Last week when Sam read Romans 12, it was fantastic. Here is why. Romans 12 takes spiritual concepts and shows how you practically live them out.
Romans 12:1-3, 9-12 Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking… it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
9 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. 10 Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, 12 cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. 13 Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. 15 Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. 16 Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. 18 If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. 19 Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. 21 Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. MSG
Sam’s main point from last week was you have four God given ministry areas of your life. Your heart, your spouse, your kids and your job. If you are taking care of your heart, then you are ready to take care of your spouse, etc. If you are not taking care of your heart, it’s a train wreck.
Paul then moves from Romans 12’s talk to how a disciple of Jesus fits into your culture in Romans 13. If you get Romans 12. If you are following Christ. If your soul is being redeemed by God daily. What you read in Romans 13 is understandable. If not, Romans 13 might offend you.
Today is going to blow some fuses in your brain. You are going to be confronted with a huge truth from God and you might struggle to accept it. It might not make sense to you at first. So let me begin with giving you some historic context to when this chapter was being written.
The Emperor of Rome was Claudius. At age 12, Nero’s mom married the Emperor Claudius. At age 16, Claudius gave Nero, his daughter to marry. Her name was Octavia. Here are six things that Nero did while being Emperor of Rome.
- He killed his step brother, the heir to Claudius.
- He killed his mother because his married mistress, Poppaea, didn’t like her.
- He killed Poppaea while she was pregnant by kicking her.
- He killed his step sister after she refused to marry him.
- He started the fire in Rome and blamed the Christians.
- Tradition tells us, that Paul was executed under Nero.
All this this was happening during the time Rome ruled over the Jewish people. The Jewish people hated the Romans. The Jewish zealots were getting weapons to fight Rome. The Romans hated the Jewish people. They were such a headache to Claudius, he had them removed from Rome. They later came back after Claudius died.
Then Paul writes Romans 13:1-7 NLT
Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there.
Let’s read it again the way the Jewish Romans understood it. “Obey Nero, God is the one who put him there.”
All governments have been placed in power by God. 2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
Quick time out. How do you think the Jewish Christians enjoyed reading Paul’s letter? Yeah Paul, today I will start loving God’s delegated authority, the same one that killed his mother, the same one who killed his pregnant mistress.
Quick question for you. How do you receive this? Does it inspire you or does it really rub you the wrong way? Like the boss who is a jerk, the soccer coach who you hate, how do you respond to their leadership?
3 For the authorities do not frighten people who are doing right, but they frighten those who do wrong. So do what they say, and you will get along well. 4 The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong. 5 So you must obey the government for two reasons: to keep from being punished and to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid so they can keep on doing the work God intended them to do.
Before we continue, did you hear that? The PA state workers are doing the work God intended for them to do.
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and import duties, and give respect and honor to all to whom it is due.
What do you do with this? Be honest, what are you thinking? Option 1: Do you allow it to hit your heart, you process it a little and pull out some general principles on how to live? Or, option 2: Do you immediately think about the 1,001 reasons why this scripture doesn’t apply to you? Are you creating all the situations that will never happen to prove this scripture wrong? Why do most of us go to Option #2? Because we have a natural default setting in our DNA called, rebellion, and it is deep within our hearts. A nicer way to putting it is, we just don’t like to be told what to do. And to take it further, we think, “Who has the right, to tell me how to live?” Hear me on this, according to Romans 13, this is rebellion to God.
Let me give you 5 general principles. General Principle 1: God has ordained and delegated His authority to those in leadership. Federal. State. Local. Civil. School. Work. Church. Family. Sports coaches and clubs.
General Principle 2: He ordained and delegated His authority to keep order and peace in our lives.
General Principle 3: How you respond to leadership is how you respond to God. If we trust God, we follow His delegated authority. If we don’t trust God, we rebel, kick, get on face book, gossip and are secretly critical and divisive.
General Principle 4: As disciples of Jesus the kingdom of God comes first and these verse explain how we fit into our culture. Why? Because we are disciples of Christ. As disciples of Christ, we exist to honor and follow Christ. We exist to build and advance, not our agenda, but the kingdom of God. As a disciple of Christ, I have been asked by Christ to obey the leadership in my life.
That brings us to General Principle 5: How you respond to leadership exposes what is in your heart. …those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.
Paul, the one who was executed under Nero’s reign, was saying, “Don’t be involved with rebellion to overthrow Rome because of a tax structure. Be more concerned about the advancement of God’s kingdom.”
As we walk through the general principles, is there something burning inside you? You are thinking, but what if leadership is bad? Here is the big question everyone has. When can I rebel? Are you telling me that I have to do everything my government tells me to do? Am I supposed to be a doormat while everything is falling to pieces?
Acts 5:27-33 NLT 7 Then they brought the apostles in before the council. 28 “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” the high priest demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Jesus, and you intend to blame us for his death!”
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” 33 At this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.
Scripture clearly states, short of being asked to sin, we obey our leadership. So, what comes out of your heart day to day? Do you complain about your leadership? Do you support your leadership? Do you always think you would be better if you were leading it and all along, you aren’t doing anything to help? What is being squeezed out of your heart?
I have an umbrella today. It’s an illustration that was given to me and I have never forgotten it.
Whoever goes to the LORD for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his are; his faithfulness will protect and defend you. GNT Psalms 91:1-4
This represents God’s umbrella of protection from the demonic. To stay under the protection of God, I stay under the leaders in my life. For me to step out and away from the leadership of my life is my way of stepping out and away from God’s protection. This opens me up to demonic opposition. There is safety and security under the protection of God.
Where are you? Safe under God’s protection or is your rebellious heart opening yourself to all the hidden dangers?