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The Christian and Civil Government - Romans 13:1-7

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Purpose: Understand the function of civil government and the Christian's relationship to it.



I. As Christians, we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20).

A. This kingdom has a king; Jesus Christ.

B. This kingdom has a law; the Gospel.

C. This kingdom has subjects or citizens; Christians.

II. Christians are also told to be a separate people; not conforming to the ways of the world (2 Corinthians 6:17).

A. We're told not to love the world nor the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15).

B. Christians make up an "holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9).

III. If one wanted to, he could look at verses such as these and decide that as a Christian, he could decide to separate himself from the civil government in which he lived and not obey it.

IV. However, this belief would go against other passages in the Bible which teach just the opposite.

V. Romans 13:1-7 is such a passage.

VI. Let us notice:

A. The powers that be are ordained of God.

B. As Christians, we are obligated to obey the civil government.



I.   The Powers That Be Are Ordained Of God (13:1-2).

A. "Ordained"; means to order, to appoint, to put in order.

B. God is directly involved in the governments of the world.

1. John 19:11.

2. Daniel 2:21; 4:17,25.

C. God uses these governments as his ministers in many different ways:

1. Assyria was "the rod of mine anger" (Isaiah 10:5-13).

2. Babylon was "mine battle axe to break the nations in pieces" (Jeremiah 51:2). Habakkuk did not understand this at first.

3. Cyrus (Isaiah 44:23) was "my shepherd" who was to let the Jews leave captivity.

4. God used the four great world empires to bring about the fulness of time (Galatians 4:4).

a. Babylon; synagogue worship.

b. Medo-Persian; a strong concept of law.

c. Grecian; a universal language.

d. Roman; peace, free travel, good roads.

5. Governments of the world today are also ministers for God.

a. If only the rulers of the world today would realize this!

b. If we do that which is right we should have nothing to worry about (13:3).

c. They protect life and property (13:4; 1 Peter 2:14).

d. They deter crime by punishing the wicked (13:4; 1 Peter 2:14).

(1) The government "beareth not the sword in vain."

(2) Sometimes the government may have to use capital punishment (Acts 25:11).

(3) Capital punishment was allowed in the other two dispensations also; Patriarchal (Gen. 9:5), Mosaic (Exodus 21:12,15).

(4) This is a right of the government and not the individual (Rom. 12:19).


II.  The Christian Is Obligated To Obey The Civil Government.

A. They were told that they had to obey the government because it was the minister of God and to disobey it would be to disobey God (13:2).

B. The Christian was to be subject to these laws no matter what the nature of the government was.

1. This was written during the time that Nero was in power in Rome.

2. Nero was very cruel to Christians.

a. Burned Rome and blamed the Christians.

b. Burned them at the stake in his gardens to provide light for his parties.

3. The only exception to this was that they had to obey God rather than men (Daniel 3:16-18; 6:10). Many Christians were killed because they obeyed God rather than man.

C. We must also obey the governments of the world.

1. This includes paying taxes because we benefit from the government (Romans 13:6-7; Matthew 22:15-22).

2. This includes obeying all the government's laws.

a. Speed Limits.

b. Obeying the hunting laws.

c. Paying our bills.

3. When we disobey the law, we bring reproach on the church.

4. One exception; when the government tells us that we must disobey God; we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29; 4:19).

a. The time may be coming when we will have to disobey our government in order to obey God.

b. Will we have the courage to do so?

D. We must also render honor to whom honor is due (13:7).

1. We can respect the office of the President of the United States without liking the man who holds the office (Acts 23:1-5; 2 Peter 2:10-11).

2. We are also to pray for those in power (1 Timothy 2:1-2).



I. We've noticed the following:

A. The governments of man are ordained by God.

B. As Christians, we must obey the governments of the world in order to obey God.

II. As Christians we must do our best to obey all the laws of the land so that we set the right example and do not bring reproach on the church.

III. The laws of God are more important than the laws of man.

IV. Have you obeyed these laws?

V. Please See Plan of Salvation.


-- Ralph Price, 2000 -- 


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