Love Fulfills the Law

Romans 8:3–4

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:3–4 says Christ died so that the law would be fulfilled in us. What does it mean for the law to be fulfilled? And how is it fulfilled in us? In this lab, John Piper tackles these two critical questions.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:33)

Two questions:

  1. How is the righteous requirement of the law fulfilled?
  2. What is the righteous requirement of the law?

How Is the Law Fulfilled? (02:33–03:42)

This fulfillment is not talking about the perfect, legal fulfillment of all that the law requires of us that is — the righteousness that is imputed to us (Romans 5:18–19). The fulfillment in Romans 8:4 is “in us,” not “for us.” This fulfillment happens in us as we walk by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Is the Requirement of the Law? (03:42–06:14)

The righteous requirement of the law is love, which fulfills the whole law.

Read Romans 13:8–10:

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.

  1. The law is summed up in love (Romans 13:9).
  2. That summary of the law (love) fulfills the law when it is lived out in the life of the believer (Romans 13:8).
  3. Confirmation: Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Application (06:14–08:46)

  1. In Romans 8:3, God provides his Son so that we would not be condemned. Because of him, we are declared holy (justification).
  2. In Romans 8:4, God provides the Spirit to change us and make us more holy — that is, more loving (sanctification).
  3. The critical, unchangeable order of these two works of God means: “The only sin that can be defeated in your life by the power of the Spirit is a forgiven sin.”

Study Questions

  1. From Romans 8:3–4, how is the law fulfilled? Is there more than way it is fulfilled?
  2. In Romans 8:4, why does Paul say the law is fulfilled “in” us? What are other options he might have used instead? Why “in” here?
  3. Look at Romans 13:8–10. How do those verses help us define “the righteous requirement of the law” (Romans 8:4)?
Piper: “The only sin that can be defeated by the Spirit is a forgiven sin.”

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.