Romans Chapter 13
KLMX May 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím finishing up a week-long look at chapter 13 of Paulís letter to the Roman church. This section of the letter discusses our attitudes toward authorities, how those authorities are established and their purpose. This includes taxes and our attitudes toward them. Now remember that Paul is writing this to the church in RomeÖtaxation was at a high during that period in order to support the extravagant lifestyle of the ruling class. So, donít think that our situation is any worse and that Paul doesnít know what heís talking about because he certainly does. Letís do two things right now- let me ask God to bless this message and I pray that it reflects His glory through the truth and light that is Jesus Christ- amen. The second thing I want to do is to re-read Romans 13 so that you can the points I just refreshed.
Romans 13:1-10 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. (4) For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. (5) Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. (6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (8) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (9) For the commandments, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," "YOU SHALL NOT MURDER," "YOU SHALL NOT STEAL," "YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS," "YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (10) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And there are the points Iíve discussed this week:
authorities that exist are appointed by God
there is no authority except from God
we should obey authorities because to disobey them is to disobey God
in obeying, we should do good and obey from the conscience, not from fear of punishment
pay taxes because they are used to carry out the authoritiesí jobs
love is the fulfillment of the law- do all things in love.
Thatís what weíve discussed this week and if you missed any of those message and want to know, for instance, how we should deal with evil rulers and when civil disobedience is warranted, you can find these messages on the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org.
Having said this, Paul is now going to switch gears a bit and focus on something else. Hereís what he says.
Romans 13:11-14 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. (12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (13) Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. (14) But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
This is an exhortation for Christians to wake up because "our salvation is nearer than when we first believed". There are numerous other passages in the New Testament that echo this theme. There is the parable of the 10 virgins, for instance.
Matthew 25:1-13 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (3) Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, (4) but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (6) "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' (7) Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (8) And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' (9) But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' (10) And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. (11) "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' (12) But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' (13) "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
In this parable, the foolish virgins were not prepared as they brought no oil for their lamps. All of them slumbered, but the wise virgins were prepared and when it was time to waken, they were ready. Paul is now giving the call "Behold the bridegroom is coming!" Immediately following this parable is the one of the talents in which the master gives 10 talents, 5, and 1 to 3 different workers. The first two invest and multiply their talents, while the one with a single talent does not. When the master returns, unexpectedly, those who have used their talents well are rewarded. The one who did not, is not and in fact his talent is taken and given to the one who has 10.
Both of these parables, as well as Paulís exhortation point to the need for Christians to wake up as the time is growing short. Now, donít misread me there- this doesnít mean that the world is ending tomorrow. It might, it very well might, but what it means it simply this- "Awake! The bridegroom is coming!" You have been given notice that He is coming, therefore donít continue to slumber. Get up and get to work. Actually, thatís just about what Paul did say:
Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Thatís a neat turn of phrase- "cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light". He expands on this thought with:
Romans 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
This verse recalls several others along with a story. One time we were moving cattle and the time came to "hurry up and wait". As the cattle finally came up, I looked over and my partner was asleep! Later on, he said "I was redeeming the timeÖ" By sleeping? The passage he quoted is this one:
Ephesians 5:14-16 Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." (15) See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, (16) redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
So, actually, the exhortation is to wake up and redeem the time, not sleep and redeem the time! Instead of sleeping as the bridegroom approaches, you should be up and putting your talents to work. The time is coming when there will be no more time. I use the idea of something like a family vacation or a trip. You plan it for maybe a year in advance, trying to get your tickets in order, make sure you have enough money, whoís going to feed the animals, should I turn the water off or leave it on? And so forth. Details, details, details. The date of departure is still well in the future and it doesnít seem like thereís any rush. Then the week arrives and now itís time to start tying all the ends up. Problems inevitably occur and youíll usually say something like "weíve been planning this for a year and now THIS comes up!" That last week will pass like a flash, and then suddenly, there you are- sitting in the driveway ready to turn the key and go. Is everything prepared? Do you have your wallet? Did you turn the oven off? Do you have a toothbrush? No timeÖwe must go if weíre to catch the flight. Our preparations must stand.
This is the call that Paul has given. "The bridegroom is coming! Get ready!" Donít wait until the last minute to prepare- it may be too late then. Awaken and get ready now. Redeem the time. And we do that like this:
Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
There is the work that needs to be done- put on the Lord Jesus Christ and the works that He has done, and cast aside the worthless works of your flesh. Make no mistake as to the value of your works. Paulís already described them as "darkness... revelry and drunkenness, lewdness and lust, strife and envy". He said in Ephesians "..for the days are evil." If Paul made this exhortation 2000 years ago, how much more applicable is it today? The time is indeed coming when the doors will be shut and those not inside will say " 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'" But he will answer and say "ĎAssuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'" "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Awaken, slumbering Christians, and put your talents in Jesus Christ to use. And, obviously, if you donít know Jesus Christ, you need to do so, post-haste! Talk to someone you know to be a Christian and ask them to introduce you to Jesus. Donít wait until itís too late.
This concludes our survey of Romans chapter 13. I hope youíve learned something and I hope youíve been given some food for thought. Dwell on these things, redeem the time, and exercise your talents. May God grant you this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Romans 13, Part 4