Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.Romans 13: 1-7
It is interesting to note that Paul connects chapter 12 and 13 with this little connecting point: Who gets to deal with wrong doers? We as Christians are called to abstain – because God says, “vengeance is Mine.” But here we see that one of the ways God deals with wrongdoers is through governing authorities. (verse 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.)
This whole section of scripture is a hot button topic. To say that we are to be subject to governing authority, because that authority is there because God has instituted it rubs the person who believes that our government is doing wrong, or is evil, or is a club of pedophiles who is now at odds and actively pushing back against the government. At the same time, these scriptures also uphold the reasoning of the person who will comply with what the government has decreed, choosing to do what is asked of them. Judging eachother may not be the best choice here as it all makes for an interesting pile of mess to sort through. Who is right and who is wrong? Well maybe that is not the question at all.
This section does not tell us what the right type of government is, it doesn’t make distinctions between kings, presidents, councils, or legislative bodies. It just says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” So basically, we live and are to do good under whatever authority we find ourselves in. It says, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” So this is and will be different for different countries. In America, we are allotted a way to resist. It is called protest. In many other countries, there is not such resistance allowed. Whether we think that is right or wrong is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that God is sovereign and He has said, “submit” and we do so with our eyes wide open.
One article I read on this called Ligonier said this, “Here we find a twofold motivation for obeying the government. First, in obeying the authorities, we escape the Lord’s wrath. In other words, since the government carries out divine judgment when it uses the sword in accordance with its divinely granted function to punish evildoers (v. 4), we avoid its wrath when we obey the law. When our rulers rightly judge criminals, they are acting as God’s instruments, and if we break lawful rules that do not force us to sin, we rightly receive discipline at the hands of the Lord through the secular authorities.” So, we can see then that we are subject while being watchful not to burn our own conscience by obeying man’s ordinances that are against God’s law.
God has given all authority you find yourself under for the purpose of carrying out His wrath. Laws are there to stop criminals. We are to be good citizens. Whether the judges let others off easy or not, is not the main concern. If they do, they do not uphold God’s justice and they will be held accountable for that. In our system of government – there are elections. If we are paying attention to what is happening, we can vote accordingly. Now you may be thinking but what if the vote is rigged. To this I say, “do you think God doesn’t know what they are doing? God is sovereign. He will deal with those who do wrong. Our job is to live as Christians, being Christlike. He has called us to do good, and to participate in civil life by paying taxes, purchasing goods and services, respect and honor others with our eyes wide open. Live with a clear conscience that you have not done anything that would violate our nations laws or its people.
Knowing God’s place above it all then is key. He gives authorities to keep us in check. Whether we like them or not is irrelevant. Therefore, we can vote or not vote. Protest or not protest. Stand or notstand. Comply or not comply. God will handle you and the authorties. None are out of His reach.
Will we obey God and His Word? That is the point!
Thanks for Listening,