It is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
In Romans 13, Paul described a government that is fulfilling God’s purpose. He said that citizens should submit to government. Look at verse 5: “It is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Think about this: if government is ordained by God, then it stands to reason that as Christians we have a responsibility to submit to the governing authorities. Why do we act in subjection? He says we do it not only because we are afraid of the wrath of government but also for our own conscience’s sake.
Notice the two ways we submit to government. First of all, we submit by treating governing officials with fear and honor. Paul said, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (13:7). What he was talking about here is respect for the authority that God has set in place.
These days, policemen are in the crosshairs of criticism. I realize all policemen are not perfect all the time. After all, my brother is a policeman. But most of the time, they do get it right. Most of the conflicts with police today are the result of citizens disobeying the God-ordained authority God has placed over them. Teenagers and young adults cry, “Police abuse!” just because they did not stop when the police said stop. Where did these people get the idea that you have the right to say no to a policeman, an ordained authority? The Bible says whoever resists authority is resisting God Himself (Romans 13:2). When these teenagers and young adults say no to police, it is as if they are saying no to God. Now, that is not true every time. You may say, “What about this case?” Think about this: The reason newscasters report these stories is because they are news. They are the exceptions rather than the rule to how police conduct themselves. You do not hear stories about police who act rightly every time because that is the norm. The exception is when police abuse their authority. The Word of God says when you resist police, you are resisting authority; if you do what is right, you have no fear of authority. We submit to government by treating with fear and honor those whom God has placed over us.
Second, we submit to government by paying our taxes. If government is going to fulfill its duty, then it has to be funded. Paul said, “Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (13:7). This is what Jesus said in Luke 20:25: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Paul went on to say, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another” (Romans 13:8). Some people pull that verse out of context, saying we are never to go into debt for any reason at all. But the context is paying your taxes. Paul was saying: Don’t be delinquent in paying your taxes. Don’t owe government anything that is due them. And don’t owe anybody anything that is due them, whether it is money, or love, or honor, “for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (13:8).
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “To Obey Or Not To Obey” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.