Hey guys! Welcome to the very first Notes About Glory Podcast. Today’s edition of the podcast is an extension to the Praise Pals small group, finishing up the book of Romans as we head into the summer.
As we dive into Romans 13 together, I hope that you guys are able to see God more and fall in love with his sense of divine order, love for justice, mercy, and light.
I just wanted to let you know that I’m excited for this podcast, and excited to learn with you guys.
That being said, you guys know that I’m not a pastor or a proper theologian, I’m just Victoria, and trying to be faithful to the word.
I am by no means the end all be all authority to any of these things, that authority is reserved for God and his word, and himself alone.
Colossians chapter 3 says:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We are called to admonish each other, and admonishment can take the form of encouragement, instruction, or correction, so as I attempt to admonish you, feel free to admonish me, whether it be questions, comments, concerns, or corrections. I hope we can all learn something today from this as a collective body of Christ.
Here are some show notes if you want to follow along:
Romans 12 Recap:
12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
- We are a sacrifice that cannot be burned up, we live, offering ourselves as a thank offering because the perfect sacrificed was paid
12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
- See yourself in the light of God’s perfection
- This brings both Humility and teaches us to lay ourselves down before the King of kings
12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
12:14-15 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
12:17-21 “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Now, in light of Romans 12, we must see Romans 13 as an extension of 12- one big letter, each individual “chapter” pertaining to the other.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
13:1- to “be subject to” in the Greek means “to submit to the authority of”, or “to yield to the admonition or council of another”
So, we are to submit to the governing authority because there is no authority except that which God has established. (v1).
“God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people or to ripen the nation for judgment. We remember that Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.” – David Guzik
Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” – John Phillip Newell
“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
Why are we subject to governing authorities?
Because we are really bad at listening to the authority of the Father.
For many years, in the OT, God himself was the sole king and the ruling authority of his people. But the people refused to listen to God and rebelled over and over, hence the book of Judges. After a certain point, the sin of the people led them to ask for a human authority over themselves.
1 Samuel 8:4-9
“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.””
We are much like this, because sinful nature causes natural rebellion in our hearts.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
When it says here that we rebel against authority, it means not only government authority, but the authority of God. Since we are all subject to the authority of God. Jesus says in Matthew 28:18:
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.””
Because all authority is in Christ Jesus who is one with God the Father, then the word of God is the ultimate authority.
When the government obeys the authority of God as a product of obeying the word of God, it is healthy, and therefore pleasing to God. If the Government does not, then it is in danger, and bringing judgement on itself.
So it is with us.
We, unfortunately, are sometimes subject to terrible authority by terrible governments. Yes, we are called to submit to them, in the things that it is in submission to God. We are to follow as many laws as possible, while rebuking all the things that are revolting to God, namely injustice.
Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man.
For example, in Acts 4 Peter and John were performing signs and wonders and telling people about Jesus and his resurrection. For this action, they were arrested and put in jail.
““What are we going to do with these men?” they [the Sanhedrin] asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.””
As we can see, our God is a God of Justice, and in the right knowledge of that, Peter and John partake in an act of civil disobedience to uphold the commands and the mercy of God.
Civil disobedience is our attempt to uphold the righteousness of God in the face of injustice.
All governments fall short of the Glory of God because they are sinful in nature; institutions run by sinful people. Some governments are better than others, you can make up your mind about which government model is best, but at the end of the day, the only government that was perfectly righteous was the one instituted by God the Father through the ordination of his perfect law through Moses. Since then, the government has fallen into the hands of the people, becoming corrupt, and therefore in need of correction.
That being said, there is a difference between civil disobedience and straight up breaking the law.
You will never be able to uphold the law or promote justice by using sin and injustice. You simply cannot counter sin with sin.
This is why even in our civil disobedience and protest and our attempts for justice, we work through the law and with the law, not against the law: because if we work against the law to promote justice, we will be found just as guilty before the throne of God.
Our God is a God of order, and the law was and is meant to create order in the face of our depravity- and if we go against the law, we go against order, meaning we are disorderly- the opposite of God, and actually more similar to the enemy, to what Paul calls “the lawless one”, the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians ch 2.
Christians should respect the spirit of our father by following the law – not because we are afraid of punishment but because we learn to love what is right in our Father’s eyes.
In the same way that we do not stop sinning just because we are told not to (I.e. The law) but because we are fully convinced that it is better (conviction of the Holy Spirit) – this passage refers to rebellion, which is our chief sin, which is why it is so hard for us to sit with this.
We have to be careful what we call injustice- sometimes it is a matter of inconvenience, not injustice, and other times we boil down injustice to inconvenience. This passage is here because nobody has to tell us to start a fight. We are really good at it. This passage is here because we often get it wrong- we let our rebellious sinful nature get in the way of what God is calling us to do because he knows that it will be good for our souls.
The reason that we have to allow the Lord to pursue justice and vengeance in our place (Romans 12:17-21) is because God’s motives are always pure. We presume to be pursuing justice, but in reality, what we seek is vengeance. We are people that wear revenge in disguise, calling it justice, making us just as corrupt as the person who wronged us.
Vengeance is the intersection between 2 injustices- if a man is murdered, and someone goes on to kill the murderer, this is not full justice because now there are 2 murderers, 2 dead men, and 2 grieving families. Justice is meant to heal, and often times, because of that, justice is made in heaven, not on earth.
Make not mistake, This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue justice, because scripture gives us plenty of reasons to pursue justice, OUR GOD IS A GOD OF JUSTICE
In Proverbs 31:8-9 it says:
“speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and the helpless, and see that they get justice.”
This just means that we need to be checking our means and our motives, or else, like it says in Romans 14:16, what we know of as good will be spoken of as evil. This is why the International Justice Mission works WITH the law and WITH the government to secure justice for those who are in slavery. This is why there is a process and a right way to do things. The more you react rather than RESPOND to injustice, the more likely you will do more damage than good.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Jesus also says something similar to this in Mark 12: “Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
This is why when the law is to wear a mask, we wear it. It is not unjust, and it is not a matter addressed directly in the word. And since it is the law, and we are called to be law abiding people, we wear it. The piece of cloth is not an infringement to our rights, it is an infringement to our preference, and those two things are NOT the same. If we look to Romans 15, which we talked about, it says
“make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”
We have human trafficking and racism to worry about, so check yourself if you are more concerned with wearing a mask than seeking out justice for the captive, the trafficked, the persecuted, and the marginalized.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The way in which we follow the law is loving to others, considering others over ourselves in that we choose order and the greater good over individual convenience.
Continually loving others means continually checking our rebellious hearts.
“We may pay our taxes and be quit. We may give respect and honor where they are due and have no further obligation. But we can never say, ‘I have done all the loving I need to do.’ Love then is a permanent obligation, a debt impossible to discharge.” – Leon Morris
Love your neighbor means to love the people you actually meet with and deal with every day. It is easy for us to love in the theoretical and the abstract, but God demands that we love real people.
“No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. No man can fulfill his calling as a Christian by seeking the welfare of his wife and family only, for these are only a sort of greater self.” – Charles Spurgeon
It is easy to do all the right religious “things” but to neglect love. Our love is the true measure of our obedience to God. – David Guzik
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here..
A true believer believes that we really live in the last days, it causes us to live differently out of conviction.
It is easy to think you are awake when you are not- people sleep-walk. Because we know the danger of the times and we are called to anticipate the return of Jesus, we should be all the more energetic and committed to a right walk with God instead of a sleep-walk with God.
How are we living as though the last days are near? How are we being awake toward God?
We speak up when we are awake- speaking up about his love and mercy and justice and speaking against injustice.
We can hear when we are awake- we listen to wise council, listen to the word being preached, listening for the voice of the father
We can sing when we are awake- we can combat the darkness by singing songs of praise and bringing glory to the Lord
We can think when we are awake- we weigh what we hear against the word, think and meditate on the word, actively filtering information and filling our minds with new knowledge of the Lord rather than passively letting things into our minds that have no place in light of our knowledge of God.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh
What is the armor of light?
I love this illustration. This illustration is based on dressing appropriately – we get dressed based on who we are and what we plan to do.
We must cast off before we put on – sin and righteousness don’t mix
Reference to the armor of God Ephesians 6:11- 17:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
We are ready to both attack and defend.
Always conduct yourself as if you were in the light – where you can be seen and observed easily and clearly. We are called to be people in the light, no longer hiding our sin and allowing ourselves to sit in the darkness, but as
V12 What does it look like to put on Jesus?
Obedience and spiritual disciplines, considering others, serving
Spiritual disciplines is not just bible reading and prayer, its discipleship, evangelism, serving, etc.
So, in light of all of this, how do we feel? What do we think? How should we respond?
Well, although it is hard to understand how the patterns of injustice and the rise and fall of governments as we attempt to be obedient to his word, we must recognize that God’s grace, holiness, and righteousness are not defined by our view of the world and our perspective of how things look like they are going.
God sees his plan to reconcile the nations to himself from a place of divinity, from the perspective of heaven.
The injustice of all injustices was the death of the most innocent and perfect man to have ever lived, and yet God found a way to redeem all of humanity through it.
Now, I’m not saying that we should stand for injustice, but have hope even in the midst of the trial, because he is sovereign, because he is Holy.
R C Sproule says that “any attempt to understand God without holiness is idolatry”
Jackie Hill Perry says:
“Our God is Holy- Holy meaning that he cannot sin- meaning that he cannot sin against us”
Even in this, he cannot sin. He cannot sin against us. God commands us of these things by his holiness for the sake of our holiness.
So, friends, God is holy, and his word is perfect. We can be obedient while also keeping in tension the need to keep the law, and the need to fight for justice. We can do both, and we can do it well, because
1. Jesus had done it, and
2. God’s word is never contradictory, and always for our good and His glory.