Submit to Governing Authorities—Romans 13:1

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Romans 13:1)

As citizens of the world God has ordained the use of governments to protect and defend us. Even a bad government is better than no government. God has instituted these entities to provide peace and order to its citizens. Because of this we should submit ourselves under the authorities that were placed over us and live peaceably.

As believers we have a responsibility to vote wisely. We should be voting and choosing our candidates based on who aligns most closely with scriptural principals and guidelines. The scripture has given us the basis to live. II Peter 1 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" ( II Peter 1:3-4 ). Through the knowledge of God and his principals we have everything we need to live a godly life. By knowing these things we will escape the corruption and deceitfulness in the world. This Biblical principal also applies to our government. If we elect men and women who know the scriptures and create laws based on theis principal then we will live peaceably as a nation and escape corruption. Our forefathers understood this and that is why this nation was founded a Christian nation and has been incredibly blessed.

It is true that God has established and ordained each office of government. They exist by His permission and He has sanctioned every position. He has even given his approval to the men and women that we elect into office. These people may not have been God's first or second choice to run our nation; however He does not override our free will in choosing the people who will lead us. This is why it is important to vote scripturally because God allows us to empower those we choose. Once they take power we need to remind ourselves to pray for them on a regular basis. Pray that God will grant them wisdom in leading our country. Pray that He will give them insight into the laws they create. Pray that they will be supported and surrounded by godly men and women who will stand up and speak truth to them.

Remember, God has given us government as a gift to protect us. In the same way, we have a responsibility to protect our government from corruption by voting and empowering the right candidates' based on scriptural principals. The result will be the freedom to worship God as we choose and living peaceably all the days of our lives. May you understand this principal and determine to vote wisely and scripturally from now on.

Rebelling Against Authority is Rebelling Against God—Romans 13:2

"Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:2)

God has set up and arranged a divine order to life. He has established positions of authority in the world to protect and guard its citizens. He uses governments, judicial systems and other civil authorities to bring order and keep peace. These are put in place to protect us. Even a poorly run government is better than the chaos that would exist outside of its safeguard.

As such, when we rebel against those put in place to protect us we are rebelling against God's institution. As believers we need to understand submission to authority. To live at peace with one another we need to obey those who rule over us. If we do right, we will live without fear of consequences. If we do wrong we will bring judgment on ourselves justly receiving the penalties for disobeying the law of our land.

For example, a police officer holds no fear if we are obeying the speed laws. We could drive past three officers in the course of an afternoon and not give it a second thought. But if we are speeding past them, then we will glance over our shoulder to see if we've been caught. There is a fear associated with willfully disobeying the law. Because breaking the laws put in place to protect us; brings judgment on ourselves.

Paul said in the previous chapter of Romans that we are to do what is right and live peaceably ( Romans 12:17-18 ). If we make our decisions based on what it good and right, then there is no fear of judgment or punishment. Because we will be submitting ourselves under the laws put in place to protect us. Living this way is much better than living in the shadow of fear. Paul went on to say in Romans 13, "it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" ( Romans 13:5 ). If we do what is right then our conscience will be clear also.

Today is a great chance to thank God for giving us the freedom we have in America. Thank Him that our founding fathers created our government to protect and defend us and our rights to worship Him. Pray that this freedom will remain in the years to come. May you understand this truth and live in submission to offices that God has placed above you. May your life be free from fear all the days of your life, amen.

Submitting to Authority is a Matter of Principal—Romans 13:3-5

"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:3-5)

As believers we are to be a people of principal. Our actions should be the result of a changed heart. We should not abide by the laws of our country merely to escape punishment, but we should live according to our conscience knowing right from wrong and doing what it right.

God instituted civil authorities to protect and govern its citizens. As an entity in position of authority, they also have the power to punish those who disobey the laws of that society. This is necessary to keep peace and order. If the law is broken, then there is fear of punishment because God has granted them the power to execute sentence on the wrongdoer. In the same way, if we live our lives abiding by rules established to protect us, then we will be free from fear of those in authority.

We should live under submission to the authorities of our land not only to be free from fear, but as a matter of principal. God has placed men and women in these positions of authority not only to punish those who do wrong but also to provide good for us. This is their main function, to create laws that benefit and protect us. When we live peaceably abiding by the laws of our land then we will be commended both by mankind and by God.

Because of this principal established by God, it is important for believers to vote wisely when given the opportunity to elect officials who will make our laws. Alot has changed over the last fifty years; the laws of our land reflect the attitudes of its citizens. No longer are we creating laws based on God's word, instead we are moving further and further away from His principals.  Staying proactive in our governmental process will give us a voice to lead and direct our country in the right way. Today, I pray that you live peaceably in our society, commended by both God and mankind. Remember to vote wisely and protect the freedom that proved very costly, amen.

Give Everyone What You Owe—Romans 13:6-7

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor" (Romans 13:6-7)

As believers we should be above reproach concerning money. We should be faithful and diligent stewards and appropriate it wisely. We should pay our taxes, pay salaries and let no debt remain outstanding. Whether we owe money, respect or honor we should be quick to settle those accounts and render to all men their dues.

The Pharisees asked Jesus something similar in Mark 12. They were trying to trap Jesus and came asking if they should pay taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus knowing their hearts answered them, "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it."They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. ( Mark 12:15-17 ). The Bible records the Pharisees marveled at his answer and asked him no more questions.

They were intent on entrapping him in order to accuse him and hand him over to the authorities. But Jesus knew their hypocrisy and called them on it. Luke's account went on to say, "They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent" ( Luke 20:26 ). By his one answer he utterly defeated those trying to accuse him. His answer showed that He upheld the civil authorities that ruled and instructed others to do the same.

In the same way we are to render what is due to others. Paul reminds us that they are God's servants devoting themselves to governing. It is logical that the citizens should pay for and support their service. In the same breath Paul reminds us to always give everyone what you owe them. If it is taxes, pay your taxes. If it is revenue or money, then pay them. If you owe respect then give respect if it is honor then show honor. In doing this you will live above reproach in this world.

Love is the Fulfillment of the Law—Romans 13:8-10

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet,"  and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10)

Love is an incredible thing. Love is what initiated God's redemption plan for us. Perhaps the most well known verse in the entire Bible says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" ( John 3:16 ). Because of God's great love for us God sent Jesus into humanity to recue mankind from the power of darkness and bring us into fellowship with Him. In the same way, as believers, we ought to love one another, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" ( I John 4:7-8 ). Our love for each other shows that be belong to the truth because "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us" ( I John 4:12 ).

Paul reminds us in today's passage that we are to leave "no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another". As believers we should owe no man. We should be free from the bondage of debt. We should pay in full for the things we have and the thing we buy. This goes back to the previous verses identifying that we should pay what we owe, whether taxes, salaries, honor or respect ( Romans 13:7 ). The only debt that we should have is the debt to love one another. This obligation comes out of the realization of what Christ did for us. Once we understand how he overcame every barrier that sin put between us to bring us back into a restored relationship with the Father, it gives us a new perspective about our fellow mankind. We didn't deserve His grace or His mercy but because He loved us we received both. In the same way, because he loved us we should also extend both grace and mercy to each other.

The amazing thing about this is that Paul said this love we extend to one another fulfills and summarizes the rest of the law. All of these commandments hinge on how we treat others. If we love then we will not murder, steal and covet our neighbor's things. Love fulfills the intent of the law because all things can be summarized and fulfilled by love. Paul said in I Corinthians 13: 3, if I have not love, I am nothing. Love will never do harm to one another, therefore it meets all the requirements of the law.

When questioned about the Law Jesus recited the exact same observation. "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."  ( Mark 12:28-31 ). By loving God with everything we are, we fulfill the law because we are looking to him for grace and mercy. This love equips and enables us to love one another in a deep and genuine way, showing that we are walking in His truth. This is the only debt that we should owe, the debt to love one another because "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" ( I John 4:7 ).

Today, I am thankful that God is love. I rejoice that he demonstrated His incredible love for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I am forever changed because of this love and I know that it extends to those around me because he has enabled me to love deeply. Today, I pray that you let His love flow through you and touch those around you. May you be a blessing and a light for His kingdom in this dark world, amen.

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Juli Camarin

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