Saturday, 30 November 2013
Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. Romans 13:5
“Therefore” is given to sum up the what has been stated in verses 1-4. It should be noted that the term “God” is used six times in chapter 13 and all six are in connection with the concept of the rule of human government. This rule was established after the Flood of Noah in Genesis 9 and it has continued since that time. The covenant has never been revoked and so in addition to our duties to God, we have the added responsibility to human governments appointed over us.
Because of this, “you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.” Paul has just told us that the appointed ruler “does not bear the sword in vain” and so we should be responsible citizens in order to avoid his wrath. But even more, because he is God’s appointed minister, we have the added reason of being subject which is “for conscience’ sake.”
In other words, if we rebel against the duly established government, then we rebel against what God has ordained. We, in essence, work against what our conscience should be subject to. An interesting thought then arises. If we are to be subject to our rulers, then how can we expect governments to change, because they in fact do change. A prime example would be the American Revolution. If the colonists were to be subject to their government, were they then in violation of what God ordained when they revolted against the king?
The answer is “no” because the leaders of the colonies signed their names on the Declaration of Independence. By signing their names, they established a new government with the intent of separating from the old. Those who vowed allegiance to the new government, after the signing of the declaration, were now subject to that new government. However, it should be noted that if their cause failed, those who severed the ties of the old government would have been punished for their actions. Such wasn’t the case and so those who are citizens of America today cannot be held to the governing rule of England.
Life application: One must consider carefully what they believe is a just cause for severing the ties they have with the government under which they live. It isn’t always easy to determine, but until such action is taken, one is expected to be subject to their governing authorities.
Lord God, there are many governments on earth and the citizens of each land face various rules and restrictions. But You have placed us where we are to meet Your purposes. So Lord, help us to live peaceably under our governing authorities until that Great Day when You come to set up an eternal kingdom for Your chosen and called citizens. Amen.