How should believers live in relation to the government and unbelievers? Chapter 13 details God’s will for these areas.
Christians must submit to government because God established it (v. 1), so to resist government is to resist God (v. 2). God established government to regulate human behavior (vv. 3-4). The right thing to do (v. 5) also involves paying taxes (v. 6) and having a right attitude and actions toward governing officials (v. 7). Don’t forget that when Paul wrote this Nero was the Roman emperor, a wicked ruler!
Christians must also fulfill their obligations (v. 8) and love others by living righteously among them (v. 9). The outcome of this kind of love is Christ-likeness (v. 10). Christians must live for Christ because Christ is coming (vv. 11-12a), so they must not live like the world but a holy life (v. 12b). Christians must not be controlled by their sin natures but by the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 13-14).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- God’s will for Christians in relation to human government is submission. Why has this always been hard? Because there have been bad rulers and Christians still have their sin natures. Why is it we too often think of “exceptions” to this (such as Acts 5:28-29)? While there are such, more often than not the problem is our hearts! Pray for grace to obey! Think about Jesus when he was on the earth, and how he interacted with human governing authorities!
- God’s will is clearly given in the Scriptures (cf. vv. 9-10). Along the lines of the first point, put your focus and effort on showing you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul by obeying him!
- Jesus is coming (vv. 11-12a)! Does this fact affect how you live now? There is a right and a wrong way to live. Live like Christ!