ROMANS:The Road To Righteousness
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s
Jerry A Collins
What role does government play in our lives?
How do we respond to unrighteous government?
Who is in control of governing authorities?
We cannot escape governing authority. We just concluded another tax year and we were responsible to take care of business with our government. Now we are entering another election season. We will again have responsibility to vote. Some of you may be involved with estates, wills, courts, lawyers, purchases that all relate in some way to the governing authorities we are responsible too. As believers we are citizens of heaven. But we are also here on earth citizens of a nation. So what is to be the nature of that relationship? This chapter is the premier passage explaining a believers civil responsibilities. Here we will learn of our duties to our earthly rulers. God will explain to us how heavenly thinking in this matter should impact our thinking as we live under government. Our submission to government indicates our submission to God!
1. GOD ESTABLISHES THE AUTHORITY OF GOVERNMENT
(1) The argument begins with a proposition in 1a. None of us is exempt from submission to governing authority in our lives. This is to be a voluntary submission on our part even tho we may not agree with it. However, there is one exception to this law. It is when the higher authority conflicts with God’s authority. When Daniel was told he could not pray—the law of the land. Daniel went ahead and prayed even tho he disobeyed the law of the land. Peter & James were told not to preach or teach at all in name of Jesus—the law of the land. But they disobeyed this law and continued to preach. In both cases they were willing to suffer the consequences of their actions. But why should we submit to governing authority?
(2) The first is because of the divine origin of civil government 1b-2. (a) Every ruler has received his or her authority from God to govern. Even when this was written, the Roman govt., the same government persecuting xians received it’s authority from God. This authority we learn, is established by God. That means to ‘set in order’. The idea that society needs to be governed originated with God. Dan It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. This whole idea can be difficult to comprehend when reviewing govts throughout history and today. The fact is we live in a fallen world and the best things God created will be used and abused by people including governing authority. But everyone will face the day of reckoning even those abusing the power given to them by God. (b) So resisting this authority equals opposing God vs 2. That means resisters will be judged by that governing authority. This is really an indirect judgment of God. Resisting governing authority in your life places you in opposition to God. Government derives its authority from God so do not posture with a resistant spirit.
2. GOVERNMENT IS A MINISTER OF GOD 3-4
(1) One of the duties of governing authority is to praise the righteous vs 3. We are told if we do good we have the praise from our rulers. But how? We are not given specifics. However, we do know that one responsibility of govt is to not punish good behavior. In that sense you are praised. For the most part this has been true.
(2) Another duty of government is promote good behavior vs 4. The civil leader is God’s servant. The governing authorities job is to promote good behavior among the citizens. Why would govt want to promote good behavior? Because it is best for everyone. Because it contains chaos in society. So much energy and money is spent by govt because of bad behavior. A huge percentage of govt money is spent on correcting behavior or containing the behavior of it’s citizenry.
(3) A third duty of govt is punishment for doing evil 4b. Govt as a minister of God is to make sure that evil does not rule in the land. Evil must be squelched and controlled by the laws & power of govt. Govt is called an ‘avenger’ one who deals out justice. The point is that we should fear govt since it has received it’s power to punish evil-doers from God. So, 3 times govt called servants of God. If a public official, if a teacher or policeman, if in military—whatever your job mite be—you are there as God’s servant. He has placed you there and given you the authority that you have to praise good behavior—to promote good behavior and to punish evil behavior. All to contain chaos and correct the behavior of citizens.
3. WE HAVE MORAL NECESSITY TO SUBMIT AND SUPPORT GOVT
(1) We have moral necessity to submit because of govt’s wrath 5a. This is wrath of govt given in form of deserved punishment for breaking the law. There is no real authority if no ability to bring consequences for disobedience. Govt has been ordained by God for this very purpose.
(2) We have moral necessity to submit to govt for our conscience sake 5b. That innate faculty prompting us to do what my mind concludes is right and criticizes when mind thinks it is wrong. Breaking the law, our conscience bothers us. So knowing these laws and that govt ordained of God, we are to submit ourselves to it. (The US Govt has a ‘conscience fund’ for people who want to pay their debts to govt and yet remain anonymous.) So negatively, we submit because of govt’s ability to punish and positively, we submit because of our conscience.
(3) We also have the responsibility to support our govt vs 6-7. One way we do this is by paying our taxes 6a. The reason for this is because govt workers are indirectly servants of God and we should support His servants. Since they give their full time to governing they need support to do this thru the taxes from citizens. Paying taxes has always been difficult to swallow. Jesus came out flatly in favor of paying taxes even to the same Roman govt crucified Him. So a belivers ought to give everyone what he owes him (1) we are to give tax to whom tax is due. (2) more tax to whom more tax is due (custom tax). (3) fear to whom fear is due (of governing officials abilities) and (4) honor to whom honor is due (honor all civil servants as servants of God).
Major difference between
(2) When will of man conflicts with will of God we must choose to do will of God. Peter practiced and taught submission to governing authority but he also disobeyed that authority willingly suffering the consequences (Acts 4; 12; 1 PT -17).
(3) Jesus never tried to fix the govt. He served in the context of it making disciples living as a citizen of heaven while on earth.
(4) Sometimes it can be difficult to do what God wants us to do. It can be hard to respect and give honor to those in power. We must respect and honor their work for they represent God’s civil authority on earth.
(5) The church is to make disciples of all nations while being under the authority of the governments of those nations.