Does (Your) Love
Fulfill The Law?
By Bro. Mark Bullen
Does [Your] Love
Fulfill The Law?
By Bro. Mark Bullen
The woman’s voice coming through the phone was emphatic and passionate, “To obey God is simply to “love”; for when you love, you have obeyed all his commands. Love fulfills the law!”
Have you ever heard this before? This is the war cry of every liberal, feminist, and humanist who claims to be a Christian. Is it true? They wish to make a Pharisee out of every person who disagrees with them. It is astounding how much bold irreverence and disobedience to Scripture is applauded as long as it is from a “loving” person, or done for the “cause of charity”. Since Satan’s first tactic to deceive mankind was to masquerade as having a “loving” concern for their best interests; while he at the same time slandered God’s love and intentions; we need to examine this issue in the light of Scripture, lest we be found no wiser than Eve. Well, why don’t we put all emotion aside and look at what the Scripture says with a humble, teachable heart.
Now, Jesus said one of two things:
When Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”; he was saying, “It has always been this way”, not just, “From now on it will be this way”. The “law and the prophets” is a term that applies to the whole Old Testament; and therefore what Jesus is teaching also applied to the Old Testament saints and Scriptures.
Since #2 is so popular in our day, let us suppose it to be the case in the Old Testament. What if a man got the idea that he did not have to keep the Sabbath as long as he loved God. He understood that “love” fulfilled the Law, so he decided as long as he loved God, praised God, prayed and sang, that he didn’t have to keep the Sabbath. Well, fortunately for us, there was such a case in the Old Testament in Numbers 15. A man who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath was set aside to see what God would say. God’s verdict was that anyone who knowingly disobeys one of God’s commandments, however small it may be (picking up sticks is pretty small); was, in fact, despising the Word of the Lord, and therefore should be stoned to death. This man was not said to be guilty of any other violations, but evidently was otherwise a good Israelite. So, no matter how much this man thought he loved God, God saw his deliberate disobedience to Scripture as the opposite of love.
Another case may even be more pertinent to our subject. In 2 Samuel 6 we find King David and all Israel bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem with great joy, dancing, and singing out of love to the Lord. God had clearly instructed them to carry the Ark with staves through golden rings on the sides of the Ark, and not to touch it, lest they die (Numbers 4:15). On this occasion, however, due to carelessness and possibly assuming "love fulfills the Law"; they moved the Ark on an ox cart, like the heathen had done. They were full of love and good intentions, but they were not careful to obey the WORD of God. At one point the oxen stumbled, and out of love for the Ark, Uzzah, a levite, put forth his hand and took hold of the Ark to protect it from falling. God, rather than seeing their love as fulfilling the Law, struck the man dead on the spot, as the Law warned in Numbers 4:15. If they really loved, as they should have, they would have carefully read God's instructions, and not presumed upon God's grace. Their carelessness manifested laziness and love for convenience - not love for God.
Isn't "being loving" also the way that Balaam instructed Balak to overcome Israel? Just be loving to them, invite them to you "love festivals", etc. etc. This nearly caused the destruction of Israel by God's wrath. Read Numbers 25 and see what God thought of all their love.
Therefore, we need to rephrase our question. Instead of, “Does love fulfill the Law?” we need to ask, “Does your perception of love fulfill the Law?” In God’s mind, the love that fulfills the Law is the love that obeys the Law in the fear of God with the “spirit” or attitude expected by the Law-giver - benevolence. Obedience is doing what you’re told, when you’re told, with the right attitude. This is exactly what Jesus did in His walk on earth. Jesus never broke the least of the Law’s commandments. This was necessary for Him to be a spotless lamb for His atoning sacrifice.
Well, what about in the New Testament? Is it different in the New Testament? What if someone got the idea that, as long as they were showing love, they didn’t have to be honest. Well, fortunately we have just that case in Acts 5. Again, the verdict of the Lord was that love that didn’t obey, wasn’t really love; therefore, Ananias and his wife were given the death penalty by God’s Spirit. Everybody knows that their actions appeared loving on the outside, and surely would help the needy; but, no matter how loving they appeared, God saw double motives and dishonesty. Much “love” today is of the same character.
[Will you listen?]
Charity or Carnality?
God’s love is much different than what most men call love. Carnal men base their love on their value system. Their value system says that the happiness of man is the highest “good”. Therefore to “love” is to do whatever makes the other person happy. They believe that they have the right to pursue their own happiness as the highest good; and must not interfere with others doing the same. However, man’s happiness is not the highest good in God’s eyes, and he has sacrificed man’s happiness many times for a much higher cause. It is a shock and offense to most people to find out that they are not the biggest thing going, and that the world doesn’t revolve around them. This is manifested in how they treat God when things go wrong. Look at this verse and tell me who the “loving” person is:
Who is the “negative” person? Who is the “compassionate” and “loving” person? Well, it depends on whose value system you use. The wicked will claim the person who has forsaken the Law as the loving person; but the righteous will say that the one contending is the one who loves God and man with a true love. The wicked see the contentious person as "interfering" with another's right to pursue their own happiness, and do that which seems right in their own eyes.
God’s love is a love that sees what is best for his entire universe, not what is pleasant to one at the expense of another. What was it that the Father saw in the Son that pleased him most? Listen to God’s proclamation as he crowns the Son:
“God is love” was still true when God destroyed the earth with a flood and burned up Sodom. His love is not based on man’s happiness being the highest good; but on the love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity. The word iniquity comes from the Greek, anomia, which means “Lawlessness”. So, the love that fulfills the Law, really fulfills God’s Law of righteousness. That is why Romans 8:3 says the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in the life of a believer who walks not according to carnal appetites, but according to the leading of the Holy Spirit within him. This is true love. Obeying the specifics of the Law was meant to expand your perspective of love to fit God’s. The New Covenant is God’s Law written on our hearts — appropriate, mature, and divine love.
Charity or Conspiracy
It is amazing how "loving" Absalom was when trying to win the hearts of Israel away from his father, David. He was the picture of "love", but it was only love of revenge and his own ambitions that drove him to act that way. The motive of love is all important.
The false prophet will usually appear more “loving” to the carnal man than the true prophet will — just ask old Ahab (II Chron. 18). The liberal compromiser is not grieved at your sin, pride, vanity, or worldliness; so naturally he will appear more “loving” — he is a good politician, and that’s all. Concern about the leaven in your life, and its potential effect on his own family and church, as well as on your soul, is absent; because it doesn’t affect his agenda. He is like the quack who gives you a clean bill of health, while ignoring your highly contagious disease; because he doesn’t want to hurt the relationship — His “love” is fatal. Satan could afford to be really nice to Eve, but she couldn't afford to be nice to him.
You see, the approach of the false prophet is to “allure through the desires of the flesh”; to “promise liberty”; and he “speaks great swelling words” (II Peter 2) to flatter and draw you into his error. This all sounds "loving and kind"; and that is why carnal men, who choose not to endure sound doctrine, will run to these false teachers with their humanistic “love” gospel (II Tim 4:3-4). The false prophet always sympathizes with the rebel, the worldly, the independent individualist, the feminist, etc. The true preacher expects men to repent and align themselves with truth and righteousness — but this is love, because this is what is best for them and brings glory to God. However, no matter how nice one says it; and no matter how much sacrifice one puts into helping men do it; “repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance” does not have the “taste of love” that carnal men are looking for. They will say in their hearts, “I want someone to love me, not try to change me”. Therefore we see why "come as you are", "we will accept you as you are", and "God's love is unconditional" are such popular concepts today. They want God to be pleased, but they don’t want to please God — Cain’s type of love.
No Christian was ever persecuted for being “loving” in the eyes of carnal men; but for truly loving in speaking the truth in love and calling men to repentance. The Bible doesn’t say, “Love God and Love man”; rather it says, “love God first with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and then love your neighbor as yourself - not “as God”. Therefore, if I expect myself to love and obey God; and I love you as I love myself; it is only consistent to expect you to love and obey God also. Did Jesus expect men to love and obey God above all? Did the apostles expect men to love and obey God above all else? Of course they did. They loved their neighbor as themselves. By the way, have you ever looked at the Scripture Jesus was quoting? Lev. 19: 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Charity without Chastity
“Charity” is the pseudo-spiritual cloak behind which the fleshly man hides while watering down the Faith once delivered to the saints. May God help all true saints to cry out load and clear; “When charity has lost chastity it ceases to be a virtue!” Charity without chastity is seduction. To be chaste is to be “pure from sensual appetites, modest, simple in style, refined, immaculate, holy and pure”. The idea is that the carnal appetites are crucified by the believer to produce a life separate from the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. It is a life stemming from a heart that loves righteousness and hates Lawlessness. When “charity” has lost this quality, it is simply humanistic love that opposes the love of God. This explains why men often call good evil and evil good — their value system is the opposite of God’s.
Is it any wonder that John gave this criteria for determining whether we are really loving our brethren; “By this we know we love the brethren, when we love God and keep his commandments”. John knew all about “Jezebel” in the New Testament church at Thyatira. He had encountered Diotrephes. He knew all about the Gnostics who touted “love” as the justification for their disobedience to the teachings of Christ- even unto fornication. It was this John who said in I Jn. 2:4, “He that saith, I know (Christ), and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” We are seeing Jezebels on every hand — pastor’s wives who are immodest, painted, fixed in the latest fashion with gold, pearls and costly array all around us. They act “sweet” and “kind”; but are also impudent and assertive. They are a continual show to be sure. It wasn’t that long ago that their “fashion” would have been called the “attire of an harlot” even in this nation. Their bold, unchaste conduct better fits the description of the harlot in Proverbs 7, than that of a meek, modest, quiet, chaste, shamefaced, sober-minded, submissive, spiritual Christian lady called for to be the pastor’s wives in the New Testament.
Charity or Quackery?
Paul, in describing the actions of the false teachers in Corinth, suggests in II Cor. 11:20 that if a man “exalts himself”, he is committing the same basic sin against his neighbor as if he “brought him into bondage, devoured him, took of him, or smote him on the face”- He is gaining at their expense. If you have ever been in the presence of one who is boasting and exalting himself above you, you have surely felt the smack in the face, the robbery, the devouring, and the bondage to vain competition that it brings. The people of Corinth were allowing themselves to suffer in this way; because, due to their immature minds, they were impressed with this vain show and carnal boasting. The carnal man feels secure with an arrogant, dogmatic, worldly wise man for a leader.
They were happier to introduce their worldly friends to this slick false apostle, than to the true apostle, who did not value the vanities of this world. Paul came not to them with “excellency of speech” or “enticing words of man’s wisdom”. People who are spiritually immature will gravitate to the boaster and the one excelling in carnal pursuits who sets himself as a spiritual leader, though they suffer bondage by it. Yet, they will flee from the true spiritual leader who is teaching them to observe apostolic faith and practice, since their false teacher calls that bondage. Just read Corinthians. Paul had abased himself among them to walk the road of humility; but his opponents labeled this a weakness. “Charity vaunteth not itself, Is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own…” The point is that the Corinthians couldn’t figure out who was loving them — Paul or the false teacher. Because they were too immature to recognize true love, we find Paul saying, “The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved”
If I live a chaste, humble life, then I am loving you by setting a proper example for you and convicting you to also live this way. I am not provoking you to excel in worldly things, but only in spiritual graces by my example and teaching. I am loving you by honoring you and protecting your dignity in that I am holding myself in check and not exalting myself over you in the areas where I may be more fortunate. Everyone has strong points and weak points. If I keep my strong points veiled in your presence, then you will not feel the need to flaunt your strong points, and we can just love one another without competing to protect our dignity. In fact, we are free to praise each other’s strong points.
However, if I dress up in costly array, brag on my accomplishments, boast of my riches and abilities, or (in the woman’s case) paint, polish, and perm in the latest fashion, I am not loving my neighbor for a number of reasons:
1. I am being a bad example, and example is the strongest moral influence.
2. I am leading you into the bondage of a carnal, self-glory, race and competition.
3. I may be attracting the eye of your mate to desire me or defrauding and offending their thought life by my immodest dress or conduct.
4. I may be causing your wife to be discontent with the money you make when I flaunt or boast of my vacations, possessions, fun, etc.
5. I may be building dangerous appetites in your children to dress up, live it up, gratify unholy desires, pursue pleasure or vanity, etc. I am leading others into my bondage to the flesh.
6. I am ultimately gaining at another’s expense and loss. I am insulting your dignity by exalting my strong points.
7. I am promising liberty, and promoting a prosperity gospel, when in fact I am enslaved by my own pride. I am promoting the fruits of pride and worldly values.
…And all the time I am smiling, speaking sweet words — yea, swelling words of vanity. All the time I am being so “sweet” and “friendly”, and telling how much I “love”. This Charity is quackery. The worst part of it all is that this is done by those who attempt to represent Christ to a lost and dying world. God hates it.
Any time I exalt myself, I smack you in the face. This is not love. The world sees these pleasure and glory seeking “Christians” and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is thwarted because sinners justify their broad-road pursuits by the “Christian’s” example. It is obvious to them that you live by the same values they do — though you claim to add Christ to it. And indeed much doctrine today simply teaches that all they have to do is add Christ to their present way, and they are sure for heaven without changing from the broad road to the narrow road.
Charity or Charm?
If you read the Scripture, you will find it was the false prophets whom “all men spoke well of”, because they spoke “smooth” things that sympathized with the people’s sinful attitudes. They made them “feel” loved by God, by their “ear tickling fables”, though they had not fully submitted and obeyed God’s Word, . This has always been one of Satan’s best tactics — the false libertine prophet (2 Peter 2; 2 Timothy 4; 1 John; Jude, etc.).
If I speak good things, yet live wrong; I am simply leading you to believe good things while you live wrong. This is the most subtle form of deception — To convince you that your performance does not affect your position with God — “Ye shall not surely die.”
This applies to many Christian books on the market. Much of the contents may be profitable, but the context is poison — I mean the connection to the author’s doctrine and lifestyle on the whole.
The good words in the book endear you to the author so you will swallow his entire package — rat poison is 99% good food. Love is that which provokes me to urge you onward to reach your potential, not by my boasting of myself, but by washing you with the Word of God, and teaching you true doctrine. Yes, true doctrine will spur you on to perfection, whereas Antinomian heresy (Unconditional eternal security) only dulls you down and makes you feel secure, thereby putting you into greater danger than you were already in. True doctrine sets you to overcoming, enduring, holding fast, humbling down, running with patience, and laying hold on eternal life by a living faith in the conditional love and grace of God.
Maybe this section should be called “Charity or Charmin” (as in, “Don’t squeeze the Charmin”). Many people are proud to be “softies”; but that is not “true Christian love”, only miss-placed priorities and jelly spine syndrome. Read how Nehemiah loved his nation so much that he dealt severely with transgressors who hindered God's blessings on the nation. Read how much Jesus loved God's house when he drove out the moneychangers. When Jesus returns to rule with a rod of iron, it will be in the purest love.
Carnal minded people often live for the acceptance and safety of their “camp”, and don’t look at truth objectively. They cannot decide right from wrong objectively, because they can’t get around the real question in their heart: “What about me?” The big question of “how will this affect my wellbeing?” is so intrinsically connected to their perspective of right and wrong, that it becomes their acid test for life’s issues. The very beam in their eye that blinds them to matters of right and wrong is the beam called “self-preservation”. They are so concerned about “feelings”, and so prone to “feel” their way through issues, rather than “thinking” through them, that they interpret doctrine and actions according to what they deem “best”; rather than what God says is “right”. You need to love from the heart; but only if at the same time, you are thinking with your head according to Bible principles with “self” dethroned and Christ enthroned in your heart and mind. The Word of God must be the acid test for life’s issues, not your feelings or the feelings of others. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26, 27. Jesus knew that only those who live and love by eternal principles, rather than feelings, would make it in the Christian life.
Charity with Character
Yes! Love fulfills the Law, because true love indeed fulfills the Law by making us “doers of the righteousness of the Law” — the moral Law of God presented to the Jews in the Old Testament Law and written on Christian’s hearts in the New Testament. We New Testament believers are called to enter into Christ’s Kingdom and live under the “Law of Christ” — fulfilling the spirit and intent of God’s Law. We are now the true worshippers who worship God in spirit and in truth seeking for spiritual and eternal riches; not just physical worship in carnal ordinances for temporal blessings. We are called to live by a higher standard of action and attitude. Attitude never takes the place of action — you must have both.
Yes! Love works no ill to his neighbor; but your perception of love may be doing exceeding ill to your neighbor. Jesus told His disciples to teach, baptize, and teach the converts to observe ALL things whatsoever he commanded — not just go love everybody. Why? Because every ordinance and principle taught in the New Testament teaches you HOW TO LOVE PROPERLY. You don’t know how to love until you are doing it God’s way! Until you are obeying every command and precept in the New Testament, your “love” is lacking important ingredients that keep it from fulfilling God’s Law.
The seven churches of revelation had different ideas about love. We need to observe well, and not emulate what Christ rebuked. Notice that those who were not rebuked, were suffering persecution for their love. Many today who think they love Christ are really in love with their denomination, ism, dogma, or lifestyle — all which they wish to defend with sanctified sophistry. Those who truly love Christ, also love all truth, and hunger and thirst after righteousness. They are willing to leave the leeks and garlics of old Egypt and “tough-it” for the sake of following truth. The world’s reaction to this move out of the “camp” or “herd” is usually some form of persecution.
Have you ever seen the parents who just “loved” their children so much they never told them “no” or disciplined them? The Bible calls this “hate”, not love (Prov. 13:24). The Bible says this will send your child to Hell, not lead them to Heaven (Prov. 23:13,14). Now, if the Bible says that love works no ill to his neighbor, then is the Scriptural use of the rod of correction working ill? I suppose that depends on what your value system says — ask the rebellious child who hasn’t received his needed share. The rebel will say spanking is working ill; but God says the neglect of spanking is working ill. Do you see how love can easily be turned around to the opposite of what God intended, and how carnal minded men will immediately latch on to the fallacious meaning? The person who spanks is the loving one in God’s estimation — if, of course, they are practicing both the “letter” and the “spirit” of the Law.
Love has priorities. Jesus said to love our enemies; but not more than we love our Lord, children, wife, neighbor, friends, faith, etc. Love in proper priority will help you to understand the relationship between God ordained discipline (on family, church and state levels) and God’s love and mercy. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Love without proper priorities will end up supporting all sorts of foolishness: From protecting animals to the detriment of people, to protecting criminals while aborting babies. All this stupidity is excused in the name of “love”.
Obeying every principle and command in the New Testament in the “spirit” of the Law is the only “love” that can be used in the verses that speak of love. If this love is not your love, then your love is not what God commands, nor are you in a position to judge others as “unloving” based on your perspective. Your judgment is not mature yet.
Some have said that “agape” love is what we need; however, this is a myth. “Agape” is a Greek noun; and “Agapao” is the verb form of the same word. Observe these two words in the following verse:
So, it is clear that what gives love virtue is the object of that love. It is virtue or vice depending on its object. If your “agape” is set on sin and evil, then your “agape” is sin and evil.
· Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Of Charity and Church
Most people judge the love of a church group by how much acceptance they received from the people; but this is not right thinking. We should judge the love of a church group by:
1. How much they are trying to please God, and…
2. How much they are sincerely trying to help us be pleasing to God.
“Charity… rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” I Corinthians 13:6
Usually, when I have heard people complain that a group is unloving, I have later learned two things:
1. The person complaining was a “taker” and not a “giver” — they didn’t do much loving, but expected to receive plenty; and
2. The person needed to change some things that they were unwilling to change. So they concluded this church lacked love because they didn’t feel unconditional acceptance. The people wanted to help them with a need in their life; However, this offended them, because they didn’t want to acknowledge a need in their life — and if they did, “they could take care of it themselves just fine, thank you”.
If we love Christ first, then our church will diligently seek to please Christ and preserve his Faith and Practice. Our drive will then be to make man pleasing to God. But, if our love is to please and “win” people; then our church will be geared to attract people, entertain them, and make them feel comfortable and accepted - and “Christ” will be “seasoned” to be more palatable and pleasing to man.
I’ll tell you who the unloving church is:
I could go on and on and on, but to what end? We who fear God and strive to obey have “been there” and can testify to what I am saying. May God open the blinded eyes of the haughty and proud before they reach their destruction. May we not become uncharitable towards those who malign us