Message:  Romans 13 is s heavy duty topic written in such simplistic terms that it leaves us feeling uncomfortable and unsettled.  We had this very same topic discussion at our home connect group last night so my mind is fresh with thoughts from our discussion and so many more thoughts brewing. Simply put: God established governing authority for our good and we are not excused from honoring it and living our lives with respect to those in authority and obeying the law of the land. There is a popular culture of rebellion that has taken hold of society for believers and non-believers alike. Christians often excuse their rebellion by saying they answer to God, not man but based on this chapter and many others, that justification doesn’t stand. A believer who directly disobeys the word of God is not answering to God. He is answering to himself and using God’s authority improperly. God doesn’t give us permission to slander or disregard authority for those we dislike or disagree with. We are required to respect the authority given to them and if they abuse that authority we need to appeal to a higher authority. This does not ensure a smooth ride by any means. It does ensure that we have God’s favor as we walk out the process if we are obedient to God and allow him to lead us through it. We are all well-aware of the amount of corruption in our government and in other authoritative places. This is not new! Before you disregard Paul, consider the circumstances he lived under when he wrote this. We read through the book of Acts where he was falsely accused by the Jews and unfairly placed in custody. They tried to plot to kill him by using the system of the law to request more questioning in the hopes of an opportunity to bring him out of protection. Paul appealed to a higher authority in that case and many others and though he was unlawfully held in prison. At one point he had been beaten unlawfully and when he revealed his citizenship they were scared and tried to get rid of him, but once again, he appealed to a higher authority and held them accountable. While in prison the walls shook him loose as he and Silas sang, but even then, he honored those that held him unlawfully by staying in place. This led to their salvation and his release. When Paul wrote the book of Romans he was still living under house arrest because of the corruption of the Jews who falsely accused him. He had appealed to each level up in government all the way to Caesar himself. He remained in prison through this entire process, but he used it all as an opportunity to spread the gospel. If you think Paul didn’t understand the corruption of our religious systems, political systems, governments and correctional systems you are missing it! Paul wasn’t living in simpler times. He was living in one of the most brutal times recorded in history and he was living it all out as an example for us. He was not passive by any means. He was bold and he knew his rights, but he didn’t use those rights as an excuse to dishonor or disobey. If you read back through Acts, you can see where he called out certain things that were lawfully wrong and continued to appeal to authorities. Time after time they saw nothing that could lawfully prosecute him, but Festus still left him in prison as a favor to the Jews. Most of us will never experience what Paul went through at even a smaller scale, but we see the corruption all around us. God didn’t make a mistake when he told us to submit to and honor authority. We don’t have to understand it all, but God is teaching us how to honor Him by honoring those in authority over us. Man is fallible and corrupt but God is not.

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