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About-Him.Com Devotional 02-23-2013

The Powers That Be Are Ordained of God

  Romans 13:1 ¶  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.  

Living in the western world, where civil rights are taken for granted, it is difficult to understand this passage. Obviously, the apostle is calling for all Christians to be model citizens. That’s not as difficult today, as it was at the time of Paul’s writing. Rome controlled the known world and diligently enforced the Paz Romana, the peace of Rome, which lasted from 27 BC to 180A.D.  

The Christians of Rome, were composed of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews hated the fact that gentiles ruled over them. The Old Testament forbade them from installing a ruler who was not one of their brethren (De. 17:15). They probably remembered Isaiah’s prophesy  that The Servant of the Lord, the Messiah, would show judgment to the gentiles (Is. 42:1). Rome also had a large number of slaves, many of whom were gentiles and some no doubt Christians.  

The powers that be are ordained of God: It’s hard to understand how evil rulers, such as Hitler, are appointed by God, but Daniel 2:20 gives us the answer. God is supreme, He allows leaders to be instated and He also removes them. The governments of this earth were intended to follow His principals. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those that understand.    

We may not understand God’s workings, but His thoughts are not our thoughts nor His ways our ways. The difference between His ways and thoughts compared to ours is as great as the distance between heaven and earth (Is. 55:8-9). His ultimate goal is to see as many souls as possible to escape damnation and receive eternal life in the kingdom of Christ. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent (2 Pe. 3:9).  

Romans 13:2  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  

We may not like the law of the land, but we are compelled by scripture to obey it. It is the ordinance of God. We disagree with our president and congress concerning abortion and gay rights, but we are obligated to pray, “for kings, and for everyone who has authority, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceful life with all godliness and dignity (1 Ti. 2:2).”  

On the other hand, we are not required to obey anything that is contrary to God’s word. When the apostles were forbidden to preach in the name of Jesus, Peter’s answer was that they should obey God rather than man (Ac. 5;29).  

Romans 13:3  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

We don’t have to fear if we obey the law. If we’re not speeding, we don’t fear when a policeman passes us. If we do break the law, we’ll have to pay the penalty. Jesus said it would be, "the uttermost farthing (Mt. 5:26).”  

Romans 13:5  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6  For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

While we should be fearful of the wrath of man if we disobey the law, it is better to realize that by obeying the law, we have a clear conscience before God.  For this cause we submit to paying our taxes. Nobody likes to pay taxes, but Jesus told us to give Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to give God  the things that belong to Him (Mt. 12:17).  The sinner is quick to note when a Christian brags about cheating on his taxes. Perhaps if we concentrated more giving God the thing that are His, we wouldn’t worry so much about Caesar?  

Romans 13:7 ¶  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.  

We live in a society today that will sue at the drop of a hat. Lawyers advertise continually seeking to help us receive compensation for even the slightest injury or violation of our rights. This is contrary to the Sermon on the Mount  where we’re instructed to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. If someone sues for our coat, we’re to give them our cloak also. All the while we are to pray for those who despitefully use us.  

God is more concerned about our responsibilities to His kingdom than for our personal rights.  

Next week, we’ll continue with verse 8.

Romans 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.    
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Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. - Daniel Webster

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Don and Marie Spooner
About Him! Ministries

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