Sunday, April 19, 2020

Civil Obedience for "Christians"

Today = resume study of Romans

Review:  Paul's letters often = (!) doctrine first
                                             (2)  then practice/application
(Ie:  he lays the foundation BEFORE he builds the house!)

ie:  he starts out with "what God/Christ have done"
then goes to "therefore this is how you should live"

Chapter 1-11 = foundation (doctrine)
Chapter 12-15 = practice  (application)

Remember:  when we started this section I said "there's gonna be things here you don't like!"
So.......... TODAY!!!

Subject:  "Civil Obedience for "Christians"
or "Honor the governmental authorities over you"

Relevant???  COVID-19 = stay at home?  shut down non-essential business?  Church?  drive-ins?
Every state and the Federal Government have declared an emergency.
Question?  how far can they go in enforcing these?  (constitutional questions, issues)
Question?  for Christians .... how should we respond to that???
(Biblical question???)
stay at home  (safe at home) rules
closing 'non-essential' businesses
church gatherings!?  drive-in services??

How should Christians respond??
Rom. chapter 13 does NOT give specific answers, does not have boundaries and limitations, not written to a contagious virus situation, BUT it does give clear General instructions.

Given (1) our naturally rebellious nature (Rom. 3:23)
          (2)  our constitutional freedoms  (as Americans)
          (3)  our independent, "whatever it takes", rural life style  
          (4) our own selfish desires.....

then we're mostly not gonna like what we find here!!!!!

Text:  Rom. 13:1-7    I want a 2nd. opinion!!!
1 Pet. 2:13-17

This is not hard to understand (ie: what's written)
BUT ... sure is hard to practice!!   And to know where to draw lines!!

Some quick observations:

#1.  This does not mean Absolute Obedience!! - Paul expects his readers to know this!!
Example:  Peter an John before the Sanhedrin - Acts 4:18-20 - we are bound to be civilly disobedient in this case.
          Response of the church?  Acts 4:29
          Response of God?          Acts 4:31 - sign they were doing right.
Examples:  Jewish midwives?  Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednigo?  Daniel and 'prayer'?

#2.  The issue here = response to laws/demands by government authorities .... which are NOT directly contrary to God's Word!  (God's will/ God's revelation)
examples:  game laws, seat belt laws, speed limits, taxes, COVID=19 restrictions!!  Matt. 22:17-21

Bible Rule = OBEY ... when and where you can!! regardless of personal opinion or preference!!!

Rom. 12:18 - can speak out against, but don't be actively rebellious unless it is contrary to God's Word.

Why has God commanded this??
(1)  government = essential to man's well being  (contrast - anarchy, chaos)

(2)  government has power to punish and/or reward - don't create trouble for self unnecessarily

(3)  "for conscience sake" - may not feel bad about disobeying government ... BUT.... disobeying the Lord??
   We should feel guilty for disobeying God's rules.

(4)  "for the Lord's sake" - which includes witness; testimony; for the sake of the Gospel!!
example:  sign out front "Drive Thru Service" = so we won't appear rebellious .. unnecessarily!!  1 Pet. 2:15
Matt. 17:27 - "so we may no offend"

OBJECTION !  our government = a Non-Christian government run by people who are not Christians and not interested in Christian beliefs and morals at all.
Answer:= in paul's day (55 AD) there were ZERO Christian governments, societies!!

Objection!!  Government authorities are not always right!!
Answer = those issues are not MORAL in and of themselves!  Example:  required to have car insurance.

Question??  if not moral, then why must I obey?
Answer = God has made it a moral issue ... when HE said "obey"!!!  unless it clearly violates His moral Word.

More Observations:

You don't have to like it ....But if God commands it???  Who's your Lord??  God passes it down.

We'll draw lines, define limits different from one another, BUT be careful here!!
The Real issue is not are you defying the government authorities, but - are you defying ... THE LORD???

Peter summarizes well - 1 Pet. 2:16 - don't use your 'freedom' to indulge your rebellious tendency!!
                                     1 Pet. 2:17 - show due respect - love the brothers, fear God, honor the King!!!

Whether in COVID or not... the ultimate question remains the same ....

 IS Jesus your LORD???

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