Christianity is Practical
Christian living is practical and the last five chapters in the book of Romans (12-16) are just instructions on practical Christian living. Not a long list of do’s and don’ts, there isn’t anything in these five chapters that would take you out of the mainstream of your community. Nothing the Lord commands us to do would make the unsaved around us say “these Christians are nuts”. The bottom line is Christians are to live peaceably and with love for ALL mankind. And what could possibly be wrong with that?
It is crucial that Christians know they are commanded by God to obey ALL civil authority; from our local police to our Presidents and Prime Ministers regardless of their political affiliation or whether or not they are believers. There is no Scripture support for Christians to fight civil authority period! We are not left here to take over the government or dictate policy.
The reason the Lord doesn’t just take us home with Him the moment we believe the gospel is so we can share the good news with the lost world around us we are ambassadors for Christ. Again, there is no Biblical record of God commanding members of the body of Christ to fight civil authority or dictate policy. This belief is man’s idea and in total opposition to what the Lord has commanded.
On the other hand, Romans 13 does NOT say that Christians can’t own guns, join the military or fight to defend their life or the lives of their loved ones. Nowhere does the Lord say because we are Christians we are to let people walk all over us without defending ourselves from physical harm. Remember Paul himself disobeyed the local magistrates when he refused to leave out a side door in secret (Acts 17:35-40). More about this in another post.
Romans 13:1-5 and the Command to Obey Government
Romans 13 admonishes believers to submit to government authority because ALL GOVERNMENT and Civil Authority are placed there by God himself whether they are believers or not.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
That can’t be any more clearer, can it? The next verse is a warning and instructs believers to obey civil authority or they will face punishment, not from God but the government He placed in authority.
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
In the following verses, the apostle Paul expands on why Christians are to obey civil authority.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil…
Again, look at the practicality. First, God Himself ordained all government authority, from the local level like our police departments right up to Prime Ministers and Presidents of the world. They are in their positions of authority for our benefit, even ungodly countries have laws to maintain order and punish the criminal element. Now the second part of verse 3…
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
Simple enough right? This isn’t pie in the sky stuff. If you don’t want to be in fear of government authority obey government authority. Furthermore, Christians above all should be setting the example of being obedient and living peaceably with our fellow man regardless of the government’s, beliefs or political affiliation. Governments don’t punish law-abiding citizens.
In the next verse, Paul expands on what he has written in the previous three verses by reminding believers that God is Sovereign and that ALL civil authority is placed by Almighty God. Read on…
For he (government or whatever civil authority like our police) is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil (disobey), be afraid; for he (civil authority) does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath (judgment) on him who practices evil (brakes civil law).
Repetition is the mother of learning and I hope you are seeing the repetitiveness in so much of what Paul writes regarding this subject. As verse four is more of the same as in the previous verses with more emphatic language. Civil authorities are God’s ministers, for our good! So if we go contrary to what God has ordained we should expect punishment. In Romans 13:5, we have the underlying reason why Christians are to obey the government.
Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
The wrath portion of verse five was already expanded on up in verse three. But the last part of verse five “for conscience’ sake” is not only the underlying reason why believers are to be subject to civil authority but it is at the core of the Christian experience.
Ultimately, we obey the government because Christ died for us, was buried for us and was resurrected from the dead never to die again so that we too will be raised from the dead to be with the Lord forever. We no longer are compelled to do things according to what the world instructs us to do, we are compelled to obey civil authority because we are compelled because what God did on our behalf.
‘For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.’
II Corinthians 5:14-15
‘For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.’
I Corinthians 6:20
‘For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. ‘
II Corinthians 1:12
‘Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, ‘
‘Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, ‘
‘Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.’