Romans Chapter 13
KLMX May 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Good morning and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iíve been looking at Paulís letter to the church in Rome for the past 2 years on this program and weíre getting close to the end of it. This week weíre in Chapter 13 and as always, I need Godís blessing for this message and I ask that it glorifies Him thru the truth and light that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Yesterday, we examined this passage:
Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
This passage says quite plainly that authorities that exist are appointed by God and whoever resists these will bring judgment on themselves. Yesterday I pointed out that there are many levels of authorities, ranging from schoolteachers to police to Supreme Court judges. Each of these has a level of jurisdiction beyond which they should not step and, whether they acknowledge it or not, each of these, being appointed by God, will give account to Him for their actions. The question I want to address today is the one of evil rulers. What do we do with the Hitlers, Mussolinis, Pol Pots, and Husseins of the world? Should we as Christians obey them? And did God, in fact, appoint these evil rulers to their place? These are tough questions, but we have a Biblical answer. To answer this question, we need to look at some Biblical examples. There are many, so Iíll just focus on a few.
First, letís look at Daniel. Daniel, we know from the book bearing his name, was an Israelite taken during the Babylonian captivity. He was placed in charge of the chief of the eunuchs and we find this verse:
Daniel 1:9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.
With the result that:
Daniel 1:19-20 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. (20) And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
Before too long, Daniel found himself under the rule of another king, Darius. Accordingly:
Daniel 6:1-3 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; (2) and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. (3) Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.
Daniel had some enemies, though and this is what happened:
Daniel 6:4-9 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. (5) Then these men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God." (6) So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: "King Darius, live forever! (7) All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. (8) Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." (9) Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.
Whatís happened, then, is that King Darius has signed a petition that anyone who petitions any god or man, except for King Darius would be cast into a den of lions, where theyíd presumably be eaten. Daniel, of course, is a praying man and is now faced with a decision: Does he violate this command of the King?
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
His enemies, of course, find him, and they go before the King reminding him of the decree. The King is not happy and tries to free Daniel, but the jealous satraps hold him to the decree.
Daniel 6:16-17 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." (17) Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.
This certainly is an interesting situation. The King himself canít back down from the decree because heís limited in his authority. A greater authority- that of the law of the Medes and Persians- prevents him from changing the decree. Heís powerless to save Daniel, even though he desires very much to do so. But he also has faith in Danielís God, even though that God is not his own, and casts him into the pit. Daniel, for his part, also has faith in God and accepts his punishment. As I think nearly everyone knows, the lions donít eat Daniel and when the king inquires of him early the next morning, Daniel answers from the lionís pit:
Daniel 6:22-23 My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you." (23) Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.
What happens next clearly shows Godís control of the situation in that the accusers have to give account for their actions and find themselves coming short.
Daniel 6:24 And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions- them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.
In this example, Daniel was justified in disobeying an unjust order of the King. In his disobedience, though, he trusted in God to justify him and was saved. Those who falsely accused him received, in due time, their judgment.
Letís look at another example, this one from the new Testament. This one is from the book of Acts. Peter and John are spreading the gospel and, as we read:
Acts 4:1-3 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, (2) being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (3) And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
The next day, Peter and John are called before the council and asked to give account for their actions. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, gives them the gospel message and asks why they are being held since the did nothing but help a helpless man. The council agrees but doesnít like the message of the cross.
Acts 4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Just as with Daniel, here we have a ruling authority laying down the command which hinders the menís expression of faith.
Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. (20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
And off Peter and John go, preaching the gospel. Trouble brews, though, and before long we read:
Acts 5:17-18 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, (18) and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.
Back in the jailhouse again! But, thereís a higher power watching after them and:
Acts 5:19-20 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, (20) "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."
Which they do. The next morning, the jailers report them missing, and word comes to the council that the men are standing in the square preaching the gospel. Theyíre brought back before the council, without incident.
Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, (28) saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" (29) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.
Peter and the apostles recognize the authority of the council, but also recognize that they are not the ultimate authority. The apostles have done nothing wrong, other than speak, and speaking is not forbidden by any law of God. In other words, they have not committed adultery, they have not stolen, not committed murder, not lied, not taken the Lordís name in vain, nor broken any other law laid down by God. Not speaking, on the other hand, would violate several commands. The angel who released them from prison did so with the command "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life." Jesus gave them the command "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) and "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15). Therefore, the apostles are justified in disobeying the councilís commands and they acknowledge this by answering "We ought to obey God rather than men."
Well, we are running out of time here so letís summarize. In the presence of an evil government, are we bound to follow every command of theirs? From the two examples seen above, it is evident that when government commands conflict with Godís commands, we are to follow Godís commands, even when it means being thrown to the lions or in jail. If the government in control asks you to murder, lie, betray, or otherwise harm another human, you not only can, but should disobey. Likewise, we may not use murder, lying, betrayal, or stealing to get back at those disobeying Godís commands themselves. God is able to bring them into judgment himself. We have legitimate tools- using the government itself including courts, prayer, financial pressure, and so forth- and those are the tools that should be used. In disobeying civil governments who are violating Gods laws, we must not disobey God ourselves. Tomorrow weíll see how should be behave so join me again at 9:45 am here on KLMX.
Romans 13, Part 1
Romans 13, Part 3