Connected – Week 3 – Authorities Matter

Romans 13:1-10

How many of you want to be like your parents when you grow up? How many of you say, “I will never do that when I have kids?” Do any of your parents have a rule that you absolutely hate? Ugh…my mom used to make me eat lima beans. And I couldn’t get up from the table until I ate them. Other than that, I was a perfect child.

Recap of our relationship series: Our relationship with God is our most important and most foundational relationship. But, it is played out through all of our other relationships. We cannot separate our relationship with God from our relationship with others. And we asked the crucial question – the question that is guiding this whole series: Is the way I act towards others, in each one of my relationships, accurately reflecting who God is?

Last week we looked at one of these relationships – relationships with friends. We saw that we should avoid unhealthy relationships and establish healthy ones. We read Proverbs 13:20 which says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” We saw that the friends we choose to have matter and will determine the direction and quality of our lives.

Tonight, we’re looking at another one of these relationships – relationships with those in authority.

Turn to Romans 13:1-7. What we’re going to do is walk through these verses and see the significance they have in our lives and in these relationships.

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

13:1 – This is the basis of this message. God is the ultimate authority. Even more than that, God is the only authority. God is the only One who is truly in charge. Nobody else is, even if they think they are. Kings even do the bidding of the sovereign hand of God…He moves them like puppets. It’s Sesame Street to Him. Big Bird thinks he owns the place – nuh uh – He moves as God pleases – He doesn’t own the street, God does. Any authority that someone has has been given by God. So, when we obey authorities, we obey them not because of that authority, but because of the authority that put them there.

“Those that exist have been instituted by God.” So, what are these authorities that exist?This is how we’re going to break them down: Parents and Other authority figures (teachers, law enforcers, bosses, etc.). God has placed them in authority, so we must be subject to them – we must obey them – submit to them.

13:2If you resist an earthly authority, you are resisting the heavenly authority. If you resist authority, you Will incur judgment. Judgment is getting what you deserve. If momma is cooking and says, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot.” What are you going to do? Well, some of you are going to touch it, cause momma don’t know what she’s talking about. “Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know whatcha gonna get.” Well, if you touch that stove, I know what you’re gonna get, and so does momma! You’re going to get burned! If you disobey authorities, you will get what you deserve. And you’re not only resisting them, you’re resisting the One that put them there. This leads us to the next verse.

13:3If we obey authorities, we don’t have to worry about facing the penalty of disobedience. Living this way is actually more free. Maximum freedom is found under God’s authority. Rules are not to restrain us. With Adam and Eve there was one rule. Satan deceived them into thinking they weren’t actually free. What ensued was Leviticus…the outcome was Tons of rules. But these rules, these “Shall nots” are God’s way as it was in the beginning. If we could only live this way, we would have freedom as they had. If I’m speeding while driving, I’m constantly looking for a cop and it’s exhausting! I can drive more freely within the speed limit – with no worries. If you’re constantly afraid someone will find out your sin – you are living with regret, with fear, with shame. Living according to God’s authority and rules frees you from all of that – it doesn’t hinder you. Maximum freedom is found under God’s authority.

13:4Those in authority are there for our good – our benefit. Remember, God knows what will burn you. Mom isn’t keeping you from something when she makes the rules – she is protecting you. It’s the same with God.

13:5How you act towards those in authority has major effects on your spiritual life. Your spiritual life is affected by how you are in relation to the authority figures in your life. If you are at odds with your parents, you will not feel close to God. If you are constantly rejecting the authority of your teacher, you will not feel close to God. If you constantly break laws, you will not feel close to God. You will not feel close to God because you are not fully submitting to God’s authority over your life. And you’re not submitting to God’s authority over your life because you’re not submitting to the authorities that God has placed in your life.

13:6-7We are to honor those in authority not because of them but because of God. But, what if those in authority are bad? What if the rule is not for your betterment? What if your parent is actually mean and just made a mean rule? I have a simple yet complex answer…well, two answers 1) If they are causing you to do something contrary to the Bible…you disobey, because the Bible and God is your ultimate authority. We can see an example of this in the story of Daniel when he is told to worship an idol. 2) If it is any other incident, obey that authority, no matter how insane it may seem. Jesus did this when He was arrested and crucified. He told Peter not to retaliate. Your consistent obedience in light of even being wronged may even bring that person to Christ.

Now, I must make a side note here – I feel led to tell you this – yes, you are a product of your family – no you did not pick your family – But if you have a dysfunctional family, you do not have to be a byproduct of the dysfunction. In Christ, you can break the cycle of dysfunction. I am reminded of the Kings in the Chronicles. Amidst the dysfunctional kings, you would have the likes of a Josiah, doing what was pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.

With all that said – all that about authorities and obeying and for our benefit and not harm – and maximum freedom is found under God’s authority, I get it, but what does that have to do with our Connected theme? What does that have to do with loving God and loving others? What does this have to do with showing God’s true nature through our relationships?

13:8-10In obeying these authorities, we are fulfilling the Law – the law to love. In obeying these authorities, we are loving God and we’re loving those that God has divinely placed in authority over us. Each time we obey an authority, we are being Christ-like, who though He was God, He submitted to God and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. He submitted to the will of God to bring Him to that place of ultimate submission to the ultimate Authority – And it was all for you – because He loves you – So you can be with Him for eternity – So you can submit to His authority – He was obedient when you weren’t and because you weren’t.

Philippians 2:1-111 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It all starts right now for you with submitting to the Ultimate Authority.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.