“For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.”
Romans 13:3-5 NLT
A law abiding citizen has no fear of the officer of the law because he is living in respect of the established authorities. On the other hand, those who are in violation of the law do not want to even be around a law officer for fear of being caught. If the law breaker is confronted, often, they try to escape or become hostile and the scene turns volatile and potentially deadly.
It is the officers responsibility to apprehend the offender and charge them accordingly. This is intended to protect the citizens of the officers jurisdiction. Government is given to us, by God, to protect its citizens, promote social order, and punish those who disobey the law. Government is a massive operation and has huge responsibility. Without the infrastructure of the government (local, state, and federal) the civilization we now have would not be possible. Imagine living in a community with no laws or law officers. Because of the sinful state of man, life would be an utter terror without the regulatory involvement of the government. Now, compound the wickedness of society with corruption in government and we have an exponentiated problem. Government is only as good as its foundation. When those who govern are evil, their policies and decrees become evil. This becomes an oppressive situation. Here in Romans 13, Paul is led by the Holy Spirit to instruct the people of the church in Rome concerning their responsibility to governing authorities. Rome was the epicenter of life at the time. It was the largest city of the time and was also the seat of government of the Roman Empire. Nero was the Emperor. He was a ruthless, dark, wicked, and self absorbed tyrant. You would be hard pressed to cite another ruler as wicked as he. Think of the likes of Sadam Hussein, Hitler, and the likes and you can get a grasp, somewhat, of what this man was like. Yet, Paul instructs the fellow saints to honor authority. This doesn't mean that they ignored God's commands or compromised their beliefs. They respected the entity of government, not necessarily the character and policies of the one holding the office. We must always respect the office of government but it doesn't mean that we accept the wicked character of those in office. We, as believers, are called to be salt and light. We do this by living a life that is exemplary to our fellow man. This means that we live our lives in a manner that sets the example for others to follow. 1 Peter 2:13-17 makes this statement “For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17 NLT.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will talk about the response of the believer to a wicked, corrupt government. What do we do when government decrees something contrary to God's law? As the body of Christ, let's impact our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. How do we do this?
Rev. Curtis Norris