A Voice in the
"Let every soul be subject to higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, but the existing authorities have been ordained by God." (vs1)
God "ordains" atheistic communism? Fascism, emperor-worship and muslim theocracies are "ordinances" of God? When Noah's descendents built Babel, God says, "and now all which they have purposed to do will not be restrained from them." (Gen11:6) He confounds the languages and "scatters them..over the face of all the earth." (vs8) Genesis ch10 tells the origins of all the national entities of the world. And the division of the earth into continents. (Gen10:25,1Ch1:19)
When Paul says "ordained", this means each national entity has been "assigned, appointed" it's domain. "And He made every nation of men of one blood, to live on all the face of the earth, ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling, to seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and might find Him.." (Acts17:26-27) You see, when man was all together, "united", they set about to build Babel which became a world-wide system of idolatry. When man was all "one" language, they chose to rebel against God. So He split mankind up into nationalities...for what purpose? To give the opportunity to seek after Him, instead of false gods. While we already know about -individual- choices regarding following God or rejecting Him; there also seems to be a "national" component to God's dealings. There is God's special chosen (elect) nation of Israel. And we know from prophecy how God is going to restore her, infusing her heart with His Laws. But there is also to be a judgment of nations as we see in Matthew 25:31-46. Their judgment is based on their behavior towards Israel. All the nations in their "seasons and boundaries" are also playing out their roles; -as- national entities.
Let us, here, take a couple of paragraphs to digress from 'Romans 13' a moment. This study begins the year 2000. All the past preparations for global unity are going to escalate even faster this year. Unity in world politics and government, and religion. Prophetically we know that the world is in a count-down to the time of God's judgment and wrath, and notice what it is doing. Just like the "days of Noah" (Mt24:37), man is UNITING. When man united after the flood, he went into idolatry, in REBELLION AGAINST God. God separated man IN ORDER THAT he might have opportunity to "seek after God".
Now, after all these millennia, man is uniting again...big time. And the -religious- nature of this unity can be demonstrated by the words of a song a local banking establishment has been using in it's TV ads, "As each day dawns the morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are.." The song then breaks off into a cacophony of adults and children expressing the various kinds of people who make up "who-we-are" and the song then ends with "..and we are one.." Sun-worship, with the name "morning star". The "Root and Offspring of David" is called the "Morning Star". (Rev22:16) Yes, a good part of this unity is being -called- "christian". The -spirit- of antichrist (1Jn4:3) which is "already in the world".
Do not be deceived. You will feel "tugs" from all quarters to "unite" with this, and "unite" with that. That we can all be "one" humanity. All the -different- religions are "one". All the -diverse- ethnicities are "one". There is no more difference in gender, either, as that is all mixed up and swapped around; hetero, homo, cross-dressing, sex changes... just mix it all up into one hodgepodge... in rebellion against God's order of "male and female". (Gen1:27) Sex is supposed to be between -a- man and -a- woman, the gender God ordained them when He formed them in the womb. (Ps139:16) Do not be deceived: all these pushes for "unity" are -NOT- Godly. Just as in the days of Noah, they are unified REBELLION against God.
OK; now back to Romans 13...
However, within these regional entities, -individual- Believers exist, as part of the definition of "every soul". We live like other humans within these nations. While we know that our "citizenship is in heaven" (Phil3:20) and we are "ambassadors" for Christ (2Cor5:20), we are not to assume some position -above- these God-appointed national entities. Remember in the previous chapter Paul exhorts us not to "have high thoughts beyond what is right to think." (12:3) And so, as "humans" (being in the flesh), we are exhorted to submit to these God-appointed national entities.
Certainly, God does not 'approve' of communism's atheism. The muslim countries that seek to push Israel into the Mediterranean will be judged by God, as prophesied. China, which persecutes Believers, is not honoring to God. But those things are not concerns to the Believer. We are not to be high-n-mighty and retort, "Hmph! They don't fear God! So I'm not going to obey their laws!" No! When the regime says, "pay taxes", the Believer pays taxes. Remember how Jesus sent Peter to "go fishing" for the tax money. (Mt17:27)
These entities are set up for "order" on the earth. When man does whatever is "right in his own eyes" (Jdg21:25) without a king (or some ruling entity), the whole earth becomes full of "violence" (Gen6:11). Just think what would happen if there were no laws or order regarding traffic; people would drive any ol' way they like (more than they already do), and there would be multiplied times -more- accidents than there already are. And what happens when people don't follow the rules? The person who doesn't seem to know it's his "turn" to go at that intersection, sits there...and others knowing it's his turn sit, waiting for him to follow the rules and "take-his-turn"...and so traffic gets held up, and drivers get irritated.
Thus, God has given these atheistic, humanistic governments "authority". If you went through that stop sign and the policeman pulls you over, he is God's authority to reprimand you. When the ticket says to appear before the judge, you had better keep the appointment, otherwise you will experience the ruler's "terror". (vs3) 'Ever notice on the freeway when a patrol car is there, you see a lot of brake lights. He might be driving under the speed limit, but guilty consciences cause people to not 'dare' to pass him; so they will bunch up -behind- him. Now, a person with a clear conscience, being used to regularly obeying the traffic laws, will have no problem to continue at the speed limit, and yes, -pass- the officer. He's not "afraid" of the law, because he habitually keeps it. He goes on around, and the officer does not pull him over. He is obeying the law. He drives along in peace.
Now, in keeping with what we learned in ch2, even though these regimes are atheistic/humanistic, they -do- maintain many of God's laws. Remember how God's Law is written in the heart of every person from birth. It is called "conscience". (2:14-15) So, even Russia and China have laws against murder, adultery, stealing, etc. (vs9) As Believers, it should not be difficult at all to keep clear of the law. To avoid having to appear before a judge for wrong-doing. Moral laws a nation enforces are God's laws already. Civil laws govern the smooth operation of a society. And even in that, we still come back to the basic law Jesus quoted, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Lev19:18) Only thing, a Believer who is living righteously finds this easier to do, because he is already living with the "renewed mind".(12:2) His outlook is to not think "highly" of himself.(12:16) He is already looking out for others first; by virtue of the fact that he is a Christian. He is not going to perpetrate "road rage" because he is already of a mind-bent to "give place to wrath" (12:19) as he even "yields to the lowly." (12:16) A person of such a mind will not be in "trouble" with the law, will he. A Believer will not steal because "love does not work evil to the neighbor". (13:10) The very essence of a Believer, thus, is a person who is a "law-abiding citizen".
"Also this, knowing the time, that it is now the hour for you to be aroused from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed." (vs11)
Well, I thought we are SAVED, and that's it. God saved me, keeps me, satisfied me; and now I'm "eternally secure"! Hmph!! What's Paul talking about, that our salvation is "near[ER]"? Either you have it, or you don't. Right? A couple years ago somebody unsubscribed with a rather snide note, reacting to a comment I had made, something to the effect of Salvation being a "process".
You see, as long as we are still in these bodies of "corruption" (1Cor15:50-54) we cannot get to heaven. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God". When we come to God in repentance and receive Jesus' work of salvation on our behalf, from which "nothing" will "separate" us (Rom8:35-39), what we have is a "promise". When we "believed" we "were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise". (Eph1:13) And so we now have the "hope of eternal life" because of His "[saving] us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit". (Tit3:7,5) We are "heirs" and "joint heirs with Christ". (Rom8:17) But we have not yet received our inheritance. We are "on our way" to heaven, but we are not yet there. Thus, Paul's yearning was expressed, "also we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly expecting adoption, the redemption of our body." (Rom8:23)
So, Paul says, "Also this, knowing the time... Jesus had said, "when you see all these things, know that it is near at the doors." (Mt24:33) All the indications of the time of God's judgment. As the world is busy uniting against God, the Believer is exhorted to "be aroused from sleep". Remember Jesus' story of the 10 virgins who were sleeping, and then the midnight cry came and it was time to go into the wedding feast. (Mt25)
What is the exhortation for being ready? To get busy and "win more souls"? No. "Cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the weapons of light." (vs12) Behave like "children of light". (vs13, Eph5:8) No, it is not sufficient to come to God "just as you are" retaining all your sin and evil ways! We are to behave "becomingly" not carousing, getting drunk, and being promiscuous. As we have the "hope" of being "like Jesus", our response is to "purify [ourselves]". (1Jn3:3) After all, this coming "salvation" we await is the occasion where we meet Jesus Christ, as we see Him just as He is, and our corruption changes into incorruption as we become "like Him". Jesus is pure. How can we break His heart by living in the world's debauchery, all the while knowing that His return to "receive us" (Jn14:3) to be with Himself is -SO- IMMINENT!
How do we accomplish this, to be ready? "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not make forethought of the flesh, for its lusts." (vs14) This expression "put on" is like putting on a coat. Being clothed. Yes, in our spirits Christ is "in" us (Col1:27), and we are "in Christ" (2Cor5:17), the Holy Spirit residing in us. (Rom8:9) These are our "spiritual" relationship with Christ. But -physically- being in the world yet, living under the world's authority, living exemplary lives as law-abiding people; we live these lives in the flesh. How do we live pure lives? Well, there's the old expression, "The clothes make the man." If our -renewed- minds are engrossed in nothing but Jesus Christ, and thus, figuratively, we have "put Him on" like we do a coat, the world will not see us. They will see Jesus. Of the early disciples it was noticed that "they were with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) Jesus was 'clothing' them in word and deed.
Thus, we do not engage in the things of the world, because our minds are not on the world. They are on the "things above, not the things on the earth." (Col3:2) We don't make plans (provision -nkjv/kjv) for sin, nor do we dabble "near" the world's enticements. And we -certainly- don't go bringing them into our worship assemblies!
"Let us walk [live] becomingly." Amen!