Romans Chapter 13 (KJV)
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Col. 13:1).
It is simply amazing that so many believers are not aware of the truth of verse 1 above. They do not know that “the powers that be are ordained of God,” including many that serve in government (“higher powers”) and wear the uniform. This verse states that ultimately “there is no power but of God.”
It is a fact, that we are living under “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-4), But we are also living under the dispensation of Human Government. God instituted it in Noah’s day, after the flood (Gen. 9:5-6), and it has never been brought to a close. God ordained (established) human government, holding man responsible for the life of his brother. God’s decree: “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen.9:6), makes man responsible even to execute capital punishment and this, of course, includes all lesser penalties.
The point is this, the particular “powers that be” are God ordained. It has been said, God gives nations exactly the kind of rulers they deserve. (Think that one over!) Some of these are wicked and immoral, “the basest of men,” yet they are ordained of God (Dan. 4:17) and responsible to God! Examples: Daniel had to tell the arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar “the God of heaven has given thee a Kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Dan. 2:37).
And to this haughty King, in his pride, a voice later came from heaven condemning him to insanity until he should learn the lesson that, “the Most High ruleth in the Kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will “ (Dan.4:32).
And during Christ’s earthly ministry, Pontius Pilate said to Jesus: “Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” Jesus responded: “Thou could have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11.)
Six times in this one brief passage in Romans (13:1-7) The Apostle Paul declares that the governments over us are ordained by God. Therefore, as we have already seen in Scripture, earthly rulers may be unreasonable, or oppressive, or corrupt, but God says: “Be subject,” (submit) for the “higher powers” (human governments) over us are ordained by God.
Introduction to Chapter 13 of Romans:
THE DIVINE INSTITUTION OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT
1. It is important that we look at human government the way God wants us to look at human government.
2. This is a common area where ungodliness is expressed by both unbelievers and believers. But Paul is talking exclusively to members of the Church, the Body of Christ in this passage.
3. It is the issue of godliness! Having the doctrine in our minds that provide discernment, insight, perception, and the ability to make decisions in harmony with Gods will.
Titus 2:11-12. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. “
This Is the issue of being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rom.12:1-2.
4. The same thing applies to human government. We need to think like God about it.
WHY HUMAN GOVERNMENT?
Rom. 13:1; “Let every soul be subject [under the authority] unto the higher powers.”
1. The “higher powers” are government powers, which are ordained by God, for the “orderly maintenance of laws and order in society.” That is what government is designed to do.
2. It is important for believers to remember, that it is the “Office of Human Government” that is ordained (established, enacted) by God, and NOT the people that fill the office of human government. This issue will be dealt with later in this study.
CHRIST HAS ORDAINED “GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURES” IN HEAVEN AND EARTH.
Colossians 1:16; “For by him (Christ) were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him.”
Ephesians 1:20-21; There is also “might and dominion.” Christ is seated at the right hand of the father : “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that world which is to come”.
Ephesians 6:12; Even Satan and the evil Angels have governmental structure, in the heavenly places: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”.
Revelation 12:7-9; (War in heaven), is the record of Satan and his fallen angels that will be thrown out of the 2nd heaven in the middle of the “tribulation” (ages to come.)
Job 15:15; “The heavens are not clean in His [God’]) sight.”
Colossians 2:15; “And having spoiled principalities and powers [Satan’s government], He [Christ] made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the battle of the cross].”
To God be the glory!
And we know because of the genius of God’s manifold wisdom, (plan and purpose) the destiny of the church, the body of Christ (CBOC) is to replace Satan and his principalities (government) and powers and reconcile, repossess those heavenly positions back to God. Amen.
1. In Paul’s day, the head of the government, “Caesar,” was often spoken of as a Deity (God or Supreme being), and he was often called “the son of God.” There was a natural disgust in the minds of the Roman people. The people did not have any respect for this kind of government. They considered this conduct and behavior by government officials as blasphemous. And we can see why the people had a problem with this attitude. A leader claiming to be on equal footing with God. (Reminds us of King Nebuchadnezzar and Pontius Pilate).
2. And there was the issue of “bad policies” (goals and procedures), that the Roman government had adopted, that were dreadful and disgusting. There may be policy and changes to the policy, that you may feel are corrupt, unlawful, unrighteous, scandalous, and ungodly! We can see how the thinking of the Roman citizens is somewhat similar, to our thinking about our own government. And especially in view of the fact, that we, as law abiding citizens are expected to pay our taxes to support these ungodly policies.
Now, it is becoming quite clear why Paul had to address this issue? How easy & natural it is to think this way, and before you know it, your conduct and behavior is on a path to “ungodliness.” Your thinking becomes “conformed [identical] to “the course of this world” (Eph.2:2), (Satan’s policy of evil) and you are now ready to “resist,” fight the government.
3. Vs 13:1 “Let every soul [human] be subject [under the authority] unto the higher powers.” What Paul is teaching us is this: as members of the CBOC, we need to think of human government in accordance with the main reason why God ordained it, designed it, in the first place. The “higher powers” in 13:1, are “governmental powers [authority],” and they have been ordained (established) by God in heaven and here on earth. (See pg. 2). For what? “For the orderly maintenance of law and order in society!” For our protection!
“For there is no power but of God: the powers that be (exist today) are ordained by God. Human government was God’s idea! Not man’s! For the orderly maintenance of society!
4. Vs 13:2 “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: “
And if we resist, (fight, defy, oppose) human government, we need to understand that we are resisting the ordinance (order) of God. No matter how bad, or ungodly, the people that serve in human government behave, human government has an overriding factor for good, because it was designed by a just and Holy God, for sinful men. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
5. We as MBOC, are to put our positions “in Christ” into practice (on display) with a renewed mindset. God, the angels, men, and the world, are watching. And if you resist the power, you are fighting, resisting the ordinance of God. And that’s not godliness. That is “being conformed to this world” system of ungodliness. Titus 2:12 says the grace of God “teaches us that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
6. Paul continues, “And they that resist [oppose] shall receive to themselves damnation”. (This is not eternal damnation!) Damnation is a strong English word meaning “severe consequences” to be experienced. And baked into human government itself, are severe consequences for rebelliousness against it. As MBOC, to resist, to fight against the government is “ungodly” behavior and inconsistent to your adult “sonship” position in Jesus Christ.
7. Vs 3. “For rulers [authorities] are not a terror [not to be feared] to good works, but to the evil.” Governmental law is not designed for the righteous man to be afraid of it, rather, the lawless and disobedient. “Do that which is good, and you will have praise (respect) of the same” (government). Paul is teaching, obedience, right living, against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:23).
GOD ORDAINED HUMAN GOVERNMENT TO BE A “MINISTRY” FOR THE GOOD.
Vs.4. “For he is “the minister of God to thee for good” (human government, police officers, law enforcement). They are ministers of God to the State, for the good of society, but to evildoers, “he beareth not the sword [tools of law enforcement] in vain:” for he is a minister (ordained) of God, to be “a revenger to execute wrath [severe consequences] upon him that doeth evil.” And that goes for believers (BOC) and unbelievers, who do evil.
Vss. 5-7 We should be subject (obedient) to government, not only for fear of wrath but “for conscience sake” with a renewed mind, out of obedience to God. That is why under God’s providence, we pay government officials what is due: tribute (taxes), customs, respect, and honor. From the top down, attend continually upon this very thing, for your safety.
IF GOD ORDAINED IT, WHAT ABOUT CORRUPT MEN IN GOVERNMENT?
1. Some of these are wicked and immoral men, “the basest of men” (lacking higher values of mind or spirit), unsaved men, yet they are part of the ministry of Human Government which is ordained of God, “and responsible to God.”
REMEMBER! It is the “Ministry of Human Government” that God has ordained, and NOT the deeds of the men and women who serve in the ministry of government. Most all are unwittingly, (unknowing) serving as God’s “ministers.” Whether they are serving in the 3 branches of government: legislative, executive, or judicial, including law enforcement officers, judges, teachers, or anyone touching Human Government will be accountable to God for the misuse of that ministry. Human Government. really was designed by God to protect and serve society. Ever since Genesis chp. 9, man is responsible to govern the world for a Just and Holy God.
2. I Timothy 1:8 “But we know that the law is good, IF a man use it LAWFULLY; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man , but for the lawless and disobedient,” There is nothing wrong with the law, the problem is with our dead, sinful flesh, which is in our DNA since Adam and Eve (Rom. 5:12)
Paul is clear “the law is good if used lawfully” (legitimately, legally, fairly, justly). There will always be some who violate their oath of office. And they will use the sword of justice, wittingly or unwittingly for evil. By the same law that they judge an innocent man, they will be judged. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7-10).
3. Rom. 12:1-2 says to the saint, remember who you are in Christ. Put your “adult sonship,” on display. “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
“Recompense [repay} to no man evil for evil….Live honest in the sight of all men…If it be possible as much as lieth in you , live peaceably with all men… avenge not yourselves, ….vengeance is mine ; I will repay, sayeth the Lord….be not overcome of evil , but overcome evil with good.”
“Owe no man anything, but to love one another: [Agape] love worketh no ill will to his neighbor: Agape love is the fulfilling of the law. Knowing the time,…. now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (the rapture of the BOC is near)…(Rom. 13:8-14). “See then that ye walk (live) circumspectly (carefully considering all circumstances and the possible consequences) not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time,(doing what is required of our sonship, making the best decisions as grown sons) because the days are evil. Be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of God is.” (Eph. 5:14-17.)
In St. Luke 12:48, Jesus said, as he was teaching his disciples concerning being a faithful and wise steward: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” As members of CBOC, we are sanctified (set apart, made holy unto God), and have been given the privilege, and the liberty (freedom) of sonship. And God expects us to make wise, godly decisions based on His word, “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15).
In closing, Paul exhorts us to pray “for all men that are in authority so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty. Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Especially government officials!
(1 Tim. 2:1-4)