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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Romans 13:1-7 by Robert Dean
Surely you don't expect me to obey my unreasonable boss, or play second fiddle to my clueless husband, or pay every penny of my taxes to an out-of-control government? Listen to this lesson to learn that God is the One who instituted all authority and it's the believer's responsibility and privilege to submit to those in charge. Examine the meaning of submission and see the rare exceptions when we are to "obey God rather than man". Understand that these authorities are designed for our benefit and that humbling ourselves in obedience will bring rich rewards in time and eternity.
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:58 mins 5 secs

Submission to Governing Authority
Romans 13:1-7

The passage this evening takes us into a little bit of a shift, starting in Romans 13:1. Now some commentators, usually of a liberal persuasion and by liberal I mean they don't take the Word of God to be inerrant or infallible, question whether this was originally written by the Apostle Paul because it doesn't seem to fit the context. However that has been demonstrated to be false by a number of other scholarly studies. One issue here, though, is why does Paul suddenly shift his thinking to government and submission to governing authorities? I think it grows out of what he has just said at the end of chapter 12 where he has been dealing with specific issues related to Christians and how they relate to other Christians.

The last part of chapter 12 deals with seeking vengeance or justice for those who have treated them in an unjust or disrespectful manner. I think the segue here is to deal with the proper role of government. That is covered in just the first seven verses of chapter 13 before he returns to the theme of loving one another when we get to verse 8. So the focus tonight, and this will take us several weeks to go through this section, is having to do with submission to governing authorities. Let me just read through and point out a few things on the first seven verses. This is a nice interrelated section here.

 "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." Notice that picks up that theme of vengeance from the last three verses of chapter 12. Romans 13:5 continues "Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes…" I thought that was a timely verse to focus on since April 15 is next Tuesday. Let me read that again in case you missed it, "For because of this you also pay taxes, for {rulers} are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax {is due;} custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor is due."

Let's just make a couple of observations as we go through this particular passage. This passage has become somewhat debated, especially among certain branches of conservative politics in recent years because a lot of conservatives and the conservative wing of the Libertarian Party have a problem with a fact that the administration now in place seems to be off the rails in terms of its constitutional mandates. They are violating the U.S. Constitution. This has led to some very interesting and wrong exegesis of this particular passage. But we have to work through this very carefully to see what the Scriptures are teaching and what they are not teaching.

Unfortunately, there are in some circles too many Christians who are so bent on justifying their own political theory that they read their political theory into the Scripture instead of actually doing the kind of work they need to, to study the text and let the text tell them what their political theory should be. I have one of two acquaintances who just absolutely drive me nuts because they are typically spiritually blind Christians. They are so well read on political history and political theory that they do not know how to read the Bible and derive from the text what the principles of government should be. All they want to do is use the Bible to validate their political theory. They read their political views into the Scripture.

What I find to be consistent with people of this kind is that they have a real hard time submitting to the authority of a pastor who develops an exegetical theology from the Scripture. I have watched some of these individuals over years that I have known them church hop because as soon as a pastor starts teaching something that challenges their basic presupposition in these areas they decide he doesn't really know what he's talking about so they go to the next church. This becomes a pattern for them. What it shows is that not only do they have a problem with the authority of a pastor but it shows they basically have a problem with authority in general. Their problem is with the authority of the government when they disagree with it. The problem is with their pastor when they disagree with him and this brings us to the real problem in this whole issue.

That is when the Scripture teaches us and talks about submitting to an authority, whether it's as individual believers submitting to Christ or whether it's wives submitting to their husbands or whether it's church members submitting to the leaders in the church. When it comes to submission it's easy to submit to someone when we agree with them. When the authority is asking us to do what we want to do and it doesn't really challenge us in terms of our own agenda, it's really easy. But where submission becomes real submission is when the person or the institution in authority is asking us to do something we disagree with. If the person, the individual, or the institution that is in authority over us is asking something we don't think is right, then we have problems.

I'm making a distinction between what the Scriptures says to be right. We all understand when any authority asks us to do something that violates the direct command of Scripture then that, as Peter says in Acts 5, "We obey God rather than men." But we have too many people who think that their opinion is Scriptural and therefore they don't think the person in authority can ask them to do something because in their opinion that violates their Christian ethic. It probably doesn't. It just violates their opinion. It comes down to humility.

I think this is one of the most difficult areas of all Scripture. The last couple of weeks when we were talking about impersonal love we saw that's a really hard topic for most of us, to treat other believers in genuine impersonal love. Or just to treat other people with whom we disagree or dislike with genuine impersonal love. But I think another area that rally challenges every one of us when you come right down to it is when someone in authority over us demands that we do something that we really disagree with and we really don't want to do it. I'm not talking about an absolute disagreement over eternal truth. When somebody wants us to do something that we don't want to do, an employer, the government and that's what real submission is, when we humble ourselves and submit to that authority. So that's the real issue underlying this.

I find that this happens in politics. I know most people in this room and I know where most of us think politically. Most of us are pretty much in agreement on most things. We understand there are many things happening under this administration but they're been happening for the last thirty or forty years under various other administrations that have eroded the authority of the Constitution as we understand it. This creates a great problem for us and this isn't going to change. So the question we have to understand is, "How does this apply to us in terms of our own thinking?" So as we look at this passage I just want to point out some structural things in the whole paragraph that helps us see how it hangs together.

First of all, there's a command: that every person [every soul] be subject to the governing authorities. Then there's an explanation. Whenever you see a "for" it's usually a reason or a cause for what was just said. So the reason he makes this command is that there is no authority except from God. The authorities that exist are appointed by God. Now I read someone at some time who said the ultimate authority of government in the United States is the Constitution. So he read this as if it were written this way, "Let every soul be subject to the Constitution for there is no Constitution except from God and the Constitution that exists was appointed by God."

Now that is just such an aberration of the text. The word authority is plural in places. It not only relates to the ultimate authority in any national entity but to the whole chain of command from the highest authority all the way down to the lowest. From Federal government all the way to down the local precinct government. Every authority is involved in this, not just the ultimate authority. That was an example of someone reading their political philosophy into the text to try to make the text validate their view rather than let their view be shaped by Scripture.

Romans 13:2 reads, "Therefore whoever resists authority resists the authority of God." So there's a conclusion from that. If the authority is established from God and you're resisting that authority then you're resisting God Himself and God's ordinance or command. Then there's another explanation for why this would be true. Romans 13:3 says, "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior." I can see some of you saying, "Now wait a minute. We've got a lot of court cases going on right now because there are different people, different levels of government such as individuals in the military, individuals in other institutions in our country that are specifically going after Christians.

There's a case going on right now that involved a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy who had written a Bible verse on the dry erase board on his room. He was ordered to take it down. They came in and forcibly erased it and immediately the lawyers from Liberty Institute went out there to take this case for him. So what do you mean that the rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior when that kind of thing is going on? Well this is the kind of thing we have to work through because this is written as a universal principle. It was also written at a time when Nero who was evil and wicked was Caesar in Rome. So it's not written under an ideal form of government.

Romans 13:4 goes on, "For it is a minister [the authority] of God for good." Then Romans 13:5 draws another conclusion, "Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection…" This takes us right back to the original command so the structure is that when Paul gives the command, he gives the implication of the command in verse 2. He explains what is really going on ultimately in terms of universal principles in verses 3 and 4 and then he gives a conclusion that takes us back to the original command. In verses 6 and 7 he applies this to the payment of taxes. Where did that come from? Well, I've got a suggestion for this. So this gives us an overview of the passage.

Now the issue that's raised here is one that's becoming more and more of a significant issue in American politics. We're a little myopic, though. If you go to other areas of the world where they have much more tyrannical and corrupt governments, what we're getting our panties in a knot over, is not quite as severe as what you have in other places. Take Ukraine for example. I've spent some time going over there in the last ten or eleven years and have seen how corrupt that government is. Of course all of this came boiling to a head about ten years ago, in 2004-2005 in what they call the Orange Revolution which was a precursor to what just happened. In the Orange Revolution there was one man running for president by the name of Yushchenko and his opponent was Yanukovych, the man who just was thrown out of power. Yanukovych rigged that election in 2004.

He had also probably been responsible for poisoning Yushchenko. I don't know if you remember that but he was slipped something and they showed a lot of pictures by him side-by-side where his face was all scarred from the effect of this poison. The people took to the streets because they knew that this was a corrupt election. They called for a new election and Yushchenko won that election. But Yushchenko is saddled with a totally corrupt bureaucracy, one that is influenced by these obscenely wealthy oligarchs who are using their money to influence what is going on. You really couldn't change anything.

So the people out of frustration that if Yushchenko can't change anything then the next election in 2008-2009, they voted for Yanukovych. You know if you go with one side and he can't solve your problems then go to the other side. But Yanukovych was worse. You're basically choosing between one form of evil and another form of evil. Neither side is really good. There's not a culture in Ukraine that understands what we would think of as divine institutions. It's a totally corrupt culture that goes back through a century of corruption under the Soviet block or Empire and before that you had all the horrors of corruption under the Czars. There's never been a solid biblical foundation for thinking through the institutions of government.

So Yanukovych became president and corruption just went on steroids and he spent billions and billions of dollars on his own personal real estate purchase and he built a mansion worth several billion dollars and many other things clearly outside of the law. Finally the economy gets so bad that the people took to the streets again and last November when he broke the treaty with the EU, but he was being blackmailed by Russia. Putin was saying if you don't break your relations with the EU and join with us I'm going to triple the cost of natural gas. All of their natural gas comes from Russia so Yanukovych was being blackmailed. It's just an absolutely obscene web of corruption and blackmail and personal power politics, as bad as it can get.

So what should a Christian do when you're looking down at almost 100,000 people down in the Maidan Square and they're setting up this demonstration against the government? Where should you be? That was a tough question. When I was over there in January this was a topic that Jim was teaching from the pulpit of the church. It was a topic I touched on in what I was teaching. There were many Christians in the church who recognized that it wasn't their responsibility to overthrow the government. But it was their responsibility to evangelize and to pray and they were involved with various Christian groups that were camped out down in the Maidan. They were passing out tracts and other things like that.

It really hit me when I was there that I hear a lot of conservative Christians in America thinking that theoretically what if the government becomes more and more tyrannical. What's the breaking point? I was watching a scenario in real time when I was in Ukraine where that was exactly where they had arrived. Let me tell you that we're about a hundred miles in the air above the depths where they had gone to. We think we have it bad. Let me tell you. We only think we have it bad. You may disagree with me. You may think it's terrible but it's so much worse in Ukraine. When you have people who on the average can only make about four or five or six hundred dollars a month and they're living in government subsidized housing, then you see the problem.

The government is in such debt. I read a report this morning that they're going to have to default on all their loans. That's just going to plunge them into an even worse case scenario. So if we keep doing what we're doing we're heading in the same direction. We're just not nearly as far down the road as I think some people think we are. But we have to think through our role as citizens. This is another factor I think it's important to think through, that the government that we have and the Constitution we have is a totally different scenario than the one in Ukraine. It's a totally different scenario than the one in the Roman Empire.

What we are legally permitted to do, what our legal rights are in the United States enables us to do things that citizens in other nations can't do because it's prohibited by their law. A lot of these applications are relative to what is legal, what is constitutional in these different situations and different governments. First of all, what we have to do is understand what Paul is saying to the Roman believers who are a mix of Messianic Jews who have accepted Jesus as Messiah and Gentiles. So we have to work our way through this particular question, which is obedience to government authority.

Some of the questions we need to address include the following. Does the believer have the right to disobey government authority at any point? How do we define that point? If we are able to disobey government, what are the parameters, the guidelines for determining when it is right for the individual to disobey a legitimate governing authority? This applies not only to civil authority but it applies across the board to any authority, whether it's the authority of a coach over an athletic team, the authority of a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the military, the authority of a teacher or a professor in the classroom, the authority of a husband over a family, the authority of parents over children. The fundamental principle here is the governing authority and the role of submission to that authority.

This is a problem that is not just limited to us but was very much a problem at that time. As I said just a moment ago, the Roman church was comprised of both Gentile believers and Jewish believers. Now Jewish believers had a particular problem with a Gentile governor. Deuteronomy 17:15 says, "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, {one} from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman." So there was a large segment of Jews who refused to give any submission to a Gentile government. They thought that was wrong based on that particular passage.

Sometimes it's argued that the Jews in Rome were particularly disobedient. There were riots about eight or nine years earlier due to conflicts in the Jewish community over the identity of one "Crestes". Many people believe this was a fraternal battle and fight among the Jews that became violent over the issue of Jesus Christ. Claudius expelled all of the Jews from Rome according to Acts 18:2. That took place about four years before they began to come back.

We also have the example of the Zealots in Judea who would recognize no king but God and they would not pay taxes. They did not think it was right for any Jew to pay a tax to a Gentile government. The people who thought like that were also in Rome so this was part of the background. I believe that's one of the reasons why Paul addresses the issue of taxation in Romans 13: 6-7. But this isn't the only passage that addresses this. There are a number of passages which address the mandate of the Christians submission to government.

In Mark 12:17 the religious leaders tried to corner Jesus and they asked him about the tax to Caesar. He said, "Well whose image is on the coin?" Of course they were trapped and they said, "Caesar." "Well, render to Caesar what is Caesar's," Jesus answered. Jesus validated the taxes. He doesn't question whether it is just or unjust, whether it's an overburdening system. He doesn't address the percentages. He just said they were to give to Caesar what is Caesar's. He validates the authority of the Roman Empire's laws regarding taxation.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 we're told, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties {and} prayers, petitions {and} thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior," We are to pray for our political leaders so that we may have peace, so we may go about evangelism and the training of believers without government interference. In Titus 3:1, "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed," It's the same verb used here as in Romans 13:1.

In 1 Peter 2:13-17 using again the same verb Peter says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. {Act} as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but {use it} as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king." There are other passages that give examples in relation to how believers are to handle the situation when they are under the authority of a corrupt, pagan government. So we're going to go into some of the examples, especially in Daniel.

Let's begin by just breaking down Romans 13:1-2. It's just one sentence in the Greek as opposed to three sentences that you'll see in your KJV or NKJV. Verses 1 and 2 represent one sentence in the original Greek. So Paul begins with a command addressed to every soul which means every person. This is a typical Jewish form of expression. "Let everyone be submissive to the governing authorities." The Greek word for be subject is HUPOTASSO. It's a present middle imperative. One of the uses of the middle voice is that it adds emphasis. This is a present imperative so that indicates this is to be a normal operating procedure in every believer's life. You can either restate it as a present imperative or an aorist imperative. The aorist imperative would say, "Make this a priority." Present imperative emphasizes to make it a standard operating procedure in your life. The verb HUPOTASSO means to subject yourself to an authority, to submit to an authority.

The word for governing here is actually a present participle used as an adjective and it means something that excels or something that is higher than something or something that is superior to something else. So Paul is saying to let every person submit themselves, or subject themselves, or be subject to the governing authorities. I like using it in the active sense of subjecting yourselves. It picks up that middle voice nuance. It's up to your volition to be submissive to the government and to submit to government authorities. The word for authority here is EXOUSIA which means authority or power. It refers ultimately to authority that is God-given. "So be subject to governing authorities" means to those who rule over the people. Now we have TASSO which is the idea that the authorities are all appointed by God so we see that there is a relationship there to something that is appointed and we are be subordinate and submit to that which is appointed.

Paul explains that the reason he makes the command is that there is no authority except from God and that the authorities that exist are appointed by God. That's making a pretty strong point here. As we read this we have lots of questions. What Paul is basically teaching is that God controls history and that no one secures a position of authority or rises to a position of leadership in government, whether it's lower or higher, apart from God. It may be God's permissive will but no one gets there apart from God's governance. The institution of government is not something just developed by mankind but it is a divine institution established by God. Therefore, human government, in and of itself, is good.

Now some of my acquaintances that tend to be of a more libertarian persuasion have really surprised me. They ought to know better; they've been taught better. I've heard them say that government is bad or government is evil. Well, you just called God a liar. Government in and of itself exists in the Trinity. There is a governing relationship of authority there. God established human government in order to restrain and restrict evil. Government in and of itself is not evil. There can be evil people who govern who have positions of authority and can make government abusive. But government is a righteous institution having been established by God.

 As a result of that, what Paul is saying is that the servants of God, those who are believers, should submit to its laws. He doesn't regard rulers as some kind of autonomous groups that just takes power apart from governance of God. Now that's a strong position. There are a number of people who want to challenge that because they see this as some sort of blank check for any tyrant to come along and say that no one has a right to check the authority of any tyrant. In answer to that we have to remember several things. First of all, Paul is writing in terms of general principles. He is not writing to deal with every particular situation that a person might find himself in. He doesn't address or resolve the problem of is it ever right to rebel against unjust tyranny. Or to what degree do you allow tyranny to be unjust before you do something? He doesn't address the issue of what to do when there are rival claimants to the crown or when there are conflicts between civil and religious authorities. He doesn't distinguish between legitimate and usurped authority nor does he go into when a successful rebel may be held to have become the legitimate ruler.

Paul doesn't talk about the situation when the state demands the citizen do something against the law of God. These are something we have to work out comparing Scripture with Scripture and evaluating different examples in the Scripture. The one thing that is clear is that all the New Testament writers are clear that we must obey God rather than man. God's Word has more authority than any human government. We get into the sticky wicket of "what does the Scripture actually mean?" You see it's that bothersome thing of hermeneutics that I talk about so much.

We have the same problem on the political side of the fence. What does the Constitution actually mean? You may not agree with a ruling from the Supreme Court but according to the law of our land the Supreme Court's ruling on how something is to be interpreted is the last and final say on that. You may even disagree that that's true but that's the way things are. That's what's accepted in the legal community today and whether we like it or not, that's where the structure it is, and that's what the authority says. That's why submission is difficult. Someone is asking you to do something you don't like. You think they're wrong and you disagree with them. If submission were easy, it wouldn't be a real conflict. But that's where the real problem lies. So we have to spend a lot of time talking about this.

Now in the next verse which continues the thought of the first Paul works out the implications of it when he says in Romans 13:2, "Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed [resists] the ordinance of God…" The word translated resists is the Greek word ANTITASSO. Notice the word is from TASSO and now ANTITASSO to resist or to oppose. What does it mean to oppose the authority? Does that mean to go marching against the government and throw Molotov cocktails at government forces or does that mean you can't even speak out against them in the public square? See we have to define what these concepts mean.

"Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God." The word translated resists the second time is the Greek word ANTHISTEMI, which is a different verb. In the English here they don't vary the verb, which they should have so you understand that a different word is used in the Greek. This word also means to oppose or to withstand. "Therefore whoever resists the ordinance of God…" The Greek word for ordinance is DIATAGE meaning a decree or an ordinance or a command. This is how God has established things. So this is saying that whoever resists the institutions of God, that is the divine institution of government, and those who resist will bring judgment or condemnation upon themselves. This is referring to divine discipline brought upon themselves.

Now as we see going through these first two verses the fundamental issue here that we have to wrestle with is the issue of submission. Whether it's the government or whether in the family or the place of employment, it's still submission. Let me tell you, if you have a problem with authority in one area it's going to show up in other areas of life. People who have problems submitting to authority don't just have trouble submitting to authority in one area. They have problems in other areas.

There are many people who lack the humility to submit to authority because they always know what's right. Now that's an extreme view. There are a lot of people in the contemporary political arena who are trying to figure out where does the submission stop and where does holding people accountable begin? That's a legitimate question but some people just basically have problems with authority. So let's start with understanding what the Scriptures teach about submission.

First of all, God is the ultimate authority over His creation. Therefore, we are all as God's creatures required to submit to God's authority. This is seen in passages like Hebrews 12:9, "Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?" This is teaching authority orientation in the home. This passage is drawing a correlation between a submission to a human father and submission to God the Father.

James 4:7 states it very briefly: "Submit therefore to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you." He goes on to say we are to submit to God and humble ourselves. Now as the ultimate authority in the universe God the Father will bring all things in subjection to Himself. There's the issue of rebellion here, which ties us back to the angelic conflict that Satan has rebelled against God so the ultimate and fundamental sin in the universe is rebellion against authority. Now that's what's important for us to pay attention to. That's why authority is such an important issue because the sin of rebellion is the sin of Satan.

That's why all through the Scripture an issue is made out of obedience to authority. It's not ultimately what we think about the authority but it's whether we are willing to obey that authority. If you have a problem with authority orientation in the home, in the workplace, the changes are you've got a problem with authority orientation to God. And it works both ways. So God will bring all things into submission to Himself, which is His working through history. 1 Corinthians 15:28, "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all." The first "Him" here is God the Father. The second "Him" is God the Son. See, even Jesus Christ who was perfect is in a position of submission to God the Father. So this issue of submission, whatever sphere you're in, is related to the attitude of the individual and not always to the righteousness or the authority over them.

Jesus has to be subordinate to the Father. Another verse is in 1 Corinthians 15:27, "For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET." This is also indicated in Hebrews, that the Father not only brings all of creation to submission to His authority but then He places that under the authority of the Son. It goes on to say that the Father is the exception. He is not placed under the authority of the Son. All of the words about subjection in these verses are the Greek word HUPOTASSO here. In verse 28 we again see that God the Son is subordinate to the authority of God the Father. The third point is that Christ, Himself, submits Himself to the authority of the Father.

So being submissive to an authority over you is not making yourself into a doormat. It's not somehow reducing your personhood. It's not somehow giving up something. This is sort of the mantra of the feminist movement and every other revolutionary movement in the twentieth century is that submission somehow makes the person who is submissive less equal to the authority. But Jesus is never less equal to the Father. He is equal in every aspect to the Father. He has equal attributes of Deity. When He submits to the Father it doesn't make Him less of a person, less significant. That's the line of the whole women's equal rights movement. It's to submit to a husband makes you less of a person. That's such a crock of biblical SKUBALON, or horse manure, in the Greek.

Point four is that all things will be subject to Christ and brought into His authority. This is seen in passages like Philippians 3:21, "That He is able to subdue all things unto Himself." Hebrews 2:8, "YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET." For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him." 1 Peter 3: 22 talking about the Ascension, "Who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him". So everything is brought under the authority of the Son eventually. Now that's in terms of subordination to the authority of God.

Point five is submission in relation to being a believer. Believers are to submit to the authority of human governing authorities. This isn't just in Romans 13. We see this all through the epistles from numerous writers. In Titus 3:1 Paul is writing to Titus and says, "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed," That's the same verbiage. The same verb there, HUPOTASSO to be subject to rulers and authorities.

Notice both words are in the plural. So it's not just restricted to the ultimate authority, just the American Constitution. We all know that the ultimate body of law in the U.S. is the Constitution. Everyone from the president down to the lowest citizen is accountable to the Constitution but the Constitution delegates and defines the role and authority of each member of government and limits their authority. But we are to submit to rulers and authorities. They're multiple. There are many different rulers and many different authorities. Not just the ultimate authority but everyone that is established by the Constitution. We are under local government all the way up to federal government. 1 Peter 2:13 says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority."

We have to remember here that there are exceptions. This is what happens when Peter and John are told not to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. They say, "We can't do that because we have to obey God rather than men." So there are exceptions so even though this passage looks like we ought to obey every law, that's not right. We don't. There are exceptions and we're going to see how to handle that as we go through this study.

Point six says we're supposed to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. Our ultimate authority is Jesus Christ. If you're a believer your ultimate authority isn't the U.S. Constitution, as near and dear as that is to us. Our authority is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. We're here as an ambassador for Christ to serve with a mission. That doesn't negate our individual citizenship. We have responsibilities as citizens that we have to perform. We have to be involved with government at every level and to whatever degree we can.

There's nothing wrong with political activism. Daniel and his friends were politically active to the degree that they could. We'll see that when we get to Daniel one and Daniel two. They didn't just sit on their hands and pray. That's what a lot of Christians think, "All we have to do is just pray about it." Well, you don't just sit and pray that your car will get repaired. You don't just sit and pray that the grass will get cut. We pray and then we have to act. We have to do what we're expected to do. We don't just fold our hands and pray and expect something to happen.

Daniel and his three friends when they were told they had to eat a diet that violated the Mosaic Law didn't say, "Okay we're going to hold a sit-in and we're not going to do anything." That's not the option they took. They didn't say, "Okay, we're going to pray about it and just let God handle it." No, they didn't take that action. Because they were slaves, and of course, U.S. citizens are not slaves so it's a different situation, but there are principles here we can apply. Because they were slaves their options were very limited and they had to think creatively about how to handle the situation. So they handled it by going to the authority and presenting them with a proposal that would allow them to violate the diet the Babylonians king wanted them to be on. So they challenged the law and they were active, by analogy politically active. They just didn't sit on their folded hands. They got involved within the system trying to change the system.

Our system's different. It allows a lot more action than they were allowed. But the authority that governs all of that is going to be the authority of God as Church Age believers subject to Christ. We're also to be subject to one another. Ephesians 5:21, "And be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." That doesn't mean we spend all of our time just being obsequious and saying, "Oh we'll do it your way." But we don't try to fight to get our own way all the time. It's not about us. We understand it's ultimately about glorifying God and so we're not out just to get our own way.

Point eight is that slaves are to be submissive to their masters. There's application there. It's not a one-to-one scenario but there's application there to employees and employers. I know there are some employees who feel like they're slaves but each employment situation is a different culture. Slaves in those days were to submit to their master. It doesn't say, "Submit to your master when they're good. " It doesn't say, "Submit to your master when you agree with them." It doesn't say, "Submit to your master when they're nice and when they treat you right." It just says to submit to your masters. Titus 2:9, "{Urge} bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." This means not to be a problem or a smart mouth. Don't always verbally challenge the authority of your boss. 1 Peter 2:18 says, "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable."

Now that has great application to understanding submission when it comes to marriage. That's tough for a lot of wives to submit to their husbands. The other side of it is that it's really hard for some husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. It's not dependent upon the individual. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Ephesians 5:24 says, "But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives {ought to be} to their husbands in everything." If you look around us today on a scale of one to ten, one being completely rebellious, and ten being completely submissive, how submissive is the Church to Christ? Probably about a four or three. Guess what? That's probably about the same number I would give to Christian wives being submissive to Christian husbands. Do you think there's a relationship? If you can't submit to Christ you're not going to submit to your husband.

We've got a real problem in marriages and authority in marriages in the Church today but it's just a manifestation of the fact that women can't submit to authority. I'm not picking on women. The men can't submit to authority either. They've got their own authority sphere. So Colossians 3:18, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." 1 Peter 3:1, "In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any {of them} are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior." It doesn't promise that they will be won. It's the old saying that "you attract more flies with sugar than with vinegar". Wives, if you're not submissive to your husband, you're going to have a much more difficult time ever communicating the gospel to them than if you are submissive. Titus 2:4-5, "So that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, {to be} sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

Then finally in 1 Peter 5:5, "You younger men, likewise, be subject to {your} elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility. That's the real bottom line issue, "For GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE". If you can't learn to submit to the right sphere of authority around you then that's because you've got a problem with humility and you think you know more than the person in authority. You think you know more than God because you're going to say, "God that's great for everybody to obey authority but you didn't really mean it in my case because if you knew what a loser this person is you wouldn't be asking me to submit to him. If you really understood how evil this Obama administration is you wouldn't be telling me to submit to it. If you really understood the horrible things that happened under the Bush administration, you wouldn't be telling me to submit to that authority." But these commands are not qualified. We're to be an example of authority orientation and humility to the angels and to man. We'll come back and look at his more in the coming weeks.