Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Romans 13 Preview

Here is the text we will study on Tuesday evening, with some things to consider:

1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For 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 he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. 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. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

To summarize, we submit to civil authority (1) because it’s instituted by God, (2) because it is good for us that there is civil authority, (3) because if we don’t, we get punished, and (4) because if we don’t, our consciences condemn us for breaking the higher moral law of God. We will talk on Tuesday about some exceptions to these guidelines. Can you think of any?

Does your conscience get ahold of you when you speed? When you turn right on red though the sign says not to? When you sell tickets at more than face value? When are you grasped by your conscience for breaking the law?

Do you agree with Paul that God institutes all governments? Even Communist governments? What about Anarchies? Consider Afghanistan, Somalia, etc...

6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. 8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Give what you owe. Let no debt remain outstanding - except that of love. Think about this: When you pay a credit card debt with cash, you end up with less cash as your debt dimishes. But when you pay the debt of love with love, you end up with more love, yet the debt of love does not diminish. How is it that loving your fellowman fulfills the law? See v9-10.

9The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ [Exodus 20:13-15,17; Deuteronomy 5:17-19,21] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [Leviticus 19:18] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

The 613 commandments of the whole law can be summed up by the 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. These 10 commandments can be summed up by the two commandments found in Matthew 22:36-40. These two commandments can be summed up by one word: LOVE.

11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

There are four places in the New Testament where God tells believers to wake up: Ephesians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Romans 13:11. Compare these passages and also read 1 John 2:8. Why do we need to wake up and put on armor?

Are you comforted and excited to realize that "salvation is nearer now than when we first believed"? I sure am!

13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature [or the flesh].

Compare these verses to Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:9-12. Do you notice what people wear? Do think people notice what you wear? Just as Jesus "put on" flesh at the Incarnation, so we must "put on" Christ. Are you wearing Christ?

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