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Summary: Obey the authorities

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Romans 13:1-7

John Shearhart

January 23, 2011

We’re working our way through Romans, and we’ve seen the greatness of God’s grace—He’s given us every blessing under heaven, and it’s a logical response for us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him. But what does it mean to offer yourself as a living sacrifice?

Last week we saw that we have a genuine love for the body and we live at peace with all men. We don’t backbite and devour and squabble—instead we forgive and give up our rights. We have a genuine love for others from the overflow of love poured into our hearts by God.

So, in a couple words, you might say that offering yourself as a living sacrifice shows itself in “love” and “peace.”

But there’s another characteristic of what it means to offer ourselves to Him, and I think in a word it would be “obedience.”

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.

Now remember, the basis for this command is God’s immeasurable grace. Since He’s given us so much it’s only logical that we’ll offer ourselves up to Him—this means that we obey the laws of the higher powers…

For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Government isn’t a man-made device. If you read much history you’ll find a lot of contention over this point. At the time our founding fathers were framing the constitution, there were plenty of people who believed that man created government for himself, and there were many others who believed that God created government for man. The Scriptures tell us that God has ordained (He has determined) the higher powers.

2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:

If you resist or rebel against the authorities, then you’re actually resisting God. Since God has put the authority in place, since He ordained it, then to reject them is to reject Him.

and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

This isn’t talking about eternal damnation from God as much as it means damnation from the authorities. When we break the law we have to worry about facing the punishment:

3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.

This verse shows us that Paul isn’t talking about the Nazi government; cruel tyrants aren’t in view here. What we do see is that the rulers set up laws, and those who do good works aren’t afraid of them. But to those who do evil, the rulers are a terror.

Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?

Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?

do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

In other words, do what you know is right and there’s no reason to be afraid. When I see a policeman walking down the street with his gun on his hip I’m not worried because I know he’s not looking for me. But if I were wanted for crime, I’d be afraid.

The law-abiding citizens receive praise, but the rebels and criminals find wrath. So believers shouldn’t resist the laws or the authorities…


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