A CHRISTIAN’S CIVIL RESPONSIBILITIES

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[Romans:13:1-14]; [Romans:14:1-23]; [Romans:15:1-33].

Lesson No.: 
388
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).

Cross References: 

I Subjection to Magistrates
1. Civil government is in accordance with the laws of God and should be obeyed, [Romans:13:1-2]; [Titus:3:1];I Peter:2:13, 14.
2. Rulers preserve law and order and therefore we should respect them, [Romans:13:3-7].

II Christian Duty
1. Christians should love one another, [Romans:13:8-10]; [Galatians:5:14]; [James:2:8].
2. Let the Gospel light shine so sinners will cast off the works of darkness and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, [Romans:13:11-14]; [1 Corinthians:15:34]; [Ephesians:5:14]; [1 Thessalonians:5:5-6].

III Wrongful Condemnation
1. Christians should not condemn one another in respect to different kinds of food and observance of certain days, [Romans:14:1-6]; [1 Timothy:4:4]; [Colossians:2:16].
2. Be charitable toward those who are weak; we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, [Romans:14:7-16], [Romans:14:20-21]; [Romans:15:1-3]; [1 Corinthians:8:9-13]; [2 Corinthians:5:10].
3. The Kingdom of God does not consist in outward things. Do all in the spirit of faith and for the edification of others, [Romans:14:17-23]; Mathew:15:11.

IV Salvation for Both Jews and Gentiles
1. Scripture proves that Jesus Christ was the minister not only of the circumcision but came also for the salvation of the Gentiles, [Romans:15:8-12]; [Psalms:18:49]; [Isaiah:11:10]; [John:10:16].
2. The God of hope can fill you with all joy and peace in believing, [Romans:15:13].

V Summary of Paul’s Plans
1. Paul tells what God has wrought by him, and of his intended journey to Spain and his trip to Jerusalem with a contribution for the poor saints, [Romans:15:15-33].

Notes: 

Civil Government
Civil government is of God who is supreme Governor of the universe. It is true that He delegates authority to whomsoever He will, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” [Psalms:75:6-7]). Many times the governor himself may not be a godly man, yet civil government is of God; for without it there would be no society, no security, no protection. All would be confusion.

God revealed to us that He loved order and regularity when He placed the sun, moon, and stars in their orbit and keeps them revolving in their circuits year after year.

In many nations there is what we call a constitution, a plan by which that country is governed. That constitution is supposed to be to the best interest of the people governed. The governor, whether elected, appointed, or received the office by heritage, agrees to govern by that constitution. And as God is the Author of law and order, the governor who administers the laws of a country according to its constitution, is ordained of God.

Obedience to the Law
Paul brings out two reasons why we should obey those in authority: One is to avoid the wrath dis-obedience would incur, and the other is to keep our conscience clear. These two powerful motives prevent infractions of the law and enforce obedience. Obedience brings a blessing, but disobedience brings a curse.

The Lawfulness of Taxation
Civil government is an order of God and requires much expense in providing for the safety and defence of the community. It is right that those in whose behalf these expenses are incurred should help defray that expense. Lawful taxation is right. On the other hand, excessive taxation by an unprincipled ruler is not upheld by the laws of God. But for conscience’ sake the children of God must submit to the law of the country. “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

Officials should be respected for the office they hold. If the man in the office is an unworthy person, respect the office and the man on account of the office. Never behave rudely to any person.

The Basis of Divine Law
The Apostle has been showing us our duty, reverence, and obedience to our civil magistrates. He now shows us our duty, as Christians, to one another. Love is the basis of divine law. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.” We are bound to obey the laws of the land because of our conscience; but we are bound to one another by the cords of love. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Faith brings us into touch with Heaven; hope makes us not ashamed; but love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost is the greatest of all.

Disputes Between Jews and Gentiles
It is very likely there were misunderstandings between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians at Rome. There was a lack of charity one for the other. The principal subject of dispute was concerning meats and days.

Some converted Jews held that the Law of Moses should still be observed. They considered some meats as unclean and not to be eaten, and that certain festive days should be honoured. The converted Gentile understood that the Christian religion laid no such obligation upon him. Both Jews and Gentiles could be honest in their way of thinking; and both, being sincere and upright and acting in the fear of God, could be received as heirs of eternal life. Of each it was said: “To his own master he standeth or falleth.”

Paul was assured by the Lord Jesus that nothing was unclean of itself. But if a brother was weak and considered a thing unclean, a person should respect his belief and not destroy the faith of one for whom Christ died. Value his soul enough not to cast a stumbling block in his way. This shows that by our unwise acts a soul can be destroyed. How wisely and how charitably should Christians walk before God! “For meat destroy not the work of God.” And we could add: For any petty differences cause not thy brother to stumble and fall.

One may consider any creature of God as good, and eat it and give God thanks. Another may refrain from eating certain foods. He eats not and gives God thanks. God accepts both, and they should bear with each other. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” It consists not in these outward and material things, but in the pardoning of sins and holiness of heart and life. Peace of soul comes from a sense of God’s mercy and of having the love of God shed abroad in our heart.

One has said: “This is a genuine counterpart of Heaven; righteousness without sin, peace without disturbance, joy without any kind of mental agony or distressing fear.”Festival Days

The Gentile Christians looked at the Jewish feasts such as Pentecost, the feast of the new moon, and so forth, as part of the Jewish ritual under the Law and not a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Jews, having kept them for many years, still considered them as solemn feasts and continued to observe them. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

The question of keeping the Law of Moses arose many times in the days of the early Christian church. The Apostles met together to settle this question and their decision is found in Acts 15. Paul deals with this question in the various Epistles. There are false teachers today who would still bring us into the bondage of the Law of Moses, especially in the keeping of the Sabbath Day. But the Bible says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” [Colossians:2:16]).

The “first day of the week” was the day on which Jesus rose; it was the day on which he made His several appearances before his disciples after His resurrection; it was the day on which the power fell (Acts 2), at which time Christ’s Church was founded. It was the day on which the disciples met to break bread in commemoration of the Lord’s Supper, and brought their offerings unto the Lord. For these reasons we consider Sunday the Lord’s Day and set it aside as a day of worship.

Our Conscience
“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” Peace of conscience can be enjoyed only by that man who acts according to the full persuasion of the lawfulness of his conduct. That man is miserable who allows himself to practice anything for which his conscience upbraids or accuses him. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

The Dawning of a New Day
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” We are approaching the dawn of a new era; already the Hand is on the doorknob. The darkness will soon be past. Our time of labour for Jesus will soon be over. Many lost souls will soon be crying. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” [Jeremiah:8:20]). Let us work while it is called today, for the night cometh when no man can work. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Questions: 

1. Why should we pay taxes?
2. How did Peter get the money to pay taxes for himself and Jesus?
3. For what two reasons should the laws of the land be obeyed?
4. What was the strife in Rome between Jews and Gentiles?
5. Of what does the Kingdom of God consist?
6. What does Paul say in this letter about time?
7. How should Christians treat one another?
8. How did Paul feel about eating meat if it offended his brother?