July 18, 2021

Submission to Authorities


Sunday after Sunday we are here, not because we need lectures on morality, or self-improvement, or how to live a better life, but we come here for the most important thing – to encounter the Living and Great God! He created this world; He controls everything; and He in His great love, sent His Son to earth, who became a man, in order to restore the relationship that we had destroyed. When relationship with God is restored, the real happiness comes (for which people have been running for years), and this happiness comes because we got what we need the most – a new heart, a clean conscience, confidence in the future, and no fear of death. The Bible calls this, being born gain.

My task is to talk about the Great and Awesome God, so that you leave this room not with a to-do-list of obligations and deeds (although this is good and needed), but you leave amazed and in awe of God the Creator. As John Piper says that our goal is not to be like microscopes that magnify small things into big, but magnify like a telescope, we bring closer to reality really Big God. Only in this position will you be able to change, and you do things that are pleasing and acceptable to God.

Today’s topic is about submission to the authorities. You can spend time making lists of the laws that were in practice then, and which we need to comply to now; what taxes we must pay and so on. It is important for us to trace what the apostle Paul is trying to convey here. Namely, submission to the authorities. 4 steps toward our submission to authorities.

I. Through obedience to God (vv. 1-2)

(v. 1) – from God; God establishes authorities!

(vv. 4, 6) – God has authority over authority

(v. 2) – God takes it personally when we defy authority. We can draw the following conclusion: when we resist authority, we resist God!

This is not the best scenario, but God is meeting us where we are. 

Example: eating a lot of sweets is bad because it is dangerous for our health, but realizing that we are still weak towards sweets, doctors point to the specific consequences of consuming large amounts of sugar.

Recently as a church we have read an interesting text (1 Kng. 16:34) – a terrible story. The most important thing is that this was clearly warned against in the form of a curse (Jos. 6:25), but a person knowing, nevertheless goes and does what’s been forbidden. This is where the problem lies. People know; this is not something new, but what’s new, is that Paul is pointing out to people that if they are not submissive to authority, they are not submissive to God! God personally intervenes!

And this is especially emphasized in relation to submission!

(Eph. 6:1-3) – what if the children do not obey their parents? Will not have long life! Who gives long life? God. He can also shorten life!

(1 Pet. 3:7) – if the submission of husbands to wives is expressed in their prudent attitude, and showing honor, then God says that if they don’t, He will not listen to their prayers!

It is clear! But why this kind of amplification? This is necessary because we tend to forget, or even neglect these commands! God reminds us that this really matters to Him personally!

Our obedience to authority is directly linked to our obedience to God! The same way as to parents, to husband, and to work!

II. Through grace (vv. 3-4)

God doesn’t have to help, but He does; now, how? (vv. 3-4)

A. In stability (v. 3)

God manifests common grace so that society does not destroy itself.

How? Through the moral law. This is because these verses refer to words like “good” and “evil.” These are the principles of the moral law!

The state is an instrument of justice (Deut. 19:21) – a person had to pay or restore the damage done by the crime. The authorities were to make sure it is done!

The state is an instrument or restraining the evil (Deut. 17:12-13) – when there is a law, and it is enforced, it really keeps many away from crime!

The pursuit of justice and the containment of the greater evil in society is done by the power of grace!

But the state only temporarily solves the problem of evil and  crime. The Lordship of Christ in our hearts solves the problem of evil once and for all!

B. In goodness (v. 4) – “for your good” – this means that the role of government will be for our good! How do you view this word “good”? Is it getting what I want: convenience, prosperity and success? Is it?

(Rom. 8:28-29) – good, as God defines it! This means that there may be a refusal of work, and a lower-paid job, or even persecution by the authorities – and all of that is for our good – Christ-likeness!

Why is this particular direction?

Paul writes this letter to believers in Rome, while the emperor Nero rules the world in Rome! Even secular historians admit that he was a monster. He began to persecuted Christians! And this letter was sent to the believers in Rome! You have to submit!

But what about obedience to Pharaoh during the exodus of Israel from Egypt? As much as we are against Pharaoh, Moses shows respect and obedience to authority.

During Christ’s ministry, this was Pilate. One whose reign was stained with human blood. Christ, submitted to the authorities!

Here it is this “good.” God puts us under the government, the acts of which will ultimately be for our good! Often it is not a blessings of comfort, prosperity, and success, but a blessings of spiritual growth and character transformation.

III. Through humility (v. 5)

(v. 5) – conscience is introduced – this is the inner world of a person, his heart! Not just obedience to authority, but submission!

(v. 1) “submission” is a military term describing a soldier who recognizes and respects those of higher rank. It is not just to go and obey the law, but to be willing or inclined to submit, obey, honor and respect authority!

(Luke 2:51) – Jesus submitted to his parents

(Tit. 2:9) – Slaves ought to submit to their masters

(Eph. 5:22) – wives ought to submit to their husbands

(1 Pet. 5:5) – the young obey the shepherds… this text helps us with the main thing – how is it possible? There is humility! If humility is not developed in children, workers, wives and people in the church, there will be no submission… there will be a struggle! This is when you are constantly forced to do something that your nature resists doing!

(Eph. 5:21) – out of fear or reverence of God you do such things. This is, ultimately, humility.

(1 Pet. 2:13-15) – submission, for the Lord! When it is done for the Lord, it brings forth fruit!

It means putting others ahead of ourselves, not looking for a reason not to, which we are most interested in at first. 

How often, when it comes to submission to authorities, we look for the excuses not to obey, but we need to look for opportunities to obey!

IV. Through sacrifice (vv. 6-7)

Beliefs come with a price tag! Are we willing to pay for it? How? Taxes! We honestly report what we earn and give back what belongs to the state. If our conversation does not lead us to concrete changes in our attitude towards authority, we are not understanding apostle Paul.

Arguments against: 1) nobody likes to pay taxes! Show me a person who is waiting for the beginning of next year in order to pay taxes as soon as possible ☺ 2) if I report everything on my income tax return, I will not be able to donate that much to the church or give to the family? 3) after all, the funds collected by the authorities will most likely directed toward some sinful causes – in the case of the Roman believers, their money was used to maintain pagan temples, and conquer other nations and states; 4) the government is corrupt, which means that there is a chance that the money will be improperly used, or even used for personal gains of the leaders. 

How else do we submit and sacrifice for it? We respect and honor the government (respect and honor) … even to the one with whom we disagree!

Example: (Acts 23:1-5) – Paul is very quick to speak, but when he discovers that this is the high priests, he immediately recovers. There is respect for the authorities. His conversations with Felix, Festus, Agrippa indicated that this was a sacrifice of respect.

Example: Jonathan’s obedience to his father, Saul. Saul was the king over all Israel, and he represented the government… and not the most fitting one! Saul’s and Jonathan’s views differed on many things. But the most important thing is that Jonathan really respected and obeyed his father. He understood that God was above everything, he saw God’s work in it, he really humbled himself, and eventually made a sacrifice, and in the end, he paid the ultimate price, he died on the battlefield, next to his father!

Gospel: Christ’s obedience to his heavenly Father is the foundation of our salvation (Phil. 2:5-8).

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