Why I Love the Law - Arrival Series [6-7-20]

Updated: Jul 8


In today's message, we're going to look at 12 reasons why the law is good. Our jumping off point is Romans 8:4:

In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Most of today's message will be the Scriptural foundations for why the law is a good thing. There will be some brief explanations thrown in, but for the most part, in today's message, we'll let the Bible speak for itself.


Several years ago, as the song "In Christ Alone" rose in popularity, there was some pushback against it because of the line "Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied." Some denominations excluded it from new hymnals, while others wanted to change that line. People of a certain theological/Biblical persuasion rejected the notion of God's wrath being poured out on Jesus on the cross.


As we're going to see, this is a big deal. As we've seen in Romans 8, Jesus

Christ fulfilled the law for us when he obeyed it perfectly and died as the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. In him, we are perfected with his perfection and in him we are pardoned by his blood.


That much is true. It is foundational theology. But it doesn't quite capture the fullness of verse 4.


Verse 4 says the aim of the cross is "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Notice what it does and doesn't say. It doesn't say that the law is to be fulfilled for us. It is fulfilled in us. And how is it fulfilled in us? "Fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Paul is focused on our walking.


So how do we fulfill the requirement of the law? We fulfill it by how we live our lives. The law is holy and just and good. And so, as imperfect as we are, we walk in the ways of the law.


In pursuit of what that means, here are 12 Reasons Why We Love the Law.*

REASON #1: Fulfilling the requirement of the law in Romans 8:4 means a life of real love for people.

Romans 13:8-10:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 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.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.


Galatians 5:13-18:

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.


Matthew 7:12:

For whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them for this is the Law and the Prophets.


Matthew 22:37-40:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

REASON #2: Our fulfilling the law in loving others is not the ground of our justification. The ground of justification is the obedience and blood-shedding of Christ alone, given through faith alone before any other acts are performed. Our fulfilling the law is the fruit and evidence of being justified by faith.

Romans 3:23-25:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.


Here's where we need to do a little explaining. It's that word - propitiation. Propitiation means satisfaction. Because God is a Holy God, His anger and justice burns against sin. And His justice and holiness requires that sin be punished. So there must be a satisfactory payment for sin. But rather than punish us, God became our substitute. God would take upon Himself the punishment for our sin. In agony and blood, through Jesus Christ, God put Himself in our place as a substitute for our sin. God's wrath was poured out on the cross when His only Son died as propitiation for our sin. And that is love.


Romans 5:19:

For as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.


2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Romans 3:28:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

REASON #3: This fulfilling of the law in loving others is done not in our own strength but by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


Galatians 5:13-16:

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

REASON #4: This fulfilling of the law in loving others through the Spirit is rendered by faith…That is, by being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ.

Galatians 3:5:

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?


Galatians 5:6:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for

anything, but only faith working through love.


1 Timothy 1:5:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

REASON #5: This fulfilling of the law in loving others through the Spirit by faith is not a perfect love in this life.

Romans 7:15:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.


Romans 7:19:

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.


Romans 7:23-25:

But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.


Philippians 3:12:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

REASON #6: But my fulfilling of the law in loving others through the Spirit by faith will become perfect when I die or when Christ returns, and I will live in perfection of love forever.

Romans 8:30:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those he called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified.


Philippians 1:6:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.


Hebrews 12:22-23:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.

REASON #7: Even though I will one day be perfected in love, I will never, in this life, be perfect because I am a fallen person. I will always be a forgiven sinner and will always be in need of my Savior assigning his righteousness to me so I can stand in the presence of the One, True, and Holy God. In this way, Jesus Christ will be forever glorified in my salvation. I will always lean on his righteousness and his sacrifice.
REASON #8: Even though imperfect, loving others is the true and real direction of life the law required. In this life, we have a new direction, not a perfect life. This new direction is what the law demands as we move toward perfection.
REASON #9: When we fulfill the Old Testament Law in loving others through the Spirit by faith, we are embracing the law of liberty and the law of Christ.

The love that flows out of us flows by the power within it. It has nothing to do with external pressure to earn something or guilt to behave in a certain way.


James 1:25:

But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, that person will be blessed in his or her doing.


James 2:10-12:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.


This one needs an "in other words." In other words, true freedom is freedom to obey God and do what pleases him. When we are freed from the consequences of sin, in Christ, we are freed to do good works by the power of the Spirit.


2 Corinthians 3:17-18:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


This one deserves a second "in other words." It means our pursuit of love

is guided and enabled by the life, word, and Spirit of Jesus Christ. We pursue love as the law of Christ by looking to Jesus as our all-sufficient Righteousness, our all-satisfying Treasure, our all-providing Protection and Helper, and our all-wise Counselor and Guide.


Galatians 6:2:

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


REASON #10: The Old Testament law can be understood narrowly as a set of commandments, or more broadly as the entire teaching of the Five Books of Moses, or even as all the instruction of God wherever He gives it.

I think this needs a third "in other words." In other words, because of our sin, obedience to the law could never be the source of our righteousness and our justification. Instead of looking to law-keeping, we look to Christ. And so, as a result of the satisfaction we have in him, we want to follow his commands.


Galatians 3:21-26:

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith.

REASON #11: When the law is understood in its entirety, its aim is that Jesus Christ gets the glory as the One who provides the only ground for our imputed righteousness through faith {justification}, and the only power for our imparted righteousness {that is, love which fulfill the law} through faith {sanctification}.

Romans 5:19:

For as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.


2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


Philippians 3:8-9:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


Philippians 1:11:

Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

REASON #12: Therefore, how can my imperfect obedience and love fulfill the perfect law of God?

First, my imperfect obedience and love is based on what Jesus Christ has done for me on the cross {justification}, not a path to it. In other words {that's number four if you're keeping track}, love is the fruit of Christ- exalting faith, which has been the goal of the law all along.


Second, my imperfect love is the first fruits of a final perfection that Christ will complete in me at his appearing. Romans 8:4 doesn't say that the entire fulfillment of the law happens in us now. But our walk by the Spirit begins now and so does our fulfillment of the law.


Third, I must never forget that Jesus is perfect. I am imperfect. I depend fully on his perfect law-keeping. But it's okay. I don't have to be perfect. I must strive toward perfection, but my eternity with God is wholly dependent on the perfection Jesus offered in my place. My imperfect love now, and my perfect love later, will always be the fruit of what Jesus did on the cross. Finally, my imperfection points to his perfection, which is, ultimately, the goal of the law. The law drives me to the foot of the cross, revealing the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which creates in me a desire to love and righteousness. It is a beautiful thing.


SUMMATION: LOOK TO JESUS.

Wherever you turn to in the Bible, look to Jesus. Let every passage tell you something of his Father and his Spirit and thus himself. Make it your aim in all your use of Scripture to see and savor more of Christ. Be on a treasure hunt to satisfy your soul with more and more of him. In this way, the Spirit of Christ will be at work to transform you into his image. The aim of the law will be fulfilled more and more in your life. And you will magnify Christ in your life until he returns to complete the work he has begun.


*inspired by an article by John Piper


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