Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.…
From citizenship, which is disposed of in the preceding verses, the apostle passes on to the Christian spirit as manifested in neighbourly relations. He here enters into the very spirit and essence of God's law, showing it to be love. And here we have -
I. THE DEBT WHICH CAN NEVER BE DISCHARGED. (Ver. 8.) We may pay all other debts, and should owe no man anything; but love is a debt that can never be discharged, an obligation which abides, a blessed law laid on us in perpetuity. All the commandments of the second table are covered by this one law of love. No one in his senses would ever seek discharge from such a law. Could it be a privilege to hate one's neighbour? "Good haters," as they are pleased to call themselves, are usually public nuisances. We are under this law of love for ever, because we are under grace. It is here that our Divine sonship is realized; it is here that Christ-likeness begins. God is love; and in proportion as we are loving are we like Christ and his Father above.
II. WITH THE CHRIST-LIKE LIFE HAS CEASED TO BE A DREAM. (Ver. 11.) This is the case with the worldly; they fancy they are "wide awake," and yet they are asleep so far as eternal realities are concerned. How time slips through their fingers, as it does with those in sleep! Life is not in earnest; they have pillowed themselves upon success, and are dead to things Divine. But when Christ comes, then we awake and find ourselves in the morning hours. That Sun of Righteousness arises and our dream and night are over, and the activities of the new day are come. The Christ-like feel that life is earnest, and no time should be lost in dreams. As Feuchtersleben has pointedly said, "Life is no dream. It only becomes so by the fault of man, and when his mind disobeys the summons to awake."
III. THE WORKS OF DARKNESS AND THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH ARE OUT OF DATE. (Vers. 12-14.) While life is only a dream, while the night of indifference and neglect is around the soul, indulgence will he tolerated and provision made for the lusts of the flesh. Pleasure will be the pole-star of life, and decency will not deter the soul from its satisfactions. Of course, the primitive Church had to deal more with the lusts of the flesh than we have; or perhaps they went more thoroughly into the morals of their members. "The primitive Church," it has been said, "was more under the influence of the 'lust of the flesh' than of the 'pride of life; 'the modern Church is more under the influence of the 'pride of life ' than of the 'lust of the flesh.' But pride is as great a sin, in the sight of God, as sensuality. This should be considered in forming an estimate of the modern missionary Church" (Shedd, in loc.). But the soul which has awaked through the advent of Jesus regards these deeds of darkness as out of date. They would be anachronisms of the day. The light has come and put to flight the darkness.
IV. THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT ALONE BEFITS THE DAY. (Vers. 12, 13.) Now, it is wonderful what a protection light, even in its physical form, is against pollution. There are deeds which can only be done in darkness. Turn the light upon them, and they are annihilated through sheer shame. In the same way, when the full spiritual light which Jesus Christ, our Sun, embodies, plays upon our life, we are instantly aroused and elevated, and the tone of life improves. This is our panoply in the morning hours. Christ with us, near us, observing us, encircling us with his light, becomes our great protection.
V. CHRIST-LIKENESS THROUGH CLOTHING OURSELVES WITH HIM IS THE GREAT SECRET OF A USEFUL AND HAPPY LIFE. (Ver. 14.) As the Sun of Righteousness shines around us we contract a luminosity like his. We get sanctified through contemplating him. The same image that is in him becomes ours from glory to glory, as with unveiled face we behold the face of God (2 Corinthians 3:17). It is this likeness to our Lord which makes us increasingly earnest and useful and happy in life's young day. We feel that salvation, in all its length and breadth, is Hearer realization than when we first believed. The morning hours give promise of the perfect day. As one has well put it, "The pilgrims of the dawn tolerate nothing in themselves that the light of day would rebuke. Hence it is the counterpart of this that they make no provision for the flesh; whatever provision they take for their heavenly journey, the flesh has no share in it. The sin adhering to their nature, the old man not yet dead, is an enemy whose hunger they do not feed, to whose thirst they do not administer drink, whose dying solicitations they regard not, but leave him to perish by the way. But the supreme preparation - uniting all others in one - is the putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ. In him alone the dignity and the purity of our nature meet; transformed into his character, we need nothing more to fit us for the holiest heavens; but nothing less will suffice his expectation at his coming. He will come to be glorified in his saints - already the likeness in ten thousand reproductions of himself; and they shall in turn be glorified in him. Hence the great business of the pilgrims is to occupy the precious moments of the morning in weaving into their nature the character of Christ as the apparel of the eternal day. And if in faith that worketh by love - the love that fulfilleth the Law - they diligently co-operate with the Holy Spirit, it will be his blessed function to see to it that before the Bridegroom cometh, his bride, and every individual soul that makes up her mystical person, shall be found clothed in his spiritual perfection as with a garment without seam, woven from the top throughout. Beyond this we cannot go. This is the close and the secret of the whole exhortation to the pilgrims of the dawn. They have come up out of the night at the sound of his awakening voice, and have left their Egyptian darkness for ever. They are wrestling with the dangers of the morning, rejoicing in its partial satisfactions. But supremely and above all they are intent upon the coming day; in their pathway there is no death, but they wait for the more abundant life; they are full of trembling and solemn expectation of all that the day will pour out of its unfathomable mysteries. But the end of all their expectation is the Person of their Lord. And to prepare for him by being like himself is the sum of all their preparation." May we all thus put on Christ and be like him! - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.