Awakened by God

Notes for Oct. 11, 2017
Romans 13:8-14

Biblical Background

  • Debt: In the Old Testament, there were clear laws governing loans and debts. People were required to pay their debts according to agreements made. As well, God instituted years of jubilee when all debts were forgiven – a foreshadowing of His mercy and grace. Christians, out of their gratitude to God and as a reflection of His grace are called to pay all of their debts.

  • The debt of love – In a play on words, Paul is stating the one thing we must always “owe” others is love.

  • Love fulfills the Law: Paul is quoting His Lord as Jesus makes this statement in Matthew 22:36-40

  • The commandments – Paul is referring to the 10 Commandments which are the core of the Law of the Old Testament. These 10 commandments are elaborated on by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-48). Jesus gets to the heart of the commandments which stem out of a love for God and neighbor. While the action of murdering someone is sinful, so is the thought or heart attitude of hate toward another person. The act of adultery is sinful, but so is the thought or fantasy of adultery or lust.

  • Love does no harm: Love only builds up others and does not hurt or harm them. It is not passive, however, just not doing harm, but is active in seeking the well-being of another.

  • Wake up: Paul is making it clear that we can’t put off living for Christ and loving God and neighbor. Every hour and day counts.

  • Put aside deeds of darkness: We are called as Christians to love and obey God. This means we stop sinning and getting caught up in sex outside of marriage, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, jealousy, and all things that are contrary to loving God and neighbor.

  • Live as in the daytime: Paul knows the human heart’s tendency toward sin and our attempts to hide it from others and God. Why do you think that many sins and crime take place at night and in hidden places? However, God sees all.

  • Don’t think about how to gratify sinful desires: Paul knows that your sinful desires can be fed or starved by how much time and energy you focus on them. Don’t focus on your sinful desires, but instead, clothe yourself with Christ – focus on loving others rather than satisfying yourself.

  • Clothe yourself with Christ: Put on the armor of God – all of the fruits of the Spirit and truth of God. (See Ephesians 6:10-18)

Discussion Questions

  1. 1) What kind of financial advice is Paul giving in this passage? (See Romans 13:6-7 for context). 1) What kind of financial advice is Paul giving in this passage? (See Romans 13:6-7 for context).

  2. How can we apply this practical financial advice in our world today? What are the dangers of not paying off our debts?

  3. What is the “debt of love”? Why is it on ongoing debt?

  4. How can we fulfill all of the laws of God? How does love fulfill the law?

  5. Who else in Scripture stated that to love your neighbor as yourself was the means of fulfilling the commandments dealing with human beings? Why does Paul repeat this teaching?

  6. What does it look like to “do no harm to your neighbor”?

  7. What does Paul tell us that we can do today to be intentional about loving our neighbor?

  8. What does Paul mean when he states that it’s time to wake up? That our salvation is even nearer than when we first believed? What do these statements spark in you?

  9. What does the night/darkness symbolize here? Why do people tend to sin in the dark, behind closed doors, outside of watchful eyes?

  10. What sins does Paul list here as sins of darkness? Why is dissension and jealousy in a list with orgies and drunkenness?

  11. How can we clothe ourselves with Christ?

  12. How can we stop thinking about ways to gratify our sinful nature? List some practical ways to do this and to help one another do this?

  13. What are some practical changes that I can make today, this week, to put on the armor of light, behave decently, do no harm to my neighbor (family, colleagues, friends, enemies) and love them?

  14. What are some “take-aways” from this week’s Scripture passage?