Summary: On being a Christian Citizen.
Romans 13:1-14 Christian Citizens April 09
Thesis: Being a Biblical New Testament Citizen
Introduction: Do Christians have a right or an obligation to be engaged in secular government? In our chapter we are going to study today, we will see the character Christians ought to posses as good citizens and the biblical responsibility of government toward its citizens.
I. Obey The Law
The Bible is very clear, we are to obey the authorities of the land. We live in a very anti-authoritarian age. People do not want to be told what to do but the Bible tells us authority is derived from God.
Notice what the Scripture says, ‘Let every soul’, that’s every person. No one is to be above the law. Rather we are to be subject to the ‘governing authorities’, even when they are unbelievers.
In the day in which these verses were written, Nero was emperor of Rome. Jews, who already hated Roman rule, were being forced to leave Rome. Nero was a maniac and humanly speaking there would have been every reason to rebel against his cruel reign, yet the authority by which he ruled was derived from God and therefore must be respected.
The Lord Jesus spoke to this same theme when He said to Pilate, ‘You have no authority except from God.’ Even the authority of Pontius Pilate to have the Lord Jesus executed came from God.
There are two types of authority, The authority of God and the authority of man. God is the ultimate authority because He is God and by virtue of being Creator. Psalm 145 says ‘ Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.’
The Bible says when Jesus taught, He taught them as one having authority and not as the Pharisees and Scribes. (Matthew 7:29) Mark 1:27 tells us Jesus has authority over the spiritual world. In John 5:27 we find Jesus also has the authority to execute judgment. We discover that Jesus has the power to forgive sins in Matthew 9:6. Over and over again we read of the ultimate authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ over every circumstance in life. Finally in Matthew 28 we read these words ‘Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.’
Since all authority rest with God, mankind receives authority by the decree of God. God made this decree to Noah after the flood. In Genesis 9 God told Noah, ‘Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image of God, He made man.’ God invested into human government the right to protect life and punish evil. ‘For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.’ When we recognize that authority is derived from God we must….
II. Be Subject To Authority
What happens if we resist the authority of government? The Bible says
A. We resist the authority of God. Daniel said ’Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.’ Even a wicked despot like Pharaoh is placed on the throne by the decree of God.
Think of what life would be like if everyone decided today to resist and reject all laws. There would be anarchy in the streets. You could go any place where you be safe. God place the responsibility for protection of society upon the shoulders of government.
B. What occurs if we resist authority? We bring judgment upon ourselves. Not only will we receive condemnation from the rulers of this world, but we receive condemnation from God.
Does this mean there is never a time when Christians should exercise civil disobedience? Civil disobedience is an act by which you defy civil laws in order to obey a higher law. An example of this is found in Acts 5:40-44 when the apostles were beaten and commanded not preach Jesus again. The Bible says ‘daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus…’ in spite of the orders of the civil authorities.
If Christians never practiced civil disobedience there would have never been a Revolutionary War. If Christians did not practice civil disobedience, millions would never worship in secret in countries where Christianity is outlawed.
Now this is not to say that you have the right to break laws because you do not agree with them. It is only when a man made law contradicts Gods law can a believer find reason to practice civil disobedience. Most of our laws and law enforcement people seek to do an honest and faithful job. They deserve our respect and no one should seek to be a better citizen than the followers of Jesus Christ.