Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Now Paul begins to tell us how believers are to treat one another. In the time in which this was written, Roman believers were apparently incurring debts and not paying back the money they owed. Being a believer does not give one the right to ignore an obligation. There must always be a sense of responsibility with regard to obligation. The Royal Family of God Honor Code includes human integrity, and human integrity means that you are to fulfil your obligations.
Fulfilling the Law means that the believer is to love his neighbor as himself. The key to loving others is understanding that all love is not personal love. Loving someone who is not lovable is impersonal love. Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love. It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. In other words, impersonal love is how we treat others. Therefore, impersonal love must be based on the virtue of the subject, the one doing the loving (“the treating”). Impersonal love is a function of the Royal Ambassadorship of the believer. It is our love for God that motivates us to exhibit impersonal love toward all. Impersonal love operates from the integrity and virtue that you have developed from learning and applying Bible doctrine.
For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It should be rather obvious that if you love your fellowmen as yourself, you won’t commit adultery with their spouse, you won’t murder them, you won’t covet what they have and you won’t violate the remaining commandments from God. When we are properly functioning under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will adhere to the principles found throughout the Word of God. These principles will enable us to exhibit impersonal love toward others.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfilment of the law.
This means that we will treat everyone with respect, not on the basis of our “pet prejudices” regarding race, social status, ability or what they can or cannot do for us. We will refrain from gossip, maligning, judging, character assassination, etc. In other words, we will “live and let live.” The principle of treating everyone with respect also means that we will be tolerant, be thoughtful and be kind toward others. We will hold no grudges or resentment against anyone.
This is the love of the honor code which gives privacy to others, along with that relaxed mental attitude which tolerates their different opinions and sometimes erroneous conclusions, and at the same time respects their God-given rights. Impersonal love observes establishment principles in recognizing the freedom, privacy and property of the unbeliever, and observes the Royal Family Honor Code in respecting the privacy of the believer’s priesthood.
And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Paul in these verses is encouraging the Roman believers to advance to spiritual maturity. Sleep is analogous to neglect of your spiritual life. Believers are to take control of their own spiritual lives after salvation. Since no one can force you to grow up spiritually, not even God, it is up to each of us to take in accurate Bible doctrine on a consistent basis. The salvation that Paul refers to here is a reference to Ultimate Sanctification; the time when we receive the full realization of our salvation.
If you have been neglecting your spiritual life, now is the time to wake up and start fulfilling God’s plan, purpose and will for your life (it’s never too late). And, the only way to do that is to allow God the Holy Spirit to guide and empower your life by making a conscious decision to arm yourself with the light of God’s Word. As you do this, you will be laying aside the deeds of darkness, which is a reference to Satan’s system of thinking called Human Viewpoint Thinking. And, you will be arming yourself with the light of God’s Word, which produces Divine Viewpoint Thinking.
Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Behaving properly means to make our experience align with our position as Royal Family of God and keep the honor code. “As in the day” means behave as if it is daylight when your deeds can be seen by everyone, not at night where they can be hidden. The opposite of proper behavior is improper behavior as outlined by Paul in a few examples.
So how do we avoid the pitfalls of these or any other sins as maturing believers? The answer is by “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.” You put on the Lord Jesus Christ by means of occupation with the Person of Christ. You become occupied with Christ when you obey the same mandates that He obeyed, concentrate on what He concentrated on (Divine Viewpoint Thinking), make positive decisions from a position of strength as He did and use the Problem-Solving Devices constantly, as He did. Christ was our example for the execution of the Christian Way of Life: OUR PERFECT ROLE MODEL.
Occupation with the Person of Christ means that Jesus Christ has become our best friend. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) It means that we are fully aware of Christ in every area of our lives and that we are staying in fellowship with Him a maximum amount of time. It means that we are thinking divine viewpoint based on our knowledge of His Word and that we have no higher goal in life than to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ in our thoughts, in our attitudes, in our words and in our actions. “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5) “But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16b) Our minds are to be saturated with His mind. The apostle Paul is a great example of a person occupied with Christ. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is profit.” (Philippians 1:19-21)
Divine Viewpoint Thinking is the key to overcoming the power of the sin nature. Divine Viewpoint Thinking can be developed only through the consistent study and application of Bible doctrine. Just knowing Bible doctrine is not enough. Therefore, it is imperative that the believer has more than mere academic knowledge of God’s Word. Academic knowledge (gnosis) must be converted to spiritual knowledge (epignosis) by accurate application (wisdom).
When we begin to think the way God thinks, we will be able to recognize overt and mental attitude sins in our lives. Once these sins are recognized, we can acknowledge them, isolate them and keep advancing. However, we must always be on guard, regardless of our stage of spiritual advancement.
As Divine Viewpoint Thinking permeates your thinking, Bible doctrine becomes your scale of values, your norms and standards begin to align with God’s, and even your conscience is influenced in a positive way. Thinking divine viewpoint sets up “a standard” by which you can evaluate everything that enters your mind, including temptation to commit personal sin. You have only two choices as a believer when it comes to thinking: Divine Viewpoint or Human Viewpoint.
In order to have Divine Viewpoint Thinking, you must know the doctrines taught in the Bible. The more Bible doctrine you know and apply, the more Divine Viewpoint Thinking you will be able to utilize. The less Bible doctrine you know, the more Human Viewpoint Thinking you are going to utilize. The more Human Viewpoint Thinking you use, the more insecure and unstable you are going to be.
Daily study of God’s Word keeps Divine Viewpoint Thinking fresh in the mind and helps counteract Human Viewpoint Thinking. (Psalms 119:129-135) Thinking your way through life with Divine Viewpoint Thinking will bring victory, peace, power and stability. (Isaiah 26:3-4, 33:6) It also eliminates mental attitude sinning, such as maligning, character assassination, gossiping, jealousy, self-pity, etc. Vacillating between Divine Viewpoint Thinking and Human Viewpoint Thinking makes a believer unstable according to James 1:8. An unstable believer is an unhappy believer.
The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life, which cannot be lived apart from knowledge of Bible doctrine and the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. (Romans 7:6, 8:2; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18) This way of life requires thinking. All changes in our lives must come from the inside. The true character of the believer is determined by what he thinks, not by what he does. God never forces the believer into any course of action. We determine what our own spiritual lives are going to look like based on what we allow ourselves to think. Divine Viewpoint Thinking equals a victorious Christian Way of Life.