The Christian & Government

6 November 2022 AM – Romans 13:1-7 – Rom2022 – Scott Childs
Introduction: As Paul wrote, Nero was the wicked Emperor of Rome. His father died (40 AD) when he was three years old. In 49 AD, his mother became the fourth wife of her uncle Claudius the Emperor to try to get Nero on the throne. In 50 AD, she soon persuaded Claudius to adopt Nero as his son. In 53, Nero married Claudius’ daughter Octavia. His mother had Claudius poisoned in 54, and Nero became the Emperor at the age of 16. In 55, Nero murdered Claudius’ son to prevent rivalry. In 59, his evil mistress Poppaea had his mother killed. In 62, Nero married Poppaea and she plotted to have his first wife Octavia killed. On the 19th of July 64 AD, more than half of Rome burned to the ground. Many believe that Nero started the fire, but he blamed the Christians and severe persecution broke out. In 65, Poppaea, then pregnant, died when Nero kicked her during a fit of rage. (ISBE, “Nero”)
Paul was not writing to a church in a Christian land, but to a church in a godless land.
Transition: This passage gives us Biblical instruction on our responsibilities to government.
Our first responsibility to civil government is to…
  1. Submit to its ordained power (v.1-2)
Because there is a temptation to want to live free of all government authority, the Lord had Paul give this instruction.
a.         God ordained government.
1)         Human government was God’s idea. “Human government is a divine institution, instituted by God when Noah came out of the ark, a basic law of which is capital punishment for the murderer duly convicted of his crime (Gen. 9:5-6).” Wuest
2)         This is not an isolated command. (Titus 3:1) “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,” (cf., 1Pe 2:13-14; 2Pe 2:10-11; Jude 1:8).
3)         God is telling us that civil government is good. He is not sanctioning any evil that may be in a government.
b.         To resist all government is to resist God.
1)         The desire to break away from all government and live independently is not God’s will. We need government for civil order and for justice, as we will see. God ordained fathers to lead in family government. God ordained local church government for order, fidelity and discipline. That is why you ought to join our church membership.
2)         To resist powers God has placed over us for our good resist God Himself. Those who refuse to submit to having a government over them will receive to themselves damnation (i.e., judgment).
3)         I do not believe that these verses forbid trying to replace a corrupt government with a just one. They forbid the desire to live without any government. In Acts 5:29, when the apostles said, “We ought to obey God rather than men“, they were opposing a corrupt law, not the institution of government.
Our second responsibility to civil government is to…
2.        Submit to its ordained ministry (v.3-5)
a.         God ordained rulers to curb evil.
1)         The God-given ministry of rulers is to make people fear doing evil deeds.
a)         No government has God’s permission to cause anyone to fear for doing good.
b)         A just government will praise those who do good.
c)         God ordained rulers as His ministers for good.
2)         A just government ought to put fear in the hearts of those who do evil.
a)         God has given government leaders the right to bear the sword. That means, they have God’s approval to punish evil, even to the extent of death if that is just.
b)         After the Noahic flood, when God ordained human government, He ordained that civil government carry out capital punishment for murder (Ge 9). This was to quash the temptation to murder. Romans 13:4 reaffirms God’s institution of capital punishment.
c)         Fearful consequences for evil always deter evil. That is why good governments punish evil. It is also the reason God commands parents to discipline their children when they do wrong. (Proverbs 22:15) “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
3)         When there is no good government, evil thrives and multiplies. The book of Judges is a perfect example of this fact. (Judges 21:25) “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” As a result, evil abounded.
b.         God expects us to submit to rulers for two reasons (v.5).
1)         Our fear of consequences tells us we must. It is necessary to submit if we do not want to suffer punishment.
2)         Our Christian conscience tells us it is right. When we trusted Christ, we did so that we might receive forgiveness for sin and eternal life. We desired forgiveness for our evil deeds. We know what is right and we ought to want to do right.
a)         It is wrong for a Christian deliberately to drive over the speed limit.
b)         It is wrong for a Christian to lie, steal, or to use illegal drugs.
c)         Any professing Christian who does wrong repeatedly and does not receive chastening from God, is not truly a Christian. (Hebrews 12:8) “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Our third responsibility to civil government is to…
3.        Submit to its ordained tax laws (v.6-7)
Someone has said, “The only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes.” No one likes paying taxes, yet they are part of life.
a.         Taxes support rulers who are helping us (v.6)
1)         God has a work-pay principle. All who work deserve to receive pay. Luke 10:7 states, “the labourer is worthy of his hire.”
2)         Thomas Constable reminds us that, “Government workers are indirectly God’s servants, and we should support God’s servants. Individual rulers may be unworthy, but the institution is not. Governments cannot function without incomes.”
3)         While no one enjoys paying taxes, we can keep a good attitude about taxes if we remember that God wants us to pay them and that we enjoy many benefits because we pay taxes.
b.         In addition, taxes are a debt (v.7)
1)         Even Jesus defended paying taxes. (Luke 20:25) “And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
2)         We are to render (give over) all that is due. We may not like a tax, but if it is required, we must pay it in full.
a)         It is wrong for a person to try to smuggle goods into the country without paying customs on them.
b)         It is wrong to not claim work earnings on our tax forms.
3)         Taxes may seem unjust or too high, but that does not justify civil disobedience.
c.          God says respect and honour are also taxes (v.7)
1)         God expects us to fear or respect government leaders. They may be ungodly or even evil, but we still must respect their position of leadership.
2)         God expects us to honour government leaders. If we cannot honour their character, we still must honour their position.
Conclusion: God has given us three clear responsibilities toward civil government. We must submit to ordained power; government was God’s idea. We must submit to ordained ministry; God gave rulers the ministry to punish evil and promote good. We must submit to ordained taxes; God said they are a debt that we must pay.
If God has pricked an area of your life this morning that you must change, let Him have His way.
Song: His Way with Thee – 367