Pastor Steve Ellison
In Romans 13 God points out that all authority is delegated authority. It is delegated from Him. He uses the civil government as His illustration of authority because it is the highest delegated authority on earth. He even goes so far as to say that human civil government is His deacon, His minister, His servant on earth. God used civil government as the illustration because it naturally follows that if we submit to the highest authority then we should submit to every other delegated authority as well. God validates the government’s use of the sword; the sword represents the carrying out of capital punishment. Capital punishment being the greatest possible use of force, logically leads us to understand that we are expected to submit to other forms of punishment/discipline by the duly appointed government as well.
My stubborn, prideful, rebellious heart wants to object with great fervor and intensity. However, Romans 13:1-4 is painfully clear, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” NASU If I am going to be in right relationship with God, I have to obey all authority. As I have stated many times before, there are some obvious exceptions, but not as many as my rebellious heart would like. In order for an exception to be made, the authority must be clearly in opposition to God’s direct command and we ought to be ready to pay the consequences for our disobedience. David’s response to the authority vested in King Saul is a great example. In spite of all that happened and the fact that David was already anointed as future king, he refused to disrespect Saul’s office. I must continue to remind myself of Jesus declaration to Pontius Pilate that he would have no authority over Him except that it was given from above.
Because the Kingdom of God is spiritual in nature, it seems that we often approach the Christian faith as if it were something that cannot be measured or evaluated. That is wrong. God has given us a plethora of ways to evaluate our faith. One is our submission to authority. We rebelled against authority in the Garden of Eden and have been doing so ever since. In a very real sense, my faith, my trust in God, can be measured by how well I submit to delegated authority. Submission to delegated authority is a by-product of submission to God. We all have authority over us: parents, police, teachers, umpires, mayors, judges, employers, duly constituted church leaders, etc. In other words, we can learn a great deal about our submission to God by how we obey traffic laws, keep off the grass signs, coffee break time limits, homework assignments, work-time internet usage, parking laws, etc. I find it very humbling indeed to realize that my submission to God is at least partially measured by the length of my coffee break, my disrespecting the country’s elected officials, my booing of the referee, my buckling the seat belt, my disposal of garbage in accordance to law, etc. Ouch!! …….…..firstname.lastname@example.org