1. Message: Romans 13 is a challenge like no other and a true test of our trust that God really is over all. Right off the bat we are challenged with the word submit. Women struggle with this word as we read it in the context of marriage but in this context Paul is talking about submitting to the authorities of our government. This goes against the grain of our American culture where we all decide for ourselves who and what we will submit ourselves to. The definition of submit is “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person”. I think we get mixed up because we assume that means we have to agree with everything the person in authority says or does. The challenge here is that we live our lives submitting to these authorities, no matter how corrupt they may be, knowing that they can’t touch our souls. Our souls are submitted to God so we can trust that he will take care of us in every circumstance. Even when they aren’t the circumstances we wanted. This does not make our authorities right, but it makes us right before God, who is our ultimate authority and our covering. In verse 8 it almost seems that Paul is changing the subject by speaking about love, but he is actually taking our obedience a step further. He says that the one that loves fulfills the law. This means instead of following the law of Moses to know how to treat our neighbor, we are bound by love. This means we are commanded to do what is best for our neighbor with the understanding that everyone is our neighbor. When we live by this instead of a list of rules we will not be able to find loopholes. This is a matter of the heart and when we do this we fulfill the law at an even higher standard than what was written.
  2. Command: Obey authorities, love people and make no plans to satisfy our fleshly desires.
  3. Promise: When we do this we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to man, but also place ourselves in the hands of God without limitations.
  4. Warning: Submitting to authorities and doing what is best for people who don’t return the favor seems like a dangerous and vulnerable place to be so our tendency is to fight it. When we fight it, we remove ourselves from the protection of God, and put ourselves in the position to fight our own battles. We often do this and then try to get God to bless it.
  5. Application:  This chapter is challenging for all of us. We all want to be in control and nobody wants to be the fool. God wants us to trust him by becoming completely vulnerable and trusting that he will do what is best for us, even when it doesn’t look or feel like what is best. Our submission authority, and our obedience to do what is best for our neighbor is actually submission to God. When we do this, we take our hands off the controls and instead of fighting against God, we find ourselves in a position for God to fight for us. It feels counter-intuitive just like most things in the gospel. If you want to save your life, lose it. Die to yourself, submit to authority, look out for others first. My challenge to myself in this is to pay attention to the inner struggle where I pick and choose the areas of life that I want to hang onto control. It shouldn’t be hard to follow the turmoil. When I find that turmoil, I will ask myself what is required of me in this situation and ask God to help me in my surrender.

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