We are continuing to think through Romans 13:1-7 in this election season. How is the believer in Jesus to relate to human authority?
Here is what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 13:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13)
I see this passage breaking down into four sections: I. A Command to Obey (v. 1); II. A Servant to Fear (vv. 2-4); III. A Freedom to Find (vv. 3-4); and IV. A Debt to Pay (vv. 5-7). That’s my sermon outline. Let’s think about —
III. A Freedom to Find (vv. 3-4)
We can be FREE from FEAR if we don’t do what is wrong! That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? There should be a legitimate fear for wrongdoers. They should fear the power of human government to bring the sword into the conversation! We can be free from the fear of punishment by properly submitting to human authority and doing what is right.
There is much attention given these days to terrorists, but little emphasis on the TERROR which ought to plague evildoers! Human government is (although unknowingly) functioning as God’s servant when it brings punishment on the evildoer. (to be continued)
One takeaway: I should fear the Lord, but not fear the authority He has put over me (if I do what is right).