The Day Draws Near
Good evening and welcome to our Sunday Evening service!
For those watching this live or later on in the week, don’t forget to leave us a comment letting us know you stopped by.
And tonight we are going to continue with our “Walk Through Romans” and we are going to push forward now into chapter 13.
Which is going to be a bit of a challenge for us.
Because chapter 13 deals with two very specific subjects.
First, Paul is going to talk to us about the ruling authorities who are governing over us and how we should act toward them.
Second he is going to talk about the coming end of days and how we should be preparing for that end.
Both were not only relevant to the Christians living there in Rome during Paul’s day but also to each and every one of us who live, here in the United States of America today.
And not only here but across every nation, tribe, and village across the globe.
These are subjects which are relevant to Christians, wherever they find themselves and under whatever circumstance they find themselves.
And to just sort of prepare us for the direction we are going to be going in this evening, recall chapter 12 and the ending of it.
The very last verse we covered last Sunday night was Romans 12:21, that said this . . .
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And remember Paul is talking about how Christians should be acting and behaving around others in the world.
And how we act reflects not only on us but also reflects on Christianity.
He acknowledges that there will be bad things happen.
That there will be evil times and evil things that take place.
And remember when he says “evil” he is talking about sin.
And he is also reminding and challenging us to NOT fall into those very same traps that others have fallen into.
In fact, some of the other things he goes into are things such as . . .
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
And . ..
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
And . . .
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
All in an attempt to get us to keep the main thing the main thing.
All to get us to realize what is really at stake here.
All to get us to be the Christians we are claiming to be.
Which is very important because it sets the stage for what Paul discusses here in chapter 13.
So, let’s get right into it.
We will be covering all of chapter 13 this evening but I am going to be reading from verses 8-11 if you would like to follow along.
Paul writes this . . .
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Submitting to Authority (vs 1-7)
Submitting to Authority (vs 1-7)
Now, what I read was actually the main point of the entire chapter that Paul wants to get to and wants us all to understand and to take to heart.
But before he gets there he has to travel into the weeds a bit and deal with some things that are standing in the way of the people getting there and achieving what Paul is wanting them to achieve.
So he starts out here in verse 1 of chapter 13 . . .
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Now, that was a very hard pill to swallow for those that Paul was addressing here and it is also a very hard pill for us to swallow as well.
Paul is actually telling them in very plain language that they must submit to the governing authorities.
The evil, sinful, government.
The government that was allowing them to be persecuted and afflicted.
The government that was allowing all of this to happen to them..
They were to submit to their authority.
That is very hard to accept and very hard to do at times.
Not only in Paul’s day but in our day as well.
Think about all of the things that the government is involved in and what all the government allows to go on.
And yet, we are being told to submit to their authority?
We are not supposed to fight back? Fight for our “rights,” as we like to say?
No, we are not.
And there is no way in Scripture around this fact.
You can try and cherry-pick all day long, but the fact remains, scripture says what scripture says and we are to follow scripture.
Now, that does not mean you cannot voice your opposition to things the government does (policies and practices).
That does not mean you cannot vote for government leaders who hold the same views as you do.
That does not mean you cannot be an advocate for what you believe and point out the sin in government.
All of those things are permissible and all of those things are encouraged.
What this does mean though is that you cannot violate the law and you cannot act in an ungodly manner toward those in authority over you.
Paul plainly tells us that for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
And what that means is that God, in His sovereign will has allowed the authority to exist and we are to submit to that authority.
And sometimes it is like when Saul was anointed king by Samuel.
Samuel didn’t want to do it, but the people kept begging for a king and kept begging to be like everyone else.
And God told Samuel to let them have what they want and to not worry about it.
He also told Samuel not to think about it as the people rejecting Samuel and his authority as prophet, but rather the people were rejecting God and God’s authority and they would have to suffer the consequences of that.
And the same holds true for us today.
Evil and sinful politicians are elected because that is what the people choose.
They choose slick talk and empty promises over God and Godliness.
And they suffer the consequences.
And Christians by extension suffer the consequences as well.
However, the authority they have is legitimate authority and we are to submit to that authority.
Look what he says next in verse 2 . . .
Consequently, he who 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 he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent 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 because of conscience.
So, we are to obey the laws.
And if there is a law that is unjust then we are to approach it through the proper channels.
We are to submit to the government authority and we are to advocate for the change needed.
All the time, obeying the law, not defying it.
And sometimes, I will admit that line gets very blurry and hard to stay on the right side of.
But we have an obligation to God to do it.
And then everyone’s favorite verse of the Bible . . .
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.
Pay your bills and pay your taxes.
Don’t try to cheat and get out of it.
If you owe it, pay it.
Love Others-The Day is Near (vs 8-14)
Love Others-The Day is Near (vs 8-14)
Which actually brings us to Paul’s main point here.
Why in the world would he go to such lengths to talk about submitting to authority, paying taxes, and all that stuff?
Why is it so important?
Because it speaks to our witness as Christians.
Remember we are God’s ambassadors and people are looking to us to set the example of how God’s people act, or rather how they should act.
And also remember, our actions in life speak much more than any words we speak.
So, therefore our actions should always back up what we say.
Our actions should always be a reflection of God and God’s character.
So, with that in mind, Paul goes on toe verse 8 . . .
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow-man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
So, there it is.
It all goes back to Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And it all goes back to loving our neighbor that is different from us as ourselves.
It is really about showing the world the example of love that Jesus shows us.
It’s about showing others what it really means to be a Christian.
It is about not being ugly, unruly, crude, a trouble-maker, and all the things that reflect poorly on God.
Think about it, when you see people out there protesting and picketing what are they usually doing.
Yelling and screaming.
Holding signs with ugly messages.
Just being ugly and ungodly in general.
And then they throw in there, “we’re doing this for our Christian rights” or “it’s all for the glory of God.”
Well, acting that way brings no glory to God and all it does is make people not want to have anything to do with what you believe and what you are standing for.
And Paul says we are to not act that way.
There are proper channels and we are to follow them.
All things we do should reflect the love of God onto others.
Because that is our witness.
That is what opens the door for us to be able to share the gospel and the hope found in the gospel with others.
And if we cannot do that, then we probably just need to stay at home because all we are doing is bringing damage to the witness of God.
And Paul goes on to talk about why this is so urgent.
He says . . .
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has 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. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies 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 sinful nature.
In other words act like the Christian that you are claiming to be.
Be the person you say you are.
Be the example and ambassador of Jesus Christ you claim.
And tonight our challenge is pretty simple.
Are we doing that?
Are we acting in a Godly manner toward those in authority over us?
Are we following the law of love?
Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?
Even those neighbors who are different from us?
If we were put on trial for being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict us?
Are we reflecting Jesus Christ to the rest of the world?
And if we are not, are we willing to do something about it?
Are we willing to change that?
I’ve said it many times and I know it’s different in an online environment than in person, but we can still communicate with God.
We can still stop right where we are, make the place we are sitting an altar, and pray.
We can still communicate with God in the same way as we do when we are sitting with one another in a church building.
We can do that, if we will.
If the Holy Spirit has convicted your heart in any way, I would encourage you right now to stop where you are and pray.
Don’t click away from this service until you have made things right with God.
And if you need to talk it out, or if you need me to pray for you or with you, reach out to me.
Send me a message on Facebook, text me, call me.
But reach out.
Don’t let Satan isolate you and keep you away from other Christians.
And don’t forget about our plans to return to Sunday morning worship face to face on May 31st.
And right after this service ends, I will add that video in just as a refresher.
And as always, stay safe and we will see you next time.