Yesterday, I was trying to explain the connection between the requirements of the Law, and the way in which those requirements could be met. I said that love was the satisfaction, or the fulfillment of the Law. I went on to say that while our only requirement to completely satisfy God is to love others (Galatians 5:14), loving others is completely foreign to our nature. Oh, sure, there have been many acts of love, unselfish, self-sacrificing love, but they are rare, and they are only one moment of time in the person's life. The day before, he or she may have been less than loving to someone in traffic, at the job, or even at home. Single acts of love are wonderful, but they are not the fulfillment of the Law. They momentarily satisfy it, but they are not what the Bible requires. In order to fulfill the Law, and thereby be considered righteous, one would have to be that loving one hundred percent of the time. Rare acts of heroism are commendable, but they do not change the fact that the hero has not always been so unselfish.
So, there we have it. The Law is impossible to fulfill all the time, and therefore, it lets us know we need a Savior. If we could obey all of the time, or could love all of the time, Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. He could simply say to each of us, "You are not righteous, because you have failed to love at all time" In order to spend eternity with our Creator, one must be without sin. Perfect. Righteous. We are not. We do not keep the Law, or love enough to satisfy God's call for perfection. That is why we need to accept the Lord's sacrifice for our sin. It is only through faith in Christ that we are accounted as righteous. We are righteous in Him.
I do not remember a time when I thought I was able to obey the Law, and thereby be holy. But I have tried to love others so that I would not continue to sin. After I became a Christian in 1971, I sincerely made an effort to obey God's Law, and to love others. i continually found myself a failure at both. I prayed earnestly for God to help me love others so that I could show my gratitude for His saving me so that I might please Him. Apparently, either He chose not to answer my request, or He had a purpose in allowing me to continue to be a failure. I believe, now, that had He done as I had asked, I would have become so arrogant and judgmental of others that I would never be of use to Him. Instead, He has produced in me what our nature so abhors: humility. The only good in me is the good that He does through me. The rest of my life is a disaster.
The fruit of the Spirit is nine characteristics: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance (ironically found in the same chapter as "Love fulfills the Law" - Galatians five). What I have discovered is that in order to have the last eight, one has to successfully achieved the first. After all, God didn't say that Joy fulfills the Law, or that Goodness does, but that Love does. When I am experiencing a moment when I am truly acting in love, I also experience all the others as well. When I am acting in my own nature, I experience none of them.
Soon after becoming a Christian, a friend and I went to visit a widow with three small children. As we sat around the kitchen table discussing the best way for her to survive the grief and the poverty she suddenly inherited, I became overwhelmed with her plight. I got up from the table, went to a secluded room and began sobbing uncontrollably. When my friend came in to see what was wrong, I couldn't tell him; I didn't know. He asked what I was thinking about that brought such a response. I told him that I loved this family so much and felt totally inadequate to do anything to help her. At that moment, I was experiencing genuine love. The kind of love that God has for us. And, I know this is going to be difficult to believe, but I sensed God saying to me, "This is what love is. You have been asking Me to put it in your heart, but you are unable to handle it. I will change you little by little until you are one day just like My Son. Be patient." I am still waiting, but because of 1 John 3:2, I know it will happen! "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
Living the Law is impossible for us. Loving others completely, all the time, is also impossible. Thank God for acting on our behalf! Without the loving sacrifice of Jesus, we would be without hope. Thank God, too, for the ability to believe.