We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 13. Paul begins instructing us to submit to authorities by doing what is right.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 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.
v. 1-7 (NASB)
Submitting to governing authorities does not mean we are to obey their commands over God’s. As a wife, I am instructed to submit to my husband, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). If my husband tells me to do something in opposition to God’s will, I am to obey God over him. I submit not doing something ungodly to my husband in return, like cursing him. If those governing us are ungodly we learned last week in Romans 12 how to reply in love. We bless (speak well of) them and allow God to be our vindicator.
Next, Paul instructs us to love one another. As we see below, love does no harm.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
v. 8-10 (NASB)
We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to think of what we do to others as we are doing it to ourselves. When we hurt others we are hurting ourselves.
At the end of the chapter, Paul reminds us of Christ’s return and instructs us to lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
v. 11-14 (NASB)
“Put on” means that we have to take action and arm ourselves with the armor He’s given us. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” God has given us everything we need to walk in love, because He has given us His perfect love, which never fails. As we celebrate Christmas this week, we not only celebrate the birth of our Savior, but God’s great and infinite love for us.
We praise You for Your unconditional love for us. Fill us with the knowledge of Your love so that we can put on love and do what is right. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to reveal Your love to us. This Christmas, reveal that love to those who don’t know Jesus. It is not Your will for any to perish, and be apart from You, but for all to come to repentance and receive Your love through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9).
In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen!
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Matthew 24:42-44 (NASB)
*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 14. Have a blessed Christmas celebrating God’s love in Jesus!