By Matthew Dela Serna
Paul's letter to the Roman church teaches us how a believer of Christ should represent and conduct himself in different aspects:
Romans 12:1-2 > In relation to ourselves
Romans 12: 3-8 > In relation to the church
Romans 12:9-21 > In relation to society
Romans 13:1-7 > In relation to government
Romans 14 > In relation to other believers
Focusing on Romans 13:1-7, Paul reminds Christians why and how we should submit to earthly authorities.
- The Rule
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. We are not just to obey or follow command from authorities but as Christians we are to submit or yield out of respect to the government whom God appointed.
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. “ Romans 13:1a
- The Reasons
Apostle Paul gives us three reasons why we should have respect for authority. First is theological reason that all authorities under heaven are ordained by God. Secondly, the external reason of consequence that we will endure as the outcome of our rebellious behavior. Lastly, is the internal reason to have a clear conscience.
“For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. ... But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; ... Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” Romans 13:1b-6
Whenever we violate our conscience we hinder our fellowship with God and our service, to Him and to others. A violated, guilty, conscience makes us less sensitive to sin and more vulnerable to error
Acts 24:16 - In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
- The Exception to the Rule
There are times when we rightly defy government-approved authorities who tried to impose ungodly policies contradicting God’s commands.
In other words, God allows us to be godly rebels in few occasions.
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
But when a believer feels he should disobey his government, he must be sure it is not because the government has denied him his rights, but because it has denied him God’s rights.
In conclusion, every Christian should be a godly citizen – good and involved citizen. That’s our calling. We need to be the salt and light in our country and we need to teach our children about that. The Lord commands us to submit to God as well as to earthly authorities. Submission to God is always the right thing to do. Submitting to the government is usually right and good. Sometimes disobedience toward human authority is justified when that authority attempts to force us to disobey God.Let us choose to respect authority as commanded by God because no matter who seats in the government, God will remain established in His throne. He will always be in full control of everything and have the best interest for His children.