Studies in Romans 13
“Politics has turned the lofty ideal of equality into the ugly reality of resentments of other people’s achievements — and a feeling that the world owes you something, while you owe nobody anything, not even common decency.” – Thomas Sowell
Without knowing how the election will turn out tomorrow, it seems appropriate to ask, from a Biblical standpoint, how then should I live? Our answers should apply equally regardless of which political parties are in the White House and Congress.
This year has been memorable, and challenging, in many ways – economically, our collective national health, changes and adjustments to most of what we have known as routine, just to name a few.
Romans 13:1-5 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
1. Nations and governments are established by God. We often forget that God is in control of our world. There is no authority except that which God has established. God is not a Republican or Democrat. While there may be important issues supported by your party, the obligation for our proper living extends beyond just cooperating with governments who believe as we do. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, was running for his life in part from the Roman government even though he was a Roman citizen Rome ruled forcefully and without mercy. The early church lived in that environment, either enjoying relative times of peace, or pockets of extreme persecution. Whether we agree with those in authority over us, or not, we have an obligation to submit to them.
2. We are to pray for and submit to those in authority over us. What does this mean? It means obeying the laws, paying our taxes, paying our bills as they are owed, and not rebelling against those who are in authority over us. While civil disobedience is a very different question here, as a norm, we are to obey those who are in authority over us. 1 Timothy 2:1-2. 1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3. Keeping our eyes on the ultimate purpose. One of the things we realize is that while God loves us and has brought us to Himself, redeemed us, forgiven us, and assured our eternal destiny with Him, we are not the center of our universe. God has larger and greater purposes for the nations. I am asked if I see America in the final Revelation scenes of the nations. I do not. We may be here. We may be gone as a nation. America is not the remnant of Israel, who is guaranteed to exist and prevail in the final world wars before Jesus returns. But we submit to those in authority over us, not only because it goes better for us, but because it facilities God’s purposes for all men and all nations.
As of today, we have no clear idea how the elections will go, but we have a going-forward obligation to live in an obedient and right way, for our lives, and for the Kingdom to which we belong,. Romans 13:11-12 11And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Whatever the election results, we have the armor of truth and light as those who have our ultimate allegiance to Him who is our God and Savior. Best wishes during this most interesting week in our country, and keep praying for those in authority over us.
– John Moore