To some, the concepts of love and law contradict one another. While love conjures images of warmth and family, law conjures images of coldness and isolation. In our contemporary culture, loving others and believing in objective moral standards are often seen as mutually exclusive commitments. But love and law are not opposed to one another. In fact, according to the Bible, love and law fit together by faith.
In the Mobile Ed course Introducing Evangelical Ethics, Dr. Michael Allen turns to Romans 13:8–14 to demonstrate how love and law are connected:
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. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Love fulfills the Law
Dr. Allen points out that this passage reveals an important principle that helps us understand the relationship between love and law. We love our neighbor by acting in ways toward them that not only flow out of faith but flow according to God’s lawful design, God’s objective directives. Whether we demonstrate love by preparing meals for an ill friend or lending a shoulder to cry on, we follow God’s lawful design through our friendships, ministries, and acts of kindness.
Far from ruling out law, love actually fulfills law. We are called to love others through the law of God; our faith in God allows us to demonstrate love while following God’s law. Our love glorifies God and our love fulfills law. We love others to the extent that we understand God’s love for us. By going deeper into astonished trust in Jesus, we go further in loving others and keeping God’s law.
Love is the fulfillment—certainly not the antithesis or undoing—of the law. God’s love comes to us, and then our love flows to others. Through our obedience to God, we are able to love others. Therefore, our obedience to God and our love for others are not antithetical; they are both rooted in God’s love for us.
Explore how the ethical life, the good life, and the moral life are reshaped and reoriented in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ with Dr. Michael Allen’s ET101 Introducing Evangelical Ethics. Take your learning deeper with the all-new Mobile Ed Activities Resource included with the course.