In today’s passage were going to talk about a somewhat sensitive subject. Our passage deals with the authorities the rule over us. For some reason we sometimes get confused in this area. I wonder if its because we find it difficult to submit to those with whom we do not agree. But before we go any further, let’s catch up a bit.
The Apostle Paul in Romans has concluded with his big theological work and he continues in this way of giving practical guidance of how to live victoriously in Christ Jesus.
My Big idea for today is that while we are under many layers of authority, Christ is the ultimate Judge. My prayer for us today is that by hearing this message, together, we would grow as a people of discernment and faith, keeping our main focus on Jesus our Lord and not so much on the whoever occupies the capital. If you have your Bibles today you can join me as we turn to, you guessed it Romans Chapter 13 starting at verse 1.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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.Romans 13:1-7
6 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.
In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 3 sections or points. Let’s take a look at my first point.
Everyone Is Under God’s Authority
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.Romans 13:1-2
Let’s look at what it means to be subject/submit to a governing authority/ruler. When we hear this, many of us go right to obedience. And in some very limited way the word that is used here in the Greek may point in that direction. However, submission is broader and more basic than obedience. It really speaks to the recognition of God’s hand in the establishment of a hierarchy/order. This acknowledgement may include institutions or people in offices and in this capacity, they deserve our respect and deference.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.Ephesians 5:21
Same examples we see with slaves and masters, Married people etc. This idea is really about severing one another and recognizing the natural leadership roles that are in place in our lives. God has established all of these authorities under His supreme leadership.The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.Romans 13:2
This concept is really living peaceably and maintaining a proper witness for Christ. For some historical context Paul seems to be speaking towards the Political Zealots of their time. These were God fearing people, primarily focused on overthrowing the Roman occupation of Israel. In all good intentions, their deeds were rebellious in nature and they were ultimately fighting against God’s purpose at that time. I know what you’re going to say, “Pastor, what about leaders that are clearly evil?” I’m glad you asked, because this is a perfect lead into the application of the scripture.
Sometimes, for whatever reason those who govern come up with some crazy ideas. These ideas present themselves as huge red flags that are clearly in conflict with God’s word. This is where every Christian will need to seek discernment from the Holy Spirit to determine his/her course of action. We made a decision to reopen and stay open, not to be obstinate, rather to do what God had called us to do. We did this with the understanding that We were under a human authority that might judge me for that decision. But that God’s judgment was more important.
But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!Acts 4:19
In remaining consistent with their witness, Peter and John respectfully explained their dilemma and submitted to the judgment of the authority. Here’s the flipside, the authority there, the Sanhedrin, was also under authority and was expected to rule justly or be guilty of wrongdoing. Let’s look at Daniel…
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel,Daniel 1:8-9
Daniel had made the decision already in his heart to obey God rather than man but chose to offer acknowledgement and honor where due and trusted that God would make a way for him to be true to his faith. Daniel, Peter, and John all demonstrated the courage to say no, but did so in a manner that honored the authority and pleased God.
Let’s move on to my next point.
All Rulers Are Subject To A Biblical Identity
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.Romans 13:3-5
God’s word shows us the identity/character of rulers. Jeroboam King of Israel, taught Israel to sin. Asa King of Judah did right in the eyes of the Lord, although not perfect, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord his whole life. Manasseh King of Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Josiah did right by God and led a major revival, partly because they had rediscovered the Book of the Law, the Torah. Rulers and subjects alike are under some authority. If not under a national authority, then they are most likely under a global authority. And everyone regardless of position is under God’s authority and will be judged by the actions.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong…Romans 13:3
All Rulers Are Subject To Biblical Identity. This is the expectation of what a ruler should be.
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.Romans 13:4
In various ways you are set over a family, a crew at work, a classroom. Be a good representation of Jesus and of your heavenly father. We are and are under authority for our good and the good of our greater society. Be a good citizen and submit to one another. Until such time as leadership conflicts with God’s law. Paul give 2 reasons: to avoid punishment and to keep a clear conscience/good witness for Christ. ILLUSTRATION: God can use an evil regime to further his purpose. Babylon was used as an arm of Judgment against Judah. But it was an evil regime nonetheless, idolatry and the like. Various kingdoms are established, and rulers chose their spiritual paths and they will be measured by how they lead on a grand scale. But as individuals we must decide who we will serve.
The thing about an evil ruler/administration is that they, although are placed by God make a choice everyday who they will serve. If they choice evil they have aligned themselves against God, and therefore God cannot be allied to their leadership. As a result, they await judgment. Believers are called to respect and honor those in authority, but we are not called to obey laws that would cause us to violate God’s laws/ the word of God.
Let’s move to my final point.
We Cannot Allow The Temporal To Rule The Eternal
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.Romans 13:6-7
Many of us would want to rebel just over the amount or manner in which we pay taxes, Right?
Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”Matthew 22:19-21
Here Jesus makes the distinction between the temporal and the eternal. Those that belong to God and those that belongs to man. Money as useful as it can be on earth has no eternal value. Money is commissioned by kings and it ultimately belongs to them. What belongs to God? Something that has eternal value. Worship, glory, faith…How about the church?
Matthew 16:18-And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
The authorities of this world have no claim to the church. It belongs to Jesus. The powers of this world have no claim to the worship of God/Yahweh. It belongs to almighty God alone.
The rulers of this world couldn’t stand under the weight of God’s glory
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
Just as Christ Himself was under authority He gave preference to the father’s will not those of human authority and not his own desire, but to God the father. All human affairs are subject to Christ as He is the only Righteous judge. In all this talk about authority, God in every way has demonstrated to us: mercy grace and love. He has given us hope. For those here and those watching online, I ask you to do this each week, I ask you to open your hearts to Jesus.
Would you open our hearts to Jesus today in such a way that you become open to His voice leading you and guiding you through the choices of life.
About this lime I like to remind you of this…
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late
It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here. Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life.
If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me.
Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.
“‘“The Lord bless youNumbers 6:24-26
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’