Romans Chapter Thirteen

Whilst it is true that politicians may be men and are often corrupt, it is the more often true that God institutes systems of government justly and problems occur when men "get in the way to correct them" towards those ends which they would wish them to serve. When government becomes unjust and unholy, we are to stay holy. If government calls on us to permit evil, we should speak and act against it, rather obeying God than the immoral. But as God has instituted government to be just in whatever system he instituted - after the modelling of His own sovereignty and freedom granted us, we should be mindful not to bring ourselves under the power of men, by being also guilty before God.

Higher powers then are those that in God's sight are those that recompense evil with judgement and justice, and pay no mind to the free exercise of the good of their citizens. Such institutions are under our obedience in God, and should not be resisted (v1). If we resist such power we show ourselves disobedient to God (v2). For such rulers within the scope of Godly obedience are permitting the freedom of the gospel and recompensing evil with earthly justice, so are a terror to the disobedient, pursuing them properly (v3). Excel in godliness, and be in good standing. Because to stay in good standing honestly is enough to keep the body of Christ in good standing with God. (v4) When a ruler be such a power, and therefore is a minister for justice against evil; we do not need as much to fear that which may be exercised by the ungodly towards us. (v5).

So, since such government is your protection pay due attention. (v6) - There is good in taking part and paying dues if you be able to continue in good standing and preserve the order as instituted by God. (v7). Remain blameless without owing any one any debt of conscience, for Christ is to remain blameless before all, and if we give His body an unclean demeanour - He will become ill reported of amongst others. (For the letters of the gospel were not widely circulated amongst unbelievers) (v8) The law to fulfill then is the Holiness without spot of the "law of faith", of the whole body of Christ. Therefore obey the commandments first (v9), then love your neighbour as to fulfil the law (v10) of the state second.

We must be mindful that now is the start of our eternal life (v11) and we should not neglect the law of faith - it must be seen to work so that we do not slumber in Christ and receive that severity of removal from the tree of life alluded to by Paul earlier. We must show ourselves profitable so that we have part in the resurrection; for every opportunity to further the gospel and prove ourselves mindful of its responsibilities is a testing of both our faith and our obedience under grace. Therefore Paul exhorts us all to put off the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light which is the righteousness of Christ, that we fulfil the covenant - and fulfil also our full part in it now while we can be justified before God. (v12) We should walk honestly in the grace of God as in the light of His truth with obedience (v13) rather than towards our previous desires which once were, as in our captivity to the law of sin. By putting on the character and Holiness of Christ, we succeed in not making provision for the flesh and its desires - that it should marr the image of Christ in us before others, but primarily before God.

Christ taught that were we to be disobedient; being hated by the world as Christ, we should fear earthly justice properly. But first we must fear God. We would not be free under the power of men or God until we paid the very last penny. If we keep God's commandments however, we have no cause to fear government more than we should.

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