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The Government III

June 19, 2011

We are continuing in our study of the government
and the Christian’s responsibility to the governing authority. We know that as
Christians, as God’s own purchased possession we are to be different. We are to
be representatives of Christ…ambassadors for Christ. This ambassadorship is to
be lived out in word and in deed because we serve the Lord God! We are to live
in such a way that men will see our good works and glorify God in heaven. Our
lives are to be such that men will take note that we have been with Jesus and
we are to obey His commands; as James states it, we are to prove ourselves
doers of the word…we are to actually obey what He commands…and so prove to be
His disciples for a disciple is one who follows a master. Jesus Christ is our
Master and Lord and we are to follow after Him, conforming our lives to His so
men will see Him in us.

 

Paul commended the Thessalonian Christians for
this very thing. Listen to what he says to them. 1Th
2:13 ¶
 For
this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God
which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men,
but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work
in you who believe.
The
Testimony of the Church in Roma is found in Romans
1:
8 where we read “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your
faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.”
We would do well to
learn from God’s servant Job for there is no one like him on the earth, a
blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.

 

Have we received the words of Scripture as the
very words of GOD? And if so do we believe that we are to actually obey the
commands of GOD? Are we living as Jesus lived? Do we come close to the
testimony of Job? You see, there are many people who claim to know God but
believe that they don’t have to do anything but read the bible every once in a
while and go to church when it is convenient. When they do go they may be
hearing the Pastor preach but they cannot understand his words because they
don’t have the Spirit of God to teach them and lead them into all truth. They
think that what they do hear is optional and so there is never any change in
their lives.  This illustrates what Paul
meant in Romans 1 when he speaks of those who suppress
the truth in unrighteousness. They are holding to a form of godliness but deny
the power thereof.

 

We understand that if we claim to be Christians
we had better be living as Jesus lived, that we had better be obeying Jesus
with our whole heart, otherwise we are merely deluding ourselves and the truth
is not in us. Either there has been a real, radical transformation of our lives
or we are lying to ourselves and believing that lie. The condemnation of our
Lord is frightening when He says in Lu 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do
not do what I say?”
If
these don’t repent they will die in their sins
and we read in Mt 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I
never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

 

There is a Grand Canyon of a difference between a real
Christian and a hypocrite. We have
seen from our study of Chapter 12 that the real Christian has died to
himself…he has offered himself up as a living, holy sacrifice which is
acceptable to God and our reasonable service. The real Christian has been
radically transformed by the renewing of his mind so that he lives, eats,
drinks and breathes Christ. His soul pants after God as the dear for the
water-brook. He hungers and thirsts for righteousness and is crushed in spirit
when he sins against God for he truly loves God!

 

The true believer is humble, for he knows that he
is nothing, that he is worthy of and deserves hell, but God had mercy and snatched
him off of the broad road that leads to hell and granted him new life in
Christ. And now the true believer longs to honor God with every fiber of his
being. And so he sets about to seek the will of God for his life. He sits at
the feet of his beloved Savior and searches the scriptures to see what God
would have him do.

He learns that there are several avenues of
service to God. There is the gift of prophesy whereby one may preach, literally
forth-tell the word of God. There is the gift of service, of teaching,
exhorting, giving, leading, and showing mercy. He learns also that the real
Christian is to be real, there is to be no phoniness about him since there is
no phoniness in God.  He learns further
that the real CHristain is to lovewithout
hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  We are to be devoted to one another in
brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in
diligence, but fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord. We are called to be rejoicing in hope, persevering in
tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, and practicing hospitality.  We
are called to bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… to rejoice with those who rejoice, and
weep with those who weep.

 

Further we are called to be of the same
mind toward one another. We are to be humble toward others, or as Paul states
it, “do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. He says “Do not
be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect
what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on
you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave
room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I
WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM,
AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING
COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with
good.

 

It is clear that the Christian is to be
very different from the worldling. Every area of his life is to be brought into
conformity to the Word of God and that includes how we view the government.
This too is radically different from the worldly view. Indeed, in the past two
weeks we have learned that all governments have been established by God…that even
the kingdom of antichrist will be established by God for it is God who raises
up kings and dethrones them and they are all put in place by God to bring Him
glory.

 

The Christian, like no one else on earth
understands this truth.

 

How many times have you heard
conversations where people are slandering the government? It is commonplace.
And why is this so? Because they do not know, they have not heard that it is
the Lord God who has established earthly thrones so that He may be glorified.
And so they slander their governing authorities, as if they could do a better
job. There are too many armchair quarterbacks who think ‘they can do it better.’

 

Did you ever ponder what goes into being a
governing official? We call these people ignorant but in reality they are very
intelligent people who have to remember an incredible amount of facts and
figures in order to do their job competently. And as we saw from our study of
Romans 12 there are those who have been gifted by God with the ability to serve
and lead. So we may not personally like those in authority, we
may not like their choices or their lifestyles, but as long as they aren’t
commanding us to disobey God we are commanded in the scriptures to obey the
laws of the land.

 

So lets
go back to our text which is found in Romans 13:1 and review our material up to
now.

 

1 “Every soul is to be
in subjection to the governing authorities.
Note that there are no exceptions.  This is not optional. No one is excluded, no
one is given a special dispensation. God’s law is universal. When He says,
“Thou Shalt Not” we, all of mankind, Christian and rebel are the “Thou’s”. God
has laid out His law and expects it to be obeyed. Sinful man has rebelled
against God and suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. But they are without
excuse before a Holy God who has revealed Himself, Who is there and who is not
silent, who has spoken clearly so men have to go out of their way to deny Him!
And the command in verse one is clear…all men are to be in subjection, we are
to be absolutely obedient to the governing authorities. The language used here
is military language which speaks of submission to superior officers.

Now why are we to obey the governing
authorities? Paul gives us the reason. For
there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by
God.
That means that the government we have today has been established by
God! Now God has instituted 4 types of authorities
on earth:

1.
the government over all citizens;

2.
the church over all believers;

3.
the parents over all children; and

4.
the masters over all employees.

 

All
these human authorities derive their power from God. He has instituted human
government to reward good and to restrain sin in an evil, fallen world.

 

Are
these human authorities perfect? Far from it! They are made up of men and that
is as imperfect as you can get. These men have been, knowingly or unknowingly,
appointed by God to serve Him. And they suffer from the same human frailties of
all men. Some are good, some are godly; some are incompetent and some are
greedy tyrants. And yet they have all been established by God to glorify His
name. If you read the letters and documents of our founding fathers you will
see that they understood this. They saw themselves as God’s servants, appointed
by God Himself to serve Him by serving His people.

 

But
today we are like Egypt in the days of Moses for rulers and authorities have
arisen who know not the God of the founders. And yet…like Pharaoh of Egypt these
too have been appointed by God to bring glory to His name. Perhaps Barack Obama
was appointed by God to be a hammer of judgment upon our nation in the same way
that Nebuchadnezzar was used as a hammer of judgment on Israel.

 

So, having established the fact that God is the
ruler of mankind and sets over it the lowliest of men, that He establishes all governments
and does so for His own purposes, and having established the fact that we are
to be in subjection to the governing authorities that God has established, what
are we to think of those who resist the governing authorities, who disobey, who
shake their fists at the laws enacted by the God ordained governing
authorities?

 

Paul declares in no uncertain terms that those
who flaunt the laws of the land, who slander the governing authorities, ARE
FIGHTING AGAINST GOD! We read in verse 2 Therefore
whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who
resist will bring judgment on themselves.
It
never ends well for those who live lawless lives…who treat the law of God as
optional or disregard it all together because those who are in rebellion are
fighting against God and those who engage in such activity lost before they
even began.

 

Consider 1Cor
10:7-10
Here Paul speaks of the Children of Israel
who were camped before Mount Sinai. Listen to the description of the scene from
Ex 19:18 “Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the
LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a
furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.”
Then in chapter 24:16 we read
that “The glory of the LORD rested on
Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He
called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.
17 And to
the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like
a consuming fire on the mountain top.
18 Moses
entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on
the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

 

Against this backdrop the people had Aaron
make an idol. And Paul says “Do not be
idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO
EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”
Worse still, they sinned against
knowledge. They had just heard God Himself say, “You shall not make for
yourselves any graven image, you shall not bow down to them or worship them…and
yet they still made an idol.

And they reaped the wages of their sins. Paul
continues saying 8 Nor
let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in
one day.
9 Nor let
us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
10
Nor
grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”
They knew what they were doing was wrong
and they still did it.

 

The sons of Korah, Nadab and Abihu, Dathan
and Abiram: all these men were part of the children of Israel who were
delivered from Egypt; saw the pillar of cloud and of fire, saw God destroy
Egypt, and heard His audible voice on Mount Sinai. They were among the
multitudes who declared their allegiance to God that day! And yet, though they
had sworn to be obedient, though they had all this evidence before them, they
still sinned. They cast an idol and called it God. They railed against God’s
governing authorities, Moses and Aaron. They worshiped the host of heaven in
the face of God whose presence they could see!

 

And they paid the price. Korah, Dathan and
Abiram and all they had were swallowed up alive because they tried to overthrow
God’s appointed leaders. Nadab and Abihu were burned alive for offering strange
fire. 3000 men died because of the golden calf. Untold numbers died when the
mixed multitude demanded meat from God, got it and demonstrated unbelief by
gathering bodacious amounts of meat for themselves. 23,000 died because of
immorality with Moab. Those who resist (the
ordinance of God) will bring judgment on
themselves.
What is another word for ordinance? How about LAW! And we are
talking here about the Law of the Lord. How does the Bible describe the Law of
the Lord?

James tells us that there is one Lawgiver and Judge. This Judge and Lawgiver
has established all earthly governing authorities and has allowed them to make
laws. Consider this from Ps 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring
the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

8
The
precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the
LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The
fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are
true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They
are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey
and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great
reward.

The law, the ordinances of God are good
and those who walk in them are blessed. From Psalm 1 we have these words of
truth concerning those who love God and those who hate Him. We read, 1 How
blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in
the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2
But
his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and
night.
3 He will
be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its
fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he
prospers.

4The
wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the
assembly of the righteous.
6 For the
LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

And this is one of the stated purposes of
the governing authorities: to punish evil and protect the good. The blessed man
lives according to the commandments of God and is blessed by God Himself. The
wicked man has rebelled against the knowledge of the truth and his life is
characterized by wickedness. De 32:35 ‘Vengeance
is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; For the day of
their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’
Ps
73:18-20
 “Surely
You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.
19 How
they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
20
Like
a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.”

 

The scriptures are clear…those who live
for God will prosper while those who live for the world, the flesh and the
devil will perish.

Continuing in our text we read in verse 3
For
rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.
Interesting isn’t it. We see the truth of
this borne out every day. Those who live law abiding lives, at least in
America, have some semblance of peace from the authorities. They may be
ridiculed and hated by the world but they have the peace of knowing that they
are obeying the law. Christians are blessed with the knowledge that they are
being obedient to their heavenly Father. Some of these law abiding citizens
make “Citizen of the Year” for their actions.

 

But the wicked are always looking over
their shoulders wondering if they are going to be caught. They may be hiding
out because they owe money or they may have murdered someone and they know that
the police are looking for them. This is exacerbated by the burning of their
conscience as they know they have sinned, they have broken Gods Law! There is
no peace for the wicked.

 

So what are we to do? Paul answers that
question saying; Do you want to have no
fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;
4
for
it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid;
for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an
avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

 

We are to be obedient to God and obey the
law and so honor Him. It is easy to go with the flow of the world and walk in
the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of
scoffers. It is so easy to get caught up in the fervour of fleshly emotions.
Asaph was caught up in this mind-set for a short time and we can read his
testimony of that time in 1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those
who are pure in heart!
2 But as for me, my feet came close to
stumbling, my steps had almost slipped.
3 For I was envious
of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no
pains in their death, and their body is fat.
5 They are not in
trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind.
6 Therefore pride is
their necklace; the garment of violence covers them.
7 Their eye bulges
from fatness; the imaginations of their heart run riot.
8 They mock and
wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high.
9 They have set their
mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth.
10 Therefore his people
return to this place, and waters of abundance are drunk by them.
11 They say,
“How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are
the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth.
13 Surely in vain I
have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence;
14 for I have been
stricken all day long and chastened every morning.
15 If I had said,
“I will speak thus,” behold, I would have betrayed the generation of
Your children.
16 When I pondered to understand this, it was
troublesome in my sight
17 until I came into the sanctuary of God; then
I perceived their end.
18 Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
19 How they are
destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
20 Like a dream when
one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.
21 When my heart was
embittered and I was pierced within,
22 then I was
senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
23 Nevertheless I am
continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
24 With Your counsel
You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in
heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my
heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For, behold, those
who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are
unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my
good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.

 

We
know that the way of the wicked will not prosper…in due time their foot shall
slide and they will be judged, either by the governing authorities or by God
Himself or both, for whether to heaven or hell you bend God will have glory in
the end! We are called to glorify God by being obedient to the governing
authorities, by obeying the laws of the land. And we know that the only time we
can stand up and disobey is when we ought to obey God rather than men.

If the government establishes a law that
commands us to disobey God or decrees that we must not serve God, then and only
then do we have the mandate of scripture to disobey!

 

But this is not a license to sin! We are
to do all we can to live peaceably with all men. We are to pray for our leaders
so we can live a quiet life. Let me close with the mandate of holy Scripture in
1Pet 2:13-25 which
declares; 13 Submit yourselves
for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in
authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the
punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
15 For such is the
will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16 Act as free
men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as slaves
of God.
17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood,
fear God, honor the king.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters
with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those
who are unreasonable.
19 For this finds favor, if for the
sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering
unjustly.
20 For what credit is there if, when you sin
and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is
right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor
with God.
21 For you have been called for this
purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to
follow in His steps,
22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT
FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
23 and while being reviled, He did not revile
in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself
to Him who judges righteously;
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body
on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His
wounds you were healed.
25 For you were continually straying like
sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

 

Let us walk as children of light, living
as Jesus lived. Let us obey the laws of the land, submitting to the God
established governing authorities, and in doing so our lives will be blazing
beacons of truth and holiness in this dark and sinful world. And let us do all
for the glory of God, that we may please our heavenly Father.

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