Chapter 13

Practical Exhortations

Respect for Authority: (Romans 13:1-7) 
Paul continues to exhort believers to respect the institutions such as the government God has ordained. A transformed life is a life of submission. God provides governments for the sake of preventing bad behavior and to bring order in the society.  Christians are living in the world under the government. The governments are instituted by God (Daniel 4:17). The love for God means respecting what He instituted. The question of faith versus state was there in 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 does not endorse blind submission to unscriptural policy. Resisting authority is harmful to our testimony. The believers should obey the government to maintain a clear conscience (Romans 13:5). Their ultimate responsibility is to obey God (Acts 5:29). Paying taxes is an expression of respect for the government (Rom 13:6). Christians are instructed to respect the laws of the land and those who make them. It is wrong for Christians to speak disrespectfully about those who are in authority.  Believers should have respectful attitudes toward governmental authorities (Matthew 22:21).  

Fulfilling the Law Through Love: (Romans 13: 8-10)  
The Christians are in the world but not of this world. It is not enough to be subject to the authority but also perform their obligation to others in love. The Bible commands that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Exodus 20:13-17; Galatians 5:14).  Christians are motivated  by God's love to fulfill their obligations to God and man. Love does no harm to anyone, so love satisfies the Law.  Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. We do not love others in order to earn God's favor but are motivated by Christ's love for us to serve others (1 John 4:19). We should pay our debts and honor our obligations.  They should not buy what they cannot afford. The ever increasing debt shows lack of regard and love toward society. We don't commit adultery and murder if we love others. We 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: (Romans 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. We must get rid of our evil deeds and clothe ourselves with the armor of right living. It is time for us 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). Now  Christians 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 (Romans 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 fill our heart with Christ and identify with him.  We sin because we are not satisfied with Christ. The antidote to sinful behavior is  to depend on Christ to strengthen us to resist temptations. The Christians should live a Christ centered life to have a good testimony in this world.

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