Posted On October 18, 2021

God’s Servant for Our Good

by | Oct 18, 2021 | Featured, Romans

Romans 13:3-4, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Unthinking or unquestioning obedience to those who are in power over us has never been the call of God. Consider the examples of Daniel, who prayed to the God of Israel when he was commanded not to, and Esther, who went before the king of Persia though it was dangerous to do so without a summons. In such examples of faith, we see that Lord-honoring discipleship entails relating to the civil government in a way that recognizes its rightful authority but does not slavishly follow it into sin (Est. 4:1-5:8; Dan. 6:1-10).

Nevertheless, the principles laid out in Romans 13:1-2 mean that our inclination should be to obey our secular leaders. We should not be looking for excuses to get away with disobedience; rather, any decision not to follow the law of the state should be made only after much prayer and reflection. God-honoring civil obedience and disobedience must be our aim, and the difficulty of knowing when the state has transgressed its boundaries means we should not take any of these decisions lightly.

Paul exhorts us to obey the civil magistrate, first, because God has instituted the secular government and given it a specific vocation to protect its citizens. The Lord raises up leaders and brings them down, and those who are in power are there because of God’s plan. This does not mean everything they do is acceptable in the Lord’s eyes. Sin is still sin, and we are to participate in the political process to keep our laws and justice system as godly as possible. Still, by obeying the laws of the state that do not conflict with God’s law, we are actually obeying God Himself, who rules the nations and even the rulers of the nations (Rom. 13:1-2).

The second reason we are to submit to the civil authorities is because they are God’s servants “for our good” (v. 4a). Certainly, Paul is not naive. He knows that governments do not always fulfill their vocations, and that the state can even become beastly and persecute believers. He was arrested and beaten by the very same government to which he called his readers to submit. Yet, as a general rule, the laws of any nation are fundamentally designed to punish sin and wickedness, and even the most corrupt states have rules to protect innocent people. The Lord has given us the secular government for our own well-being—to protect us from anarchy and to keep us safe from criminals. Secular government often fails, and we must be honest about that, but we are not to be antagonistic toward the authorities.Š

Coram Deo

Not until eternity will perfect justice be dispensed on earth. According to His own wise counsel, the Lord has determined that all of the unrighteous will receive their just deserts at the resurrection of the dead. Until then, however, He works through the imperfect means of secular authorities to keep society safe and to protect His people from harm. May we be encouraged not to show antagonism toward the state but rather humble submission when it does things right.

God’s Servant for Our Good, Copyright (2021), Ligonier Ministries.

Related Posts

The Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us How to Pray Every Other Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us How to Pray Every Other Prayer

The Lord's Prayer Teaches Us How to Pray Every Other Prayer from Crossway on Vimeo. A Prayer Model The Lord's Prayer is a model for us. It's not the only prayer that we ever pray, and Jesus is not telling his disciples (or telling us), You just have to say this one...

The Demands of Biblical Discipleship

The Demands of Biblical Discipleship

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “What Does it Mean to Deny Myself and Take Up My Cross Daily?” What You'll Hear on this Episode The Terms of Discipleship. The Tradeoff of Discipleship. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe...

Preaching as Christian Warfare

Preaching as Christian Warfare

On today's episode of For Life and Godliness, you will hear a lecture Drew gave on preaching as Christian Warfare. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to Life and Godliness via iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. If you like what you’ve heard,...

How to Reach Our Progressive Friends

How to Reach Our Progressive Friends

Several years ago, I went through an intense time of doubt after my faith was rocked in a class led by a pastor who admitted he was an agnostic and who would later identify himself as a “progressive Christian.” At the time, I had never heard of progressive...

Five Attributes of God and Their Meaning in Scripture

Five Attributes of God and Their Meaning in Scripture

The Eternity of God Revelation 1:8 supports God’s sovereignty with three statements, the first of which expresses the eternity of God: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God.” God reigns over all since He is before and after all things. “The Alpha and the...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share
Tweet3
Email
Reddit
Share