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Romans 13




SCRIPTURE: Romans 13

This is a most interesting chapter that speaks to the responsibilities of the Christ follower in the culture.  Paul begins this chapter by talking about human government.  I want to take this back a bit further.

God has established three institutions: the family, the government, and the church.  By the way, they were created in that order.  One of the reasons God created these three institutions is we humans need levels of authority in our lives.  Of course, authority with no power to punish is not to be followed or feared.  So, when God created these three institutions, He implemented discipline processes even within the local church.

As sinful humans, we tend to rebel against authority in our lives regardless of the source or the right to have authority.  In our country, particularly in the rural, conservative south, it is almost a national past time to rebel against the authority of government.  For some interesting reason our rebellion seems to grow as the seat of that authority gets further away from us.  In other words, we seem to have less trouble with local government, more trouble with state government, and the most trouble with the federal government.

The Bible inserts itself into the middle of that rebellion and reminds us that government is ordained and instituted by God.  The Bible goes on to say that as Christ followers we have a responsibility to submit to governmental authority.  As verse 5 says, we are to do that not just to escape God’s wrath but because we understand that is the right thing to do.

The obvious question is what do Christ followers do when they live in countries where the government is not exercising authority in a Biblical manner.  What do Christ followers do, when the government is acting in ways that are opposed to the Bible?

In those cases, we have to remember that there is a Law that is higher than the government’s.  That Law, of course, is the Law of God.  And any time the Law of God is contradicted by the law of the land, we have a responsibility to be obey God’s Law.  If that obedience gets us in trouble with the government and we are called to account, then we have a responsibility to respond in a Biblical manner.  (Matthew 10:19; Acts 4:19-20)

Perhaps a good measure here would be what you got in trouble with the government in the first place.  Were you in trouble for doing what God said?  Or, were you in trouble for doing what you wanted to do?  

When you get to verse 8, you can see where these two questions play out.  In verses 8-10, we are reminded that loving others in a Biblical way resolves a lot of issues that could get you in trouble with the government.  

As Paul closes this chapter, he reminds us that we really are living in the last days.  In light of that, we should live in significantly different ways.  Our lives should be distinct from those who don’t know Jesus.  Our lives should not be lived to satisfy our own desires but to bring attention and glory to the one, true God.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Romans 12




SCRIPTURE: Romans 12

Chapter 12 marks a rather significant change in Romans.  As he did often in his letters to churches, Paul uses the first part of his letter to the church in Rome to talk about theology and doctrine.  And then he uses the second part of his letter to talk primarily about application.  As we start chapter 12, it is as if Paul is saying to us, “OK… Based upon everything that I just taught you, here is what you need to do. Here’s how your life should look.”

This really is vital.  We certainly need to know about theology and doctrine but until and unless we begin to understand how that applies to us and what we should do as a result of it, nothing really changes.  Think about it this way.  Information without application leads to a religion of self-righteousness.  Application without information leads to heresy.  

So, what is Paul telling us to do when we get to chapter 12?  In the first couple of verses, he tells us a couple of important things.  One, we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices.  The reason we are to present our bodies in this manner is our bodies are the Temple of God.  But unlike the Old Testament sacrifices which were notoriously dead, our New Testament sacrifices are to be alive.  Jesus died as our perfect sacrifice.  Now we are to live as a holy and acceptable sacrifice.

The second thing we are told to do is to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  This is a continual action.  In other words we are to be constantly being transformed or changed.  This constant transformation is the result of a constant renovation in the way we think.  The only way we can be involved in a constant renovation in the way we think is we have to be constantly in the Word of God.  The Word of God in us changes the way we think.  When the way we think changes, the way we live changes.  

This is so simple and yet so difficult.  It is a simple thing to say we all need to be in God’s Word more.  But it is a difficult thing to do because of all the pressures and busyness of life.  The bad thing is that even with all the pressures and busyness of life, we are still being bombarded by the corrupt messages of our culture.  Never doubt those corrupt cultural messages are having a huge impact on the way we think and the way we live.

So we have to be committed to being in the Word on a frequent, consistent basis.  This process of your reading a chapter of the Bible each day and working through these daily devotions can actually be a big part of that. I want to encourage you to stick with this.  My words won’t make much of a difference in the long run.  But God’s Word can make an eternal difference.

The rest of chapter 12 can sort of be divided into two sections.  The first one, in verses 3-8, is how we should serve in the church.  The second one, in verses 9-21, is how we should live in the world.  

I wish we had the space to break down those two sections.  If we did, we would find in that first section that when we are saved, God gifts us very special spiritual abilities to serve the church.  The list of these spiritual gifts in this section is not a comprehensive list.  But the principle is clear.  God gives us unique abilities to make a positive difference in the church.

We also would find in that second section that God calls us to a most high standard when He talks about how we are to live in this world.  This Christian life is not easy.  But it is better.  Always. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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