The Christian & Government

An exposition of Romans 13:1-7.romans This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 25, 2010.

We live in interesting times politically.  Matters political have become increasingly divisive.  Rhetoric is increasingly hostile.  Tempers flare and those who differ are considered enemies.  If you are a Republican, Democrats can’t do any thing right.  If you are a Democrat, Republicans are hate mongers.  If you are a Libertarian everyone else is an idiot.  Lines are drawn, positions are taken and minds never change.  This side says that side cannot be trusted.  This source says that source is biased.  Any attempt to negotiate or compromised is attacked by both sides claiming it is a sell out.  What are we to do?  What is the Scriptural response to the current political climate?  Are we to rush out and “throw in” with the Tea Party movement?  Are we to withdraw and removed ourselves from such nonsense as political parties and movements and not soil ourselves with the business of this world?  Should we merely busy ourselves with the kingdom of God and leave politics to the Devil and his crowd?  After all trying to salvage the ship of state is a bit like polishing brash on the Titanic – what good will it due the ship is going down anyway.  How are we to deal with government?  Our text is found in the 13th chapter of Romans.

Text: Romans 13:1-7

Paul is dealing with the transformed life. The section began with a call to sacrifice and commitment – 12:1-2. Beginning with 12:3 Paul is showing what this transformed life looks like. This is life as God intends us to live. This is the life He expects from us.

Having dealt with how we view ourselves and others it is no surprise Paul turns his attention to how we relate to government.  This is a natural question in light of a couple of things Paul has said.  Take for instance that statement in 12:2 – “do not be conformed to this world (age) but rather be transformed…”

Consider Romans 8:34-38 – focus in on 8:36 (quoting Psalm 44:22).
What is to be the attitude of the church toward the government that sees its members as sheep to be slaughtered?

Understand the historical context:

  • The political climate in Rome was especially volatile at this time.
  • The Jews had been expelled from Rome under emperor Claudius.
  • Paul was concerned the Zionist’s attitudes would spill over into the church.

Also remember the words of Jesus when He was approached by some of the religious leaders in another of their attempts to trap Him.  The story is told in Matthew 22.

We are told the Pharisees and Herodians teamed up for this. Politics makes strange bedfellows! Note their question, it is brilliant – Mt. 22:17. It’s a no win question – either treason against Rome or anti-patriot toward Israel. Jesus’ response – 22:19-22 – masterful political statement. Coin = minted by Rome. You = minted by God. Render to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God.

Romans 13:1-7 is Paul’s exposition of Jesus’ teaching.

Thesis: Citizenship in the Kingdom of God includes a corresponding responsibility towards earthly powers.

There is a tension in this life for the people of God.  We are citizens of two kingdoms.  There is to be no question as to our supreme loyalty – we belong to Christ!  We are pilgrims looking for a city whose builder and maker is God but at the same time we live as citizens in this world.  Life here has its obligations as well.  That is what our text is about.

In our text three things are made clear about how the transformed life interacts with earthly kingdoms.

  1. The transformed life responds to government with profound submission and loyal obedience.  (13:1-2)
    1. A surprising principle – 13:1
    2. A sound reason – 13:1
    3. An inescapable conclusion – 13:2
  2. The transformed life recognizes government’s God-ordained role and purpose.  (13:3-4)
  3. The transformed life renders government its due.  (13:5-7)
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