craigslist. The ad said we were looking for people to participate in an “on-camera tryout” for ABC News. Those who responded were interviewed on the phone, and those selected were asked to come to appointments over the course of two days.
When they arrived for those appointments, the volunteers met with an ABC producer who talked to them in general about the audition, but did not go into specifics about what they were to do. She explained that each person needed to have a topic to discuss before the cameras, and that she was going to help them select that subject. She then showed each of them a sampling of cards and asked them to pick one.
What appeared to be random was in fact not a choice at all. The topic listed on all those cards was the same: The Good Samaritan story that we are going to look at this morning.
They were given the Sunday school version of the story. A man who is beaten by robbers and left for dead on the side of the road. Two religious men come by and ignore the victim. But a third man, an outcast from society, a Samaritan, comes along next and not only stops to help the man and care for his wounds, he takes him to an inn and pays for him to stay in a room there and have meals. Jesus instructs his followers to follow the lead of the Good Samaritan.
After our producer read the story to each person, they were told they were to give a short speech about it for their “audition.” Thinking that the cameras were set up at a nearby studio, they walked the short distance. They set off with the Good Samaritan story fresh in their minds. Following the directions took the volunteers through a small park. They had no idea what would be awaiting them there: actors hired by ABC News.
Two men took turns playing a person in distress. They were seated on the grass directly alongside the path the volunteers were instructed to use. The actors were told to play men clearly in need of help, and both cried, moaned and rocked back and forth. They seemed to clearly need help. Who better to come to their aid than our volunteers, who approached with the Biblical story of helping one’s fellow-man echoing in their ears?
The question: Would these participants stop to help? Carrie Keating, professor of psychology at Colgate University, expected they would. She predicted they would be suspicious of the situation, and likely to do anything to make themselves look good.
But Keating was in for a surprise: many of the 22 volunteers did not stop. They rushed right by the actors, proceeded to the studio, and gave the speech on the Good Samaritan. Their words were the complete opposite of their actions from just minutes before.

They completely missed the point, much like the lawyer in our story, many, many years before this experiment.
Jesus would often teach In parables. Parables are simple, memorable stories that use common examples or imagery from the culture and use them to teach greater truth. Sometimes the greater truth was painfully obvious and sometimes the truth was hidden. Jesus would, at times explain the meaning of some of the parables, not to the public, but to his disciples.
After teaching a parable early on in his ministry, the disciples asked Jesus what it meant. In Mark 4:11 & 12, Jesus tells them,
“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.
The parables were used to teach because some people, who were listening to Jesus, were not ready to hear. Sometimes the truth was hidden in these stories. However, sometimes the truth comes through to everyone and, as happens here, is very pointed at the Pharisees, or the religious leaders of the day.
Let take a look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is in Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version, I highly encourage you to follow along in whichever translation you have with you.
Luke writes:
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

We see here that the expert in the law asks a very deep and profound question. Now, he just thought he was trying ask a difficult question to try to trip up Jesus or get Jesus to contradict himself. But he asked a question that people everywhere and in every time have been asking and we have here a very clear answer. The lawyer asks in v. 25, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” He is asking what do I need to do to be saved?
Jesus, as is the norm for him, answers this question with a question himself. He asks the man, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Good teachers will do this. If you ask a question that you already know the answer to, they will redirect you in a way that has you say the answer and think through it instead of just telling you the answer.
And the man did give the correct answer. He replied to Jesus, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus affirmed this answer as correct.
Now this is at first a simplistic easy to follow answer. “What must I do?” Love God and Love your neighbor. The whole Law is summed up in these two commands. This is the Great Commandment. But this is also a very easy answer to dismiss. Because, in some ways, the lawyer asks a very human and valid question. “Who is my neighbor?”
The lawyers heart was all wrong. The scriptures show us that the lawyer was trying to justify himself when he asked “who is my neighbor?” Instead of genuinely asking and looking for who his neighbor was and how he could help them, he was looking for loopholes, looking for reasons to not help. He was looking for the least that he could do. The least he could do to not help those around him…To not help those different than him…To not help those he did not like….To not help those he did not know…
By teaching him this parable, Jesus is showing the lawyer, and us, that the question is not Who is my neighbor? But instead, Am I loving my neighbor?
The details that Jesus uses in this parable are not incidental or accidental. The man was walking from Jerusalem down to Jericho. This was a 15 mile journey and the road here was very treacherous. It was steep, rocky and had a lot of twists and blind turns. It was notorious for having many bandits being a very dangerous journey. This was well known for having these dangers and people knew the risks involved in this journey. Often times people would wait at one end of the journey for a group of them to gather so that they would at least have a little it of safety in numbers.
So this man got mugged and beaten and was left lying on the side of the road, half dead. Now, even though this was an infamous, dangerous walk, many people did take this journey alone as well. It took 8 hours for the journey, and sometimes, time was of the essence. It was the only way to get between these two cities.
Now, Jesus brings along a Priest. If any one would see a man in need and stop and help him, to show him mercy and kindness it would be a priest, right? He sees the man, crosses to the other side of the road and just walks on by. He had a job to do, he was ceremonially clean and he didn’t have time to deal with this situation and then get ceremonially clean again.
The law at the time was looked at as the ‘Be-all, end-all” and it didn’t matter what had to be sacrificed, or what the motivation behind it was. In this case, there would have been no reason, no excuse in the priests mind to becoming ceremonially unclean, not even a different Law of God. If the priest had stopped, the best case scenario for him was that he would be unclean until the next sundown. That’s assuming he had time to get home and go through the cleansing process. If the body was a dead body and the priest came in contact, he would be unclean for a minimum of 1 week. During these times of being unclean, he would not be able to enter the temple or take part in any of the ceremonies.
However, some also speculate that he knew he was making the wrong decision and that’s one of the reasons why he crossed over to the other side of the road, so that the man would not recognize him if he survived and this story later got out. Either way, the priest was not willing to take time out of his busy schedule doing Gods work, to be a neighbor to this beaten broken man.
After he passes by, Jesus brings along a Levite down the road. Instead of crossing to the other side of the road, the Levite actually looked at the situation before deciding to continue on his way. Levites were of the same family, in the line of Aaron that the priests were. In modern terms, if the priests were the pastors, the Levites were the elders, the deacons, the worship leaders, or other people in the church that work behind the scenes to keep the church running.
Just like the priest, the Levite knew the Law and had it memorized since he was a young man. He knew the laws about loving your neighbor, which are all through out the Old Testament. But, for whatever reason, he did not want to take the time and effort to stop and help this man. He looked at the situation and it was very likely that he could see the gravity of the situation, that he could see that the man would surely die if he did not get any help, but also that the man could be saved. The Levite saw what was happening and then crossed over to the other side and passed on by.
This is where Jesus throws the curve ball in the parable. Starting in verse 33,
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”
A Samaritan! What is he going to do? Finish the man off? See if the robbers and muggers missed anything? At best, he will just do what the other two did and just pass on by. I mean, he is just a Samaritan.
This was the mindset of the Jews at the time regarding the Samaritans, and vice versa. There is no putting it mildly, they disdained each other.
The Samaritans were partial Jews who had been living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to the Exile in Old Testament times. When the Northern Kingdom was conquered and captured, They intermarried with the culture around them and were often guilty of worshiping false gods and idols.
The Jews looked down on them, mocked them, made jokes at their expense, and this hatred was returned back at the Jews by the Samaritans. When traveling to certain areas of Israel during this time, the quickest, most direct route would be through Samaria, for example from Jerusalem to Nazareth, where Jesus was from, or the Sea of Galilee. Instead of going through Samaria, most Jews went far out of their way, going around the area, adding much time and distance to their journey.
So when a Samaritan comes walking down the path and sees a Jew, beaten and bloody, there is no inclination that he would stop and help.
And yet, he does. He stopped his journey. He bandaged the wounds of this man. Luke, who was a physician, noted that the Samaritan poured oil and wine on the mans wounds. But he didn’t stop there. He lifted the man up and put him on his own personal donkey and took him to the nearest inn. It was here that he essentially put a down payment and opened up a tab at the inn for whatever the beaten man needed.
Jesus asks the lawyer in v. 36, “Which of these three, do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
And you can almost hear the contempt and defeat coming out of the lawyers mouth when he says in v 37 “The one who had mercy on him.” He couldn’t even refer to him directly, just, “That one…”
See, each group in this story saw the man who was beaten very differently. The lawyer saw the man as a subject to discuss. The robbers saw the man as someone to use and exploit. To the priest and Levite, the man was someone to avoid at all costs. The innkeeper sees the man as a customer. To the Samaritan, the man was a human being, a man worth caring for and helping, a neighbor.
The lawyer in this story was full of head knowledge. But he would not see or admit the truth. He knew what the commandments said about loving God and loving neighbors. He knew who his neighbors were. The priest and the Levite in the story, They Knew! They knew that they were supposed to stop and help the man. And yet, they didn’t. Knowledge without application. exactly what Paul has been talking about in Romans.
Back to the experiment I talked about earlier. They had divided the volunteers into two groups at the start. Everyone heard the Good Samaritan story but only half of the volunteers got something more: time pressure. That group was now facing a dilemma. In order to get their chance at something they really wanted — a chance to be on TV — they would have to hurry. And researchers discovered, that made a big difference in their behavior.
Only about 35 percent of our volunteers in a hurry stopped to help our actors. But almost 80 percent of those who were not rushed stopped to help.
Since the volunteers thought they were rushing in order to do something they thought would be beneficial to them, perhaps it is not surprising that time pressure would influence them. The researchers found that being rushed changed people’s actions. Time pressure was the only significant factor the researchers found that they concluded would determine if a particular volunteer would stop to help a stranger.
Keating says that other research since then has shown that it is possible to make anyone disregard the needs of others if enough pressure is introduced. She concluded that in this experiment, not stopping to help was not an indication at all of whether any particular participant is a good or moral person. She said any of us might act in the same way.
And we do, everyday. But we shouldnt. Every subject in this experiment knew that the right thing to do was stop. But many of them didn’t. Would we? Do we? I said earlier that the lawyer asked the wrong question. The question was not Who is my neighbor? But should have been, Am I loving my neighbor?
The Greek word used in the New Testament for neighbor is the word, plesion {play-see’-on}� One concordance defines it like this:
1) a neighbor
1a) a friend
1b) according to the Jews, any member of the Hebrew nation and commonwealth
1c) according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.
We need to remember this, “any other person whom we chance to meet.” It doesn’t matter who it is. God put them into our life, into our Day for a reason. It doesn’t matter if it is someone we know and don’t get along with. It doesn’t matter if it is someone of a different religion, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu… It doesn’t matter even if they live by different moral codes than the one that God gives to us. We are to love them. It’s not a choice available to us to not love them.
What is required of our love? What do we need to give and sacrifice to love people? Time,mostly, is one biggest ways we show others love.
The priest in this story did not have time, in his mind, to stop and help the man. The subjects in the experiment that did not stop were in a time crunch, trying to get to the studio. But it takes time to love people. It takes building relationships with them.
It takes times to identify needs and opportunities to show love. What about your neighbor? The one that you don’t get along with, maybe you argue over your property line. But you know that your neighbor is not doing great physically. Maybe they are getting older, maybe they just had surgery, whatever it is, you know that they have needs in their home. Their faucet is leaking, the lawn needs mowing. And you know that you can help.
Peter and John once encountered a crippled man begging outside the gate of Jerusalem. Instead of giving him money, they recognized that the man’s need was that he couldn’t walk. So, working in the Holy Spirit, Peter healed him instead.
But in our minds, we are justifying ourselves, asking, “Do you know how long that would take?” or “But I am on my way to go do this or go do that” I know I do this all the time. But when Jesus said, at the end of v.37, “Go and Do Likewise,” he was not just talking to the lawyer, or to the Pharisees, or to the Jews. He was also talking to us. And the commands he gives to us, they are rarely easy.
Time is the most precious commodity we have. I costs us more to give someone our time that to give any thing else. It means more too. Visiting people and spending time with them, taking the time to talk to them and get to know them, is one of the most loving things we can do.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 how important this is.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:24-40
The other way that Jesus’ commandment is not easy is that it will be messy. Not just physically messy,as it would be with the beaten, bloody man. But getting involved with people is messy. Hearing about people’s problems, telling them about ours. Showing them that we love them, that we care. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun. But its important and it’s how we show the love of Christ to those around us.
One of the aspects that the lawyer missed, is that the law the lawyer referenced earlier was to Love your neighbors as yourself. That doubly shows that the question of “Who is my neighbor?” was an invalid question. If we were beaten, robbed and mugged, how would we want to be treated? Which of these three figures would we want to be the ones to come along? Whatever our answer is, and most of us, if not all, would want someone to act like the Samaritan, stopping to help us, that is how we treat the people we come across in our lives.
The thing here is that Jesus has already done this for us. Sin has left us beaten up, dying on the side of the road. It has robbed us of our right standing with God. Jesus came down and sacrificed everything, including his life for us, to save us from the death of sin. When Jesus affirms that loving God is the first and foremost commandment, he does so by also having told us that if we love the Father, we will love the Son. And here Jesus is showing us that if we love the Son, we will love our neighbors, we will love the least of these. Paul is going to tell us that love is the fulfillment of the law.
Jesus is showing us that he all have opportunities to help those around us. We all have neighbors in our community that could use a helping hand in some way. We all have people that we just don’t like, that could use our help. But Jesus loves them and Jesus wants us to show them love on his behalf.
I mentioned earlier that each character in the story saw the man who was beaten in a different way. One that I did not yet mention was Jesus. To him each and every character in the story, from the lawyer, to the pharisees, to the priest and the Levite, the innkeeper, the Samaritan and the man who was beaten and robbed, he sees them all the same way, as a sinner in need of a savior, as someone in need of forgiveness and some one who by all objective standards is not worth the time to die for and take care of. It doesn’t cost God anything to not save us. It did cost Jesus his human life to die for us. But, as God, being in complete control, he knew the outcome. He knew that, though we were not worth dying for, the act of dying for us was worth it. There was nothing reckless about Jesus love for us. God knows the end of the story and all the outcomes because he wrote the end of the story.
Like the Samaritan, he sees us beaten up by sin, by grace through faith, picks us up and put down a down payment on the price of our sins and has an open tab for us, not matter what it costs to win us, for those that are his, he did it. No one else has been able to do that because no one else was God and man. No one else was able to atone for our sins and offer forgiveness. Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, any other religious figure that people follow, they are the lawyer, the prest and the Levite, unable to help us in our sin. Only one can offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Jesus said that He is THE way, THE truth, and THE Life. Paul wrote that God showed us what love was, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Love him, trust him, repent and believe, as Jesus says, and let him show us how to love others.
Lets Pray

Romans 13:1-7 God Ordained ALL Government.

Romans 13:1-7
God Instituted ALL Government

Good Morning! Please go ahead and grab your Bibles with me, and open up to Romans chapter 13. If you do not have a bible or do not own one, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.
So, Romans 13. This is a tough section to teach and preach on, and frankly, it’s a tough section of scripture to read for me. This is because of my personal political views, and what I know about some of your guys political views.
To briefly recap, we are in a section of Pauls letter to the churches in Rome where he is talking about living out our Christian Faith. And our living right and acting right, living out our Christian faith is predicated on right doctrine, or accurately knowing what the Word of God says.
We can live right in front of God without knowing what he is telling us. It doesn’t come from our feelings. It doesn’t come from our opinions. It doesn’t come from what we want our think or feels good to us. It comes from what God says and this here, the bible, is his Word to Us.
You know, last week, Ron Sallee was here and he talked about the need for accurately knowing what Gods Word said. He read from Amos and showed us that there is a spiritual famine coming in the land. It comes from not knowing, not disciplining ourselves and nor wanting to know what the Bible says.
And so, we need to make sure that we are submitting our thoughts, views, actions and priorities underneath what the bible says.
To set the scene a little bit here for these 7 verse we will be looking at this morning, There was a lot, and I do mean, ALOT of governmental opposition to the spread of Christianity for the first 300 or years until Constantine, Emperor of Rome, converted to Christianity. We could debate back and forth about whether that was ultimately good or bad for Christianity or whether he really was or was not a Christian, but one thing we can historically see is that this stopped persecution of Christianity for a time.
Before then, well, lets just say it was rough. 11 of the 12 Apostles were violently martyred. The twelfth, John, the one whom Jesus loved, survived being boiled alive in oil and was sent to live in exile on an island.
The book of Acts covers much of the rough time the Apostles had and especially Paul as he simply went to share and preach and teach the Gospel. To really look at what Paul has to go through, check out what he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 showing just a bit about how much He went through, and especially persecuted against.
So we see government opposition in the Early church. We see it throughout the first couple of hundred years of Christianity. We see it through out the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was persecuting any lay person with a Bible, those who were trying to translate the Bible and those who believed and taught that salvation was through grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in the scriptures alone and all to the Glory of God alone. We see it through out the world today, in places like China, where the church is very much illegal and pastors are being arrested. We see it in areas of the Middle East & Northern Africa where people are being imprisoned for claiming faith in Christ and for sharing it with others.
We don’t yet see that in out Country, not to anywhere close to those levels. We are starting to see some of the beginnings of it. We are starting to see the social outcasting of historical, biblical beliefs. We see the legislating of unbiblical and anti biblical ideas, behaviors and worldviews. But we are just beginning to see those in our country compared to around the world today.
So, remember what things were like for Paul, and for the apostles, for the early church, we remember the context of which this letter and this section especially was written. And it with those conditions of governmental persecution against the early church that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write these 7 verses.
So, lets read Romans 13:1-7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and please follow along in your Bibles as we read. Romans 13:1-7
Paul writes:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
I don’t know about you, but I know for me, that’s hard to hear and that’s hard to read, especially at specific times and with specific political dynamics.
Heres what we know. God created this world, he created all of his creation with order. He created us and his creation with a natural hierarchy. He created us to submit to the things that are in authority over us.
We know this because we are created in his image and the trinity shows submission. For example, Jesus, God the Son, completely equal in every way to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. And yet, he willingly submits himself to the will and authority of God the Father (Luke 22:42, Hebrews 10;7, 1 John 4:10)
So, being created in his image, we are made to submit to authority. And our highest authority is, of course, God. And we do see, an example of that in Acts chapter 5. Peter and John were arrested for a second time and brought before the high council. We read in Acts 5:27-32:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
We must obey God rather than men. WE are going to come back to that shortly. But here we are still establishing the point that there is a hierarchy in the levels of authority. And we are all called to submit to all the authorities above us. Scripture shows us that wives are to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22. Christians are to submit to their pastors in Hebrews 13:17 and citizens are to submit to their rulers in 1 Peter 2:12. This is but a very small list of a few of the ways that we are called to submit.
One of the problems is that this goes against the very core of who we are as Americans. We became a nation by rejecting the authority of our sovereign rulers. The individualism we see around us today, the “all about me,” attitude that is becoming more and more prevalent, everyone who is more worried about their rights than their responsibilities, the very thing Paul was teaching against in ch 12, all have grown out of the founding fathers fighting against and rejecting the authority that was governing over them at the time.
Dont get me wrong here, it made us into a great nation. Maybe the greatest nation the world has seen. But as this attitude and mindset grew and morphed, it may well have cost us our soul. See, this is our fleshly natural desire. This is what started with Adam and Eve in the Garden, to throw off the authority over them, to be their own authority. And we have been doing it ever since. Rebelling against the authority over us and trying to be our own authority.
But God says that we are to submit to authority. And verse 1 right here, all authority has been instituted and ordained by God. This is specifically referring to governing authorities, to governments. One of the things that this means is that, in America, whoever is voted in as president, is your president whether you like him or not. That means that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were your presidents. It also means that George W Bush was and Donald trump is your president, whatever you think of them, of their policies, of their religion or of their private lives. What this doesn’t mean is that all governments or leaders follow God and do what is right all the time.
But God puts rulers and governments in place, he puts rules and laws in place for our benefit. We look to the Old Testament and we see the laws that God handed down, the 10 commandments and we see that God did not hand them down, did not institute them to restrict us or to punish us, but he gave them over because he knows whats best for us.
He is not interested in our happiness, but in our holiness. Thats what us submitting to his authority will bring us. Romans 8:29, Paul writes that he brings us through things so that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, as in made Holy and righteous.
But we rebel against that. We rebel against God and his graces by sinning and going against his commandments and his laws. But we also rebel against God by going against Gods ordained and instituted governments. RC Sproul says it this way, “Rebellion against the authority implies rebellion against Gods ordinance.”
Because what Paul says here, as we see that the purpose of the laws that God is for our benefit, so too the purpose of government is for societies benefit. Governments and rulers are put in place to protect & reward the good and to punish and restrain the evil. They are to be a terror to be bad conduct.
This is the case with all governments. This is especially the case, of course, if the rulers and the governments know God and are following him. But this is true and accurate for non christian governments as well. The only difference being what their view of right and wrong is. But often, when the government is instituting and enforcing laws, the general outcome is that if you act good and follow the rules, it will be good for you, if you do evil and/or rebel against the authority it will be bad for you.
Another part to this is that God is showing that the government has the right to enact capital punishment. This can be a controversial topic, but Paul writes in verse 4 that if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Now, there are some very clear and important limits on capital punishment in the scriptures. I don’t know if you noticed, but we actually looked at some of them the last few weeks. Romans 12:19,  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. This is showing that it is not for us as individuals to take vengeance into our own hands. So called vigilante justice, despite, I’ll be honest, sounding really good sometimes, goes against what Gods Word says.
We also saw that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 5 addressed the Old Testament teaching of An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth. Remember Jesus pointed out that this was, again, not for us as individuals to take part of, but it was used in the Old Testament in a legal setting. Not only that, but another one of Jesus big points in this was that we need to be careful that the punishment fits the crime.
Governments are not just given free rein, with no restrictions, no rules. God gives limits to their responsibilities and their powers. Capital punishment is not an across the board thing. It is not for any and all crime. It is not for without due process and it is not for whatever the Government decides to make it for.
Thats part of the thing we need to remember if we want to have a conversation about capital punishment. Yes, the concept is biblical. But we need to make sure that the application and the practice are as well. That is not being done in this country unfortunately. Too many states have too many different parameters and studies show that across the board, different verdicts can get handed down for the same crime.
But again, one of the biggest takeaways is that God has ordained that governments are allowed to administer appropriate punishment for breaking the laws that said government instills.
As we saw earlier, we have the dual responsibility to submit to the laws and authority to the government that God put in authority over us. Paul says here in verse 5, Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
But we also have the dual responsibility to put Gods laws ahead of mans. Again, for the sake of conscience. So, if or when, depending on your viewpoint, the government decides to outlaw the Bible, or make it illegal to hold biblical viewpoints, if government persecution gets to the point where it is in China, in Iran, in parts of Northern Africa, if it gets to the point where it was in Paul’s day, then we have a duty, an obligation to follow Gods laws. We will and are obligated to continue to preach and teach the bible. We are to continue to read our bibles and hold on the truth that is within.
Here the thing we forget though. WE stand up for Gods laws ahead of mans and man has every right to administer appropriate punishment. We break the law, we go to jail. Thats the way society works. Yes, we stand up to unjust laws. Yes we do what the bible tells us to. But if we break the laws, whether just or unjust, we need to understand that we will face the consequences and we should not be surprised to spend time in jail for it. Again, I’m not telling you not to stand up against unjust laws, laws that go against God, I’m saying there are consequences for doing so.
Paul finishes up this section, again, sounding much like Jesus’ teachings. Verses 6 & 7 are not things most of us want to hear.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
It pains me to read this and to say this but God says that we are to pay the taxes that our Government tells us to pay. Stinks, huh? Especially here in California? Now, again, that doesn’t mean that we don’t speak out against what we see as excessive or unfair taxes. Speak out absolutely. Get involved in trying to change things that you think, from a biblical view, need to be changed. Do what you can to ge the leaders, our representatives to listen and put policies, procedures and all that into place that you think are right and fair.
But we pay taxes to whom they are owed. Luke 20:21-25, Jesus addresses this. Remember that Israel was occupied by Rome at that time. The Jews didn’t want to acknowledge roman authority and Rome wanted to take as much money as possible and to exert as much authority as possible. So the Jews wanted to know, would Jesus side with Rome or Israel?
Luke writes:
they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now there is also a lot in that passage for a different day, but notice what Jesus says here. Romes authority is legitimate. The money they use is issued by Rome. So give it to them. You are issued by God. Give yourselves to Him.
Rome had authority over them, but it didn’t give them their authority, nor did it own them. If their identity was true, if their faith was real, nothing Rome did to them could take that away.
Who are you? Who has given you your identity? Is it the government? IS that who defines you and is that who you ut your trust in? Unfortunately, for too many today, that is the case. God put the government in place for the benefit of society, but it can not define us, it can not give us our identity and it will not and cannot save us.
Jesus Christ is the one who gives us our identity. The term Christian means Christ follower. We obey the government that he gave us, but He is who we follow. Before hand, it doesn’t make any sense, I know. I was there. I am an American. I dont need anybody to save me. I dont need to submit to any authority.
But once we submit ourselves to Gods authority, we surrender ourselves to him, we trust in Jesus Christ and the work he did, dying on the cross and raising from the dead. Then the Holy Spirit comes in and seals us, transforms our heart and opens our eyes. Now we have a new identity. Now we are no longer sinners. We are no longer who others tell us we are. We are no longer who we tell ourselves we are . We are no longer defined by our race, by our ethnicity, by our national citizenship, by our political leanings, by any of it.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t have any of those things anymore. We still are American. We still are white, black, hispanic, asian, Native American. We are still Republican or democrat or other, conservative, liberal or moderate. Those things play into making us who we are, and we can celebrate them, but they do not define us. They are not our identity.
We belong to Christ. Our citizenship is no longer of this world, but in the city which has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10) We are citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, though we do not yet reside there. Jesus prayed that we would be in the world but not of it. (john 15:19) While we are in this world, we have a duty and a responsibility to care for it, to seek to do right and to preach, teach and live the Bible. Jeremiah 29:7 reads: But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Lets Pray.

Throwback Sermon, MAtthew 7:7-11 Ask and Seek