PART 11 ROMANS 13 “A CHRISTIAN’S OBLIGATION TO GOVERNMENT”
We’ve All Heard it…Why should I “submit” to a government that I believe is moving in the wrong direction? I love my country and want to cooperate with the political system, but I’m struggling to understand what the Bible says on this subject.
In Romans chapter 13 the apostle Paul gives us the answer on how to Submit to the Authorities when we Know for a Fact that Many Governments are Corrupt and Unjust?
What should a believer do when he feels that his own government is “Ungodly”?
Rom 13:1 says, The Bible Commands Christians to “submit to the governing authorities”.
- I Timothy 2:2 says to pray, “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence”.
- These words are even more striking when we realize that Paul penned them during the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero and Caligula, two of the worst tyrants known to history who aggressively Persecuted Christians.
The point is Clear from Scripture. As long as we can do so without denying Christ or Compromising our Faith, we must always strive to cooperate with the ruling powers.
- That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will endorse all of their policies or approve of every specific action they take.
- This is especially true in a democratic society, where it is the dutyof responsible citizens to examine public servants with a discerning and critical eye.
- Nevertheless, Christians are responsible to uphold biblical righteousness in a hostile culture while also expressing respect for its leadership. NOT EASY!
- To Do This…We Must Be Filled with the Holy Spirit, Obediently Following Gods Word
We Know that…God is Sovereign Over All Human Events. At the same time, He gives People the Freedom to Make their Own Choices and Go Their Own Way.
- In other words, We Need to Agree that No One can Become a King, Emperor, Governor, President, Senator or Assemblyman, Apart From God’s Sovereign Will.
- But this Does Not Mean that Possession of Political Power Amounts to a Stamp of Approval from God.
- After all, the Bible called King Nebuchadnezzar God’s “Servant” (Jeremiah 25:9). This obviously did Not imply that Nebuchadnezzar was a Godly Man.
The long and short of it, then, is that God is Always in Charge. We may Not Trust the Governing Authorities…But We MUST Trust that God is in Control.
Under Normal Circumstances, We Demonstrate that Trust by Cooperating with the state, paying our taxes, participating in the system, and staying out of trouble.
But We Are Not to be Blind. We can Never Forget that the Power of Human Rulers is Subject to the Creator of the Universe.
- Acts 5:29 makes It Clear that when These 2 Authorities come into Conflict with one another, Christians Haveto “Obey God Rather Than Men”.
The great theologian Augustine said that Government is a Necessary Evil, and that it is Necessary Because of Evil.
- Most theologians in the history of the church have said that human evil is the reason even corrupt government is better than No government at all.
The Function of Government is to Restrain Evil and to Maintain, Uphold, and Protect the Sanctity of Life and of Property.
- Given this function, the Christian knows that Government is ordained of God and so Christians, first of all, are Called to Respect whatever it is that God institutes and ordains.
For God’s sake We are Called to be Model Citizens. We are told to bend over backwards to Honor the King or be Obedient to the Civil Magistrates.
- That Doesn’t mean a slavish obedience to the civil magistrates.
- There are Occasions on which Christians Not Only May…But Must Disobey the Civil Magistrates.
Anytime a civil government requires a Christian to do what God Forbids or Forbids them to do what God Commands, The Person Must Disobey.
- Our basic posture toward government, according to the New Testament, is to be submissive and obedient citizens of the state.
- We are also given the duty of praying for earthly governments that they may fulfill the tasks God has given to them.
However, We have Another Responsibility that Sometimes Brings Us into Controversial Areas.
- Personally…I believe in a separation of spheres of authority between the church and state.
- I think it is marvelous that the United States of America does Not allow for the State to Rule the Church or the Church to Rule the State.
Historically that meant that BOTH the Church and State was Answerable to God. Separation of church and state assumed a division of labor; the Church has its Job, and the State has its Job.
***Unfortunately, in today’s culture Separation of Church and State Means Separation of State and God!!! THIS CAUSES PROBLEMS!!!
- As if the State and the Government were Answerable to No One but Themselves…As if the Government Didn’t have to Respond to God.
- America Used to Understand This…But Today For Many It Does NOT!
God Monitors Governments; God Raises them Up and Brings them Down.
Every Human Government is Accountable to God and is Accountable to Maintain its Affairs with Justice and with Righteousness.
HOWEVER… When the Government is No longer Acting Justly & No longer Protecting Life— For Example Sanctioning Abortions. Then it’s the task of the Church to be the Prophetic Voice…to Call the State to Task and Tell the State to Repent and do what God Commands it to do.
Simply…We Need a Revival in America today…And Christ is Our Only Hope.
- When England was tottering on the brink of the same anarchy that shattered France, God Sent Revival in the form of George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley.
- They and others Influenced individuals who influenced the government and saw real, lasting reform: In Prisons, Families, Poverty, Child labor, and Slavery.
Rom.13:1-9 Provides 4 Important Principles about the Christian and Government.
PRIN-1: Vs-1a “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
- Paul Wrote this to Christians, HOWEVER…the Principle here is Clear. It is for “Every Person”, both Christian and Non-Christian alike.
- Subjection certainly includes obedience, but it implies even more. Subjection focuses on the Spirit or Attitude of the Individual, which Leads to Obedience.
- It Recognizes an Authority Over Us to which We are to Give Obedience and Respect.
Our society today has a real problem with the concept of showing respect and deference for others. We have seen horrible news these last weeks of elderly people and women being attacked, government and personal property being burned, looted and destroyed. Officers and soldiers and firemen being cursed, spit on and attacked. Vile graffiti defacing personal or public property…And So Much More!
This Proud and Arrogant Attitude in Our Nation Today shows No Deference or Respect for Others, and Certainly Not God…Demanding Continually Only What They Want.
While the Christian may Not, in Good Conscience before God, be able to Obey the Government in Every Instance…They Can Still Demonstrate a Submissive Spirit.
- When King Nebuchadnezzar had Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s name changed they did Not Revolt.
- In Dan.6:7 When conspirators attempted to have Daniel executed, attacking his devotional life, they had King Darius make the edict “If you pray to anyone other than the king for the next 30 days you will be thrown into the lion’s den.”.
- Daniel didn’t revolt, he quietly went onto his prayer chamber, opened the windows and prayed as was his habit, and Trusted God for the Consequences.
Our Biblical Duty in Turbulent times Unless it Contradicts Gods Principle is to Submit to the Authority of Legitimate Governmental Agents is Required by God, at All Times and in All Cases.
- Remember Acts 5: The Sanhedrin demanded that the apostles stop preaching in the name of Jesus. They Couldn’t Obey this, Lest they Would Disobey God.
- Their answer “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard”.
Application: Everyone is to Submit to Our Political Authorities…When we Cannot demonstrate obedience because it Conflicts with Gods Law…We must disobey mans laws, but with a submissive spirit and manner. NOT RIOTING. LOOTING, HURTING PEOPLE!
PRIN-2: VS1b states, The Authorities that Exist have been Established by God.
- Paul’s entire Argument is based upon the Sovereignty of God. God Alone Possesses Ultimate Authority…He’s the Supreme Authority Over the Universe.
All human authority is delegated to men by God. No one has authority independent of God.
- Even our Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Government Didn’t Give You Those Rights…GOD DID!!
- Vs 1 Makes it Clear that the Government is Ordained of God…and the Government Possesses Divinely Delegated Authority.
God is Sovereign. In control of All things. He Causes All Things to “Work Together for oGod” (ROM 8:28). CONSIDER…
- In the Past, God raised up a disobedient Pharaoh, and we see Habakkuk 1 and 2 God used Assyria and Babylon, as His Chastening Rod over Israel.
Whether Democratic, Autocratic, Heathen or God-Fearing…Every Government which has the Power to Rule Over its People has been Granted by God.
FACT: Submission to Government then is An Expression of Our Submission to God.
- Therefore…We should be subject to human governments for this reason alone.
- God has provided the agency of civil government for a stable and peaceful society.
PRIN-3: VS.3-5 The Praise or the Penalty of Government. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
First…Paul says that, God Ordained Government, Is Called to Praise Good Behavior…He Outlines that the Duty of Government is to Reward Good Behavior.
In verse 4 Several Versions: American Standard, King James and others use the word “Minister” instead of Servant.
- Paul refers to civil government: “As a Minister” – Many refer to pastors as “ministers”. Greek- diakonos – from which we get “deacon”. Deacon is a Servant.
- Paul is saying that the civil government is a “Servant from God for Our Good.”
Second, God Ordained Government, is Called to Punish Evil Behavior. It is the duty and Responsibility of the Government to Punish Evil with complete Equality under the law.
- I believe this is a major problem in our judicial system today
VS 4: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer”.
- This is Why Nations Need Armies, and Why Communities Need Police. Fear of Punishment is Always a Deterrent…When There’s No Law and Order. There’s No Fear of Consequences for Bad Behavior.
- To Prove My Point>>>How many of us, when driving, crest a hill and see a police car instantly hit our brakes? Why? Fear of penalty. A Ticket. 😊
The Gospel Clearly Requires the Accountability of the Individual.
- In Ezekiel 18:20 we read: “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”
God Blessed Our Nation with Incredibly Wise Founders. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the primary influences in the writing of the US Constitution penned words that the vast majority of individuals throughout human history would have given their right arm to live under. Truthfully, the vast majority of people the world over do Not enjoy these same rights today.
- 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
KEY: We have the Right to Peacefully Assemble for a Redress of Grievances. We do Not have the Legal Right to Burn, Loot, and Steal, Intimidate and when We do, We Sin.
The Purpose of God-Ordained Civil Government is to Reward Good Behavior and to Punish and Restrain Evil. When governments function as they are supposed to, they protect law-abiding citizens and punish law-breakers.
PRIN-4: Pay What You Owe. The Christian is to Pay what He Owes to His Government. VS 6-7: This is also why you pay taxes, for the Authorities are God’s Servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Paul uses two words for taxes…The First refers to direct taxes paid by subject nations, such as property tax and income tax. The Second word refers to more indirect tax, such as sales tax and customs.
- The Point is…Although We often Disagree with How Our Government Spends Our Tax Dollars, We Should Pay Our Taxes Conscientiously Before the Lord.
We can protest our taxes through proper channels and we can vote for those who might lower our taxes, but we aren’t free to opt out of paying our taxes.
- I’m sure when these riots are all over we are going to be paying taxes…a lot of taxes!
- Police have been working 16 hrs shifts, overtime for FD, broken glass, fences, damaged property. Guess who cleans that up? Guess who pays for it? Tax Payers!
Jesus in Matt 22:21 “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s.”
In Verse 8 Paul takes a Turn from what he has been saying about Government. He says the Christian is to Pay a Greater Debt than Taxes…He is to Pay a Debt of Love
- Vs-8 says: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
SO…Why does Paul Insert this text about Loving others here? He is saying we are Accountable for Our Actions and that God Calls Us to Love All others like Christ!
This Includes those with Whom We Strongly Disagree…Yes, even those in Authority over Us who do Not Understand they’re under God’s Authority and do Not act Justly!
- Micah 6:8 says,“He has told you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”
- I see a lot of people talking about “Justice”, but there is No Kindness and No Humility…and for these with Proud Hearts…God will Not Hear!
Paul Continues VS-9: The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
And then Paul Concludes Chapter 13 with an Exhortation…That the Day Is Near
Vs 11,12 14 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light…14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Here’s What I Want to Leave With You…It is the Love of Christ flowing through Us That Allows Us to Give to Caesar what is Caesars…And to God what is God’s
As we Submit to God His Supernatural Love Enables Us to Pray for those with whom we passionately disagree…While We Stand Our Ground for Christ and Live Out His Principles in this World.
God is Sovereign…He Has a Perfect Plan for You…For Me and for the Governments of the World. He Puts Kings, Presidents even Evil Dictators in Place for His Perfect Purpose…You and I May Never Understand His Plan Until We See Him Face to Face!
Therefore…We are to Submit to Gods Perfect Authority…Which Includes those in Authority Over Us…He Calls Us To be Model Americans… And More…Stand Firm as Model Christians…Who Obediently Live the Bible…And when it comes to our support of Government, We do what God would have Us do…We Vote the Bible! And leave the Rest to HIM.
POINT: Submission to Government Is An Expression of Our Submission to God.