November 5, 2023
SERMON SERIES: GOD’S WORLDWIDE PLAN FOR EVERY PERSON
BOOK OF ROMANS
Sermon # 16: OUR DUTY TO GOD AND GOVERNMENT
Is it possible to have dual citizenship? Is it possible to be loyal to two different kingdoms? Note this example:
One of the terms used often during the 1992 SUMMER Olympics by television sports commentators was dual citizenship.
One athlete with dual citizenship was a swimmer named Martin Zubero. He was born in the United States, where he had lived nearly all his life. He attended the University of Florida and trained for competition in the U.S. However, he was swimming under the colors of Spain. Why? His father is a Spanish citizen and so Martin is too. At the Olympics, he chose to represent his father’s nation, to which he felt greater allegiance.
Christians, too, have dual citizenship. We are citizens of this world, no matter what nation we live in, and as followers of Christ, we are also citizens of heaven. We have all rights and privileges that accompany being a child of God. He is not only our heavenly Father, but our King, and our first loyalty must be to his Kingdom.
What is the relationship between the believer and the state? The question has been debated down through the centuries. Which is supreme, the church or the state? God pulls no punches in dealing with this issue, and what He has to say to the genuine believer is startling to some persons. Simply stated, God expects the genuine believer to live as a testimony of righteousness (doing what is right) while a citizen of this earth.
There are three institutions that have been ordained of God in this world. In each of them, there are levels of submission and authority. The three institutions are:
1. The Family – Genesis 2:23-24
2. The Church – Ephesians 1:22-23
3. The Government – Romans 13:1
It is the last of these three institutions (the government) that I will preach today. Let’s take a few moments this morning to look at Our Duty to God and Government.
I. THE SUBMISSIVE MANNER OF OUR DUTY v. 1-5
A. Be subject to civil authorities (v. 1).
It does not matter how the civil authorities were appointed or by whom. It may have been by a senate, an army, or the people. The authority, whether just or unjust, whether legitimate or illegitimate, is to be obeyed.
However, the scope (range or area) of authority is to be noted. The government has authority only within the civildomain. The authority of the government does not extend beyond its position. For example, when Paul commands wives to obey their husbands, they are required to obey them as husbands, not as masters or as kings. Children are to obey their parents, not as sovereigns. So, it is the case of government leaders.
When the laws of civil government conflict with the explicit commandments of God, then Christians must say, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). When government authorities claim divine rights, Christian believers must answer “no,” for the government authorities are going beyond the civil authority delegated to them by God. The government authorities are trespassing on territory which is not theirs.
B. Recognize that government is ordained by God (v. 1).
The existence, the authority, the position, and the offices of government are ordained by God. God’s will that government exist and that person have the authority to rule within the state.
1. The believer is not to resist the government because resistance equals resisting the ordinance of God (v. 2a).
2. The believer who resists the authorities will be condemned (v. 2b). The word “damnation” means judgment. Not God’s judgment, but punishment from the government for breaking the law.
C. Recognize that government is ordained to promote good and restrain evil (v. 3-5).
1. Rulers (government officials) are not ordained to be a restraint upon the good, but upon evil (v. 3).
2. Rulers (government officials) are the ministers of God for good: To maintain the welfare of the citizens (v. 4).
a. They bear the sword against evil – the sword represents a common form of execution in the ancient world. God has given the government the power of life and death when it issues punishment.
b. They execute justice. The right to punish evildoers is given exclusively to the State, which has God-given authority.
II. THE SUPPORTIVE MANNER OF OUR DUTY v. 6-7
A. Recognize that government is ordained to provide benefits through taxes.
B. Rulers are to provide benefits – justice, protection, and services for its citizens.
C. The government keeps the world from diving into chaos.
D. The believer is, therefore, to pay taxes. It is our duty to render monetary support to the government.
E. It is our duty to render moral support (v. 7b). We are commanded to fear and honor those who have the rule over us. Even if we cannot respect the person for their positions, their beliefs, or their actions, we still owe them a debt of respect because of the position they occupy. Remember, they would not be serving there unless they had been allowed to by God!
III. THE SPIRITUAL MANNER OF OUR DUTY v. 8-10
A. We are to be a liberated people (v. 8a). This verse tells us that we are to be in debt to no man. We should repay what we owe and pay our bills on time.
B. We are to be a loving people (v. 8b-10). If there is to be a debt, let it be the debt of love. When we love God as we should, we will always love others as we should. When this is true in our lives, we will have no problem obeying the laws of the land and honoring the rights, positions, and possessions of others.
Many have argued the point that “if only our leaders were Christians,” every problem would vanish. It is easy to forget that it is God who ordains leaders---all of them. It is our great responsibility to submit and serve under God’s authority, even when the way is difficult. Sometimes the best illustrations come right out of the Bible.
Daniel was a gifted young man from a well-to-do family. Thus, he was guaranteed a life of education, wealth, and political fame. But Daniel’s world changed when a foreign power (Babylon) conquered his country, kidnapping him and other young men for their own benefit. In captivity, Daniel found himself surrounded with temptation. It would have been easy to compromise what his parents taught him in order to get along and to seek favor with his captors. But Daniel refused to yield or to reject his faith in God.
In time, the leader who had conquered Daniel’s country had a unique need that only Daniel could meet---the ability to interpret dreams---and so the king sought his help. Did Daniel refuse to give aid and comfort to the enemy, to this ungodly leader? No. Daniel allowed the LORD to use his gifts to contribute to the needs of the government. As the story goes, God used Daniel in a way that transformed both the government and its leaders (See Daniel chapters 1-6)
When you find it hard to obey the government under which you live, are you willing to trust God to use you and become a modern-day Daniel?
Responsive Reading: Romans 13 1-10