Summary: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities ..."
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. This July 4th will be the 22_th birthday of our nation, & people will be celebrating it in many different ways. There will be parades & fireworks, & for most people it will be a day off from work, a holiday, a time for family gatherings & lots of food.
Of course, in many places there will be public ceremonies & speeches. Speakers with impressive credentials will remind us of our nation’s glorious past, & urge us to get involved, to work hard, to ensure that its future will be just as glorious.
And I agree. But I’m concerned because there is an obvious decline in the moral fabric of our society.
ILL. You have heard over & over again that 40 years ago the biggest problems faced by teachers in our schools were problems like students chewing gum in class, talking when they were supposed to be quiet, & running in the hallways.
But things have changed & the top problems today are students using & selling drugs, rape on the playground, & handguns in the classrooms. And these problems are not just in the schools, but everywhere.
ILL. While working on this sermon yesterday I decided to go back over the headlines of this past week in the Brownsville Herald & the Valley Morning Star to illustrate the sad things happening in society today. But I didn’t need to get a whole week’s stack of newspapers. Yesterday’s papers alone featured these stories:
A son was indicted for strangling his father. A policeman was arrested for soliciting murder for hire. Seven juveniles, ages 7-14, were detained & booked for a series of burglaries. A woman was arrested for shooting her two children, killing one of them. A man was convicted of the drive-by killing of another man seated next to the murderer’s exgirlfriend. Another mother was indicted for stabbing to death her little 5 & 6 year-old sons.
I found those stories on just pages 1 & 2 of yesterday’s newspapers, & I didn’t have the heart to look any further!
ILL. Not long ago the presidents of NBC & CBS & ABC met with congressional leaders to discuss the increasing incidence of violence shown on TV, & to try to determine whether or not this had any impact on society. Of course, they argued that TV really doesn’t have any effect on what people think or do.
But aren’t these the same executives who charge advertisers hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars for each TV commercial with the argument that TV advertising, if repeated often enough, really produces results?
Well, I was amazed when one of the TV executives, trying to shift the blame, was quoted as saying, "Can it be that there is some sinister force at work in our country that has nothing at all to do with the media?"
I wanted to say, "Yes, sir, there is a sinister force at work. And one of his main tools is the media." If our kids are constantly immersed in that kind of environment, their eyes seeing violence & immorality being shown over & over again, then can we expect anything else in their everyday behavior?
B. So as our country becomes more violent & more pagan & more anti-God, I think it is important to consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7. He wrote to Christians living under a pagan government, telling them how to maintain their integrity as good citizens in a pagan & immoral land. Please listen as I read Romans 13:1-7.
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, & those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
"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 & he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."
PROP. That is an amazing passage of Scripture, & I want you to notice several things that Paul teaches us in it.