In this group bible study we discuss what Jesus and Paul mean when they way that loving your neighbor fulfills the law. Why is loving God left out of some passages?
- Matthew 7:7-12
- Romans 13:8-10
- Romans 8:1-4
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Matthew 19:16-26
Review of Last Week (Love In Action)
- Kind and loving works are extra special when God is glorified through them.
- The motivation of these works should be to meet the need of the other person out of love.
- Our desire for personal success can take our focus off of others.
- Our kind and loving acts aren’t what save us; it’s God’s mercy.
- We should show love and kindness to Christians and non-Christians but we have an extra debt to go out of our way for Christians
- We explored if sowing into the work of the Lord outside of church can be considered tithing
The Golden Rule
Jesus is known to many teaching what is known The Golden Rule: “treat others how you want to be treated”. Many people use this as a summary of Jesus’ teaching.
- Jesus and Martin Luther King (w/ alien) joke
- What’s wrong with this understanding of Jesus’ teaching?
Love Your Neighbor
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- What does Jesus say is “the first and greatest commandment”?
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
- What does it mean that the Law and the Prophets “hang” on these two commandments?
- Those two commandments are the foundation on which every other command is built
So it’s not that if you Love God and Love Your Neighbor are so important because if you do them then you will be keeping all of the other commandments. It really means that the reason for all of the other commandments was to ensure that you Love God and Love Your Neighbor.
- Those commandments are the goals of the Law and the prophets
- Those are the points of everything God did in the Old Testament
- When we ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven this is what we’re asking for
Could those two commandments be the meaning of life?
What are some driving laws?
I could say that our traffic laws hang/depend on two concepts:
1. Have a safe car
2. Don't do anything to put yourself or anyone else in danger
All of the other laws were made to enforce these two. It's not that if you keep these two then you'll automatically follow the details of all of the others. It's that if you keep these two you don't need to worry about the others.
There are other laws to maintain order like:
- who turns first if two car reach the stop sign at the same time
In the same way there were other God given laws to keep order in the Jews’ lives:
- do not plant your fields with two kinds of seeds (Lev 19:19)
- do not mate different kinds of animals (Lev 19:19)
These traffic laws maintain civil order, and the biblical laws maintain the natural order.
Love Fulfills the Law
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
- How does loving your neighbor “sum up the Law and the Prophets”?
- Why is only love mentioned here as fulfilling the law and not Loving God?
Let’s see if other verses lead to more clarity on these questions...
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- What does Paul mean “love is the fulfillment of the law”?
- When you express love the purpose of God’s plan is being fulfilled.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- What does “what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh” mean?
- The law was attempting to keep us free from sin, but the flesh didn’t allow that to happen
- What does it mean that “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death”?
- the law of Jesus has set us free from the law of Moses
- What does it mean that the law is met in us who “do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”?
- It means that we need the Holy Spirit in us to live out the love he speaks of
- Can we love this way without a relationship with Christ?
- Can you put the others drivers safety first if you don't have a safe car?
- So why are there church people who follow the law, but don’t have love?
- They are doing it in their own strength and not by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- You can check by seeing if they have the fruits of the spirit.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- How does Jesus say we can be perfect?
- Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
- Love those who don’t love you
teleios - having reached its end, i.e. complete, by ext. perfect
So Jesus is saying that loving in that way makes you complete. He’s saying that in loving that way you have completed what God is desiring from you - you have completed your mission.
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect [teleios], go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- What did Jesus tell the rich man he needed to do to become teleios?
- sell all of his possessions and give to the poor
- deny himself and do God’s will
- How can we achieve the kind of love that Jesus talks about?
- only through God
The rich man was not “perfect/complete” because he had followed the law in his own strength. He had done all of the actions, but his heart wasn’t in it. Jesus explains that the rich man cannot be fully complete in his own strength. He needs God in order to become fully complete.. We can only love our neighbor the way Jesus is talking about if we love God so much that we put His will above our own.
The Driving Example Revisited
The law also says that the speed limit is whatever is safe for the current conditions.
- When I was in an accident I got a ticket for not driving at a safe speed for the conditions
- The officer said the safe speed would have been zero
Spirit of the Law
If you don't stop at a stop sign on a country road in broad daylight when you can see 2 miles in each direction and there are no cars. Should you get a ticket?
- Letter of the law vs Spirit of the law
- Spirit of the law is that you have a safe reliable car and you don't put the other drivers safety and your own safety above your own desires or convenience
- Being in a hurry
- Wanting to make a call
- It only works if you are in control of the car
- Loving only works if you have self control (over anger, addictions,)
You can’t keep yourself and others safe unless you have a safe car. In the same manner, you can’t love your neighbor as yourself unless you love God and are filled with God’s love and God’s Spirit.
The Golden Rule Revisited
We now see that just teaching the Golden Rule as “treat others as you want to be treated” leaves out the only possible way to do this … by turning your life over to God.
- Jesus doesn’t mean that loving God and loving your neighbor will allow you to fulfill the law, but that the laws were created so that you would love God and love your neighbor.
- Loving God and Loving Your Neighbor are God’s main desire for us
- You can’t love unconditionally without the aid of the Holy Spirit.
- By loving unconditionally you satisfy the spirit of the law.
- To love the way God wants us to love we have to put a focus on others higher than our focus on ourselves, material possessions and the success of the world
- To love the way God wants us to love we need to put a focus on God highest of all