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Romans 13:1-7

[Note of warning: It seems like we have a checklist of things to do as a Christian. Be careful to not make it a checklist - or you can turn it into a form of the Law.]

I have been uncomfortable with this first section of Romans 13 in the past, but it is a logical progression from Romans 12. It flows from:

1) From moving to God, to Christians, to the world, to Government - the theme is subordination.

[Subordination: Subject to the authority or control of another.]

2) Do not repay evil with evil; Do not take revenge.

Paul beseeches us to subordinate (yield) ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Than to others (Honor one another above yourselves), and now to Government.

OK. I understand submitting and yielding to God, but other individuals, and government (particularly bad government) - I don't know. Seems tough to do.

It is. Mankind hates and rebels against Authority. From Adam on. Whether it is worshipping false idols, to the Kings in Chronicles who come to see themselves as above "things", to avoiding someone who is just too "needy", to "speeding" in our cars, we rebel. Maybe not all the time, in fact we can be compliant, but are we submissive?

Probably not. It is only through yielding to God that we can obtain the grace and "power of the Holy Spirit" to be submissive in other areas. That is why Paul lists it first in the order of "subordiantion". God will change us. God will change us inside and out so that we will be a living testimony to his Grace and Power.
======================================================
Submission to the Authorities

This seems to be a true litmus test of our perception of God's Sovereignty. Do we believe God is soverign? Do we believe that the authorities that exist were and are established by God? Perhaps one may find it is easier to agree if you are inhabitants of major world countries.

But what about Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar,Genghis Kahn, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Saddam?

If you believe in God's sovereignty, than the answer is - yes, they were established or allowed to rule by God. It was for a reason, and if we do not understand - someday we will.

John 19:11 "Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."

Christ lived in the time of Herod and Pilate. Paul lived in Nero's time. Not once did they question their earthly positions of power. Jesus and Paul knew and understood the "source" of their earthly power.

Jesus may have railed against the Pharisees, Sadducess, and scribes, for perverting the Law and not "knowing" the Father - but he never put in question their authority status. In fact Jesus was pointedly submissive in that area.

"Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them - unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19)."

Daniel is the best example of this principle. Daniel and his friends obeyed and served the Babylonian government willingly - they acknowledged their authority. They disobeyed a command when it conflicted with God's commands. But they acknowledged and submitted themselves to Babylonian authority. Even to the point of punishment.

"Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and - most importantly - pray for the state and the rulers." - David Guzik

{NOTE: As I write this and think on it - it seems to me that the thrust of Paul's point is regarding civil obediance. Being a good citizen. Obeying the law, and recognizing the authority of government to make and uphold the law for that country.] ======================================================
Punishment for Breaking the Law

Rom 13:4b-5
"But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." NIV

In regards to upholding the law - Government is God's agent.

Daniel and his friends submitted, Paul allowed he would submit if found guilty of the charges, and Jesus did submit even when the judgment was completely bogus and rigged.

Right or wrong. Carried out correctly or incorrectly. Justice and punishment is the province of the government - not individuals. If it is wrong - God will certainly take care of it in the future.

I believe the sword is a reference to capital punishment. I understand that others do not agree. My reasoning is the sword was used in capital punishment for Roman citizens (beheadings). Crucifixion was reserved for slaves and foreigners. There are plenty of secular sites that mention this fact. I am satisfied that it was a method for Roman Execution. One link is:
http://www.lamp.ac.uk/~noy/death3.htm

Paul concludes this thought with we are not only to submit because we fear punishment (shallow), but because of our conscience.

Our mind has been renewed by God. It should prick our conscience if we get away with something or rail against authorities being wrong to judge us. We know that God wants us to submit to Civil authority. We should be like Daniel - Submit to and Support their authority, yet keep our integrity with God. If this means persecution - so be it.


Romans 13:8-14

Rom 13:8 "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." NIV

Some teach this as you should have NO debt. That is not a bad principal, but I do not think that is what Paul is saying in this verse.

Jesus permitted borrowing in Matt 5:42
"Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Paul has been talking about subordination, and I think that this verse means: We are not to owe somebody so much that we are subordinate (beholding) to them because of the money. This would be an impure reason to yield to others. Our subordination to others is to be out of "love". Perhaps I am wrong though - and I am open to other interpretations.
======================================================
Rom 13:10b "..Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

I am in agreement with Roslyn here. We should yield our bodies as a living sacrifice not only because it is logical, but because we love God and want to please Him. Through loving and yielding to God we can truly "love others".

"..We need to be committed to a right walk with God instead of a sleep-walk with God." - David Guzik

Why? Because you are nearer salvation today than when you first believed.

Wait a minute! I thought we acheived salvation (justification) when we believed? Yes, you did. The Greek word for salvation is "soteria" and can mean "present salvation - upon belief" or "future salvation - the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God." The meaning is to be determined by context.

Whether it is based on the return of Jesus or one is closer to meeting God after we die - the point is the same. Our days are numbered, and the time to "walk with God" here on earth is shorter by the day.

So act decently - act like a Christian, or more importantly "be" a Christian. This starts with focusing on God, prayer, meditating on His word, and offering yourself as a living Sacrifice.

"..it isn’t as if Jesus does it for us as we sit back; instead, He does it through us as we willingly and actively partner with Him." David Guzik
======================================================
NOTE: I have said a few times that it is only through God's grace and power of the Holy Spirit that we will change or be able to fulfill Paul's suggestion list.

While I believe that to be true - it may lend itself to mean that we are passive bystanders in God's miraculous work. That is not correct. It is by our constant and on-going living sacrifice (by Greek verb tenses) to God that we obtain the graces and abundance of the Holy Spirit.

That ongoing living sacrifice only happens when we are focused (fixated, set on)God, in His Word, and through diligent prayer. If we are as Paul says in the end of Romans 13 - thinking about how to gratify the desires of our sinful nature, then we are not thinking about God.

[I can multi-task; I cannot multi-think :)]

Try this: When a sinful thought or urge presents itself, think of God, recall a verse or Bible lesson, or pray. If you do that the sinful thought cannot co-exist at the same moment.

The flip side of this is if we are not constantly offering a "living sacrifice" to God, then His Grace and abundance of the Holy Spirit do not flow to us. The spicket dries up. While God provides abundantly beyond all measure - we control the faucet.

When we love God, want to be obediant to Him, and offer up ourselves - God will ensure we have all we need and more. When this happens and we progress in our Christian walk - we will reflect his glory and light - thus giving glory to God.

II Chronicles 26:1-28:27

Here we have another king, Uzziah, who sought the Lord only as long as the High Priest, Zechariah, lived. God gave this man success as long as he sought the Lord,

5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. And as long as the king sought the LORD, God gave him success (26:5 NLT).

Success, real success comes from the Lord when we follow after God. The first time I remember hearing this concept were in the words God spoke to Joshua before he lead Israel into the Promise Land.

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. (Jos 1:8 AMP)

Success does not mean prosperity the way we usually think of it; in fact one can be prosperous in man’s eye and not have “good” success. The use of the adjective “good” before the word success implies one’s success can be bad. Today I read in the paper that a very wealthy man, who others said taught them how to love and loved his family, Arthur Zankel, jumped out of the ninth floor window of his apartment building. He was indeed prosperous: but was he successful in God’s economy.

It seems that godly success had a inherent trap for us, illegal conversion. We take what belongs to God, done under the power of God and covert it to success accomplished by me, myself and I, the unholy trinity. Studying the rise and downfall of Israel’s and Judah’ kings should be a warning and example for us in what NOT to do when we are blessed with success done God’s way.

Romans 13:1-14

Rom 13:1-2 NET. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God's appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. (2) So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment

Hmmm, so we ARE supposed to obey our governing bodies, even when they are not Christian. Paul wrote this as a citizen of the Roman Empire, a not so very nice government. So what was that thing about not paying taxes because …

There are a lot of us Christians who think we are above the law of the land. We justify our breaking of the laws. We even justify not obeying rules and regulations of the local church body we attend. “Yes, I know we are asked not to leave before the Pastor dismisses us and especially when the alter call has gone out and we are praying for those who have accepted Jesus Christ, but I have an emergency.” Then latter you find that emergency is being the first on line to get the tape or CD of the message Pastor just spoke on about obedience. If we cannot obey and honor the laws of the land, our church and our jobs given be the people we can see; do we really think we are going to obey God whom we cannot?

Joh 14:15 NET. "If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”
Who is speaking? Jesus.

Psalm 23:1-6
I know this Psalm is read at funerals; however, I’ve always been uncomfortable when it is read over a deceased body or when death is talked about, but that is my thing. I look at the transition from verses two and three, which state, “He maketh me…; He leadeth …; He restoreth …,” then in verse four, “Yea, though I walk…” Shepherds lead and sheep follow, but sometimes they walk off and follow something else. Yet the Good Shepherd goes and looks for the lost sheep (John 10:11). That looking for the lost sheep and finding them is where I see verse four coming in.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(Psa 23:4 KJVR)

If Jesus is light and life, then death is not with Him. If I have taken it upon myself to walk after a hireling, someone who doesn’t love the sheep, then I will find myself in the Valley of the Shadow of death. A shadow has no substance; it is not the real thing. A shadow is, (1. darkened shape of something in light: a darkened shape on a surface that falls behind somebody or something blocking the light-- Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2005). I’ve never been bitten by a shadow of a dog but I’ve been bitten by the real thing.

The rod and staff of a shepherd is used to fend off wild animals, or people, and to pull the animal out of crevices, holes and bramble bushes the wandering sheep might find themselves in.

As stated in the beginning this is my problem and something I’ve thought about over the years.


Proverbs 20:11

Hmmm, there is this way of thinking that ALL children are born sin free. They not born bad, they become bad by their environments and the people surrounding them. This eleventh verse makes no mention of the parents or the neighborhood. Life is all about choices and even a child can choose to do good or do evil no matter the neighborhood or their parentage. And if even children are known by their acts, then what follows, as Mike has stated, we adults are definitely know by our acts, not our words or intentions.

When we excuse our behavior using our intentions as justification and we turn and judge others by their acts/behavior we are being hypocritical based on yesterdays readings. Yikes!

2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27


Mike I’m glad you commented on the pattern we keep seeing in the “good” kings, their tendency, and our tendency to begin the “race” with a deliberate action and goal in sight; but, along the way we become distracted and go off course. The implication and consequences of our heart and actions taking us off course is also seen in today’s Proverbs. When we make a choice, and it is a choice, to go off course and dabble in sin as we near the goal line, others are watching and taking note. The notice may not be about judging behavior so much as it is about determining who God is through seen actions. Good tree produces good fruit; Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Ever since I began taking note of this pattern of good kings turning bad, I have been seeking God for its cause, I have been concerned that I too may fall into this trap. We all are capable of winding up shipwrecked on the way to the purpose God has designed for us. Yet, I also see another purpose for this recording of these “good” king’s failures, it points to Jesus being the ONLY one who was capable of not only keeping the Law but fulfilling the Law. Jesus is the real King of kings. It was my own understanding of that which led me to realize that in order to not loose sight of the goal, one must understand that it is not about what I want, what I like, or even what I need; but it is all about keeping Jesus and His Father in focus. Once I begin thinking that what God has blessed me with and the favor that is upon me, which God has given me is because I have been good enough, worked hard enough and read my bible enough, my failure to achieve my purpose is assured.

My “works,” the things I do because of who God is, is what I’m suppose to do whether I am rewarded or not, complimented or not, thanked or not. My righteousness has nothing to do with how “Christianly” I act, because the Word says, my righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:4). We became, I become arrogant when I think my salvation, my redemption has anything to do with me, and it does not. It is all about Jesus.

The things these “good” kings had in common is this:

1) Over time they began thinking more and more that they were special and thus they had no need for godly council. They also thought that their “riches” which were acquired because of the favor of God, was an indication of how smart or wise they were—any wisdom they had previously was Wisdom given to them by God to use for a specific purpose.

2) The people surrounding them their advisers either believed the king was omnipotent and spoke as God, or didn’t want to “rock” the boat by holding the king accountable for his actions. In other words, they had their own agenda: when people fail to confront leadership they are either afraid for their lives, position or income making that leader their god.

These kings probably had many more things in common; however, the above two have become entrenched in my head.

2 Chronicles 26 (NKJV)
16
But when he [King Uzziah] was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

2 Chronicles 28 (NKJV)
4
And he [Ahaz] sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
5
Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria. They defeated him, and carried away a great multitude of them as captives, and brought them to Damascus. Then he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with a great slaughter.

NOTE:
The wages of sin is death. Period.

Sin starts in the heart, in the hidden places where no one sees the attitude and choice of pride.

This pride became planted in both Ahaz, one who early on gave himself over to evil, and then in King Hezekiah.

I am sure that Hezekiah did not just wake up one morning, and instantaneously developed a “strong heart [that] was lifted up” against God.

The heart is key. May our inner man be strong in the LORD – always.

The most excellent and wonderful gift of God is eternal life, and this means that we are reborn in our spirits—in our inner beings.

The rest of our personalities—soul, mind, and emotions—need to come under the authority of God’s grace and holiness as we walk in obedience to the Lord by the Holy Spirit.

I really like what the Holy Spirit teaches through the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 (NKJV):
22
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

In Romans 7, Paul did not understand how he could be doing the things that he hated and then NOT doing the things he loved – as in the verse below from Romans 7 (NKJV):
23
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members

THE SEED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is placed within us by the matchless Grace of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We receive the Gift of Eternal life and Righteousness by faith when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior into our lives.

I John 3 (NKJV)
9
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

I like this translation of the above verse in I John (Amplified Bible):
9
"No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin,

for God's nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him];

and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God."

Why do we not want to practice sin? Why are we able to trust in God and to learn not to practice sin—even if that sin is an area of great weakness and temptation?

Because “God's nature abides in” us or (as the NKJV puts is) “God’s seed remains in” us.

PRAISE THE LORD!

May we pray the prayer of the Holy Spirit given through the Apostle Paul over our lives daily—so we can avoid deception of the so-called “strength of sinful pride”—and walk in true strength as we learn totally on JESUS!

Ephesians 3 (NKJV)
14
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
16
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man

AND THE RICHES OF GLORY IN GOD HAVE NO END!

The following verse says the same thing in different words – Romans 13 (NKJV)
14
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
~~~

Romans 13 (NKJV)
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.

NOTE:
Whether we always agree with our government leaders—they are anointed by God Himself to “execute wrath on him who practices evil.” May we intercede and pray daily for our leaders and the leaders of other nations so that they have God’s wisdom to do what God calls them to do.

May we also pray for all leaders of all nations that they may come to truly understand and then worship the true and living God Who loved them enough to send Jesus to die for them so they can know and love God.

Then, with wisdom, government leaders—undergirded by the Spirit of God through the persistent prayers of God’s people—can not only work to stamp out evil. These leaders girded through the Spirit through prayer can also establish good in their respective countries.

Evil is overcome with goodness.

May we pray daily for nations’ leaders so they will be used of God to bring God’s wisdom and truth to others in their capacity as leaders.

Romans 13 (NKJV)
10
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

NOTE:
I know I break God’s law and will of Love every day. May I seek the Lord in true and righteous brokenness and repentance—so God’s true and holy Love can shine through me.

May this be true for all of us!

NOTE: I tremendously enjoy this version of Psalm 23

Psalm 23 (Amplified Bible)
1
THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
2
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
3
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.
4
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.
6
Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

NOTE:
This entire Psalm is excellent. NOTE the reality of HESED—the Old Testament word which is GOD’S GRACE—in verse 3:

“He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.”

FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE.

THANK GOD THAT WE CAN TRUST GOD TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED IN US—to lead us each day in paths of righteousness FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE. We can NEVER work hard enough to have righteousness.

GOD WILL PROTECT HIS NAME—and we can give ourselves over in confidence to the Lord’s enabling power!

Vance

I believe it is important to remember that when we allow people, places and things to come between God and us, then we are allowing ourselves to be set up by satan. I am older, and I have come much closer to God with experiences and age. I have learned through all the trials and tribulations, the losses and gains, deaths of family members and even the death of one of my children, that it is always best to run, not walk to our Lord and Savior! When I turn to my family, friends, and my church family, He provides what I need for my life and any situation I am going through. I have strength in the numbers of those who rally around me and share their support and love to me, they lift me up in prayer and I receive so much from my heavenly father. I count it a miracle that I did not fall away from God in my youth. I was far from perfect, but I knew I could come to Him with a humble heart and repent and He would forgive me and let me know I could move on and live for Him. His word is a lamp unto my feet as well, showing me the path He has chosen for me to follow. I have learned to trust in Him with a child-like faith, simple and believing always, my faith in Him will grow as long as I am available, knowledgable with His word, and trust in Him always!

Our actions don't save us or make us right with God, but they matter.

Yes they do... my experience is that I have had to learn it! It is required.
There have been actions that God has dealt with me about & even
tho others may have same/similar, His requirement of me has actually
been a blessing because it protects me where I am weaker than others!
I suspect that it is not just me, but that the Lord will teach, guide, chastize,
each of us in His own way for each. Even "little" things & details matter.
I believe His revealing the type things regarding my actions is His Grace provided
to me so that I am able. Called to holiness???? I can't even begin to do that
on my own. I have needed to listen, learn, obey. My motivation is not to obtain
holiness for me & be puffed up how others think of me.
I think His grace that does a work in me, He uses in His mysterious ways
to show Himself to others- for His purposes & His glory. I need to get "myself"
out of His way!

Interesting to me & thought I'd share from one of the "big guns"! (McGee- Thru the Bible)
If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Or would you be able to get off free?
Would they look at your life and find you are not living
(actions) as a Christian should? Would they find you do not walk in integrity? Would they find no goodness, no desire for purity? (holiness)

May we all be blessed, find His favor & grace. Have mercy on us Lord.
Have a great week.

Psalms 23:1 was my personal verse for the day. The Lord is my shepard, I shall not want. My family is walking through a difficult time right now financially. My husband works in the auto industry and cars just are not selling right now with the gas prices. Praise God gas has dropped some this week. Because of high gas prices, you know food costs are up as well and we feed a family of 6. It has been hard, we own a rental property and the tenant moved out because she lost her job due to cut backs, and now we are paying two mortgages as we look for a new renter or purchaser. Although we can't see the answer or solution to our financial crisis at the moment, we know that God is faithful and can be trusted. We know he is our shepard and he is not going to let us want for anything. Who better to look over us during a time of need. Romans just really encouraged us today that despite what we are going through, so are so many other people. One thing that does not cost us a penny is love. We are completely free to give it away all day long, to each other and our neighbor, and that would be whoever God puts in our path today. We are so thankful for his word and we are so sad as we read the plight of the Kings. It just baffles me that they could turn to such evil ways. Indeed how we make it is as you said, we go to church, we serve at church, we go to small group and we lead small group. We surround ourselves with the body of Christ. That is how in diffucult times we make it and we make it with peace and joy. Be blessed today in His name.

I was thinking of this video as i was reading the psalm. haha, its soooooo precious!!!

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