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April 28 – I Must Obey The Law For Conscience Sake

April 28, 2012

“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.” – Rom 13:4

  1. The government is God’s minister to protect the rights of the law-abiding and to take vengeance on evil doers.  Paul did not hesitate to claim his right to protection under the law.  I am not to seek to avenge wrongs committed against me – because it is God’s prerogative to take vengeance.  In Rom 12:19, Paul says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
  2. God has chosen to do this through established government.  However, if I am going to appeal to the government for protection, then surely that government has a right to expect support and obedience from me.
  3. It behooves me to submit to the governing authority, not just because I will bring wrath upon myself (both God’s and the government’s), but because it is the right and conscientious thing to do.  Verse 5 says, “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”

Christians do not keep the laws of their country simply because they are afraid of being caught or punished.  They obey the law because it is honorable and right.  An orderly society is otherwise impossible.  They have the additional responsibility of setting an example of good behavior before the people of the world.  Otherwise, society will form a negative attitude (among the other citizens and the government) toward professing Christians.  In the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited” (2 Cor. 6:3).

Christians do not evade paying their legitimate taxes nor any other debt they owe.  Verse 6 says it like this, “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

The Pharisees and Herodians (neither of whom had any hesitation to defraud the Roman government of the taxes they were legally obligated to pay) tried to cast Jesus in a bad light by asking Him whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar.  He responded by asking one of them for a denarius, which He took and inspected, then asked whose picture was on the coin.  They replied, “Caesar’s.”  Jesus then said, “If it’s his, give it to him.”  He was saying, “Don’t make use of the structure and institutions of the government and then refuse to support them.”  A person who calls on the police to protect him and the courts to give him justice, should not then turn around and try to avoid his responsibility to support and uphold the system from which he claims benefits.

Christians pay respect and honor to those to whom they are due.  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.”

I must pay honor to those in authority, period!  When Paul addressed the governor of Judea with accustomed respect (Acts 24:10), he did not in any way endorse the cruel and immoral ways of Felix.  But he gave honor to whom honor was due.  I am to pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:2) and Peter tells me in 1 Peter 2:17, “…Honour the king.”

One piece of advice Paul perhaps would give the Christian in a western democracy today (that he could not give a second century Roman: use the power of free speech and the power of your vote to promote Christian values in your government and society.  The United States Constitution is based upon freedom- freedom of speech, of association, and of religion.  But forces of darkness are always working to erode those values and rights.  I must be eternally vigilant and heed the advice of Paul to not sleep as other do, but to be alert and sober.

In conclusion,  I owe it to my leaders to pray for them regularly and fervently.  Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-2,

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone,  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (NIV)

Since the authorities that exist have been established by God, and He has the power to overturn thrones (Haggai 3:22), I must not discount the power of prayer in world affairs.  God will bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night.

“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” – Luke 18:7

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