SUBJ: A proper understanding of the
role of civil government for Christians, the divine appointment of
rulers, and the function they serve for us under the hand of God.
AIM: That we might conduct
ourselves as God’s children and in submission to both His salvation and
INTR: One of the most difficult
things for believers to contend with is the separation of human opinion
and emotion from spiritual reality in both the providence of God and His
active participation in the affairs of the world.
1. It is essential
that we understand that the course of events in this world serves the
purpose of God in redemption whether we understand it or not.
Having considered the necessity of brotherly love and love to our
neighbor in general we come to a matter that just doesn’t seem to fit
and yet it displays a special manner of divine love to us in that we are
assured that He who is in final control does all things well.
grace of God is in evidence in that we are relieved from the idea that
we must judge in matters too high for us.
THESIS: It is well to claim submission
to God as His dear children. It is more difficult to submit to some of
things that His infinite wisdom has enforce on us – we are to see all
power as under His control.
I. Embracing the Sovereignty of God
1. The sovereignty of God declares to us that He is, in the
Trinity of His persons, supreme in power and authority and that He
effectively reigns over all things.
1) Men in general either struggle
to obtain power or resent and resist power that seems to direct them. In
either event, there is resentment to the sovereignty of God.
believers, the sovereignty of God is a most welcome and comforting
2. We normally see power in the hands of those wielding
it, but not so with God – we see the avenues through which he exercises
power and the instruments He uses. (We are reminded of Jesus before
Pilate who told him that he had no power that was not given him).
We tend to see it as a matter of convenience:
1) In salvation we
delight in the absolute confidence we have in the ability to save and
rejoice as we see His purpose realized in Christ.
2) In the ability
of God to overcome that which seems impossible for us.
4. That there
is no power but of God is an absolute.
II. Embracing the
ordinances of God (vv. 3-4)
1. We are even now amid a time of
excessive political tensions
1) We express our desire and vote and
even pray for what we think to be the best outcome.
2) The appearance
of grace comes when we are able to humbly acknowledge the divine
2. We may talk of political loyalties and preferences
(we all have them), but when the officials are seated, to oppose them is
to oppose God – the scripture is clear on this.
3. We are reminded of
men like Daniel and the three Hebrew children who stood strong for God
and showed no disrespect to the heathen rulers. They refused the King’s
meat; they refused to participate in pagan worship and refused to exalt
the King above God. We rejoice at the outcome, but we are constrained to
observe the behaviors.
4. It is for us to understand that civil
government has a divinely appointed purpose and that God has called the
rulers His ministers.
1) The notable example of Cyrus who was called
by the Lord: 28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall
perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built;
and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. 1 Thus saith the LORD
to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue
nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before
him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; Isaiah
2) We note those in Paul’s day especially in Philippi.
(They attempted to right their wrong at Philippi and restrained the Jews
3) Even Jesus submitted to Roman taxation.
5. Try to
imagine a world without civil restraints (such is the case in many
places) – all would rise to the level of hating and killing Christ
1) Our disobedience will provoke punishment.
2) See: If
it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
6. We are to esteem him as God’s servant to do you good!
III. Embracing subjection (vv. 5-7)
1. Note the language of verse
5: “ye needs be subject…”
2. So it is that we should cheerfully
attend to the duties of a citizen in regard to such things as taxes and
that under His direction:
1) They are God’s ministers
2) They are
attending continually to the matters that serve our good (even without
any consideration that they are serving either God or us).
3. We are
to respect the office if not the man – When God places him in office, he
is my senator, my governor, or my president. He is the one who God gave
me for my good whether I understand it our not – his power is of God and
is so directed.