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Discipleship Includes Submitting to Government – 14 Mar 2015

We again have elections in Israel next week to choose who will be the next PM and lead the country.  As most of us know, politics in Israel are very complicated, and the world we live in here demands a heavy emphasis on defense and security needs, even as there is also the necessity of providing for the welfare of all her citizens and residents with equity.  Israel has yet to find that right balance, but by the grace of the God of Israel, the country has a quality of life that is exceptional for most segments of society.

Being believers in the God of hope, who fills us with hope and peace through our faith in Messiah Yeshua, we are called to become His disciples in all things.  Yeshua is Head over all things to the Church (the Body of Christ).  One of those “things” is submission to the governing authorities.

In every country there are governmental systems, and wherever we live, or even tour, we come under the laws and customs of that country.  Sometimes they may be similar to; other times very different – positively or negatively.  As believers who have received the grace of God, we are called to be a cause for good wherever we are as disciples of the Lord who acknowledges all those in power.

Rom 13:1-14  Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God.  (2)  So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of God; and the ones who resist will receive judgment to themselves.

(3)  For the rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the bad. And do you desire to be not afraid of the authority? Do the good, and you shall have praise from it.  (4)  For it is a servant of God to you for good. For if you practice evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain; for it is a servant of God, a revenger for wrath on him who does evil.

(5)  Therefore you must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.  (6)  For because of this you also pay taxes. For they are God’s servants, always giving attention to this very thing.  (7)  Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due.

(8)  Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law.  (9)  For: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not lust;” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (10)  Love works no ill to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.

(11)  This also, knowing the time, that it is already time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.  (12)  The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  (13)  Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in carousings and drinking; not in co-habitation and lustful acts; not in strife and envy.  (14)  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not take thought beforehand for the lusts of the flesh.

We serve another King – Jesus – whose kingdom if not of this world.  The apostle Paul’s admonition to us to submit to the governing authorities even brings in the expectation of the Lord’s return as the hope set before us for God’s kingdom of righteousness to be established.  Remember, when Paul wrote this epistle, the believers in Rome were living under the  rule of Caesar then, and they came under severe persecution for their faith in Jesus as Lord.

Today we live at a time that is increasingly witnessing persecution of both Jews and Christians (both are witnesses of the one true God), yet as disciples of Messiah, we are called to respect those in authority, to keep the laws, to pay our taxes – all because we serve the Sovereign God over all these kings of the Earth.

Paul writes here that if we do good, we do not need to fear the authorities, who are responsible for punishing law-breakers.  This, too, is their God-given duty.

Jesus and the apostle Peter warned us, though, of the real possibility of suffering wrongfully at the hands of our masters and governments, even though we do good. (Mt 5:10-12; 1Pt 2:18-25)  If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, or for the name of Jesus and the gospel, then we are to rejoice, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example. He did not return evil for evil, but desired their repentance and salvation.

We are challenged throughout our lives as believers to apply God’s commandments in every aspect of life.  We are not called to overthrow governments, but to obey the Lord, trusting Him, resting in His sovereign wisdom and grace.  We are called to love one another, fulfilling God’s Law.  We are not allowed to live in a manner that would contradict the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, but to govern ourselves to live acceptably to God as disciples of our Savior.

God is working to save people, and all things good and evil serve towards this objective before the Lord Yeshua executes His righteous judgments on those who refuse God’s way back to Him, and to submit to Him with thanksgiving.  Our prayer is for the name of God our Father to be sanctified, and for His Kingdom to come at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s close by reciting the prayer which our Lord has taught His disciples.

(Mt 6:9-13)

Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  (10)  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  (11)  Give us this day our daily bread;  (12)  and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.  For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

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