Summary: A sermon on Romans 13:1-7 talking about the responsibility of government toward their citizens and talking about the responsibility of citizens toward their government (Material and seed thoughts from Dr. Jack Cottrell's commentary on Romans)
The origin of Uncle Sam probably began in 1812, when Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided meat to the US Army. The meat shipments were stamped with the initials, U.S. Someone joked that the initials stood for “Uncle Sam”. This joke eventually led to the idea of Uncle Sam symbolizing the United States government.
This passage of Scripture is relevant to this past week when we celebrated our nation’s independence day. The main point seems to be “conscientious citizenship, painstaking patriotism.” But there is another side to this coin. While stating the citizens’ responsibility toward government, Paul gives us valuable information about the government’s responsibility toward its citizens. This passage presents the clearest biblical teaching concerning the God given origin and God intended purpose of human government.
Submission to authority is simply one aspect of God’s will for us. We are told to submit in the home, in the church, in our jobs and also to the government. God’s will for Christians includes not just specific Christian duties (talking about those over the past several weeks) but also the laws of the Creator that apply to all human beings as his creatures.
Last week we talked about evil. The Lord deals with evil in two ways in our day. With one hand, God holds the cross of grace and in the other he holds the sword of his wrath. God is not using these instruments directly. God has placed them into the hands of his two main representatives: church of Christ on earth wields the cross of grace, and human governments wield the sword of his wrath.
As individual Christians and as a church, we need to live out the instructions in Romans 12:17-21. Let’s be clear about this. It is okay to want justice to be done- by the government. Some evildoers respond to acts of kindness and good will. They repent and stop doing their evil because of the grace shown to them. However, other people do not respond in this way. The only thing they respond to is a good butt whipping. Evildoers are not free to do all the harm they please, without restraint and without fear of any kind of punishment. While we are not allowed to take vengeance against those who do us wrong, God has established civil government to be his agent to see that such vengeance is carried out.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the responsibility of government toward its citizens and then talk about the responsibility of citizens toward their government.
Responsibility of government toward its citizens
The purpose of government is to uphold moral laws. Does this in 4 ways:
To stop evil behavior by the fear of punishment. “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.” Romans 13:4, NIV.
To apply God’s wrath and vengeance to evil doers. 3 times mentioned as God’s servant. Is it okay for Christians to serve in the government? God’s servant. Who better than a Christian!
To praise law abiding citizens. “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 and he will commend you.” Romans 13:3, NIV.
To do good for all citizens. “For he is God’s servant to do you good.” Romans 13:4. “To serve and protect” is good for police but also all government. The Message paraphrase says this in vs. 4: The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.
But more precisely what does mean for government to do “good?”
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV.
That we may lead peaceful and quiet lives. Vs. 2
That we may pursue godliness and holiness. Vs. 2
That we may be free to share the gospel and the truth of God’s Word. Vs. 4
Summarize the God ordained purpose of government in 3 words:
1. Protecting the rights of all citizens, the rights involved in living a peaceful and quiet life.
2. Preventing evil doers from violating other citizen’s rights. By what means?