Jul. 30, 2016

Be subject to the government.

Romans 13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority  has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.


In today’s text Paul writes:   Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.    This statement, this exhortation is becoming increasingly more difficult for many believers to accept and live by in our times. Many no longer trust or have confidence in the government. Surly this nation which claimed to be “One Nation Under God” no longer believes or acts that way. There is very little regard for God, righteousness or morality of any kind in our nation or our governing authorities. We need to remember that Paul wrote this even as he was falsely imprisoned. Jesus Himself remained subject to authority even though He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Even at the point of His arrest Jesus said:   “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54) If Paul, as he was imprisoned, and Jesus Himself subjected themselves to the authority of a harsh, Godless government, the perhaps we should too.

Throughout history there have been more Godless leaders than Godly ones. Yet as Daniel 2:20-21 says:  “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.  “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings” Why is it that God would allow, would actually raise up evil and harsh, Godless leaders to rule over people? The answer perhaps is simply in the hearts of men. In 1 Samuel 8:6-18 we see what God said when Israel asked to be ruled by a king:        “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.  The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.  Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also.  Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king.  He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”          The establishment of governmental rule and authority is because man has rejected God, His rule and His authority.

Still you may say that does not answer the question of why there is Godless rather than Godly rulers in the world. It is in part because laws, rules, authority cannot change the hearts of people. That was true of the religious laws of the Israelites and it is also true of any and every governmental authority there has ever been. Only Jesus, through the redeeming power of the cross and through the resurrection can change the hearts of people and cause them to live righteously. In John 3:16-21 Jesus explains the judgment against people.    God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”        “Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light.”      When God has raised up good and righteous, Godly leaders, in times when nations have experienced the blessings of God, they still choose darkness. Perhaps God allows darkness to be in authority so that people will be able to see the light. As believers, followers of Christ, we like Paul, are to be in subjection to government authority. We never though, are to stop proclaiming Christ. When Peter and the apostles were brought before the authorities we read their response in Acts 4:18-20:    when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “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 about what we have seen and heard.”     Again in Acts 5:27-32:   they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”   Paul never stopped proclaiming Christ, being His witness. Paul wrote the letters to the churches from prison. He testified of Christ before governors and kings.

We, like they, are called to be witnesses, with the Holy Spirit. Our government may indeed continue down a dark and Godless path. In Mark 13:7-13 Jesus says:  When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.  “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.  When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Could it be that we have been called for such a time as this? Could it be that we live now in the midst of this darkness in order that we might be a light? Jesus says the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say. Whether to our families our fellow workers or before kings and authorities; Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for revealing Your light to me. In these dark times may I have the confidence and the faith to trust in You even as I submit to human authority. May I never fear, but have faith that You will give me the words to say, to be Your witness, to shine Your light in the darkness, that the world may see and glorify You.  Amen