I need to begin this morning by saying something that I say frequently, but it is something you must particularly hear in our study of Romans 13:1-7. You, all of you, everyone of you, are called to be Bereans:
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:10-11 NASB
Which means that you don't believe anything that you hear without studying it out for yourself. Please question what I say, think it through, study it out and see if what I'm saying lines up with Scripture. If it does, believe it; if it doesn't, discard it, then confront me with what you see as my error.
Romans thirteen presents a few problems. One writer says of it: "These seven verses have caused more unhappiness and misery in the Christian East and West than any other seven verses in the New Testament" Others have so struggled with what seem to be overwhelming absolutes that the only way to deal with it is to claim that this section was not really Pauline, but a later interpolation; and so we can ignore it.
Barclay writes, "At first reading this is an extremely surprising passage, for it seems to counsel absolute obedience on the part of the Christian to the civil power."
Some think that Christians, belonging to the Kingdom of God, should have nothing to do with the powers and principalities of this world. Others declare that loyalty to nation and government is a prime responsibility of the Christian. What is to be our attitude and response to the government of our country? This vitally important question has been asked throughout the history of the Church. Christians always have been faced with a struggle in this matter, because the Church has found itself under all kinds of governments and rulers with different perspectives of leadership.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Romans 13:1 NASB
"Every person"--is the Greek pas psuche, which means: "all life!" "Be in subjection"--is from the Greek word hupotasso, which is a military term meaning: "to line up, to take your orders." It's in the present imperative middle, which means: "to habitually be in subjection" to "The governing authorities"--this comes from huperecho, which means: "to be above, superior," and the word "authorities" is the Greek word exousia, which means: "power, ability, privilege."
So everyone is to submit to those in authority. Why? "For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." "For" gives us the reason for submission.
Most people see this as speaking of civil government, I don't, but the principle is universal. All human authority is delegated and ministerial. This includes the authority of parents, employers, policemen, teachers, church leaders or any other authority. Anyone who is in a place of authority has had it delegated to him by God. The sovereign Lord who decrees every event in time has put in place all authority:
Daniel said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. "It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. Daniel 2:20-21 NASB
Yahweh sets up and removes kings:
"You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; Daniel 2:37 NASB
"This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers And the decision is a command of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes And sets over it the lowliest of men." Daniel 4:17 NASB
Yahweh rules over mankind and sets up its rulers:
that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes. Daniel 4:25 NASB
"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' Daniel 4:35 NASB
Yahweh's will is never frustrated, He does as He pleases. He sets up godly and ungodly men to serve His purpose:
"I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. "Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. "All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant. "It will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine and with pestilence," declares the LORD, "until I have destroyed it by his hand. Jeremiah 27:5-8 NASB
All authorities, good and bad, are put in place by the sovereign Yahweh and we are called to submit to them:
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. "For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me. Isaiah 45:1-4 NASB
So we see that "there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."
Now that we understand that, let's talk about Authority and Submission: "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities." Just because someone is in authority over us doesn't mean that they're better than us, or smarter than us, or more qualified than us. Subordination involves no degradation, a person is not dishonored by being subject to someone else.
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3 NASB
The word "head" is from the Greek word kephale, which means: "government or authority." Authority and subordination have nothing to do with essence, it strictly deals with function. In essence and nature, Christ and Yahweh are equal; but by Yahweh's design, the function of the Son demanded that He submit to the Father in a beautiful act of humiliation.
In marriage, for the sake of function, the woman is to take the place of submission. The man doesn't have to be smarter or have better sense to be in authority, we all know that he usually isn't. He is the authority in the home, because God made him the authority. There is no dishonor for the woman to be in subjection to the man.
In government, why do we have to submit to those in authority? Because they're better than everyone else? No! Because there has to be authority and submission, or there will be anarchy, and no society can survive anarchy.
In the church, God has called the pastors/elders to lead, and the people to submit. This is not because the elders are better or more spiritual than you; we are all equal in Christ. There is no clergy/laity division in the church; the pastors are leaders among equals. The pastors are in authority simply because God has called them to lead. It is simply a matter of function.
The Importance of submission: Most Christians don't think rebellion is any big deal; we resist authority and don't give it a second thought. How about you, is your life characterized by submission or rebellion? How would you respond if you found out that a Christian friend of yours was involved in witchcraft or idolatry? Would it concern you? Would you talk to them about it?
"For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." 1 Samuel 15:23 NASB
Why is submission so hard for us? Pride! What was the first sin? In the Garden of Eden the first sin was pride. The temptation of the serpent came with these words:"You will be like God." The temptation to be like God is greater than we think, we all face it. We resist being subject to law. We squirm when we are placed under too much authority. We love to be free--free of restraints, free of accountability.
Our quest to be like God is a quest to be above law. It is the quest for autonomy. Autonomy means literally: "self-law." A person who seeks to be utterly autonomous is a person who seeks to be a law unto himself. He is answerable to no one:
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 1 Peter 5:5 NASB
By nature we are all rebels, our pride causes us to rebel against authority. We don't want anyone telling us what to do, especially someone who is not as smart as we are. But I want you to see that submission is the mark of a Spirit controlled believer:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Yeshua Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:18-21 NASB
The word "filled" here is pleroo (play-ro'-o), which means: "to be controlled by." Submission is the mark of a Spirit controlled believer. So in order to overcome our pride, which causes rebellion, we must be controlled by the Spirit. Now the question is: How are we controlled by the Spirit? I believe the answer is clear if we look at a parallel passage:
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:16-18 NASB
The results are the same in both passages, and so I think it's safe to say that to be controlled by the Spirit, we must have Christ's Word dwelling in us. As we study God's Word and submit to its teaching, the Spirit will empower and control our lives.
Rebellion is a serious sin against God, because all power is ordained by God and we are to submit to it. Now, what about those leaders who are not qualified to lead? Surely we don't have to submit to them, do we? Yes! Let me try to prove this from Scripture:
Then Yeshua spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. Matthew 23:1-3 NASB
The Lord said they're hypocrites, so don't do what they do, but they are in a place of authority, so you must do what they say. Now that should be clear. The Spirit filled believer is to be submissive no matter who the leadership is.
When I think of submission to church leaders, I think of Bob Donohoo, I'll never forget Bob and his attitude of submission; he is truly a Spirit controlled man. The first time he visited the church he spoke to all the pastors. The next week he invited Cathy and I over for dinner and asked me to bring a doctrinal statement and a financial statement. We spent the evening being questioned and going over those statements with a fine tooth comb. Several weeks later, when they put in an application to join the church, he told me that he was so thorough, because when they joined a church they knew that they were putting themselves under the authority of its leaders.
Bob was a student at Regent University and before signing up for a Wednesday evening class came to the pastors to see if we had any objections to it, because he would have to miss our Wednesday evening church meeting. Bob understood the principles of authority and submission, and he was greatly used of God in ministry.
David was aware that all authority came from God, and therefore, he was submissive to it:
Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi." Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. The men of David said to him, "Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'" Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. It came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe. So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD'S anointed." David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way. Now afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, 'Behold, David seeks to harm you'? "Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, 'I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD'S anointed.' "Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. "May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 1 Samuel 24:1-12 NASB
David had already been anointed King, but he still viewed Saul as in authority. Saul was a sinful man, but David continued to see him as the Lord's anointed. May the Spirit of God instruct us from the examples in His Word, and may we have the heart of David, a spirit of submission to authority.
When I am in a store and I see a door with a sign that reads, "Employees only," I do not enter. Not because entering would break some law. I do not enter because the governing authority of that store has said that I am not to enter. And I am called to obey and not resist the authority of the store owner, just as I am called to obey the rules of my neighbor when I am on his property or in his house. We are to obey those who govern our various situations: my neighbor on his property, the security guard at the mall, and the shopkeeper in his store. Christians make the best citizens because they strive to live in submission to authority.
The grandfather of Communism, Georg Hegel, argues that government is divinely sanctioned to do anything it pleases, and that God requires people to submit regardless of natural standards of justice. This argument has been used by virtually every tyrant since the first century, including Adolf Hitler. And so we have to ask, Are there limits to submission? Sure there are. We are never to violate Scripture to submit to anyone:
saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:28-29 NASB
As Christians, no earthly law can exceed the Word of God. When the two clash, God always wins. And when the governing authority extends its reach beyond its defined role, I believe it has become an enemy of God. This is true whether the ruler is the king or a group of neighbors acting as the local faction that is democracy. And it is even true when the ruler is the owner of the store, or your neighbor in his backyard.
So, there are limits to authority. A father has authority in his home, but does this give him power to abuse his wife and children? Of course not. An employer has authority on the job, but does this give him power to control the private lives of his employees? No. A pastor has overseer authority in the church, but does this give him power to tell employers in his church how to run their businesses? Of course not. All human authority is limited. No man has unlimited authority over the lives of other men.
We in the United States of America do not live under a monarchy. We have no king. is no single governing official in this country. "The Constitution of the United States" is the supreme law of the Land. "The Constitution" was adopted on September 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.
The first ten constitutional amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791 are known as the "Bill of Rights." "The Constitution" has been amended seventeen additional times (for a total of 27 amendments). "The Constitution" guides American society in law and political culture.
Under our laws, every governing official publicly promises to submit to "The Constitution of the United States." Under our laws and form of government, it is the duty of every elected official to obey the U.S. Constitution (and his or her State constitution).
The problem in America today is that our political leaders have violated their oaths of office and ignore--and blatantly disobey--the "supreme Law of the Land," the U.S. Constitution. Our government is loading us up with unlawful laws. I don't believe that we have to submit to these laws, because they are unconstitutional.
Amendment IV--"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
"The Patriot Act" violates the Fourth Amendment in every point, which should be the concern of every person, because "it violated the Constitution by giving federal authorities unchecked power to obtain the private information" (Swartz, 2004)"The Patriot Ac"t allows the federal government to take away the property of a supposed terrorist without notice or the agreement of the judge, even though the person can be innocent. The FBI can search private records within financial institutions, which are our personal documents and should be protected and not searched by law. They can also look into personal records such as medical, phone, internet, student or library records.
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. Romans 13:2 NASB
Those who apply these verses to civil government say that we must obey every law that our government passes or we are sinning against God. First of all, I don't believe these verses are talking about civil government. I don't think that Paul is telling believers to be subject to the Roman government. If he was doing that, why would Rome put him to death?
In the Roman world, Caesar was lord, and he had the power of death. Threats to Roman rule were mercilessly crushed. Everyone in the Roman world knew that the cross had a clear symbolic meaning; it meant that Caesar ruled the world, with cruel death as his ultimate, and regular, weapon. The problem, from the standpoint of Roman rule, is that Yeshua didn't stay dead. The resurrection demonstrates that the true God has a power utterly superior to that of Caesar. Rome crucified Yeshua. But God raised Him from the dead and made Him LORD! Rome said that Caesar was lord, but Paul taught that Yeshua was Lord:
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; Romans 13:3 NASB
"For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior"--is this true of our government? If we do what is good will our government praise us? How many of you have ever heard of Dr. Burzynski? Stanislaw Burzynski is a biochemist and a physician. He is founder, president, and chairman of the Burzynski Research Institute Inc., based in Houston and Stafford, Texas. Since December 1976, Burzynski has administered peptides and their metabolites, which he calls antineoplastons, as treatments with anti-cancer activity. He has healed many cancer patients with his treatment. He has had his clinic shut down and been dragged into court over and over again by our government. Why? For helping sick people.
The Gerson clinic operates in Mexico because our government won't allow people to heal with vegetable juice and nutrition. The Gerson's have healed thousands of people, but their brand of medicine is not allowed in the U.S.
If you grow the wrong kind of plant, the government will arrest you and put you in jail. So our government says that what God created is evil and cannot be used. And yet our government pushes drugs that cause all kinds of adverse effects. Why? Drug companies control government, and they can't make any money if you grow your own marijuana. And why is hemp illegal?
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. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. Romans 13:4-5 NASB
It seems to me that our government brings wrath on anyone who disagrees with its practices. I do not think Paul is talking about government in these verses:
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Romans 13:6 NASB
Let me ask you a question: Are actions which are sinful for individuals, such as theft, murder, and kidnaping, also sinful even for those who call themselves government? Is it wrong for the government to take from some persons what belongs to them, and give it to other persons to whom it does not belong. Is it wrong for the government to benefit one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime?
Take the parable of the Good Samaritan. He sees someone in need and reaches into his own pocket. He may not have been rich. He may have helped the needy at great sacrifice. He did not rob the next passerby to support the victim of the first robbery. When a government dependant person sees a needy person, he does not take personal responsibility and act at great sacrifice. He looks to the government who robs the next passerby (taxation), pockets half the money, and hires someone to give the rest to the needy. One act of violence is compounded by another.
The State engages in more theft, murder, and kidnaping than any other group of people, including the criminals from which the State promises to protect us. The State is, without close competition, the greatest thief and mass murderer on the planet.
Now someone might say, "Is it constitutional that we pay income tax?" The federal government rests its authority to collect income tax on the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution--the federal income tax amendment--which was allegedly ratified in 1913:
"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." --The 16th Amendment "The Constitution of the United States of America."
After an extensive year-long nationwide research project, William J. Benson discovered that the 16th Amendment was not ratified by the requisite three-fourths of the States and that nevertheless Secretary of State Philander Knox had fraudulently declared ratification.
The 16th amendment never received enough votes from the States to be ratified, therefore it is not actually a legal amendment. This has been ruled on and decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land that cannot be appealed against, said: "The 16th amendment gives the government no new powers of taxation."
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. Romans 13:7 NASB
This is what we are to do, "Render to all what is due them."
I don't think that I would get much resistance when I say that our country is a mess. The State has way over stepped it's bounds and we are being put in bondage to all the rules and regulations that are imposed upon us. But if you are not happy with the state of our government--blame the Church. I believe that the state of our nation is a judgment from God for the sinfulness of the Church.
Let me give you a quote from Biblical Horizons Newsletter, No. 20: "Who Rules the Land?" by James B. Jordan:
The message of the Noahic Covenant is this: Right now, the Church rules the nations of the world. We and we alone have been given power and dominion, and if we don't like the way things are going, we have only ourselves to blame. Unbelieving rulers are puppets, and we are the puppet masters. They dance to our tune, and move as we pull the strings. They 'rule' only as we direct them. Right now, they are doing exactly what the Church has told them to do.
This is the True Reality. It is the way things really are. But because of sin, we in common with all men suppress the True Reality and believe a myth (Rom. 1:18). We believe that those who wield external power are the rulers of this world, but that simply is not the case.
It is interesting to read Romans 13:1-7 in the light of the Noahic Covenant, as we have understood it. Paul says that every civil authority is established by God. He says that the Roman Caesar is a cause of fear for evil behavior. He says that if the Church does good, the ruler will praise her. He implies that if the Church does wickedly, the ruler will persecute her. Christians are to pay taxes to their slaves (rulers) so that their slaves will be able to do what Christians tell them to do.
What does this mean? It means that when the Church is faithful, God will convert the heart of the ruler and he will rule righteously. Conversely, when the ruler is evil and destructive, this means that the Church has not been pleasing to God. The Church is always in charge of culture, and she has been in charge ever since the Flood. We don't have to take the world and culture over. We already have them. We just have to start using them aright.
This is not something new that comes in with the New Covenant, though the New Covenant puts it into force as never before. When Joseph was faithful, Pharaoh converted. When Daniel was faithful, Nebuchadnezzar converted. It was because Judah was wicked that Nebuchadnezzar conquered her. The picture of the world throughout the Old Testament is that Jerusalem is the center of the world, and that the faithfulness or faithlessness of God's priestly nation determines the fate of the whole world. The New Testament presents the same picture, making the world's fate rest in the hands of the Church.
The writer of Proverbs put it this way:
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 NASB
When the Church is faithful, God changes men. We cannot reform the "State" as an action separate from reforming the Church. If the Church is faithful, God will bless her and there will be good rulers.
Notice what Yahweh says to Judah through Nehemiah:
"But they, in their own kingdom, With Your great goodness which You gave them, With the broad and rich land which You set before them, Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds. "Behold, we are slaves today, And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, Behold, we are slaves in it. "Its abundant produce is for the kings Whom You have set over us because of our sins; They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:35-37 NASB
This could be said to America today. The rulers that we have are a result of the sin of Yahweh's people. A weak Church is not the victim of an evil society. An evil society is the victim of a weak Church. We won't fix this country through an election, but through the Church honoring Yahweh through righteousness. If a man like Ron Paul gets in office, it will be because Yahweh put him there as a blessing to His Christ honoring Church. We need to work to reform the Church, not the government.
So how does Judah fix the situation that they are in?
"Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests." Nehemiah 9:38 NASB
What was the agreement that they put in writing?:
are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God's law, which was given through Moses, God's servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of GOD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; Nehemiah 10:29 NASB
This is how you fix the government, you walk righteously with Yahweh.
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