Summary: A teaching message on Romans 13:1-7.
Romans Series # 53 September 11, 2002
Title: 2 Reasons the Christian Should Obey the Government
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. We are currently in Chapter 13 of Romans as we continue with message #53 of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Romans.
Read Romans 13:1-7
Today I will be sharing with you two reasons for the Christian to obey the government. Every person has to deal with the government in one way or the other. We each must decide what attitude and response we will have towards government in general, weather local, state, or national, and towards the government’s leaders and government rules (taxes, jury duty, traffic laws, building codes, business laws, criminal and civil laws, etc.)
Sometimes we’re inclined to be disrespectful to certain government leaders because we believe that they’re not worthy of respect or because we do not accept the legitimacy of their authority. Sometimes we’re inclined to disobey or ignore certain laws and rules of government because they seem ludicrous or unfair to us or simply because these particular rules would be very difficult for us to keep. Some people go even further than disobeying or ignoring the government’s laws and actually fight against the government through various means, including terrorism.
As Christians though, we’re not free to deal with the government, or its laws and leaders, as we choose. We have a God-given mandate to respond to the governing authorities in a specific way. According to verse 1 of this text, we are to "submit to the governing authorities." The word "submit" means to recognize the authority of the government and to yield to that authority. In practice it means to obey the person or institution we’re submitting to. It is important understand that one cannot truthfully claim to be adhering to this biblical injunction of submission if they are at the same time actively disobeying the laws or leaders of the land.
The Christians, to whom Paul originally wrote this letter, were in a situation where it was difficult to submit, obey, or respect those in government. There government leaders were even more immoral than ours are today. Some of their laws and rules were even more ludicrous, unfair, and difficult to keep than ours are today. Because of this, the Christians of the day would have been resistant towards Paul’s exhortation to obey the government. With this in mind, Paul gives us, and them, two very good reasons for obeying the governing authorities.
1. Obey the government because it is the right thing to do.
2. Obey the government because it is the smart thing to do.
In essence, these two points are how Paul summarizes his message in verse 5. He says that it is necessary to submit to those in authority because failure to do so would violate our conscience, which helps tell us when we have done right or wrong, and because of possible punishments for disobedience, i.e. disobeying is stupid because it leads to unpleasant consequences. With that said, let’s look at this passage verse by verse.
Read Romans 13:1
Paul starts off in verse by telling us who should obey the governing authority, and why this is the right thing for the Christian to do. First he says that "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities." Everyone means everyone! There is no one who has an exemption from this command. Some religious people of Paul’s day felt that they were the exception. They felt that, since they were God’s people, they didn’t have to listen to the government. They were saying that they did not have to obey the government because they recognized no authority except God’s. Some so-called "Christian militias" still propose such ideas, but the Bible is clear, everyone is commanded by God to obey the governing authorities.
Paul then goes on to explain why it is the right thing to do for Christians to obey the government. He says, "There is no authority except that which God has established." The attitude of many people both past and present is that some governments and government leaders are evil or illegitimate, so they do not have to be obeyed, and that some laws do not apply because either the laws are stupid and selectively enforced or because the laws were established by atheistic, unbelieving, or evil government’s. The Bible will allow no such excuses or reasoning. According to God’s own word, there is no government that was not established by him. This includes democracies, monarchies, Communist governments, and dictatorships. This means we are to obey the governing authorities whether they are Democratic or Republican, moral or immoral, Christian, Buddhist or Atheists, homosexual or heterosexual, etc... Obeying the government is the right thing to do because these authorities are established by God.