THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
For the next couple of weeks we will be in Romans 13 for a miniseries, titled, “The Christian Citizen.” Sometime back I was riding with a couple of guys and we began to discuss the role of Christians in government and politics. I was not prepared for all the negatives I heard – “Christians should stay out of politics.” “We’re not of this world.” “It doesn’t really matter how you vote.” “We need to only focus on the gospel” “This world will soon burn up anyways.” Needless to say, it was very disheartening for me. This morning let’s see what God’s Word has to teach on this subject.
Romans 13:1-5 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
The passage we just read has puzzled scholars for a long time. Why did Paul include chapter 13 in his letter? All of chapter 12 deals with our interaction with fellow Christians. All of chapter 14 and beyond again deals with our interaction with fellow Christians. But chapter 13 in the middle focuses on our interaction with the government and rulers and authorities. It appears to be out of place. But the more you study it you realize that Paul through the Holy Spirit had a very good reason for this.
Paul has been teaching us a lot about love and forgiveness and showing hospitality and not taking vengeance and not being overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good. All these values and principles are wonderful for our individual lives and personal relationships but when it comes to society in general, we need certain rules and boundaries and obligations and consequences. Without them our society will fall apart. Furthermore, you can have all the rules, boundaries, obligations, and consequences but if you don’t have godly rulers and authorities and government to enforce them then it will not work.
This message is vital for us living in this great nation in 2014. Let me ask you:
– Would you agree that we are living in a time when people have lost faith in government and have for a while?
– Would you agree that it does make a difference who is in authority?
– Would you agree that majority of our young people have no clue about the issues that are taking place?
– Would you agree that we are loosing our cherished freedoms because we haven’t spoken out as we should have?
Paul is teaching the Christians in Rome what it means to be good Christian Citizens.
3 important points we will see in this passage:
I. AS CHRISTIAN CITIZENS, WE SHOULD SEEK GOD’S WILL IN THIS WORLD.
Before we jump in to Romans 13, we need to backup to Romans 12:2 for a moment. That is the verse that sets the tone for the entire application section. It says, “And do not be conformed to this world (age). Meaning: The people of this world have their set of beliefs and values. Don’t let them squeeze you into their mold. Instead, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Meaning: Let there be an individual mind transformation. What next? “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – the GAP Test. Meaning: As you resist this world and are being transformed in your mind, go out and prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Most of us only think of God’s will in our personal context – work, relationships, health, etc. But the passage does not limit God’s will to only our personal lives. It also extends into the world.
God has a will for our world. Do you remember how Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6? “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Meaning: In heaven God’s will is always done. Our prayer is that God’s will would also be done on earth. That means that God’s will is not always done on earth. Some people like to say – “God’s will is always done.” That’s not true. If it were so, Jesus would not have asked His disciples to pray for it. Let me ask you a question – “Is it God’s will for babies to be aborted?” “Is it God’s will for people to loose their jobs?” “Is it God’s will for the institution of the family to be torn down?” “Is it God’s will for someone to rob you and get away?” Of Course Not!
When our mind is renewed, we will not only prove God’s will in our personal lives but we will also prove it in our community, our nation, and our world. We will become a Catalyst for proving God’s will on the earth. No wonder Paul put Romans 13 right in the middle. He is telling us “Don’t run from the world but go into the world and help prove the will of God for the world.”
What will this world look like then? Good and Acceptable and Perfect.
Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
Application: Do you think the world around you is good, acceptable, and perfect? Do you think our neighborhood is good, acceptable, and perfect? Is our nation and our government doing what is good, acceptable, and perfect will of God? Don’t blame the community, government, and the world for it. Let’s look into the mirror. The reason we are in a mess is because we as Christians have failed to make a difference.
Are you willing to take the blame for failing to prove God’s will in our community, our nation, and our world?
II. AS CHRISTIAN CITIZENS, WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL AUTHORITY.
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Meaning: God is the source of all authority and order and He has placed every ruler in that position.
This was perfectly demonstrated in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This King was ruthless and had taken the Jewish people into exile. What Nebuchadnezzar did not know was that God had chosen him for that. (Jeremiah 27:6-7) Through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego he had come to know the living and true God. He had acknowledged that there was no other God than the god of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But one day, he was walking in his royal palace and in pride he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” 31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” The Bible says that very hour God’s word was fulfilled.
At the end of the 7 years, Nebuchadnezzar repented and he was restored and he made a commitment to always follow the King of heaven.
Another example comes from the New Testament when Jesus stood before Pilate as the chief priests and the scribes kept instigating the crowd to crucify Him. Jesus stood silent and Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:10-11 In other words, Jesus was saying, “You’re trying to help me? You are powerless. I gave you that scepter.”
Paul goes on to say in verse 2, “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. At this time, Christians were not a majority. They were a growing minority where the governing authorities were pagan. Paul is instructing the Christians to submit to those in authority since God is the real person in authority.
What does that mean for us who live in America in 2014?
– We need to make sure we elect people in authority who will represent God the best.
– We need to respect all those in authority and teach our children to do the same.
– We need to pray for all those in authority and encourage them whether local, state, or national.
III. AS CHRISTIAN CITIZENS, WE SHOULD SUBMIT AS UNTO THE LORD.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.
Background: Paul explains here that submission to authority is based on certain assumptions. The rulers are not to be a terror to good works. Their purpose is to encourage the good and punish the bad.
For e.g. Immediately our mind goes to someone like Adolph Hitler who not only killed six million Jewish people but he also massacred other nationalities and even his own people.
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. Hitler was a terror to the good people and raised the evil in power.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good.
Paul uses the title God’s Minister to describe the person in governing authority.
Application: When you elect somebody are you looking for someone who comes the closest to being God’s Minister?
But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Meaning: There is something called evil. The ruler, whether born again Christian or not, can recognize that its evil, wrong, bad for society, and bad for our future.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
Application: When you elect somebody, will it be good for your conscience to obey them? Do what they believe line up with the Word of God?
Government, Politics, and Authorities have a major role to play in our spiritual life.
How seriously do we take that? Every time I hear someone say, I don’t care about politics, I don’t pick parties, I don’t vote, I think how ignorant and how reckless and how spiritually immature.
Christians should be involved in the political process because conscience is at stake.
I. As Christian Citizens, we should Seek God’s Will in this World. 2. As Christian Citizens, we should recognize that God is the Source of all Authority. 3. As Christian Citizens, we should evaluate our Authorities based on God’s Standards.
Application: Are you praying for our local authorities, state authorities, and national authorities? Are you seeking to glorify God in being a good citizen? Are you a citizen of the heavenly city?