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July 24, 2020 2:00 am
The Bible teaches believers how to be good citizens of their countries. And in the message "The Christian and Government," Skip shares why being a good citizen is honoring to the Lord.
This teaching is from the series Heart & Soul: A Study Through Romans.Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
God is honored when his earthly representatives are seen as stabilizers and society unravels the central issue here is basic a good Christian is a good citizen not only because there are laws that impose that on him but he says in verse five, for conscience sake, for a clear conscience.
The Bible is clear about the kind of citizens we should be in today on connect with Skip Heitzig Skip explains how you can honor the Lord with how you respond to government before we begin want to let you know about a resource that will help you gain the courage to pre-bold prayers and expect God to move in mighty ways.
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In particular, did not like motorcycles and young boys writing which I was one of my brother was the other so they pull us over a lot and and hassle us a lot and so they did like me and I was not particularly fond of them and then a little bit later I got a drivers license for a car. As I was getting that I was driving on the San Bernardino Freeway. I got pulled over by a police officer rolled down my window set on your offenses you are impeding traffic that you may have never heard that before, and perhaps is only happens in California by so what is that means is you going to stop. I said it probably only happens in California. So I sit offs I was doing the speed limit. He said I don't care.
The whole flow of traffic is going at the speed if you get in this lane and you slow down you are impeding traffic and that is a moving violation, I said Sir I promise you I will never let that happen again.
So because of that, because of my early altercations with the law.
Whenever I see a police officer now you know what I do I white knuckle the steering with. I just had a panic, which is sort of a reaction and I automatically looked down to what the speedometer if I got 75 I got a fumble 45.
I say praise God there's a servant of the Lord. So the purpose of the government is to protect and punish that takes us now to the fourth element that forms our relationship to human government that is the response to government. Now we already know what he said the basic responses to be and that is to be subject to line up under that authority. But he kinda flushes that out into a twofold response. Verse six and seven. Four. Because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers think of that IRS now is God's ministers. What you know that's a stretch, but it's in the word so I'm a go with it, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing where that's an understatement. That's all they think about is how to get my taxes, render therefore to all their due taxes to whom taxes are due custom student customs fear to fear honor to whom honor.
We are to have a twofold response number one. Government should be supported. Prepare taxes number two. Government should be respected. Honor to whom honor. Fear to whom fear listen Christian brother Christian sister in the very least, you and I need to be very careful how we speak about government authorities and political figures.
You may disagree with them, but you are bound by Scripture to honor and pray for them and if you talk about them. I hope most of your words are talking to God about praying for when Paul wrote the first to Timothy in first Timothy. He said this. Keep in mind again. Who's the Caesar on the throne in Rome near Paul says this to Timothy, I urge, then, first of all, that petitions prayers, intercession, and and Thanksgiving be made for all people for Kings and all who are in authority think Caesar Nero, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness in these verses. He mentions taxation now tax supports the function of government.
Even though some of our tax money may go for bad causes you can't say why not get a pay taxes if they're going to use my taxes for that. Oh yeah you will as they they bear a sword for that. However, you may complain about whatever taxes you have to pay. I just want to run again remind you of the taxation in the first century in Israel. They had a system of taxation call tax farming. What that meant is the Roman government gave the tax collector status to the highest bidder you bought the position. Whoever paid the most for it was granted the position Rome assessed the region for its taxation. They didn't care how much you is the tax collector collected as long as they got what they assessed you could get twice as much if you wanted to if you could and you could pocket the rest.
So with this kind of a system.
It was open for incredible abuse right one Roman writer even said only once in his life and it was in Athens that he ever see a monument to an honest tax collector because they were so rare. What kind of taxes that they pay me tell you about every citizen paid what is called the poll tax. The poll tax PO LL every male age 14 to age 65.
Every female age 12 to age 65 paid a poll tax with the poll tax. It's being tax on breathing air for being alive, age 12 or 14, 865 you pay the poll tax, such as for you, living on top of that, there was the income tax, a flat 10% rate on top of that were taxes for roads and harbors on top of that were import taxes on top of that were not done yet was the ground tax 1/10 of all the grain, or the proceeds of the grain. 1/10 of all of it went to Rome. 1/5 of all of the wine or proceeds went to Rome, then there was the fish tax the fish tax you are taxed on how many nets you would throw out into the lake or into the sea. You were then tax on every single fish that your net cost. On top of that there was called the cart tax. If you have a cart you were tax on the number of wheels you had on your car so the wheelbarrow was your friend. You get by putting everything in a one wheel vehicle, great. If you require for wheels to distribute weight would be tax for so people lived under this oppressive taxation by an oppressive government take into that world was born. Jesus Christ, the Messiah soon as he came. People thought most people thought he was a political Messiah.
They wanted him to kinda take political sides, the Jewish belief is that the Messiah will be a political ruler who will give them freedom from the oppressive yoke of Rome within Jesus spoke and he lived and he made no call for a political insurrection. He never tried to win a culture war. He never tried to overturn the tax code. He never really even address social issues and there were plenty of them to go around like slavery, like bad treatment of orphans. Bad treatment of widows was he aware of those things. Yes, they break his heart.
Yes, he knew the great needs but he did not come to enact a social revolution. He came for a spiritual revolution.
He came to save people because he knew if a person is saved.
That same person changes their lifestyle and so if you want to change a country get a person saved get that family saved get that community saved and that will spill out into a whole different way of life. That's what he did.
People were not happy with him doing that they still wanted him to take political sides so you had one group and another group to try to take to get him to be a political figure. There were the Pharisees.
The Pharisees hated the Romans. The Pharisees did what the pay taxes on the other hand, there were a group called her Williams member them in the New Testament. They were Judeans who believed in the loyalty to the family of Herod and the Roman government believe you should pay taxes, the Pharisees and the Herodian's hated each other until the day they didn't because they both hated Jesus the try to trap Jesus and asked him a question. Master Jesus is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not know what asking that question were to start a rebellion riot revolution. They wanted Jesus to take political sides, there's another group. Besides the Pharisees and the Herodian's or was up of volatile group known as the zealots reading about them in your New Testament zealots were Jewish nationalists.
They refused absolutely to pay taxes and a group of them staged terrorist attacks Mideast terrorism is not new group of the zealots called Saqqara EI.
They were dagger carriers and they staged terrorist attacks to kill the Roman oppressors would get this there rebellion was all based on Scripture. They would often quote the text out of Deuteronomy 17 you shall not set a foreigner over you who is not your brother so you got Pharisees and Herodian's and zealots in Saqqara EI all try to get Jesus into their little political thing. So this a master can you pay taxes to Caesar or not. Don't you love Jesus answer Matthew 2221 he said give me point held up. He said whose mug is on this point whose whose faces of whose inscription is on Sid Caesar's put it down. He said, and get to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God that ended their argument. He said yeah pay your taxes, but give to God what belongs to God. So back to Romans 13 God is honored when his earthly representatives are seen as stabilizers in society not revels the central issue here is basic. A good Christian is a good citizen, not only because there are laws that pose that on him but he says in verse five, for conscience sake, for a clear conscience. Speaking of a clear conscience of always love the story about the guy who had a guilty conscience. So he wrote the IRS.
The letter said. Dear Sirs, I cannot sleep. Last year when I file my income tax return.
I deliberately misrepresented my income. Now I can't sleep so enclosed is a check for hundred $50. Well you got pretty cool. He came clean, but he ended by saying if I still can't sleep. I'll send you the rest yet let let me just give you enough payment to ease my guilty conscience. If that doesn't work, I'll pay you what I really owe you. By the way, according to Forbes magazine 7 million Americans fail to file their income tax returns every year that's 5%. You can try to justify their wealth. They will spend the things I don't agree with. So what render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar render to God what belongs to God.
The point of Romans 13 as God is the ultimate authority and of the ultimate authority says submit to intermediate authorities. Guess what the you line up under them that this brings up an issue and I told you I get back to this.
Is there ever a time. Is there ever a time for civil disobedience. I'm glad you asked. That brings us to our fifth element that forms our relationship to human government.
I call this the rival against the government on a playoff a word in verse five. It's the word conscience.
Notice verse five. Therefore, you must be subject only because of wrath but also for conscience sake explained that quickly the context is that God has given us a conscience, a conscientious recognition that government is God given. So by submitting to authority that gives us a clear conscience generally. What about when it does, what about when the government violates God's law and we know that, and now we have an uneasy conscience.
What if the government is violating clear scriptural principles in your conscience is violating that I always live to have a clear conscience before God and men.
What if the state passes laws or policies that oppose God-given logs.
Let me make it more complicated picture your self. Put yourself in the shoes you are living in 1850s America you live in the South you happen to be the owner of a quite large plantation and you have working on your plantation. The number of people that are slaves. You will become a Christian and you're starting to seeing you sing a moral problem with this. This is wrong. Human should be owned and treated this way. I feel uneasy about this yet. This keeps the economy going.
It feeds my family but then you read in the newspaper that your area of the South is waging a war on the north to secede from the union. Woody did you stay in the South you you run across the line to the north.
Tomorrow the level we do with her. Let me move you ahead a little bit. You're a politician in 1930s Germany everybody so excited about this new ruler.
This furor at off Hitler and his third Reich. It seemed so promising at off Hitler gets a hold of you and offers you a high-ranking position in his third Reich, but you come to realize that he has an incredible antipathy to the Jewish people and you come to realize this is wrong, morally what he says about them. He says he's planning for them but as a believer you remember Romans chapter 13 be subject to governing authorities and maybe you even justified by saying well you know Daniel was able to work in a very ungodly political environment. So is Joseph with Pharaoh for that matter so is there ever a time when believers obligation to civil authority is negated. Yes yes yes. And here's the rule. Here's the principle we submit to the government up to the point when obeying the government means disobeying God when the government says don't do this, and God says do it you do it and disobey the government if the government says the opposite to violate a clear command of God, you obey God. Are there scriptural examples of this tons of them. I'll spare you all give you only five or 61 Pharaoh was in charge.
He was the powers that be. He gave a law. He ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the newborn baby boys who were Hebrews were that it said no. They refused to obey. Exodus chapter 1, but the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded that civil disobedience second example Nebuchadnezzar ordered Daniel and all have his Jewish recruits to eat the delicacies from his table. Daniel was a kosher Jewish boy Daniel chapter 1, but Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with a portion of the Kings delicacies or the wine which you civil disobedience third example, the same king Nebuchadnezzar commanded an image to be built a golden image commanded everybody in the realm to bow down before that image were three Hebrew workers on his staff. Shadrach me shack and Abednego we know them by their Babylonian names or Hebrew names, and I am shy on Azariah, they said no way, Josť. They refuse to do it and took the consequence of death.
That was the case in Daniel chapter 3.
They said we do not serve your gods, nor worship the golden fast forward a few years to a new king in Babel name Darius Darius made a decree that for a month for 30 days. No one could pray to any other God except himself. The Babylonian God. Daniel refused to do and in Daniel chapter 6, he opened his windows toward Jerusalem, so he's inviting eyes to come in and liked see what I'm doing. I can do it. Watch you open the windows toward Jerusalem knelt down on his knees three times that day praying and gave thanks before God, almost cost him his life. Here's another one. Fifth one. The Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that the powers that be in Jerusalem mandated a law passed a law that you could not speak the name of Jesus publicly anymore and that's it, Peter and John found out such that, go out right now it's the gospel. They went out and did it get arrested on the powers that be said what are you doing this we gave an order we give a command. It's a law I love their answer acceptor five. We must obey God rather than man that is civil disobedience because it will be a man would be to disobey God.
This, it would rather offend you and take the consequences that offend God. There are other examples we could point to.
We could look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who violated laws that Nazi Germany pass. He was killed for the talk about William Wilberforce taking the laws in Great Britain of slavery to overturn them in the parliament.
Erica talk about that next week but you and I are confronted with issues today laws on same-sex marriage laws on abortion. We are confronted with a society that says this is okay.
We don't know.
Here's the rule we close with this here is the rule. A Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian several record some all of the we set up a Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian in closing, you know, we could we could discuss all day. The idea of our relationship with government and what about this. What about that but there's there's a bigger issue in a work or talk about what should I render to Caesar you know Jesus said render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but would also be said render to God belongs to God.
Silicone Lane may have the image of Caesar stamped on it.
You have the image of God stamped on your made in the image of God. God wants you. You should surrender your life to him. That's what God wants. That's where we begin that's where we should all begin.
In subjection, and submission to the one who is stamped his image on us as a special creation that Skip Hyson message from his series partnership now here Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and others to God's word when Jesus came to this earth.
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