Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Standard Of Citizenship

"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, he who resists the authorities, resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore, one must be subject not only to avoid wrath but also for the sake of conscience." Romans 13:1-7

This clear and compelling portion of Scripture is about the standard of citizenship for Christ-followers but even more so it is a statement about the Sovereignty of God.

Paul makes three arguments why followers of Christ are to be subject to the authorities:

1) all governing authority has been ordained or instituted by God. If there is a government, God put it there, V. 1b

2) therefore, a person who resists or opposes governing authorities experiences two things: one is pangs of conscience that he is really opposing God, and the other is punishment that the authorities mete out to those who oppose them, Vv. 2-4

To avoid these two experiences, verse 5 concludes with:

3) to avoid wrath and a bad conscience, therefore, be subject to the governing authorities. In summary then, governing authorities are appointed by God; therefore, to oppose them is to oppose God and to incur punishment; therefore, do not oppose them, but be subject to them.

So, if you are following Christ you are expected to understand God's sovereignty over nations and government, to keep a good conscience and avoid punishment. When you are subject to the authority of the state it is evidence you are under submission to Christ.

In the previous chapter, Paul has given a description of what the surrendered and Spirit-filled life should look like. He concludes that by living this Spirit-filled Christ-led life will overcome evil.

It is within that context that Chapter 13 begins with the emphasis on the sovereignty of God in world leadership. Living under the sovereignty of God is much easier when led by the Spirit of God.

You are called to follow Christ. A question you should continually ask yourself is "am I following"? One way to be sure is to live as a good citizen of your world.