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.” Romans 13:9-10
When I first became a public school teacher, I was trained that all of my classroom rules should be stated positively. Since children responded better to positive directs, I was told to change the negative rules, like “No talking during the teacher’s instruction,” to “Listen when the teacher is talking.” In the Romans 13, Paul takes the negatively statements of the Ten Commandments and sums them up in a positive command. All of the Ten Commandments are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He goes on to say, “love does no wrong to a neighbor” for love fulfills the law. Paul summarizes the principle taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus takes the Ten Commandments and teaches their true meaning. Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder….’ But I say to you that do not be angry (paraphrased).” The Pharisees were looking at the letter of the Law, but did not understand the Spirit of the Law.
The only way we can truly honor the Ten Commandments is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are commanded to love our neighbors in such a way that our conduct and our inner thoughts do them no wrong. No fallen human being has ever perfectly kept the law. We all have done wrong to our neighbor, but the “New Adam”, Jesus Christ, perfectly fulfilled the law in his love in doing no wrong to his neighbor. His love fulfilled the law. He came to show how his people love and to enable his people to love. The law condemned us, but Christ has set us free. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).” You have died to the law through Christ so that, “you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God (Rom. 7:4).”
Beloved, we have been set free to love. You shall not do wrong to your neighbor in adultery, murder, stealing, or coveting, but you are to love them as Christ has loved you.