Can You Be Counted On?
Romans13:1-14 Nov. 6 2011
There are three good lessons taught us in this chapter, where the apostle enlarges more upon his precepts than he had done in the foregoing chapter, finding them more needful to be fully pressed. I. A lesson of subjection to lawful authority . II. A lesson of justice and love to our brethren . III. A lesson of sobriety and godliness in ourselves to the end.
1.The duty of subjection to governors. (Romans 13:1-7)
Romans 13:1 Let every individual be obedient to those who rule over him; for no one is a ruler except by God’s permission, and our present rulers have had their rank and power assigned to them by Him. 2 Therefore the man who rebels against his ruler is resisting God’s will; and those who thus resist will bring punishment upon themselves. 3 For judges and magistrates are to be feared not by right-doers but by wrong-doers. You desire—do you not?—to have no reason to fear your ruler. Well, do the thing that is right, and then he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant for your benefit. But if you do what is wrong, be afraid. He does not wear the sword to no purpose: he is God’s servant—an administrator to inflict punishment upon evil-doers. 5 We must obey therefore, not only in order to escape punishment, but also for conscience’ sake.
6 Why, this is really the reason you pay taxes; for tax-gatherers are ministers of God, devoting their energies to this very work. 7 Pay promptly to all men what is due to them: taxes to those to whom taxes are due, toll to those to whom toll is due, respect to those to whom respect is due, honor to those to whom honor is due
The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent. Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed. In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evil-doers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment. Thou hast the benefit of the government, therefore do what thou canst to preserve it, and nothing to disturb it. This directs private persons to behave quietly and peaceably where God has set them, 1 Timothy 2:1 , 2 . Christians must not use any trick or fraud. All smuggling, dealing in contraband goods, withholding or evading duties, is rebellion against the express command of God. Thus honest neighbours are robbed, who will have to pay the more; and the crimes of smugglers, and others who join with them, are abetted. It is painful that some professors of the gospel should countenance such dishonest practices. The lesson here taught it becomes all Christians to learn and practise, that the godly in the land will always be found the quiet and the peaceable in the land, whatever others are.
2. Exhortations to mutual love. (Romans 13: 8-10)
Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to any one except mutual love; for he who loves his fellowman has satisfied the demands of Law. 9 For the precepts, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt do no murder,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and all other precepts, are summed up in this one command, “Thou shalt love thy fellow man as much as thou lovest thyself.” 10 Love avoids doing any wrong to one’s fell man, and is therefore complete obedience to Law.
Christians must avoid useless expense, and be careful not to contract any debts they have not the power to discharge. They are also to stand aloof from all venturesome speculations and rash engagements, and whatever may expose them to the danger of not rendering to all their due. Do not keep in any one’s debt. Give every one his own. Do not spend that on yourselves, which you owe to others. But many who are very sensible of the trouble, think little of the sin, of being in debt. Love to others includes all the duties of the second table. The last five of the ten commandments are all summed up in this royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; with the same sincerity that thou lovest thyself, though not in the same measure and degree. He that loves his neighbour as himself, will desire the welfare of his neighbour. On this is built that golden rule, of doing as we would be done by. Love is a living, active principle of obedience to the whole law. Let us not only avoid injuries to the persons, connexions, property, and characters of men; but do no kind or degree of evil to any man, and study to be useful in every station of life.
3.To temperance and sobriety. (Romans 13:11-14)
Romans11 Carry out these injunctions because you know the critical period at which we are living, and that it is now high time, to rouse yourselves from sleep; for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first became believers. 12 The night is far advanced, and day is about to dawn. We must therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness, and clothe ourselves with the armor of Light. 13 Living as we do in broad daylight, let us conduct ourselves becomingly, not indulging in revelry and drunkenness, nor in lust and debauchery, nor in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 On the contrary, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for gratifying your earthly cravings.
Four things are here taught, as a Christian’s directory for his day’s work. When to awake; Now; and to awake out of the sleep of carnal security, sloth, and negligence; out of the sleep of spiritual death, and out of the sleep of spiritual deadness. Considering the time; a busy time; a perilous time. Also the salvation nigh at hand. Let us mind our way, and mend our pace, we are nearer our journey’s end. Also to make ourselves ready. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore it is time to dress ourselves. Observe what we must put off; clothes worn in the night. Cast off the sinful works of darkness. Observe what we must put on; how we should dress our souls. Put on the armour of light. A Christian must reckon himself undressed, if unarmed. The graces of the Spirit are this armour, to secure the soul from Satan’s temptations, and the assaults of this present evil world. Put on Christ; that includes all. Put on righteousness of Christ, for justification. Put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. The Lord Jesus Christ must be put on as Lord to rule you as Jesus to save you; and in both, as Christ anointed and appointed by the Father to this ruling, saving work. And how to walk. When we are up and ready, we are not to sit still, but to appear abroad; let us walk. Christianity teaches us how to walk so as to please God, who ever sees us. Walk honestly as in the day; avoiding the works of darkness. Where there are riot and drunkenness, there usually are chambering and wantonness, and strife and envy. Solomon puts these all together, Proverbs 23:29-35 . See what provision to make. Our great care must be to provide for our souls: but must we take no care about our bodies? Yes; but two things are forbidden. Perplexing ourselves with anxious, encumbering care; and indulging ourselves in irregular desires. Natural wants are to be answered, but evil appetites must be checked and denied. To ask meat for our necessities, is our duty, we are taught to pray for daily bread; but to ask meat for our lusts, is provoking God, Psalms 78:18 .
Living out God’s “by-faith righteousness’’ affects our relationships with other believers (Rom. 12 ). It also affects our relationship with the secular state and all our fellow human beings (Rom. 13 ). Christians must submit to governing authorities by obeying their rulers, paying taxes, and following established laws (Romans 13:1-14). Authorities are in fact God’s (often unwitting!) servants, and our submission is a mark of respect for God . Christians must also show love to their fellow human beings . In fact all the commandments are rooted in love: each calls us to avoid that which might harm a neighbor and so living love will in practice fulfill God’s Law . This obligation is urgent, for history rushes toward its end and we must clothe ourselves with Christ rather than gratify the desires of our sinful nature .