The Book of Romans – Submitting to Authority

Posted on Posted in The Book of Romans

“For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” Romans 13:3-7

As believers we are to be a people of principle. Our actions should be the result of a changed heart. We should not abide by the laws of our country merely to escape punishment, but we should live according to our conscience knowing right from wrong and doing what it right. We need to look at who is king in our lives. Is it Jesus or is it the government?

I believe that we need to look at the Bible as a whole. So many times we read a scripture and we think that this scripture is all that God has to say about the matter. This scripture in Romans is one of those scriptures. If we read this scripture, we would think that we need to submit to the government blindly. In the Bible there are many examples of why this is not true. We look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:13-30. God showed His approval by not allowing them not to even smell like smoke. We also see Daniel and the lion’s den in Daniel 6:1-28. God shut the Lion’s mouth. Looking at the New Testament we see Peter and John arrested by the Jewish authorities and commanded not to speak of Jesus. They answered,   “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” (Acts 5:28-29)

There is no authority except from God. The greatest human ruler should humbly confess he is there by the virtue of God’s appointment. Some rules of government are good, some are bad. Some reward the right and some punish the wrong. Others do the reverse. Most do a little of both. The demand for submission is relative, not absolute. It depends on whether the demands of the government require us to disobey Jesus. If they do, we will not be subject at that point but will say with Peter, “We must obey God rather the men.”

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