Andrew Fountain - Living Right 7: Love and Law


  • Seventh and final part of our series on “Doing what’s right without being legalistic”

0. Review from previous times

  1. We asked the question: What does the word “holy” mean?
    • Jesus re-defines holiness:
      • His total denial of self as he poured out his life as a love-gift was the ultimate act of obedience
    • This does not contradict the law (love God, love your neighbour)
      • but goes way beyond what the Old Covenant ever commanded
  • Rom 12:1 makes it very clear:
    • I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your whole person as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God which is your spiritual worship.
  1. God’s main agenda for us at Newlife Church and for you as an individual
    • Being a community of love, with his loving presence in us
  2. But what does this actually mean in practice?
    • In essence, it is self-giving & self-denying
      • not our own interests, but the interests of the other

1. Misconceptions about love

  • What does the word “legalism” mean?
    • discuss

A. We are to be against Legalism but not to be against Law

  • Legalism
    • in the worst case, you are saved by keeping a set of rules
      • in many cases God’s love is dependent on your rule-keeping
    • is often external, but does not have to be
    • You can measure someone’s spiritual maturity by how well they conform to a written set of requirements
    • the commands are not a means to an end (loving God) but an end in themselves
    • the law tends to state things negatively, so there is a focus on the “thou shalt not”
    • there is a tendency to add commands to Scripture, by inference or “fencing”
      • e.g. Fasting is Biblical, so I must fast once a week
      • watching TV can lead to covetousness or lust, so to be on the safe side Christians should never watch TV

B. Love is above Law

  • There are no absolute standards of right and wrong
    • everything must be judged by love
    • It all depends on the situation
      • “situational ethics”
      • what is wrong in one situation might be right in another
  • I answer to God, not to any earthly government
    • Jesus said “my kingdom is not of this world”
    • How would you answer that?

C. All you need is love

  • It is the “inner voice” that guides us in all situations
    • e.g. couple who believe God told them to live together, that “He had married them”
  • Love will guide you in every question
    • The Spirit will directly guide you?
    • There is no need for any written commands,
      • in fact, “the letter kills and the Spirit gives life”
      • From 2 Cor 3:6 —Paul is contrasting a covenant based on letter (literally v.7 engraved in stone)
        • with one based on the Spirit living in us
      • he is not saying that any written commands will kill you!
  • Law receives authority from the inward attestation of the Spirit

2. Romans 12 and 13

  • One of the main themes of Romans is “A New People of God”
    • Just as the first 5 books of the Bible, “The Law of Moses” defined the Old People
      • So Romans defines the “New People”
    • The Law of Moses is unable to justify you, bring you into a right standing before God
      • This can only happen through faith in God’s promises
  • So you enter the new People of God by faith (Rom 1-5)
  • Romans 6-8 talk about the power to live as God’s people
    • The Spirit gives power, but the Law does not
  • Romans 9-11 is about what is to become of the “Old People of God”
  • Romans 12-15 deals with how the New People are to live
    • Look at these two chapters
    • Sacrifices (12:1-2)
    • Leadership (12:3-8) —Israel had official priests and prophets and God given rulers
    • Government (13:1-8) —Israel had no secular government, religion was enforced
    • What about the Ten Commandments? (13:9-10)
      • “Obey your parents” been already dealt with implicitly in authority
      • (13:11-13) Actually love will include all of these
      • And it is not that Law is the ultimate revelation of God’s standards
        • Jesus is! He ultimately replaces Law as the perfect standard
  • Romans 14 —food laws, sabbath, etc.
    • Do we still have to keep the food laws?
    • What about special days and the Sabbath?
    • What about clean/unclean laws?
      • You are free, but the principle of love says don’t damage the weaker brother

3. The Spirit and laws or commands

  • The Spirit also speaks to us from others
    • Mainly through instruction he has caused to be written down
    • But also through other Spirit-filled people in the community, the body
      • We have to judge this of course
  • It will make a huge difference how we see these commands
    • if we see law as blocking our goal (living life how we want to)
    • or if we see it as helping us achieve our ultimate goal
    • Examle of book on Improving my squash
    • David and Psalm 119
  • Response:
    • Read the Bible regularly
    • Love must be stimulated
    • Encouraged and fed
    • Helps us recognize the flesh
    • Learn to hear the Spirit’s voice in a quiet room
    • We will do some training soon on how to read the Bible
      • Try and put it to the test
      • Take these two chapters this week, and pray over them...

Updated on 2009-10-25 (r.90) by Andrew Fountain