Who’s your authority?
Let us continue our journey through the book of Romans. I want to thank you for the significant and positive response to our study. I pray that these emails are beneficial to your walk with the Lord and help you on your journey.
Read: Romans 13
In the times that we are living in, it seems that this is a perfect text for us to dive into. What role do governing authorities play in our lives? How are we to submit to them?
1. Governing Authorities (1). These few verses in Romans has caused much heartache and confusion amongst Christians. Many look at this text and completely dismiss it. For us to understand this chapter, it is essential to remember the context and understanding that Paul tells us about God. First, we must not forget that God is sovereign. He is in control of all things and rules all things. This comes to the government as well. The first question that is usually asked at this point is, “what about ungodly ones?” Well, our first response is that no one is godly, no, not one. Secondly, he says to obey all governing authorities. All means all. Now before we get into the times when we must not obey, it is wise to remember that we are to obey all authorities because they are established by God. As Christians, there are certain aspects of our faith that we must hold dear in obeying all authorities.
2. Complete Obedience (2)? Is there any reason that is justified for disobeying authorities? What if the authority is violating human rights? To answer this, we must look at when Jesus was directly asked about submission to the government and His dealing with authority. When you look at John 19:11, you see Jesus’ response to Pilate, who is about to hand Him over for crucifixion. Jesus says that you have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Jesus proclaims this thought that Paul is expressing. Secondly, when Jesus is asked about paying takes what does He say? Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is Gods. Again this reminds us that God is the giver of authority. As Christians, we should be the most supportive of our governments. We must regularly pray for them and encourage them unto the Lord. However, as Christians, we are to oppose any authority that strays away from God-given function or goes against the moral law of man. There are some areas in which we must disobey the government and obey the Lord. For example, evangelism, we are commanded to share the Gospel no matter what the government says. Morality, we must fight for life, both for the unborn and the alien. As believers, we have an obligation to fight for those that can not fight for themselves.
3. The Sword (3-4). We know that when Paul refers to the power of the sword, he is referring to force. All governments operate by force, even in America. At the end of every law in America is an army. The sword gives the authorities the power to do so. This, however, does not provide the authorities with the right to massacre their people. The state is instead to use this power to punish evil and to defend its people. This is why Paul says for the believer in doing good. If you do good, you will not feel the weight of the sword. As Christians, we are to be obedient to the laws. This is why we should not be surprised when people are punished for violating the law. This leads me to make something very clear about the government. The government can not develop morality. Just because the government says something is good, does not make it good. Just because they say a specific practice is acceptable, does not make it morally right. Morality belongs and comes from the Lord; the government’s job is to enforce it.
4. Matter of conscience (5-7). A Christian, therefore, must be subject to the governing authorities. Pay your taxes, don’t cheat on them. We know that many try to get out of paying what they owe to the governing authorities, understand though that God has placed them there. They are actors on His behalf. We are to respect and to honor them. As believers, I don’t know your political leanings, but you should pray for our president. I don’t really care if you like him or not. Respect him and pray for him. The same goes for our governor. Pray for him, respect him. This comes down to all authorities in our lives—Federal, state, local, police, doctors, pastors, and parents. Honor and pray for your authorities.
5. Only owe love (8-10). Paul beginning to switch gears here says that we are to owe nothing except to love. That after you’ve paid your taxes, respect and honor, owe love. It is in love that we find that we fulfill the law. If you love your neighbor, you will not commit adultery against them. You will not murder them nor steal. If you truly love someone, then you will do your best to lift them up and not to hurt them. Owe love. Your debt to other people should only be that of loving them.
6. Knowing the times (11). Now before you begin to think that we are going to talk about the end times, I want you to know that this is not about the end times. Paul is not concerned about some future events to occur; rather, Paul is talking about the current time in which they are at, the present. His concern is that we understand the time in which we live. We live in a different time and history. This is the time that we need to repent and believe. But you might say, isn’t’ that every time? The answer is exactly, but it is now the time to repent and believe.
7. Walk in the light (12-14). Friends Paul is challenging you and me to live our lives in the light. That we are to walk as people of the light, he goes on into some details of things that people do who walk in the dark. That we are not to walk in drunkenness, sexual immorality, not in quarreling and jealousy, those are things of the darkness. Rather, we are to put on Christ and to walk in a manner worthy of Christ. What is that, to love.
Friends, are you filled with love for your neighbor today? Do you honor and respect your governing authorities? Pray for them. Honor them.