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! Intro
Today, I want to look at the topic of Christians interacting with the government and the responsibilities that we have, as described in the Bible.
It seems like the appropriate topic, this time of year with the election coming up this Tuesday.
The way I see it is, on Wednesday, 30% of the population will wake up excited that their chosen candidate won.
Another 30% will wake saddened or upset that their chosen candidate lost.
The other 40% could care less about who won the election.
So, whether our candidate wins or loses, the Bible instructs us on our responsibilities to those who are in authority.
You may not realize it, but we interact with the government more than we probably realize.
When we drive in our cars, we are to obey the laws of the road, you must get licensed by the state to operate a vehicle and have insurance.
All of these are requirements set by the government.
When you are in the process of building a home, there are building codes that are set by authorities that must be followed.
If you own a home in Texas, you pay property taxes, which go to city and county government, as well as the local school district.
The list of examples could go on and on.
So, let us consider what the Bible says about Christians interacting with the government.
I plan to look into the book of Romans, 1 Peter, and 1 Timothy.
Paul and Peter wrote this instructions to us as they were inspired of God.
I want you to keep in mind the context that they are writing from.
Peter and Paul are both living as subjects of the Roman Empire.
At the time when Peter wrote, which was around AD64, the Romans were making life pretty hard for Christians.
Christians were often punished or killed for treason for not obeying the Roman Emperor.
The Romans were suspicious of early Christians, suspecting them of trying to overthrow the empire.
Actually, Paul and Peter were both persecuted by the authorities in their day and were executed (Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down).
Keep that in mind as we read these passages and see what the word of God says.
! Read Romans 13:1-7
!! VERSE 1
Who is omitted from this statement in verse one?
Absolutely no one.
Every soul, every person is to submit to the higher powers.
In this context, Paul is speaking of the governing authorities.
That refers to the federal govt, state govt, city govt, police, etc.
The word, submit, used here is a military term meaning “to arrange in a military fashion under the command of a leader.”
When used non-militarily, it meant “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, or yielding to.
Verse 1 says that his power comes form God and they they have been delegated to carry out this work.
So, it is God himself who has established the authorities and allows them to rule over us.
We find many examples in scripture of this.
God bringing governments into power and out of power to accomplish his will.
For the sake of time, we won't go and look at many of the passages, but I have them listed on the board for you to study and confirm on your own.
Daniel 2:21 – We read that it is God who changes the times and the seasons.
It is God who removes and sets up kings.
Isa 10 – Throughout the Bible, we can read about the major world empires during Biblical times.
This passage in particular talks about how God raised up the Assyrians to come in and punish his people.
Then, after they served their purpose, he allowed them to be overtaken by the Babylonians.
Then they were overtaken by the Medo-Persian empire, and then the Greeks, and then the Romans...
READ John 19:10-11 – This passage is Pilate speaking to Jesus right before he was crucified.
Pilate was questioning Jesus about the charges against him, but Jesus wouldn't respond.
Jesus tells Pilate that although he is in control of this situation, the control was given to him by God.
What good is the government that God has ordained?
Why do we need them?
Some may think that way or believe that society would get along without anyone in charge or control.
But is that really the case?
Can you imagine waking up tomorrow morning to find out that no one is in charge?
The world would be utter chaos.
There would be no-one to punish those who do wrong and no one to protect the innocent, no one to make laws and keep order in society.
The fact is that there is an enormous amount of order in this world precisely because God has set it that way.
There is no chaos with God.
And so as He gives authority to men to take the chaos and bring in order.
When we see our government functioning properly, we are seeing God's hand at work in the world.
!! VERSE 2
Now, we may have our own questions about the types of governments that exist and wonder why so many people must suffer under communism or harsh dictators.
There is no easy answer to this.
God has established the authorities and given them rule over us, but man still has free will and the choice to do wrong or right, and govern in just ways or unjust ways is still there.
No matter what we think of it, God has ordained the government for our good.
To rebel/resist against it is to rebel/resist against God Himself.
!! VERSE 3
The Bible tells us that these rulers aren't in place to be a terror or for us to live lives in fear.
Now granted, there are evil people in power all over the world that do bring harm to their citizens, but fortunately, here in the United States, that is not the case for us.
The Bible is telling us that good people don't have to be scared.
We don't have to be scared while living our daily lives.
But evil people should be.
They should be scared of being caught and punished.
If you don't want to live a life of constant fear, then you should do what is right and relieve yourself of that stress.
Paul says that no matter where you live, life goes better and you live free from fear when you obey the ruling authorities.
It's like a person who always speeds when they are driving.
Every time you're driving and see red/blue lights in your rear-view, your hearts almost stops in fear, thinking you are busted.
Or every time you see an officer on the side of the road, you're quickly putting on the brakes and checking your speed because you know you're in the wrong.
If you want to get rid of that stress, then drive the limit; otherwise, you will be justly punished for doing wrong.
On the other hand, if you do good, you will be praised by the authorities.
Now, I imagine that so much $ is spent on law enforcement that we will rarely praise for obeying the law.
Have I ever been praised or rewarded for obeying the law.
I can't think of any instances, but I did find an instance in the Bible of a man who was rewarded for doing good.
READ Esther 6:1-3 – Mordecai – Bible says in chapter two that he overheard men talking about attacking and killing the king.
Well, he reported this, and after an investigation was about his accusations, they guilty parties were executed.
However, Mordecai never was rewarded for doing good.
This account was recorded in the oracles/records.
In chapter 7, the king had a sleepless night, so he called for someone to come and read the oracles, where he heard about Mordecai and sought to reward him.
!! VERSE 4
Verse 4 calls the govt workers, ministers of God.
We don't usually think of the govt in this way (as ministers), but they are servants of God, carrying out the work that God has given them.
So for those who do evil or wrong, he's not bearing the sword for no reason.
This talk about swords goes back to the Roman culture, for the sword was the standard weapon used for execution (beheading).
Roman authorities actually wore swords to indicate their authority over life and death.
God has given our rulers the authority to execute this judgment on us.
!! VERSE 5
If those reasons (God ordained them; fear of being punished) aren't enough to be obedient to the authorities, Paul gives us another.
We must do it for the sake of our own conscience.
This means that if we can't find any other reason to submit to our leaders, then we are to do it because it is the will of God, and as Christians, it should always be our desire to be in the will of God.
Our consciences would weight heavily against us if we did oppose his will.
Obeying allows us to have a good and clear conscience towards God.
Also, how can we be called to do good works for our fellow man in spreading the Gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world and at the same time, be known for breaking the law?
How can your conscience as a Christian let you get away with that.
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