Obeying The Law Is Obeying God!
“Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes,for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
We are continuing in our study of the government and the Christian’s responsibility to the governing authority and we come today to the subject of taxes. This is a real nasty point of contention among not only worldlings but Christians as well. The question of whether Christians should pay taxes to a pagan government arises many times in churches and among Christians in general. And so today we are going to answer that question and more as we deal with our text. We already have learned that we are to be in
subjection to the governing authorities simply because God has raised them up for His own purposes. They are literally ordained, put in place, appointed by God. Therefore, since the governing authorities stand ordained by God almighty and since we claim to be His citizens, His children, it really isn’t a matter of choice is it? God has raised up the governments of the world and the citizens of those nations are to obey them. And whether or not the worldlings do or don’t is not an issue for the Christian because we know better. I’m not saying we are better but that we have been given inside information about the government in general and so we have no choice. We are to be in subjection to
the governing authorities because God has established them.
And Paul has told us that if we resist we are opposing the ordinance of God. The logical ramification is simple. Because civil government is an institution of God, to rebel against government is to rebel, to take one’s stand against the God who has established it. As I said last week, those who have taken it upon themselves to fight God already lost even before the notion came into their minds. In his commentary on Romans, the nineteenth-century Scottish evangelist Robert Haldane wrote, “The people of God then ought to consider resistance to the government under which they live as a very awful crime, even as resistance to God Himself.” And the people of God ought to know better simply
because we have this inside information. In all things we are to serve the living God simply because we love Him and want to honor Him in all things.
Now what is the purpose of law? Is it not to keep order and protect citizens from harm? Yes there are weird laws on books; in California it is illegal to shoot any kind of game from a moving vehicle unless the target is a whale, it is illegal to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time, in Fairbanks it’s illegal to feed alcoholic beverages to a Moose. In Arkansas a man can beat his wife only once per month. So there are many strange laws on the books in many states. But the majority of laws are in place to protect citizens from harm. Why is this so? Because God put it into the hearts of men to set such protective laws down. The men who gave us the constitution and the bill of rights were men who for the most part loved God and understood the glorious wisdom from His word and sought to establish His Word as Law. You can see their deep devotion to God and His truth in their various writings. And you can see it in the founding documents of our Nation. This is why John Adams said; We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. This is also why immoral men in government hate these documents so!
But we are not responsible for the actions of other men…we are responsible to God for our own actions. The seriousness with which God takes rebellion is illustrated vividly in the book of Numbers. God had chosen Moses not only to be the human lawgiver but to be the human leader of Israel as He delivered her from Egypt and led her through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The Lord also had appointed Moses’ brother Aaron to be high priest. Turn to Num.16:3 During that journey, a group of some 250 rebels, led by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, got together to rail against them. We read in Num.16:3, that they “assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?… 13Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us?’.
The Lord was so angered by their insolence “that the ground that was under them split open;… Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense”. Incredibly, the people learned nothing from that awful judgment. Instead of drawing them back to God, it merely escalated their hatred of His chosen leaders. Picking up in verse 41 we read “On the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people.’ In response to that defiant accusation, the Lord sent a deadly plague that instantly killed “14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah” Had not Aaron intervened by making atonement for the people, the entire congregation would have been annihilated. So you see the truth of Paul’s statement, 2 “Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
Our God sees hatred as murder, lust as adultery and rebellion as the sin of witchcraft. Is it any wonder that David prayed; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” Ps 19:14 Christianity is so much more than what most people think. It is more than outward actions or ‘good deeds’ but goes clear into the attitude of the heart. God can see through lip service to the real motivations of your heart. The Psalmist declares in Ps 139:4 “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all.” And in 1Sa 16:7 we read “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Where is your heart before almighty God who sees through the facades of men? Do you love Him with unswerving devotion? Do you have a single purpose in your life…the Glory of God? Or do you have a divided heart. Remember what James says: that the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. The Christian is to be different…he is to be fixated on the Lord Jesus Christ and all he does is to be done for the Glory of God!
When we obey the laws of the land, when we are in subjection to the governing authorities we are to do so with this singleness of purpose. Some people give the law lip service. This can be seen when you are driving down the road. The people are all speeding…unless they see a police car or one of those speed cameras…then suddenly they all become law abiding citizens. That is lip service.
I want to share with you this illustration from a sermon by Ray Comfort titled “Hells Best Kept Secret. Consider what this man says about the law and the purpose of the law and keep in mind that God has established all the governments that make laws.
“We can often see the work of God’s Law
illustrated in civil law. Watch what often happens on a freeway when you are
traveling. When there is no visible sign of the law, see how motorists
transgress the speed limit. Everyone knows the maximum is 55 mph, but watch how
they all naturally flow together at an unlawful 70 mph. It seems that the law
has forgotten to patrol this part of the freeway. You are just “going with
the flow.” Besides, you are only transgressing the law by 15 mph, and you
are not the only one who is over the speed limit.
Now, notice what happens when the law enters. He comes through on the fast lane
with his lights flashing. Your heart misses a beat. You no longer feel secure
in the fact that other motorists are also speeding; you know that you are
personally as guilty as the next guy, and you could be the one the law pulls
over. Suddenly, your “mere” 15 mph transgression doesn’t seem such a
small thing after all. It seems to abound.
Look at the freeway of sin. The whole world naturally goes with the flow. Who
hasn’t had an “affair” (or desired to) at some time or other? Who in
today’s society doesn’t tell the occasional “white” lie now and then,
or take something that belongs to someone else, even if it’s just “white
collar” crime? They know they are “over the limit,” but their
security is in the fact that so many others are just as guilty. It seems God
has forgotten all about sin and the Ten Commandments – “He has said in his heart, ‘God has forgotten; He hides His
face; He will never see”‘ (Ps. 10:11 NKJV)
Now watch the Law enter with lights flashing. The sinner’s heart is stopped. He
lays his hand upon his mouth. He examines the speedometer of his conscience;
suddenly it shows him the measure of his guilt in a new light, the light of the
Law. His sense of security in the fact that there are multitudes doing the same
thing becomes irrelevant, because he knows he is as guilty as the next person.
Sin not only becomes personal, it seems to “abound.” His mere lust
becomes adultery of the heart (Matt. 5:27-28); his white lie becomes
false witness; his own way becomes rebellion; his hatred becomes murder (1
John 3:15); his “light” fingers make him a thief –“Moreover
the Law entered, that the offence might abound…” (Rom. 5:20).
Without the Law entering, sin is neither
personal, nor is it severe – “For without the Law sin is dead –
the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing” (Rom. 7:8b, Amp. Bible).
It is the “Commandment” that shows sin in its true light, that it
is “exceedingly sinful” (Rom. 7:13). Paul sat at the feet of
Gamaliel, the great “teacher of the Law,” and therefore saw sin in
its true colors. The “offense” and the “foolishness” of the cross.
According to Romans
3:20, “…the real function of
the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin (not mere perception,
but an acquaintance with sin which works towards repentance…)” (Amp.
Note how verses 3-4 of our text come to life in light of this illustration! For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. 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. 5 Therefore
because God is the one who establishes all governments, because rebellion against the governing authorities is sinning against God, because the governing authorities have been
established for the safety and welfare of law abiding citizens and the punishment of evil-doers, it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
The Christian does not merely obey because of fear of punishment but because of knowledge; we know the origin of government and understand that obedience to the government is obedience toward God. Therefore, for His sake we do what is right whether or not we have praise from earthly establishments for we seek only Gods glory. If we receive praise of men well and good, but we seek only the glory and praise of God in our obedience to Him! If we have His smile we need nothing else!
Now we come to the subject of taxes.
Again, all governments have been established by God and all governments impose taxes. We have been taught that taxation is evil but is it? Not according to the word of God. We read in verse 6 For because of this because God has ordained all governments for the purpose of protecting the law abiding citizens and the punishment of evil doers you
also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Did you ever think of taxes in this way? How do you think they get paid? It is through taxes.
Think of the office of the pastor. Many people consider the job of pastor as one of a freeloader who gets paid for doing nothing. I mean, how hard is it to just get up and talk for a few hours…anybody can do that. I heard a story from a pastor who said that a man asked him what he did for a living. When he said he was a pastor the man retorted, “No, I mean what is your real job?” But the scriptures teach that “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 1Ti 5:18 17
In the same way the government officials are worthy of honor simply because they have been called and established by God for this service…this is what they do for a living and we are to understand that this is their livelihood. Again, it doesn’t matter what we may think of them personally…they are servants of God and that is the end of the matter. In fact listen to the Word of God; 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. We have an obligation to those in authority in the government to pay taxes, to literally pay back what we owe. The governing officials provide a God ordained service and we are under obligation to pay them for services rendered.
Now the world thinks completely opposite of this which is what we learned in the Truth Project. The world thinks that everyone owes them. We are bombarded with this message in commercials all the time… “you deserve this.” This is the message that Barack Obama delivered in his campaign. And Peggy Joseph heard it clearly…so clearly that she came out of one of his speeches and said; ““It was the most memorable time of my life, I…it was a touching moment because I never thought this day would ever
happen. I won’t have to work … It was the most memorable time of my life, I…it was a touching moment because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to work out how to put gas in my car, I won’t have work out how to pay my mortgage. If I help him, he’s gonna help me.” In other words I won’t have to work anymore…the government is going to take care of me.
This is exactly opposite of what the word of God says. We are commanded to work…to pay our debts…to fulfil our obligations…to be honourable people…productive members of society. Paul said in 2Th 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. And in 1Ti 5:8 we read “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Indeed do you remember this passage from Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” So while work may be a curse word to many, it is a reality that will continue until the return of Jesus Christ who
will deliver us from the curse forever and give us what we don’t deserve, rest. There remains a rest for the people of God.
“One day our journey will be over…one day
we’ll hear our Father calling out our name. The bonds of earthlife will be
broken…and this mortal will have put on immortality. On that blessed day of
grace, when we see Him face to face, we’ll stand before His throne, He’ll
welcome us home and we’ll be with Jesus.”
But until that day we are to work for the glory of God. And we are to 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has
fulfilled the law. How, you ask, do you love your neighbor? You already know who your neighbor is. Jesus taught us that our neighbor is someone in need. And we know from
James that if we see someone in need and give them nothing but lip service we have no love. And John says that if we don’t love we don’t know God for God is love!
So how do we love? Paul tells us using the Ten Commandments. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Godly love does not commit adultery, because such sinful defilement of a person shows disregard for another’s purity. Love highly values the virtue of others and will do nothing that is morally defiling. Like every other form of sexual immorality, adultery comes from impure, sinful lust, never from pure love.
Remember Amnon. The scriptures say that Amnon ‘loved’ his sister. And we know from the account in 2Samuel 13 that it was lust! He was consumed with it. In Matt. 15:19 Jesus declared “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” Amnon’s sin burned in his heart until he raped his sister. And we understand that he had already done the deed in his heart and that his physical rape was merely the outworking of the plan of his heart. This is an illustration of the result of what Jesus said in v. 27–28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart”. You are guilty.
Concerning murder He said in Matt. 5:21–22 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.” You are guilty.
And true biblical love does not rob others of their lives or their property.
Covetousness is idolatry and idolatry has to be the furthest thing possible from Christianity for the Christian is one who has turned away from idols to serve the living God. Covetousness lusts after things that other people have because we think that they will make us happy. But if we are longing after things then we are outside of Christ for the Christian is one who is content with what the Lord provides and what He has not provided, we don’t need! The scriptures tell us that “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” 1Ti 6:8
So the Christian is one who submits to the governing authorities because they have been established by God. He seeks to obey the laws of the land for the glory of God because he realizes that obeying the law equals obeying God just as resisting the law is opposing God. He pays his taxes to the government for he knows that these are their wages. The Christian is one who loves God, trusts in God and rests in His sovereign will, knowing that God knows best what we need. He trusts in the Lord to provide for his needs and
bows before his Father in praise and contented worship for all that God brings his way!
The Christian is one who has learned the lesson of the Good Samaritan and when Paul says that 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. He says AMEN and seeks to do just that. He seeks to love with no strings attached. He loves for God’s sake!
Christians reject evil and do good because those are the only things the indwelling love of their indwelling Lord will lead them to do. What God wants will be what we want. As
someone has said, if we love God with all our heart and other people with all our heart, we can do as we please, because we will only want to do that which pleases God and benefits others. And the Christian does all of this for the glory of God alone!