Saturday, February 21

Romans 13 and our Constitution

Romans 13:1 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.

In our system of government we are subject to the laws that governing authorities implement. We are subject to laws and not to men. It is a gross error to consider this passage as a mandate to submit to the agenda and policy preferences of a president or other leaders that are mere proposals. We have no biblical obligation to pray that policies that we do not agree with become law, even if such laws do not violate Christian ethics. Only when policies become law do we have any obligation to submit.

In our system of three equal branches of government the legislative branch is responsible for passing laws, and a Christian satisfies this passage by opposing or being for any bill that comes before congress as long as it does not violate the Law of Christ. Our Christian framers designed our system because they knew that power corrupts, and they wanted to divide power as much as possible. This verse does not bind American Christians to praying for the agenda of a president to be successfully implemented. Since Congress is an equal branch with the executive branch, Christians have ever right to pray that congressional representatives who oppose the president’s agenda will be successful. The bottom line of such a prayer would be that a president’s policy agenda proposals would fail to be enacted as law. This does not violate anything that Christians are called to do in Romans 13. In our system we submit to laws and not to men!

Even after agendas become law, Christians have the freedom to work to get such laws reversed even while they are peacefully submitting to them. They do this by lobbying their representatives and voting for and against people who agree with their ideology. This is called liberty and it is the system of government that our Christian forefathers fought and died to implement. We are under no biblical obligation to refrain from legally opposing and working to reverse laws we oppose. Perhaps we would under a king, but under our constitution we are given legal rights to petition and change laws that we do not like!

I am perplexed that even conservative Christian clergy think it is our mandate to joyfully submit to and pray for the agenda of the Obama administration to be successfully implemented into law, even where it is against our personal beliefs. I wish they would consider Romans 13 in context with our constitution rather than in context with a monarchy.

Sunday, February 1

Romans 2:13-16

Romans 2:13-16 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (14) For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. (15) They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (16) on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

To be justified before God, it did the Jews absolutely no good to have, hear, and know the law unless they obeyed it. And, as Paul explained in verse 12 this obedience must be perfect. Even the Gentiles, who did not have the law, had by nature a sense of right and wrong that was written on their hearts. Therefore, Gentiles are also guilty before God in violating the law written on their hearts by sinning against what they know to be wrong. Their consciences bear witness by accusing them of doing wrong and excusing them when they do right. The ability to recognize good confirms knowledge of what is wrong.

Sin is the problem that both Jew and Gentile share in common, and they are both guilty before God. There are no innocent Jews who perfectly keep the law and there are no innocent Gentiles who perfectly obey their sense of right and wrong written on their hearts. This means there are no innocent natives on remote islands. Sin and evil doing is shared in varying degrees by all of humanity.

On judgment day God will judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. This judgment will be on the basis of works as verse 6 pointed out. Since God does not grade on a curve, all of mankind who stand before God based on their imperfect works will be judged guilty. In verse after verse of Romans 2, Paul is making the case that man has no hope of salvation in and of himself with or without the law. The message is to abandon all hope in ones self and to look to the good news that begins in Romans 3.