Text: Romans 13:1-14
Last night we talked about our relationship with the body of Christ, but tonight our focus is on our relationship with those without.
These include our non-Christian friends and neighbors and the government.
Beginning in verse 14 of Romans 12 Paul begins to focus beyond the sphere of the Church. It seems to me that in this passage, Paul instructs us on how to interact with non-Christians around us.
We believe there should be a distinction between the people of God and the unsaved. That does not mean, however, that we should live antagonistically.
I Timothy 2:1,2
Our prayer for peace is not that our life be easy, but that we may share the gospel.
Paul tells us how to practice Jesus way of relating to the unbeliever:
1) vs. 14 we are kind to them
2) vs. 15 we have empathy with them when they suffer
3) vs. 16 we don’t have an attitude of superiority over them
4) vs. 17 we return good for evil
5) vs. 17 be upfront and straightforward
6) vs. 18 we go the second mile in living peaceably with them
Verses 19-21 give instruction on dealing with persecution.
We now want to focus on Romans 13.
Why does Paul address this subject?
The pagan Roman Empire barely tolerated the Christian faith. The Roman Church seemed to bear the brunt of these persecutions. Rome’s political climate was fickle.
In view of this practical situation, Paul felt compelled to give direction to the Christians in Rome what their attitude should be toward civil leaders.
Here in Romans 13 the Christian’s responsibility is outlined. In order to have proper perspective, we need to understand that their are two kinds of authority.
There is absolute authority, which belongs to God alone. There is also the authority delegated, and limited.
The state possess delegated, not absolute authority.
The implications of this are twofold: 1) the civil government has only delegated authority and are ordained of God and 2) to resist them is to resist God.
Sometimes the follower of Christ has to resist civil government— when it is a choice between obedience to God or the state.
Verse 3 and 4: The purpose of the state is to restrain evil and to protect the law-abiding. The civil authorities are to punish evildoers.
In verses 5 and 6, Paul gives the Christian’s responsibility: First, be subject; Second, pay taxes; Third, properly honor and and respect civil leaders.
The ethics of the kingdom of God limit the Christians involvement in the kingdoms of the world.
There is no such thing as a Christian nation, from a New Testament perspective.
America is and always was a godless nation. Even if a nation claims to be one nation under God— God does not have a theocracy.
We must not say such things in arrogance, but love.
Will we be prepared when the kingdoms of God and the world clash?— and they will.
Paul concludes his discussion of civil authority:
In verses 8-10 Paul reviews the two greatest commandments. Love your neighbor— owe him nothing else. Love is an unpayable debt… you can never say, “I loved enough.” The love of neighbor will fulfill the law and keep you from doing anything harmful to him.
In 11-14, Paul concludes with a call to a dynamic and alert spiritual life. This is the best response to persecution. The darker the night, the brighter your light needs to shine. Be aware of the times you are living in. Now is not the time for compromise. Live honestly— don’t absorb the values of the world around you, live counter-culturally.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ! Live victoriously! It’s divinely possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Verses 11 – 14)