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Sunday, March 20, 2016 am                            Others 2016 Index

 

OTHERS (12)
Be an Example (3)
Our Responsibilities to Our Government

 

This month we are addressing our influence of others in every aspect of our lives.  It is imperative that we strive to be a proper example at all times.  Last week we addressed our influence in the work place.  This week we want to address our responsibility to our government. 

It is clear that we are living in a society that is becoming increasingly more hostile toward Christians.  Much of this is either endorsed or tolerated by our government.  Unless things change, I fear more troubling times ahead as we stand for the truth.   Because of its conduct there is much unrest directed toward governing authorities today – there is violence, hateful speech, rebellion and other forms of ungodly reaction to

 I.                     Government is ordained of God –

a.       Rom. 13:1 – it exists because God ordained it.  Jesus even told Pilate he would have no power were it not for God giving it (John 19:11)

b.       Romans 13:2 - We are to acknowledge governments.  To resist the authority is to resist God’s ordinances (which command us to submit to His will).

c.        Romans 13:3-4 – Government exists for our good.   When you follow the law you have no need to fear.  It has authority to execute wrath and the sword in dealing with evil.

d.       It matters not how godly the government is – consider Rome as the church began – the history of the empire in dealing with Christians went from one extreme to the other – some persecuted violently, some tolerated and some advocated.  As Paul and Peter are writing these epistles, they faced difficult circumstances, an idolatrous government, and an empire that was morally corrupt. 
In that environment, the gospel spread throughout the world and instructions were given to be a proper example including 1 Peter which focuses on suffering at the hand of enemies.  
He notes in 1 Peter 2:11-12 to have honorable conduct among the Gentiles so that their accusations may be turned around.  
1 Peter 2:15 speaks of silencing the ignorance of foolish men.
1 Peter 3:16, with a good conscience, those who defame you may be put to shame. 

 II.                   Our duties to our government

a.       Be subject to its laws and authorities, not just because of wrath, but for conscience sake – you are obeying God’s will.  Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13-14 – submit to ordinances of men.  Note how both the king and governors are mentioned – various levels of government.
Titus 3:1 – we are reminded to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey and be ready for every good work.
NOTE: This includes obeying the laws even when no one is looking.  A good example is traffic laws – do we respect the laws of the land at all times?

b.       Pay your taxes – Romans 13:6-7 – note how taxes are mentioned in various forms. 
Matthew 22:17-21, give what belongs to “Caesar” to him (and give to God what belongs to Him).
Christians must be honorable even in this.  You may utilize any legal loopholes provided, but you must pay what you owe. 
While some resources may be directed toward ungodly practices, the majority of the resources are directed toward godly things.  You can reason in your mind that such is what you are supporting – especially when you consider God has commanded it of us.

c.        Honor the king – Romans 13:7, 1 Peter 2:17, Titus 3:2 – speak evil of no one.  
We have a problem with this today.  On social media we see a lot of disrespectful comments and material directed toward our leaders, and some of them by Christians.   It is not just criticism, but often mocking, innuendos and inaccuracies.  Such ought not to be the behavior of a Christian.
There is a place for rebuke (cf. Eph. 5:11), but it can be done respectfully.  (More on social media in a later lesson).

d.       Pray for them – 1 Timothy 2:1-4 – pray, even for the ungodly leaders.
Our prayers are so that we may be able to lead a quiet life – able to worship Him freely. 

e.       Why do we submit to government?

                                                   i.      It is for the Lord’s sake.   Recall how in our last lesson we noted that whatever you do, it is to be done heartily, as to the Lord (Col. 3:23).

                                                 ii.      1 Pete 2:15-16 – as we have already noted you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

                                                iii.      Because our citizenship is in heaven – Philippians 3:20. We are strangers and pilgrims here – conduct yourself properly – 1 Peter 2:11-12 speaks of us as sojourners and pilgrims with honorable conduct among the Gentiles…

 III.                 When ungodliness prevails

a.       Acts 5:29 – we ought to obey God rather than men.  Realize the context – they were commanded to quit preaching Christ.  It is not rebellion for the sake of rebellion, or even because of distaste.  It was not refusing to participate in an activity about which you have a choice.   They were directed to disobey God.   Then and ONLY then should we consider this.

This is NOT license to rebel against a government because you don’t agree with its policies.  It simply applies in those areas where one is compelled to either submit to the government or to God.  Options typically do not fit under this category – i.e. just because the government tolerates abortion, homosexuality, etc. doesn’t mean we outright reject it.  We are not compelled to participate in these activities (yet).   

b.       And it doesn’t excuse submission in areas other than those contrary to God’s will.  For example – while Christians in the first century could not bow to the Caesar’s idols, they still had to pay taxes and submit to law enforcement.  They could not rise up in revolt to get their way.  

c.        What about politics?  We live in a society where we our laws permit us to participate in the process via elections, written statements to government officials, lobbying, even having a say in our laws. 
We can utilize the law to our advantage – Paul appealed to Caesar.   He used the courts to plead his case.  Acts 16:37-38 – Paul used his Roman citizenship.  Acts 25:11 – Paul appealed to Caesar.  BUT, we must stay within the bounds of the law – i.e. unlawful protests are sinful, acting in violence and destroying properly because of a perceived just cause is sinful.  Note 1 Peter 2:16 – “as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Don’t use your displeasure as an excuse to rebel!!!!
BUT, does a Christian HAVE TO VOTE?  I am not convinced that one can be compelled to vote or the implication is that he is sinning in some way.  And a compelling case could be made for or against it.
For one thing, we are dealing with worldly governments – they are NOT “Christian”, so virtually every candidate has moral issues in one form or another.  You must use your judgment in deciding who to vote for. 
QUESTION: If you demand that one vote, do they have vote for the same candidate as you or be a sinner?  Is one required to vote for “the lesser of two evils”?   And who gets to decide that?
Are we really willing to go that far?
NOWHERE does the Bible demand that we become politically involved, though there are compelling reasons to do so. 

If you do vote, consider how your vote affects your faith – morality ought to take precedence over economics.  I am convinced a part of our economic woes is due to immorality.   Greed is immoral.  Sloth is immoral.  Envy is immoral.  If you change the heart of the citizen, the economics will take care of itself. 

d.       Remember God is in control.    Phil. 3:20 our citizenship is in heaven.   Rom. 13:1 – they exist by God’s power.    To what degree He has a hand in a particular election I cannot say, but I do know that in the end His way will prevail. 

 

As in every other area of our lives, we need to be a proper example when it comes to our attitude toward our government.   In society right now there is much frustration and hostility.  We may even be frustrated at some of what is being done or NOT being done, but that doesn’t change our need to be Christians even in this.  When it comes to our government, are you the example you ought to be?