Tuesday in the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 13:1-7

Submission to Authority

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary” (James Madison, Federalist #51, 1788).  Forgive me for quoting a founding father when Scripture says enough, but I thought this from James Madison an excellent segue into our passage under study: submission to governing authorities.  The fact of the matter is that fallen man needs a way to order and protect himself from, uh … well, himself.  This is why Paul says that the duty of rulers is to reward the do-gooder and avenge the evil-doer (also see, 1 Peter 2:13-17).  Even tyranny, as terrible as that is, is better than anarchy: no rule or rulers, no law, no protection.  Anarchy is survival of the fittest, a veritable hell on earth.  Those who think they want such a thing prove themselves foolish because they do not know the nature of man.

It is because of man’s wickedness that God founded human government, to corral man’s vile impulses.  This is why Paul writes, “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  This is hard to bear when one thinks of present day North Korea and a host of other demonic governments down through the ages that have ravaged the lives of human beings.  And this passage must be considered along side of Acts 5:29 when the apostles responded to the Sanhedrin’s order to stop preaching, “We must obey God rather than men,” the disobedience of the Hebrew midwives to kill the Hebrew boys as Pharaoh ordered (Exodus 1:15-22), and the entire book of Revelation in which the saints refuse to recant their faith but witness all the more for Christ despite persecution and death.

But where there is no contradiction to follow our God’s command, we must obey; that is, pay respect, honor, and yes, taxes, too.  And we are even told that we must do this “for the sake of conscience”; that is, since we know that the government we live under is instituted by God.  Therefore, to resist the authorities when we have been commanded to do nothing outside God’s will is to “resist what God has appointed.”  And this has nothing to do with whether we like the rulers or not.

Throughout history the Church has prayed for rulers in her worship; indeed, this was the Church’s plea against the Roman Emperors during horrible persecution: You have nothing to fear from us for we pray for the Emperor.  Indeed, Christians are to be the best citizens of any kingdom.  In this way, we silence those who would malign us and earn the respect of all (1 Peter 2:15).  So let us be for the sake of conscience and for the salvation of men.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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