Sermon: Love Bears All Things Romans 15:1-7

Love Bears All Things

Romans 15:1-7

Truth Taught – Walking together in unity requires us to focus on caring for others and not so much on pleasing ourselves.

 

Introduction

God desires His people to love each other and walk in harmony. Unity asks us to give up something for the good of others. If we all are out for ourselves there will never be unity. When we are seeking to serve others then unity and harmony are possible.

What would the church look like if everyone began to follow Philippians 2?

Philippians 2:3–8 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

When we are sacrificing for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are following Christ because that’s what He did.

I want to pause just for a moment and explain that walking in unity requires that we be unified on the truth of God’s Word first and then caring for one another second. It is possible to be unified on false doctrine. We could walk in perfect harmony in a lie. We would be unified in untruth and this would not glorify God. Other religions, for example, are unified on doctrine but it’s not truth. The result is a mass unified multitude believing a lie and condemned to hell.

We must be unified on the truth and then walking in unity of the Spirit. Beloved, when we are, we are singing a song to God with one voice in perfect harmony. We are walking in Christ and we are fulfilling prophecy as well.

Jeremiah 32:38–39 (ESV)

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.

Our Lord also knew that through His eternal work of redemption that He would build a people who walk in harmony.

John 10:16 (ESV)

16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Here is one of the big differences between the church and the world. The world seeks to mandate harmony within our society. It’s often done even at the expense of peace and harmony. The race riots of the 60s, for example, picture how the world handles these issues. Fighting and protesting are doing the exact same thing that the rioters and protestors claim is unfair when they’re the ones at the receiving end. The world attempts to create a façade of unity by seeking to make everyone alike. Whether it’s race, gender, abortion, etc., all are areas where the world seeks a twisted and evil unity.

The church must be different. We must celebrate the fact that we are all different. We come from different ethnic backgrounds, black, and white, Asian, etc. We are different in gender—some are male and some are female. Rather than crushing our individuality and uniqueness, the beauty is when we can be diverse and in harmony in the truth of the Gospel and serve each other in love embracing how we are different from each other and yet in harmony through the power of Christ.

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Sermon: Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin Romans 14:13-23

Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin

Romans 14:13-23

Truth Taught- We must at times give up our freedoms to help our brothers and sisters in Christ persevere to the end.

Introduction

In our text today, Paul continues his teaching on how stronger and weaker brothers and sisters within the local church are to interact and encourage each other’s perseverance in the faith. To the weaker, never condemn the one who exercises freedom in Christ. To the stronger, never push your liberty on a weaker brother or sister.

Our text today is written specifically to the stronger Christian, showing them what responsibilities they have toward the weaker Christians. You may have determined last week that you were one of the stronger believers, so today’s text is just for you.

Prayer

Romans 14:13–23 (ESV)

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Turn Onto the Wrong Path

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

The first point Paul makes is that we are not to pass judgment on another believer concerning their strong or weak faith nor their practices or beliefs when it comes to eating, drinking, or special days.

His language is powerful here. KrinowMake a decision about someone or something beforehand, to judge. The word and its derivative is really used twice in verse 13. He says do not make a predetermined judgment about the other brother or sister concerning their faith whether it’s weaker or stronger or whether their eating and drinking is sinful or not. Instead, make a predetermined judgment that you will never place a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of their faith.

So beloved, we must determine that we will never place or be a stumbling block to another believer’s faith. Instead, we must be the ones who help their faith along the path.

What was John the Baptist’s mission concerning Jesus? He was to make His path straight.

Mark 1:2–3 (ESV)

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

       “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way,

   the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,’ ”

Our goal as stronger believers is to help make the weaker believer’s path straight by not being an obstruction to their faith. The way we do this is by not being a stumbling block to their faith by not doing something that goes against their conscience, and yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

Are you doing anything that would hurt your brother’s or sister’s faith? We are about to discover there is much more at stake than we might think at first.

Beloved, we all have a responsibility to everyone else here.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Be Set on the Path of Destruction

14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Let’s look at Paul’s reasoning to discover the real issue. He tells us that all foods are now clean. By clean he means ceremonially clean or holy in and of themselves. Last time we read Acts 10 where God told Peter that all foods are now clean, and all people are now clean so he should not call something or someone unclean if God has declared them clean. So, Peter should eat and go to the Gentile’s house.

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Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning

Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning

Chapter 4

Sermon: A Case Study in Loving Others Within the Church Romans 14:1-13

A Case Study in Loving Others Within the Church

Romans 14:1-13

Truth Taught – We are to love and welcome all other genuine Christians because God loves and welcomes them.

 Introduction

Our past should never be used as an excuse to sin. In the counseling world especially, we see many instances when the counselee’s sinful behavior is tolerated due to some past tragedy in their life. We must realize that our past has, in many ways, shaped us and has affected us, but we cannot allow it to rule us. In our verses for today we are going to see a group whose past has affected them in such a way as to cause them to be uneasy when plugged into the larger Christian Church. How is the Church to respond to these weaker brothers and sisters?

Today, we’ll discover that God has a wonderful approach to this dilemma that the Church in Rome faced and just about any other Church as well faces or will face. How do we live in harmony with those who come from a different background than we do? Or how do we live in harmony with other Christians who aren’t quite where we are in the minor things of doctrine or tradition?

Paul is not referring to race as in black, white, or any other ethnic marker, but rather he’s referring to differences in background and beliefs that have been embraced since childhood.

The story has been told of an Amish man who was saved. He became a Christian and left the works-based beliefs of the Amish. He understood now that his former beliefs of no modern conveniences were to be brought into the house. He purchased a radio and a car but still kept the car in the barn and only drove it at night and only played the radio when he was by himself. He still had old beliefs that were hard to let go of.

In our text today, we have Jewish folks who were coming to Christ. They had been taught many things since childhood that now, as a Christian, are no longer to be believed and practiced. They were struggling with some of these past means of grace that were not needed because all of God’s grace comes to us through Jesus Christ.

The issue here is what do we do when minor differences are evident between us and other Christians. To be clear, I’m not speaking about disagreements over biblical truth. For example, there are many who call themselves Christians but do not believe the basic tenants of the faith. With those folks we must be very cautious. Our fellowship is greatly limited when we are confronted with a false Christian or one in name only. There are many so-called Christian groups around that are not even close to being Christian. This text is not speaking about those situations. Here, both parties in focus are genuine Christians and a part of the Church in Rome.

Prayer

Before I read the text, there are two things we need to define: What does Paul mean by weaker faith and stronger faith. Now, in the context of the Church of Rome that’s made up of Jews and Gentiles, he refers to the Jews as the ones with the weaker faith and the Gentiles as the one’s with the stronger faith. The strong in faith are those who have grasped that we are free from much of the OT Law in Christ. The weaker Christians are those who have not yet fully grasped the application of the Gospel. The sinful tendency is for the stronger Christians to look down on the weaker Christians, and the weaker Christians tend to sit in judgment or despise the stronger Christians. He’s not speaking down to the Jews but he’s comparing the two. The Christian Jews were struggling with giving up all their traditions and beliefs that they had been raised with, and so Paul writes to them and uses the term weaker faith. The Gentiles, on the other hand, really didn’t have much to hang on to from paganism so they came to Christ and saw Him as completely sufficient for salvation.

Romans 14:1–13 (ESV)

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

       “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

  1. Welcome Other Christians Because God has Welcomed Them  

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Here, the Jews were having trouble eating anything as food. Previously there were things they viewed as unclean. They viewed things like certain fish as unclean, pork, certain birds, etc. This was a struggle for many Jewish Christians. It’s completely understandable. Peter had this same struggle.

Acts 10:9–22 (ESV)

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”

22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”

This struggle for many Jews had to do with the Gentile Christians eating all kinds of meat while they grew up in a Jewish home only eating certain kinds of meat.

It was probably something like this: The church had small groups of mixed Christians, some Jews and some Gentiles. When they met at the Gentiles house the Jews were served pork chops and when they met at the Jewish home, they were served Jewish food made of vegetables.

Do you see the issue? The Jewish Christians were not saying that abstaining from pork saved them. They were already saved by grace through faith the same way the Gentiles were. The issue was that their faith was weaker in the sense of struggling with former traditions and laws. They knew these things in their head but still down deep had some struggles.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

The Gentile shows love to his Jewish Christian friends by not serving pork at the Bible study and does not speak down to them but cares for them and loves them. The Gentile Christian does not despise the Jewish Christian and the Jewish Christian does not condemn the Gentile Christian for eating pork. Rather they live in harmony as brothers and sisters in Christ because God has welcomed them both into His family.

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Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning

Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning
11/25/18 Chapter 3

 

Sermon: Loving Others Fulfills God’s Law Romans 13:8-14

Loving Others Fulfills God’s Law

Romans 13:8-14

Truth Taught- When we love others, we are fulfilling God’s law and redeeming the time.

Introduction

At the end of Chapter 12 we are told how we should relate to someone who is an enemy. Paul writes…

Romans 12:19–21 (ESV)

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

On an individual basis we are to show love to our enemies. For us we must show love and mercy to our enemies. God, however, is different. He stands ready to pass judgment upon His enemies. He does so by using the government that He has set in place. Last week, we saw that God carries out His vengeance by using the government. Because it is God’s tool for order and peace we are to submit to it.

Today, we’ll see that again God calls us to show love to others.

In between the commands to show love and not vengeance Paul explains that God will take care of the vengeance so that we can show love to others.

Prayer

Romans 13:8–14 (ESV)

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.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

  1. The Command to Love One Another (8a)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other

Last time we were told that we should pay the taxes we owe to our government because it is God’s arm to keep order in a society. Today, we are told to first not owe anyone money… Owe no one anything. In this case, this is not teaching to stay out of debt (that’s for another time). The teaching in verse 8a is that we are in debt and we are seeking to pay that debt.

Romans 1:14–15 (ESV)

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

We owe the lost world the Gospel.

Romans 8:11–12 (ESV)

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

We owe the Holy Spirit obedience

Romans 13:6 (ESV)

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

We owe the government taxes

Here in Romans 13:8 we owe others love. Owe no one anything, except to love each other. This debt, beloved, we will never pay off. Every time we meet someone new we owe him or her love. This is not just a good thing God wants us to do but it is a command He makes to all believers.

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Sermon: Called to be Subject to Governing Authorities Romans 13:1-7

Called to be Subject to Governing Authorities

Romans 13:1-7

Truth Taught- Christians are called to submit to the government because God has installed it for order and safety

Introduction

Which would you most desire, a bad government or no government?

These seven verses contain the clearest and most specific New Testament teaching on the Christian’s responsibility to civil authority. Every Christian, no matter what form of government he lives under, is under the command from the Lord to maintain proper and useful submission to that government for the sake of leading a peaceful life and having an effective witness. This recurring theme of submission to society’s controlling power is nowhere more forcefully dealt with than here.[1]

To disobey the governing authorities is sin. We will discover that there are exceptions, but, in general, we, as Christians, must obey the governing authorities over us.

Prayer

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

  1. Christians Are Commanded to Submit to the Government (13:1-2)

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

This is a good time to teach how we can read the Bible thinking through from command to reason to consequence. This is something that has been lost in modern education. Teaching logic is so important but few ever learn it. Logic is the science of how to think and reason properly. So, let’s take a minute to look at the structure of verses 1 and 2.

What is Paul’s command?

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

He’s making an overarching command to all Christians first in Rome and then to us to be under and live under governing authorities in a peaceful manner. This command also falls within the context of what we’ve just learned in Chapter 12. We’ve learned to show genuine love to others and that as far as it depends on us, live at peace with all people. Sometimes, however, we cannot live at peace with someone or with a government. What he’s talking about is that in a general sense we are to live at peace with our government.

The reason for the command or we might say, why am I commanded to live in subjection to the government?

For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. So, why are we required to be under the authority of our government? Because God has set it in place. The idea of submission to a higher authority is when that higher authority is bringing order and not chaos.

When God created the universe, it was first in chaos. The earth, for example, was formless and void. It was in chaos. God spoke and brought order to His creation, therefore, we submit to His authority because He has brought order. From our text today, we are commanded to submit to civil authorities because God has set them in place to bring order from chaos.

As Americans, we voted the other day, and all who were elected were ordained by God to be over us with authority. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their politics we are commanded to submit to them as our leaders, ordained by God to bring order from chaos.

There are television shows that portray a world without a working government and often the writers and actors capture the chaos. The bottom line is even a bad government is better than no government.   This does not mean that because God set the government in place that all who participate are going to be Christians. Most often America gets the leaders we deserve. Regardless, God has set it in place to bring about order.

When the people who are in authority over you are not bringing order but chaos, then the command to submit to them ends. We must at that point submit to God and not to them.

 

Acts 5:27–29 (ESV)

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

When husbands bring order, wives are commanded to submit. When church leaders bring order, church members are commanded to submit. When parents bring order, children are commanded to submit. When masters bring order, slaves are commanded to submit . . . when the authority brings chaos, then we must obey God and not those other authorities.

What are the consequences of rebelling against our government?

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. When our government is creating an orderly society, we are commanded to obey the authorities, because when we obey them, we are obeying God and the ones He has placed in the governing roles over us.

Let’s think about a few examples . . . .

When our government has laws in place for our safety, we obey those laws. When our government sets in place laws concerning the welfare of others, we obey those laws. When our government sets in place laws that require us to pay taxes, we submit to those laws. However, when our government sets in place laws that say murdering unborn babies is okay, then we obey God and not man. We seek proper channels and fight those laws. When a government’s laws are contrary to God’s laws then they are working outside of God’s authority, and, at that point, we obey our greater authority who is God alone. Because they are now working to create chaos and not order.

An example from Scripture of the point Paul makes here is found in:

John 19:11 (ESV)

11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

So, even the pagan occultist governor Pontius Pilate had his authority given to him by God.

So, if I rebel against the government when it’s creating order, then I should expect to be punished by God since it is His institution.

  1. Christians Who Submit to the Government Can Live Free From the Fear of Punishment (13:3-4)

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

With Paul’s original command in mind, namely, 13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

We move on to his second purpose; his second reason why we should be subject to governing authorities. The first was because God set it up, and the second reason we find here . . . we should want to avoid civil punishment.

God has set in place the governing authorities to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. The concept is fairly straightforward isn’t it? Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t do what you’re not supposed to do, and you won’t be punished.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Paul really goes at this principle in two different directions. He calls the authority figure whether it’s the Emperor, Governor, King, or President, God’s servant. He tells us that if we obey this person, then he is God’s servant for our good. If you obey civil authorities, then this servant of God is for your protection because he is going to punish all who disobey which means safety and peace for you. However, if you disobey, again he is called, God’s servant, only now he is God’s servant for vengeance and wrath, as Paul writes, he doesn’t bear the sword for nothing.

This should cause us to think back to:

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Christians are not to take the law into their own hands, but to leave room for the wrath of God so now we see two ways God carries out His wrath: First, He will make all things right in the last day or the Day of Judgment. Second, He will show judgment and wrath through civil authorities that He has set up. Because both of these reasons are true, and we can trust God in this, we must not take matters into our own hands but trust that God will work. In other words, God will make all things right either in the end or in the due process of the law.

  1. Summary (13:5)

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Here Paul gives us a one sentence review or summary. He writes that we should be in subjection to the authorities because in doing so we will avoid God’s wrath/punishment from civil authorities and for the sake of conscience because we know it’s the right thing to do because God has set it in place.

  1. Application (13:6-7)

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

How are we to relate to those God has placed in civil authority over us? Because we know God has set them in place, and keeping law and order is a full-time job, then we should pay our taxes. Their responsibilities keep them very busy, and they should be paid a decent wage, and that’s where taxes come in.

In the ancient world, tax collectors were considered the worst of sinners when actually, one that does it right is working for God. He is the one that collects the money from citizens who are benefiting from the work the government authorities do to keep them safe etc.

So, beloved, we are to pay the taxes we owe, we are to pay the revenue we owe (this includes other things like licenses, permits, etc.), respect and honor we owe these who stand over us in society.

We realize, don’t we, that we live in a fallen world and those placed in authority over us are often not Christian. They use their power for personal gain. They lie, cheat, and steal and get away with it. We have seen this over and over again. So, we all realize that in a sinful fallen world there are many imperfections in God’s system of government. Yet a fallen government is far better than no government at all. We are very quick to point our fingers at corruption within civil servants and those in power, but we must also be careful because we are also corrupt.

We fail to follow and submit ourselves to the governing authorities like we should. We are fallen and sinful as well. So, before we begin complaining about the corruption we see, we must ask ourselves: Am I placing myself in subjection to them because God set this system in place, or am I just as rebellious as they are?

Here’s a quick test . . .

When you see a policeman are you pleased and thankful to see him as a law-abiding citizen or frightened and stressed to see him as a law-breaking citizen?

The main thrust of these verses is to humble us and to show us what God desires from His people. God desires that we obey those He has placed over us so we become better citizens in our community and better citizens in His kingdom.

When we are called to obey those in civil authority, and we find them to be less than honorable, use that negative experience to remind yourself that we have a real King.

One day, when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom on earth, we will have a perfect government in which to submit. Until then, practice with a fallen government so that when Christ returns, we will be ready to fully submit to His authority as King over us.

 

 

 

*Resources Used:

Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by Douglas Moo

Romans by John Stott

Romans by John MacArthur

Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans. Chicago: Moody Press.

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