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Amen. Hallelujah for the cross. And it looks like we are on repeat here. Love.
Hallelujah for the cross. Love has won and death has lost. Our Lord and Savior has defeated sin, he has defeated death and he has given us victory on that old rugged cross that he died on some 2000 years ago. And we have spent the last twelve weeks in the book of Romans studying why we needed the cross, why we needed a final perfect man to die and be slain for us. And starting last week and through the next two weeks after today, we will be looking at the application.
How do we respond to this message of grace and the need that Jesus has met? We all have a response to it and we can choose to accept it and reject it and walk away from it. Did I say accept and reject? We can choose to accept or reject it. We can choose to walk away to ignore it, to deny the need that we all know we actually have, or we can accept that into our life as an act of grace and a gift of God.
But if we do that, there is some application, there's some stuff that we need to do. And last week we started looking at that. We talked about the fact that we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. Jesus died as the sacrificial man for us, that we would not have to die. But we now offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice, acceptable and perfect to God.
We live in a way that would glorify him. We are not conformed to the world which we live in, but instead we are transformed by the renewing of our mind that takes place as we read the word of God. And when we do that, we will know and prove that which is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. We ended last week with talking about overcoming evil with good, but not returning evil with evil, but loving our enemy, feeding our enemy, giving water and clothing to our enemies, not being soft, foreign business. And this week we will continue, we will continue seeing how we ought to live a righteous life in obedience.
In response to the gospel message, we will begin this week. Starting in chapter 13 we'll be doing verses one through seven where Paul writes to let every soul be subject unto the higher powers for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves stamination. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good and thou shalt have the praise of the same for he is the minister of God to be for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he berth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscious sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also, for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Remember, or render sorry. Render therefore, to all their dues tribute, to whom tribute is due custom, to whom custom is due fear, to whom fear honor, to whom honor.
These are the opening verses of Romans, chapter 13, and they begin with a very uncomfortable couple verses here. Verses one and two are not comfortable to the modern conservative Christian of which I myself belong, but to let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God. And he says that whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damn nation. These two verses are extremely contested in the conservative Christian church.
In fact, there's a Facebook page I used to follow before I left Facebook called The Sarcastic Theologian. Some of you watching with me tonight have actually seen me share stuff from this page. Some of you have even followed him since I started sharing his content. And one of the most hotly debated topics on his Facebook page is whether or not we as Christians have to obey our government, whether or not we have to obey even the current person who is our nation's leader, you can tell. I don't want to say that.
But we are told here that if we are Christians, that we need to be subject to the powers that be. We are subject to them. And there is a very good reason why we are subject to them, and that is because there is no power but of God. All authority, whether in heaven or on earth, is ordained by God himself. No one has any authority over you except that God first gave it to them.
And this is an uncomfortable topic here that we often find ourselves with leaders who we don't want to have. But remember who Paul is writing to. Paul is talking both to the Gentiles and to the Jews, but to his Jewish audience. And this is not the first place we see it. We see it as well with Peter, who is specifically right into the Jews.
He says the same thing to obey our government. And remember, the Jewish people were living under the Roman occupation. They were living under rulers who they did not elect, who they did not desire, who they did not want to have as their government, as their authority. Before that, they were subject to the Babylonian captivity. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, they were once slaves in Egypt.
So remember when Paul is right in here to his audience to be subject unto the higher powers that be and that they are ordained a God. Paul could understand our current political climate. While Paul may not understand a free election that did not go the way we thought it should, and it did go the way many of us believe. Paul can definitely understand that there are people who are in government above him, that he did not desire to be there, but he recognizes here that there is no power but that power of God. He tells us here in verse two, whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.
So as a Christian who wants to disobey our government, who wants to rebel, who wants to pick and choose what it is we want to follow and obey, we are told here that we are resisting the very power and ordinances of God. If we disobey our government, we disobey God himself who has commanded us to obey. There is a fine line here that does not really need to be discussed, but you're going to hear it constantly brought up in the type of circles that we tend to walk in. And that fine exception is anything that violates the word of God.
Okay? If we are told, if we go back to the book of Daniel, sharach, Mishak, and Abindigo, Daniel himself, we see with Daniel his issue. He got tossed into the lionstin for what? For praying? For communicating with God.
Shadarak, Meshach and Abndigo, they got tossed into the fiery furnace for what? For refusing to bow down to a false God. So there is that fine exception there where we are to obey our government. So as long as what our government tells us to do is not in conflict with what God would tell us to do, we shouldn't have to make this clarifying factor. We should know that.
But we need often to make that so we cannot obey God if we cannot obey the rulers who God has instilled over us. And we see here that that's not only rebellion to God, but it warrants punishment they that resist or receive to themselves. Damnation.
So why do we have these rulers to begin with? In an ideal world where everything went according to God's plan, where everything was going the way it ought to go, we would need no rulers. We see this in the early kingdom of Israel. They sought rulers. In fact, in the last verses of Judges says that part of the problem was that every person was a ruler unto themselves, right?
But in a properly functioning world, we would need no government and authorities because God would be our ruler. We would have a theocracy where God was ruling and everyone was in perfect obedience and submission. But because we live in a broken and fractured world, we need governments. We need governments who can ensure that the world functions the way it show. Governments that can ensure that people are living a morally upright life.
And it tells us here in verse three that the rulers, they're not a terror to good works, but to evil. The government's position in this world that we live in is to root out evil. Now, does that always happen? More often than not it's the exact opposite. More often than not, it is morally corrupt and fallen humans who are governing other morally corrupt and fallen humans and corruption and greed and pride and all these other things set in.
We don't have to look further than our own government. We don't have to look even further. If we go back to biblical times, to Caesar, to Nelicanezer, to Pharaoh, we can see that this does not function perfectly. But overwhelmingly it does the job that God has ordained for it to do. And God has used these imperfect rulers, even these rulers who are terribly evil and wicked, he has used them for his cause.
We read that in Romans, chapter nine regarding Pharaoh.
It says here then to do that which is good and thou shalt have the praise of the same. If we do that which is good, if we are obeying God's law and then obeying the law of men, we have nothing to fear. But what we are doing is we are reflecting the light of Christ. We are showing the world what righteousness looks like through our obedience and submission. Even Jesus, when the Pharisees tried to trick him, they sent a lawyer to him to try and trap him.
And they bring to him a coin and they ask him, they say to Jesus, is it right to pay tribute? And Jesus says, Whose image is stamped on that coin?
The lawyer's response is well, Caesar. And he says, then render unto Caesar what a Caesars? The Lord himself would agree that we are to be in submission to the rulers which are above us, for they are the minister of God to be for good. Now, this is a highly uncomfortable statement right here for most Christians in the world today to think that the president and that our governors, that our sheriffs that are legislators, they are the minister of God.
They don't work for you, they don't work for me. They work for God. And they work under his sovereign will to accomplish his plan and his design. Now they are the minister of God to us for good. Ultimately, even our wicked and our corrupt politicians, they are advanced in the kingdom of God whether they want to or not.
Ask Pharaoh about that.
But if you do that which is evil, then be afraid. For he beth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. So his job here is to execute the evil doers. His job is to keep law in order. And we have seen governments get bigger and bigger with more and more laws but their original purpose and intent here was to execute the law of God wherefore you must need be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscious sake, so we are subject to the higher powers, not only so that we can avoid wrath.
And I'll tell you what, avoiding wrath is a good reason to be obedient, but that's not the only reason. But it's for the conscious sake, for the fact that we know that's what our Lord wants us to do. He wants us to submit and be obedient. But also it demonstrates submission. If we can't submit to the rulers that God has given us, how could we for eternity submit to him?
It's rather difficult if we have a problem with that type of authority. The conscious sake is also that image and that light that we reflect to our neighbors, to our coworkers, to our schoolmates, is that we are obedient to all things that the Lord has told us to be. And for this cause he says, pay ye tribute. Modern English for this cause, pay your taxes, for they are ministers attending continually upon the very thing. And so we are to render our dues.
We are to not be in debt. If we are in debt, we are to pay it, whether that is a civil debt or a tax related debt. Tribute to whom tribute is doing custom, to whom custom is due, if there is a respectful custom, if there is a custom expected for military folk, you know what I'm talking about. Your salutes to your higher ranking officers and officials, to fear whom is to be feared, and honor whom is to be honored. The first topic today, in summary, is that we are to obey those in a position of authority above us, whether we really wanted them there or not.
And that sometimes sucks. I will be the first person to admit that. Verses eight, here through ten, Paul will continue. He says to owe no man anything but to love one another. For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
For this thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet. And if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in the same, namely thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself love worketh no ill to his neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. So starting here in verse eight, we are to owe no man anything. Whatever debts we have should be paid.
And ideally, we should not submit ourselves to debt. We should not go under that bondage and under that yoke. However, there is one debt here that Paul says we never stop paying. I would expand upon what Paul says here. There is one debt that we could never pay in full.
It is impossible, and that is that we love one another.
We are indebted to each other and to God to operate in continual and perfect brotherly love. And this is a love that never stops, never sees, never has condition attached to it, but that we love all of our neighbors, whether they are close or whether they are far, whether they are our friend or they are our enemy, as we talked about last week, we are to love our fellow human beings in this race. And it says here that he that loveth another has fulfilled the law. Jesus talked about this when he was approached by another lawyer seeking to trick him and tempt him. He says to him, what is the greatest commandment?
And he says, the first is that you would love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, thy mind, thy strengthen, thy soul. But he says the second is like unto it that you would love thy neighbor as thyself. And he says, for on these two laws hang all the laws.
Paul explains it this way for this thou shalt not commit adultery or kill or still, or bear false witness or covet, or if there is any other commandment. He says, it is comprehended in the san mainly that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I love myself too much to kill myself. I'm not going to kill myself. I love myself too much.
I mean, I don't know that I could steal from myself, but I love myself enough to know I don't want you to steal from me. I love my wife enough that I would not want to commit adultery on her or her on me. And as we look at these things, if we love everyone else in that same way, if I love my nextdoor neighbor that same way that I would love myself, I would not commit adultery with her because I would not want to do that to her husband. I would not want to steal from them and take what they had worked hard to earn, to buy, to have. If I love them the way I love myself, I would not want to murder them.
We can see that if we operate and love, that if we take the way that we feel about ourselves and we transfer that to other people, that we will treat them naturally in the way that the law of God has designed for us to treat them. You cannot love someone and commit adultery or kill or steal or bear false witness. It is not possible to have love and do that at the same time.
He sums this up in verse ten. He says that love worketh no ill to his neighbor. Love cannot operate in wickedness. Or I should say that wickedness cannot operate in love. Wickedness and evil cannot flow out of a pure heart of love.
John will write in his epistles that if you do not love, if you love not, you know not God, because we cannot possibly know the grace and goodness of our God. If we are filled with hatred and envy, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And Paul will finish up today. He will summarize in verses eleven through 14 he will say in that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of our sleep. For now it's our salvation nearer than when we believed.
For the night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting or drunkenness, not in chambering and wanting us not in strife and in the end but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.
Paul tells us something that we know to be truer today than he knew 2000 years ago. He says in verse eleven that the time is coming. It's getting close, it's coming quickly, we're wrapping up. And if that was true 2000 years ago, so much more is it true today? So much more true.
And we see that the world is ready. We actually see that rapidly. God is preparing the world for the end of time. Therefore it is now high time to awake out of sleep. For you who are thinking that you've got the next hundred years.
I think I can say that there's not going to be another hundred years here. I will clarify that statement with stating that we do not know the day or the hour. No man does save the Father. So that's my clarifying statement there. But I think as we look at the world around us, as we see that there's no biblical prophecy left to fulfill, that the world is going the way that it's going, we are told that we have been given signs to Noah, the season and the time and we are there.
It is time to awake. If you think that you've got till tomorrow or next week or next month, we don't know that we can be raptured right now. Right now I'm not going to keep doing that because I could be here for a year or ten or 20. But we can be wrapped to right now. God can take his church.
Some of us can have a stroke or a heart attack or God forbid we can be in a terrible car wreck. I actually couple years ago ran on a fatality, a fatal car wreck where a couple died on their wedding day on their way to their honeymoon.
It was a sad and tragic thing to happen. Surely they were not expecting that end. But I point this out to say that we know one thing and that is that the time is near whether God will rapture his church and bring the kingdom of God to fruition or that we would die. The time is near and we must awake out of our sleep. We must remove ourselves, he says, from the darkness.
He says, the night is far as spent, the day is at hand. So cast off the works of darkness. We need to remove our blinders, our blindfolds. We need to turn on the light. And that light is Jesus.
It tells us in John, chapter one, that we beheld his glory. The glory is the only begotten of the sun. It says that he is the true light in that same passage, that light of every man who cometh into the world. But we need to open up ourselves. We need to take a great analogy here.
I turn my camera on and I couldn't get an image earlier. Now there's light shining. For those of you who have seen my office, you know, for those who have never actually seen my set up here, I've got three overhead light shining on me to produce enough light to get this image. So the light was on, the light was shining into the world, into my room, and yet I could not get light into the camera. Why?
I forgot to take the lens cover off.
All I could get was darkness out of it. Okay, if we cannot take the covers off of our lenses, off of our eyes, we will continue to walk in darkness, albeit the light is shining all around us. So it's time to wake up. It is time to take our blinders off because the day is at hand. Salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
And we need to put on the armor of light. We need to wear Christ, our Lord and Savior. We need to be filled with them. We need to have that light coming into us and coming out of us that darkness cannot enter in again.
And so let us walk honestly, not in deceit, not trying to win one over on someone else. But we need to walk as if the light was shining on us, as if we are on a world stage and there's a big old spotlight on us and everyone can see what we are doing. Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in wanting this, not in strife or envying, but we need to be walking in the fruits of the Spirit. In the last verse here, this is critical. This is how we ought to respond to the Gospel message that we read in the first eleven verses, or sorry, eleven chapters of Romans.
To put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, to make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lust thereof. How do we put Jesus Christ on?
I know I can't grab Him like a robe and wrap it around me.
I can't wear Him like a helmet, I can't even touch Him. But we put him on by reading His Word. We put him on by prayer. We put him on by renewing our faith daily and working out our salvation. We put him on by allowing him to control our minds.
We read this last week in chapter twelve, verse two to not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove that which is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And after we put him on it says make not provision for the flush the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. This is critical. Back in chapter six we read here it says know ye not that to whom ye present yourself servants to obey his servant. Ye are whom ye obey whether of sin unto death or obedience unto righteousness.
We are a slave to sin or a slave to God, but we are a slave nonetheless. And if we are a slave to sin it is a slave unto death. So we must not make provision for the flesh. We must not allow ourselves to become a slave to that sin unto death again. And we do that by removing ourselves from the situation.
If you're an alcoholic you are not going to walk into a bar. You may go with a group of friends and say well I don't intend to drink. I'm just going to get a water, maybe a Coke or a Pepsi. But you are making provision. You are creating an opportunity and this is just one example but we are not to do that.
Whatever the situation may be, whatever our weakness may be, if it is gambling you might want to avoid Las Vegas.
You might want to because when you go there and you see the casinos and you see all the slot machines and you see all the roulette tables you are making provision for your flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. And so whatever your weakness may be and we all have one, every single one of us and we have many but we are to avoid that. If we see that we are in a position that we can be tempted then we are to flee it. We are to run St. Joseph.
When he was in Parliament's House and he was there, he was being tempted and what did he do? He fled away. He even left his coat behind. The stupidest decision he made right there.
But he fled from it. We are to put on Jesus Christ. We are to make the provision for the Spirit to rule in our heart and our life. And when we do that and when we walk in the Spirit, when we walk in prayer and walk in His Word and his light is shining in us, we will be living a pleasing life to our Father and to our Lord. We will continue next week where Paul is going to further expand on our response to the gospel and how we ought to live.
Next week he's going to talk about the fact that there are things that are not necessarily sinned for to do, but we should still not do it. And so I encourage you to read ahead, to study ahead, to know what Paul says, because what we are reading in application is not always what we want to hear. But to sum up today, we are to obey our government. We are to obey the rulers which God has put above us. They are his ministers.
We are to pay all of our debts with the exception of one which we will never stop paying, but we continually will act out, and that is love. And we are to take off the darkness and put on the light and make not provision for our flesh to fulfill the lust thereof. I can't get past that sentence for some reason. Now, if you are listening to this, tonight, for the first time, you are coming here, you stumbled across and you're thinking, what are we talking about? Well, we are talking about the good News, the Gospel message that we live in a broken and fractured world where we see sin and death and corruption and disease, and we cannot get out of it.
It's a cycle. We try and deal with it, but we can't deal with the problem. And that is sin. But that God loved us so much, he built a door out where he sent Jesus Christ down. God Himself came down and he lived perfectly.
And he gave Himself up on the cross, received for Himself what we deserved, that we would be his righteousness if we would take our crown off, if we would remove our pride and we would place our trust in Him and that he would save us. If you are ready to do that, it is that easy to just believe that he truly believe that he is God, that he is perfect, that he resurrected from the Grey that third day. And if you would just say Jesus, I will make you my Lord, I remove my crown and I throw it at your feet where it belongs, he will make you a new creation. And I'm going to give you that chance right now. We're going to close out and we are going to confess Jesus.
Lord, admit that we are a sinner and ask Him into our life. And if you have never done this, please repeat that the day is coming, the night is long spent. Dawn is getting ready to break. So before it's too late, before dawn has broke, please invite Jesus into Your life. Just repeat after me.
Let's pray. Father, I admit that I am a sinner, Lord, that I cannot save myself, but I am wicked and I'm vile and I'm evil, and there's no good thing in me. But I do believe that Jesus Christ, even God in the flesh, stepped into creation and he lived perfectly and he was nod to a tree. And I believe, according to the Scriptures and the eyewitness testimony, that he rose again. The third day that he gave us victory over sin and death.
And I want him lord over my life. I remove my crown. I take it off my head. I'm tired of dealing with the world of my own ways, and I'm just ready to follow you and that you deal with it for me. We thank you, Lord Jesus, and we praise you and glorify your holy name.
Father, I ask that as we live out our lives, that we will live without pleasing to you, that we will do what you would have us do, even the uncomfortable parts. And, Lord, I pray that the result of that is that our neighbors and our co workers or schoolmates, they will see Your lives radiating out of us, and they will want to know you and Glorify, you too. And we love you. In Jesus name. Amen.