Question: The Apostle Paul states that "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10). Does his statement mean that we need not keep the Ten Commandments if we have "love"?
Answer: The "love" of which Paul writes is not some sentimental feeling of human origin. He explains that it is the very love of God imparted to our minds by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). This is the love that enables one to keep—"fulfill"—the Ten Commandments. But how exactly does God’s love fulfill His commandments?
Jesus Christ set the example all Christians are to follow (1 Peter 2:21). He kept His Father’s commandments, and taught others to keep them (John 14:15; 15:10; Matthew 19:16–19).
Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments as the expression of love to God and to our fellow man (Matthew 22:35–40). The first four commandments show us how to love God, and the last six commandments show us how to love our neighbors. Since the Apostle John tells us that the basic characteristic of God’s nature and character is "love" (1 John 4:8, 16), the Ten Commandments are therefore expressions of the Supreme Lawgiver’s divine love, because they reflect His very character—which is summarized by the word "love." This love is not some form of human love, but is the divine love that comes directly from God through His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
As God is love, Jesus showed that the spiritual intent and purpose of God’s law is love. The divine love of God, imparted to converted Christians by God’s Holy Spirit, is expressed within the bounds of God’s law—the Ten Commandments. It is manifested first of all in adoration and worship of God, and literal obedience to Him; and then in outgoing concern, compassion, kindness and service to those around us. The love of God enables us to fulfill the spiritual intent of His law.
The Apostle Paul further explains: "He 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 bear false witness, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8–10).
God reveals that His love is expressed by our keeping His commandments. The Apostle John plainly stated how God’s love is expressed, and then defined it as follows: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:2–3).
Nevertheless, could there possibly be any truth whatsoever in the widespread belief that "love" fulfills the law of God in such a way that the keeping of the Ten Commandments is no longer necessary?
The Apostle John emphatically tells us: No (1 John 2:3–6; 2 John 5–6).
John certainly emphasized the importance of God’s love. But never did he, or any other writer of Scripture, say that love put away, superseded or invalidated the law of God. John, who was a close friend, disciple and Apostle of Jesus Christ, stated plainly that one who truly has the love of God will be keeping the commandments of God!
The time is coming soon when the whole world, ruled by Jesus Christ, will understand and appreciate what an incredible blessing the law of God really is. A glorious world of peace and harmony will be the result of keeping God’s law (Isaiah 2:2–3).