Summary: God has ordained civil government so we are to be in total compliance with civil authorities. Or are we?
July 6, 2003
Text: Romans 13:1-7
Subject: Obedience to the Law
Title: Whom Shall We Obey?
As the Fourth of July weekend comes to a close we want to remember our country with a salute to the freedoms and liberties that we have. Let’s just stop for a moment and ponder these things. What is it that makes America so great? Why are we the land of the free and the home of the brave?
French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America in 1831, said, "I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"
Alexis de Tocqueville
Because our nation was founded on the basic principles of right and wrong found in the Ten Commandments, we began as a great nation and continue to be great.
George Washington from his Farewell Address to the Nation.
Do not let anyone claim the tribute of American patriotism if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics
It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So what kind of relationship are we as Christians to have with our government. In our scripture passage today Paul tells us what is expected of us in relation to our country.
I. Christians are to be in under authority of the government. (Verses 1-2)
A. Submit. (Verse 1) Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. What would happen if there were no government in the world today? Because of the fallen nature of man there would be total chaos. The last verse in the book of Judges tells us what to expect when there is no government. Judges 21:25, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes." Isaiah wrote, "We all like sheep have gone astray, each to his won way." We have seen that on the news in the past few months. In Iraq, where there is no government, the citizens resorted to looting and destruction. There was no law to stop them. Because of man’s sinful nature, without restraints there would be no end to the evil being done.
B. Do not resist. If you resist the authorities you resist the ordinances of God. The ordinances of God refer to the Commandments. The word ordinance in the Greek means "something that has been thoroughly arranged, ordained or set in order." These commandments of God were given for several reasons, the first being to help retain civil order in the world. Verse 2 says there is no civil authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Jesus told Pilate in John 19:11, "You could have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above." The laws of man are to have their basis in God’s law. The ones who are in authority are expected to govern accordingly.
C. Avoid judgment. Verse 2, those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. As I studied this I began to think, who is to be subject to the Law? It is not only the citizens but those who execute the law as well. As the citizens of this great land we must obey the law. But I believe that those who are in charge of seeing the law carried out will be judged even more severely. Look what Paul says about judges (rulers in authority) in Romans 2:1-9,
1. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."
2. "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. "
3. "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?"
4. "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
5. "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,"