Topic: Submission to the Govt. in Rom. 13. Paul speaks about how we are to live in response to Christ and His love for us. The govt. was established to stop anarchy, give structure to society and protect the citizens, but as with anything man gets involved with it gets corrupt and it certainly was in Paul's day as Rome was persecuting Christians intensely. Paul exhorts us to submit: meaning to arrange under or put under another's authority, it is a military term used as a lower ranking officer yields to a higher commander. The reason he gives is that God established the authority, and to resist them is really to resist God. God even used a wicked King like Nebuchadnezzar to fulfill his purposes. Paul states if we submit and follow the laws of the land we have no fear of punishment our conscience is clear and we can be productive citizens. Paul also states 3 times that Love is fulfilling the Law, we are called to love those in govt. even if we disagree with them. If we love them we will respect them and be the model citizens we are called to be. The apostle Peter reiterates this exhortation in 1 Pet. 2:13-14 to submit to EVERY authority instituted among men. The only exception to this is when the govt. tries to force us to do something contrary to the Word of God like speak of Jesus as we see in Acts 5:29 where Peter says "We must obey God rather than men."
Jesus Teaching: Jesus also lived in a corrupt society yet he said to render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. (Luke 20:25) Jesus could have come up with a thousand reasons to rebel against Rome but He did not. Jesus the Son of Man actually put Himself under the Roman rule even to the point of crucifixion. So if He did should we do any less? The fact is we do live in a corrupt governmental society which funds abortion, supports homosexual marriage, and legalized drug use but that does not mean we do not have to submit to their authority for God has placed them over us for this time.
Today's Issue in the Church: I chose this teaching because I see a very real issue in the church today regarding the legalities of marriage in the Christian community especially among older divorced people who begin new relationships. We always think of young couples living together before marriage but there is a lot of older people doing it too. The reasons are much different though. Most of the time it is for insurance and benefit purposes that they do not want to get remarried. I have had couples say to me well marriage is before God right, so why do we have to get legal papers from the state? As long as we say some vows before God we will be married in His eyes, the govt. is messed up anyway. They will say people in other countries just have the preacher and the couple present as they say vows no paperwork is required and it's acceptable there. To this we must answer as Paul and Jesus did if PA requires a legal contract to be married you must go through due process. We see legal contracts in the O.T. Dt. 24:1 and in the N.T. Mt. 5:31 to protect the woman in case of divorce. I believe the bottom line is this: a legal marriage contract by the state is NOT asking us to go beyond nor does it oppose the Word of God, and if anything it helps solidify and protect the covenant of marriage so YES you must go through the legalities of marriage according to the law of the land and YES living together unmarried is still sin, so why not comply and watch God bless your commitment.