Romans 13:8-14

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 26, 2009


Paul has moved through his doctrinal section in Romans and now has moved on to the practical side of things. He’s talking about what a real Christian looks like.

Last week we talked about the subject of submission.

Submission is one of our least favorite topics. Yet it is one of the most critical subjects for the “real” Christian.

Submission isn’t just for women. We are ALL obligated to learn to submit to those in authority over us – whether it’s our boss at work or our government.

The issue is this – learning to submit to those in authority helps us learn to submit to God.

One of the outcomes of submitting to the government is that of paying taxes:

(Rom 13:7 NKJV) Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
dueopheile – that which is owed; a debt
The idea is that we “owe it” to the government to pay our taxes. We “owe it” to show respect to certain people. We “owe it” to show honor to others.

:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another,

oweopheilo – to owe; to owe money, be in debt for

You might miss it in English, but Paul is basically using the same word translated “due” in the previous verse. He’s continuing the same thought.

The idea here is that we should not have any outstanding debts.

If you owe somebody some money, pay your debt.
If you owe someone “fear” or “honor” (Rom. 12:7), then pay your debt.

But there is one debt that you can never finish paying off…

to loveagapao to love.

 Love based on the will, giving value to a person; as opposed to spontaneous, emotional, natural affection.


Payment due

The early church father Origen said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.”
Keep in mind what kind of love we’re talking about:
(1 Cor 13:4-8 NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud {5} or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. {6} It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

There is a difference between godly love and our romantic, mushy, warm-fuzzy concept of love. God’s kind of love doesn’t look the other way or ignore injustice. In fact, God’s love is the very foundation of His “discipline” of us, His chastisement of us when we’re disobedient (Heb. 13). We think that “love” means that I have to turn my head and let someone get away with something, but God’s love will step in and deal with the problem, OUT OF LOVE, to stop the sin.

{7} Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. {8} Love will last forever…

If you think that you’ve already given a certain person “enough love”, you’re wrong. You still owe more. But don’t be confused with what you owe them – it’s not affection, it’s agape.

How’s your “credit rating” in regards to love?

:8 for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

has fulfilledpleroo – to make full, to complete

:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet,"

The Ten Commandments were divided into two parts or two “tables” or “tablets”.

The first “table” (Ex. 20:3-8) contained the commandments about how we relate to God (don’t have other gods, no images… etc).

The second “table” contained the commandments about how we relate to people.

This is what Paul is quoting from, a little out of order and he doesn’t mention the command to honor your parents (Ex. 20:12-17).

adulterymoicheuo to commit adultery; to break the marriage vows

murderphoneuo –to kill, slay, murder

stealklepto – to steal; to commit a theft

bear false witnesspseudomartureo ( “false” + “to be a witness) – to utter falsehoods in giving testimony, to lie

covetepithumeo – to have a desire for, long for; to lust after, covet

We may never let anyone see the strong desires inside of us, but don’t think that the “lust” isn’t harmful. It is one of those “root causes”, one of those things that can drive all of our actions if we aren’t careful.

:9 and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

summed upanakephalaiomai – to sum up (again), to condense into a summary

God simplifies it for us. Instead of having to worry about five things NOT to do, we only have to focus on doing ONE thing – loving.

Paul is quoting from:

(Lev 19:18 NKJV) 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

This is what Jesus taught as well:

(Mat 22:35-40 NKJV) Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" {37} Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' {38} "This is the first and great commandment. {39} "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' {40} "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

The first “table” of the Law is taken care of when you learn to love God.
The second “table” of the Law is taken care of when you learn to love others.


Talking about neighbors …

During his sermon, a pastor quoted from Matthew, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To emphasize the point, he asked three times, with increasing intensity: “Who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor? Who is my neighbor?!” Each time he asked, a young boy in the congregation answered (mimicking the pastor’s intensity, but not quite as loud): “Mister Rogers! Mister Rogers! Mister Rogers!”

  Ed Arida, Stow, OH, Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

harmkakos – wrong, wicked; troublesome, injurious, destructive

If you will love people, then you won’t be hurting them.


Love obeys the law.

Some people have the idea that living the Christian life has nothing to do with “the Law”. People will tell you, “Hey, I’m no longer under the Law, brother!”
But what they ignore is the fact that while our lives are no longer judged by the Law, and while our righteousness and the ability to make the grade in heaven is based on what Jesus has done for us, our lives will still conform to the Law.
Jesus said,

(Mat 5:17-19 NKJV) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. {18} "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. {19} "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

As we learn to pay attention to loving others like we ought, we will find that our actions will parallel what is commanded in the Law.
You can tell a lot about a person by whether or not they are obedient to the law.

During his time as a rancher, Theodore Roosevelt and one of his cowpunchers lassoed a maverick steer, lit a fire, and prepared the branding irons. The part of the range they were on was claimed by Gregor Lang, one of Roosevelt’s neighbors. According to the cattleman’s rule, the steer therefore belonged to Lang. As his cowboy applied the brand, Roosevelt said, “Wait, it should be Lang’s brand.” “That’s all right boss,” said the cowboy. “But you’re putting on my brand,” Roosevelt said. “That’s right,” said the man. “Drop that iron,” Roosevelt demanded, “and get back to the ranch and get out. I don’t need you anymore. A man who will steal for me will steal from me.”

     The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, Clifton Fadiman, General Editor, Little Brown & Company, 1985, p. 476.

Roosevelt knew he couldn’t trust the man as an employee because the man was a law-breaker.
Let’s say that a married man starts getting close to another woman other than his wife at work. Let’s say that he tells the woman that he “loves” her. Can that be true love? No, because the man is breaking the law by committing adultery against his wife. If he breaks the law against his wife, what’s going to keep him from breaking the law again with you?


How can I love like that?

1. Let God love you first.
(1 John 4:19 NKJV) We love Him because He first loved us.

I can only begin to understand how to love God with my heart, mind, and strength when I begin to understand how much God loves me.

2. Let God fill you with His Holy Spirit.
(Gal 5:22-23 NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The chief result of the Holy Spirit being in control of your life will be love.

3. Irritate others towards love.
(Heb 10:24 NKJV) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works

stir upparoxusmos an inciting; irritation.

I don’t always enjoy being an irritation to others, but there is one way in which I hope I excel at irritating people. I hope I irritate them into loving others.

:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep;

the timekairos – a measure of time, a fixed and definite time

Paul is not referring to chronological time (chronos) but to kairos, time as an era, epoch, or age (MacArthur).

Do you know what “age” we’re in?

(Mat 16:1-3 NKJV) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. {2} He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; {3} "and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
The Pharisees knew a lot about how to predict the weather, but they were ignorant to the fact of the times they were in. The Messiah was standing right in front of them.

sleephupnos – sleep. Sometimes we can get “hypnotized” by the world. We get a little “sleepy” to the things of God.

to awakeegeiro – to arouse, cause to rise; to arouse from sleep, to awake

It is also used to describe resurrection:

Lu 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."

:11 for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Paul is saying that Jesus’ return is now closer than it’s ever been before. And for us, it’s even closer.

Paul uses the picture of somebody sleeping through the night and now it’s about time to wake up.

Every day that goes by gets us closer to the day of our “salvation”, when we will see God.


Get ready to go

It’s not hard to get cynical about Jesus’ return and say something like, “People have been saying for years that Jesus was about to come back, and He hasn’t yet. Why should I be concerned?”
(Mat 24:45-51 NKJV) "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? {46} "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. {47} "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. {48} "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' {49} "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, {50} "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, {51} "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Which servant thinks that the Lord is delaying His coming? The evil servant.
Which servant is ready for his Master’s return? The faithful and wise servant.

Jesus is coming for us. It may be that we could suddenly die, and then we will find ourselves in His presence. It may be that the time of His return will finally come. Get ready.

:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

far spentprokopto – to beat forward; to lengthen out by hammering (as a smith forges metals)

There’s not much night time left.

cast offapotithemi – to put off or aside or away


Earlier this summer, down on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert an hour east of Bakersfield, Pete, new to boating was having a problem. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t get his brand new 22-ft Bayliner to perform. It wouldn’t get on a plane at all, and it was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power he applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, he putted over to a nearby marina. Maybe they could tell him what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything was in perfect working order. The engine ran fine, the outdrive went up and down, and the prop was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath the boat. He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard. Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer.

There are going to be some things that will definitely “slow you down” in life.  If you don’t learn to unhook them from your life you’re not going to get too far.  Paul calls them “works of darkness”.

put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

The picture is like getting up in the morning and changing out of your pajamas and into your daytime clothes.

armorhoplon – any tool or implement for preparing a thing; arms used in warfare, weapons


A bunch of recruits were having a written examination, and when one of them was asked why he wasn’t working, he replied, “Sir, I have neither paper nor pencil.” “Well!” exclaimed the instructor, “what would you think of a soldier who went into battle with neither rifle nor ammunition?” The recruit thought for a moment, and then answered, “I’d think he was an officer, sir.”

Unfortunately, too many Christians today think they are officers in God’s army and have no need of the Spirit’s weapons. Don’t underestimate the enemy!

works of darkness … armor of light

Paul is going to clarify these in the next two verses.

:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

properlyeuschemonos – in a seemly manner, decently

The words that describe the works of darkness, the things we put off, come in pairs. The first two deal with intoxication:

revelrykomos – drunken party, carousal; a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honor of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry

drunkennessmethe – intoxication; drunkenness. Some folks don’t need a party as an excuse to get drunk. They drink when they’re alone.

The next two words deal with sexual sin:

lewdnesskoite – a place for laying down; a bed, couch; we’d call it “sleeping around”


Two rabbis, one Reformed and the other Orthodox, were discussing their respective congregations one day. The Reformed rabbi asked the Orthodox leader, “Why don’t you let the men and women of your congregation sit together, as they do in my synagogue?” The Orthodox rabbi, known for his sense of humor, replied, “If you want to know the truth, I don’t really mind them sitting together at all. But, you see, my sermons aren’t that interesting and I just can’t have them sleeping together.”
The word Paul uses here is not talking about sleeping in church. He’s talking about sexual intercourse.

lustaselgeia – unbridled lust, lacking sexual restraints, outrageousness, shamelessness; the fundamental thought is the acknowledging of no restraints, rudely doing whatever the latest impulse leads you to do.

The last two words deal with conflict with others:

strifeeris – contention, strife, wrangling

envyzelos – an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy

These are all “night time” activities, things we are to “put off”.

:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,

put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

How do we get “dressed” with Jesus? Perhaps the key is in the title given to Jesus – “Lord”


Making Him Lord

Victory over sin doesn’t come only by denying the flesh.
It comes by making Him your “Lord”.
You’ve got a “throne” inside your heart.  It’s that seat inside you where the pilot sits, where the one sits that calls the shots, that makes the decisions.
There’s a story about a photographer for a national magazine who was assigned to take pictures of a great forest fire. He was advised that a small plane would be waiting to fly him over the fire. The photographer arrived at the airstrip just an hour before sundown. Sure enough, a small Cessna airplane was waiting. He jumped in with his equipment and shouted, “Let’s go!” The tense man sitting in the pilot’s seat swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air, though flying erratically. “Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make several low-level passes.” “Why?” asked the nervous pilot. “Because I’m going to take pictures!” yelled the photographer. “I’m a photographer, and photographers take pictures.” After a long pause, the “pilot” replied: “You mean, you’re not my instructor?”
Who is sitting in the “pilot’s seat” of your life?
Who makes the decisions?  Do you have a “beginner” behind the stick?  Do you let Jesus fly the plane?
I think God’s desire is that we learn to stop and ask Him, “What do YOU want me to do?”
Sometimes He simply leaves the decision up to us.
But sometimes His answers are pretty obvious and clear.  There are some things that are simply NOT what He wants us to do.  There are other things that He does want us to do.

:14 and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

provisionpronoia (“before” + “to understand”) – forethought, providential care; to make provision for a thing

It’s like planning for a trip and packing what you think you’ll need.

fleshsarx – flesh; the sensuous nature of man, the “animal nature”, the sin nature; the part of me that loves to sin and rebel against God

lustsepithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden

My “flesh” wants certain things. Am I going to “pack a bag” for my flesh? Am I going to “provide for” my flesh?


Don’t pack for the flesh.

When these extreme explorers try to climb Mount Everest, it’s very important that they have figured out how much supplies they’re going to need. They have special camps along the way to rest and be re-supplied. One of the keys to surviving Everest is having adequate provisions.
Having victory over sin is related to how we “re-supply” our sin nature.
There’s the old Eskimo proverb: “Every man has two dogs fighting inside of him. The dog you feed is the dog that wins”

Are you feeding the “flesh dog” or the “Spirit dog”

(Acts 19:18-20 NKJV) And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. {19} Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. {20} So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
These people in Ephesus were coming to Jesus and as a result, started cleaning out their closets, getting rid of all their junk. Note that one result was that the Word of God grew and prevailed.
What are the kinds of things that “feed” our flesh?  Are you aware of the things that make you want to sin more?

Be careful not to have the things close by that will tempt you. Clean out your closets. Get rid of the provisions.