Submission to the Authorities: 13:1-7.
A transformed life is a life of submission. Christians are living in the world under the government. The governments are instituted by God (Dan 4:17). Since all governments are divinely instituted, the believers are to obey the authority. The love for God means respecting what He instituted. The question of faith versus state was there on the mind of early Christians. They were persecuted for their faith during that time. Here Paul instructs believers that “Let every person be subject to the government”. It is the teaching of the Bible and the historic position of the church (Mark 12:17). The Bible condemns civil disobedience toward the lawfully existing governments because they are instituted by God (Rom 13:2). God ordained governments to prevent bad conduct and to promote good behavior. Christians must respect authority including elders in the church. God has granted human government the authority to impose its rules over its citizens. The believers should obey the government to maintain a clear conscience (Rom 13:5). Their ultimate responsibility is to obey God (Acts 5:29). Paying taxes is an expression of respect for government (Rom 13:6). The Christians are instructed to respect the laws of the land and those who make the laws. It is wrong for Christians to speak disrespectfully about those who are in authority. Believers should have a honest and respectful attitude toward governmental authorities (Matt 22:21).
Love enables to fulfill duties to others: 13: 8-10.
The Christians are in the world but not of this world. It is not enough to be subject to the authority. We must perform our obligation to others in love. The Bible commands that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Ex 20:13-17; Gal 5:14). Christians are motivated by God's love to fulfill their obligations to God and man. Our only debt to others is the duty of love. We do not love others in order to earn God's favor. The Christians are motivated by Christ's love for them to serve others (1 John 4:19). They should pay their debts and honor their obligations. They should not buy what they cannot afford. The ever increasing debt shows lack of regard and love toward society. We do not commit adultery and murder if we love others. Love fulfills the requirements of God's law. The Christians will have no difficulty to obey the authority if they respect the government. The believers should have an open and honest attitude toward governmental authority as demonstrated by Jesus himself.
Be Diligent and Zealous in the things of God: 13:11-14.
Paul changes the subject from love to hope. He exhorts believers to be diligent in right living in view of Christ’s return. It is time for them to stand up for Christ. “For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed”. This is a reference to the redemption of our body for which we are waiting (Rom 8:23). The Christian are engaged in a battle with Satan. Time is running out and Christ will return soon. We should shun the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. The more we live in God’s light, the less we will be influenced by the world. We will never be able to stand against the temptations alone. The best defense is a good offense. Paul urges believers to put on Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its desire (Rom 13:14). So let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of us and fill us with His virtues. Make no provision for the flesh. The antidote to sinful behavior is to unite ourselves with Christ. We sin because we are not satisfied with Christ. He will strengthen us to resist temptations. The Christians should live honorably and attractively to have a testimony in this world.