Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. ~Romans 13:1-2
Recently, one of my good friends in church passed his oral examination for citizenship in the United States. He was so elated after many years of application and awaiting the day when he could be considered for this honorable distinction. There is a major difference between being a resident of a country and a citizen. Citizenship bestows upon us the distinction that we are a recognized, naturalized member of that country or state. Citizenship implies that we owe our allegiance and loyalty to that nation or state, and that we are afforded protection under its laws and sovereignty. Paul wrote Romans 13 to encourage the Christians in that first century about the importance of being first-class citizens.
We see the essential ROLE in vs. 1-7.
Every Christian is expected to be a good and honorable citizen of that country. We are commanded to avoid being lawless, anarchist, rule-breaking, and anti-government, regardless of the political persuasion of the country or the corruption that might exist with its leaders. God ordained that government powers were designed to avoid civil unrest and criminal activity. The justice system of a country is meant to give order to a country. Thus, every Christian is to be law-abiding in every way. We are expected to obey traffic laws, have conduct above reproach with other people, pay our taxes, and be in compliance with the laws of our land. We are subject to the penalties and judgment of our nation when laws are broken. Jesus commanded us, “Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s.” Both Paul and Peter sternly wrote to believers to be subject to the government powers.
We see an exhorted RESPONSIBILITY in vs. 9-10.
Paul takes us deeper than the duties of being law-abiding citizens. He brings us to the actual commandments of God which serve as the foundation for our civil and criminal laws. When we take that into account, we are to be God-fearing citizens. We are subject to commandments that begin with “Thou shalt not.” God’s commandments make very clear that we do not live within a realm of gray, murky laws. The laws of God teach us about prohibited activity and behavior. His commandments exhort us to do right to all people. Lying, cheating, covetousness, fraud, and dishonest behavior are prohibited and subject to punishment. When we abide under the principle of loving our neighbor as ourselves, we will strive to be honest, fair, above reproach, and holy in our conduct with everyone.
We see the elevated RULE in vs. 11-13.
Paul takes us even higher. We are to awaken to the fact that we live in a society that is rule-breaking, anarchist, and wicked. The higher standard for us is to cast off all works of darkness, and avoid rioting, drunkenness, chambering, strife, and envying. The higher rule is to live for Jesus! The higher rule is to put off living a compromised life, and demonstrate we are children of light. We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. We must live with spiritual restraint against lusts that war in our members. Our elevated rule is, “Be ye holy, even as I am holy.”
We see the exciting REWARD in Phil. 3:20.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Let us keep in mind our eternal citizenship. We are citizens of heaven! Our citizenship was obtained the moment we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and entered into the kingdom of heaven. As citizens of heaven, we belong to a better country: one that is heavenly. Heaven is our eternal reward that awaits us when the Lord brings us home. We can best show our heavenly citizenship by being first-class citizens while on earth.
Are you living like a first-class citizen? Don’t be discouraged by the societal decline around us. Look to Jesus, and remember your citizenship is in heaven!
Have an honorable God Morning!