God and Government (Romans 13:1-7)

Here’s my sermon outline for Romans 13:1-7 that I preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to the audio here.

Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”

Intro: Imagine our world today without any governing authorities or government in place. Would it be a nice place?
        -No policeman, no organized fire departments, no rules for driving on roads, or selling food or clothes
                    -Because of sin, this absence of government would result in far more pain, destruction, death and misery
                                -In many ways, our government officials and laws of land are a tremendous blessing to us. 
        -How does God call Christians to relate and respond to governing authorities, even authorities who are not Christian?

                    *Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.

-CONTEXT: Theme of Romans is the GOSPEL!
-Rom 1-11: Gospel Explained (Bad news, Good news, Faith, New results)
-Rom 12-15: How do we live it out?
        -12:1-2: The Christian life is a worshipping life; 12:3-8: The Christian life is a humble life.  
        -12:9-16: The Christian life is one of genuine love; 12:17-21: The Christian life is one of overcoming evil with good.  
*TODAY: The Christian life is one of willing submission to governing authorities.
        -Here we learn how Christians are to relate to secular governing authorities

-CLARIFICATION:
I don’t preach ‘political sermons’ but through books of Bible
        -But this sermon touches on how we as Christians view and relate to government
                    -It challenges us to live differently and think differently. We need to hear it. We need God’s grace to live it out.

                                *Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.


1. The Christian is called to submit to governing authorities (13:1-4)

-The call to SUBMIT (13:1) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
        -“every person”: All Christians and all people.
        -“governing authorities”: Those who are in power (President, Governor, Mayor, Legislators)
        –“be subject”: To obey and do what they say; to SUBMIT to their leadership.
                    –OVERALL: It is a posture of submission and willing obedience
                                -We see it in Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17
                    SCHREINER: “The intention in Romans is to sketch the normal and usual relationship between believers and a ruling power.”
 
-It is the call to love our neighbor as ourselves, applied to the governing authorities
         -IMAGINE, you were in government, how would you like your constituents to treat you and your leadership?
                     -The Christian is called to a posture of willing submission to governing authorities. *CAEVET: -There are times when it is wrong to submit governing authorities: when they require us to disobey God or sin.
                                -Hebrew mid-wives; Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Acts 4:19
                                            -Christians in history (Martyrs in Rome; Christians in Nazi Germany; Khmer Rouge 75-79)

                     –But the usual & normal relationship Christians are to have to a ruling power is willing submission. 


         2 Motivations to help us submit to governing authorities (13:1b-4)

I. MOTIVATION #1. God has put government leaders in place (13:1b-2)
        -No Authority except from God: For there is no authority except from God,
                   
-God is sovereign over all authorities! (Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus)
        -God has instituted who will be in power: and those that exist have been instituted by God.
                                           
-No accidents on God’s part
                    -God even ordains wicked rulers to bring about judgment on wicked people (Calvin)
                                Moo: “From a human perspective, rulers come to power through force or heredity or popular choice. But the “transformed
                                mind” recognizes that behind every such process the hand of God”
         *UNBELIEVER: Jesus saves you to know this one God. He made you, and you can know Him!
-Implication of 1b…Since this is true
(2):  2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed,
       
-If we resist the governing authorities, we are actually RESISTING GOD!
                    -It is serious to be seditious and actively work against governing authorities
-Consequences for Seditious, Anarchist Position (2b): and those who resist will incur judgment.
       
-“judgment” here likely refers to the judgment from governing authorities, which is about to be mentioned.
II. MOTIVATION #2. God intends these governing authorities for our good (13:3-4)
        God has a good purpose in instituting governing authorities. It is for our good in this life!
-Rulers are a terror to bad conduct: 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.
       
-When rulers are doing what they should, they punish evildoers and this motivates other not to commit evil
                    -“terror to bad” conduct, not “good conduct
                                -They prevent further evil from happening.
 -If we do not want to fear gov. (3b): Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
                   
-Generally speaking, if we follow the law, we don’t have to fear them.
                                -The government actually praises those who work for the public good.

-Government Officials are God’s SERVANTS for our good (4):  4 for he is God’s servant for your good.
        –SURPRISE: “God’s servant”=They are performing a role for God, even if unknowingly
        –MANY laws that have come about and are enforced for good of people
                    -“for your good”=Generally, when things are going as they should, they bring about our good!
                                 -Laws against racial discrimination; Drunk Driving; Fraud; Protection of life and freedoms
-But some should be afraid (4b) But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.
       
“if you do wrong”: Those who choose to do wrong should fear the government’s just punishment
        -“bear the sword”: Reference to capital punishment or physical means of punishment and deterrent
-“Servant” of God (4c): For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
       
-2nd reference here to governing official as “servant of God”
        -“an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer”: God works through human means to bring judgment on EVIL.
                    -God punishes evil partly in this life and through human means and human agents.
                                -Could be used to support use of force (police with guns) and capital punishment today.
*Summary: It is right for Christians to submit to governing authorities. God has put them in place and God has a good purpose for them, to bring about blessings on people. Normally and usually, this is how we ought to live as we seek to honor Christ.
                    *Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.


APPLICATION
:
-Are we willingly submitting to the laws of the land?
-Do you view those in government this way? Do see God has put them in place? Do you love them? Pray for them? Or do you fear?
        *Submitting to governing authorities does not exclude working for change: vote and participate in government. (Wilberforce)


2. REITERATION: It is right for Christians to submit to governing authorities (13:5-6)
Paul circles back to the main instruction and reminds of the rightness of this approach, along with an application for us.
-It is right to submit to governing authorities: 5 Therefore one must be in subjection,
       
-“must be in subjectionbecause of what we just considered in v 1-4
-Not Only for Obvious Consequences (5b): not only to avoid God’s wrath
       
-When obey the law, we do avoid God’s wrath exhibits through human agents.
-But we also obey for another Reason (5c): but also for the sake of conscience.
       
-“conscience” is the moral compass God has given us, so that we might do what is right.
                    -We need our conscience fine-tuned and corrected by Scripture
                    -We learned the right way to view government, and thus we need to submit to government due to conscience

-An Application (13:6) 6 For because of this you also pay taxes,
       
-Christians are called to pay taxes.
                    -Matt 22:15-22
       
-Rome collected taxes to fund roads and public services, but also to fund pagan temples.
                    -IL and IRS collect to fund public services, but also things we might disagree with as Christians.
-Ministers of God (13:6b): for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
       
-3rd time that Paul refers to governing authorities God’s agents: “ministers of God”
                    -Today we might say: Bill Foster, JB Pritzker, Joseph Biden, are ministers, servants of God
                                -They might not believe or follow Him, but God works through them for our good!
APPLICATION:
-Pay your taxes. Don’t lie or deceive or try to sneak out of it, but pay your taxes.

                                *Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.

3. As Christians We Give What is Owed to Everyone (13:7)
The right response as Christians to give what is owed (7) 7 Pay to all what is owed to them:
-4 Areas:

1 taxes to whom taxes are owed, (fed and state taxes); 2 revenue to whom revenue is owed, (other kinds of taxes)
3 respect to whom respect is owed,
(to our leaders); 4 honor to whom honor is owed (to governing officials)
        –QUESTION: Do you show respect and honor to governing authorities? Do you do it in your heart? Do you pray for them?


*CONCLUSION:
Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.

GOSPEL APPLICATION:

-We have been saved to live for another king: perfectly just, righteous, good, loving, and kind.
-We express our love and devotion NOW to the true king but submitting to Earthly powers and paying our taxes
                                *Part of faithfully following Christ includes submission to governing authorities.

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