October 12, 2018

I Bet You’re Thinking, "Could Things Get Any Worse?"

Romans 13:1–5

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Submission to the Authorities

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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 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, 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. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

In Context:

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. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

I Bet You’re Thinking, "Could Things Get Any Worse?"



Bio | Alana Bell

Hi, ya'll, I'm Alana Bell, and I'm married to Matthew Bell. I have four wonderful stepkids, and, by God's grace, I'll have one of my own by the time you read this! I own my own dental practice, love crafting and DIY projects, enjoy Netflix, and don't really follow too much about politics or current events; but my husband keeps me informed about what's going on so I can have things to talk about with my patients (see more below)!

Central Truth

God is so sovereign that He uses wicked people in positions of leadership for His own glory.

Devotional | Romans 13:1–5

As I write this, my husband is watching "The Jihadis Next Door" on Netflix about Muslims in England who are fighting against anyone in government who isn’t Muslim, and I just watched a...

As I write this, my husband is watching "The Jihadis Next Door" on Netflix about Muslims in England who are fighting against anyone in government who isn’t Muslim, and I just watched a "Saturday Night Live" clip online mocking every move that the President makes. I’m not trying to make any negative or positive statements regarding our government here, I’m just repeating what I am hearing all over the news.

If you look at our government today, most people think that things are hopeless, and there’s not really anything they can do to change it. I would encourage you to look back at your Old Testament. Go on, open it up, and dust off the pages. Find the Book of Daniel and read about a king named Nebuchadnezzar who was king over Babylon. Although wicked in his arrogance, he was an instrument used by his Maker to discipline the nation of Israel. Tell me the Israelites back then didn’t think things were hopeless.

Now flip back to the Book of Exodus and read about Pharaoh and how many times the Israelites thought things were hopeless and there wasn’t anything they could do. The moral of these stories is that the Lord is in control. Whether we obey or rebel, the Lord is sovereign over kings and governments, and nothing can happen without His allowing it.

All these examples show how we can find solace in the midst of our current situation no matter who is in control of the government or how bleak things might look because the Lord is in control. He not only knows the end of the story, but He knows how we get there. Now, I may not know much about politics, but I can rejoice and find peace in praying for the leaders of my government at all levels and knowing and trusting the One who truly reigns. We won't always see Him at work, but rest assured, He is the One who guides all our steps and those of even wicked rulers to His own ends!

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Discussion Questions

1. Where else in the Bible has God used wicked rulers to bring about His own good purposes?

2. Will you commit to praying for your leaders more than you complain about them? Start today!

3. What will you tell your friends and family that you learned from Romans 13:1-5?

4. How can your view of God’s sovereign ability to use good and even evil change your outlook for your future?

9 Comments available

Michael Scaman 1 day ago
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Greg, The way I would see it, Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit who is God who sees the end from the beginning

Paul, Luke and Peter all die in the 60 AD decade, but I think Paul was more certain after he died of what he was inspired to write was true than before or as the song goes ‘more certain but not more secure.’

greg jones 4 days ago

Interestingly, Nero is the emperor of Rome as Paul writes, and he is probably already starting to gain a reputation as someone not to be challenged in anyway. Paul goes out of his way to do that basicly saying, to question Nero or his authority is no different than questioning God.

Paul is later most likely beheaded in or around Rome on Nero’s instructions. At or about the same time Peter is crucified upside down according Christian tradition.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, influenced by the chaos Nero is beginning to bring, Paul writes the intro to chapter thirteen.

Had Paul known how he and his friend Peter would die I believe Paul would have written differently here. God knowing how they would die, I believe, is fine with good advice being written down in that day, becoming in hindsight, bad advice for us to learn from today.

Michael Scaman 4 days ago

Q3 Reminds my of Job losing his children in a wind event, but God speaking to Job in the end of the book in a wind event, superintending evil for a greater good.

I’m not sure 'God using…" is strong enough. In the book of Job it was God to told Satan to ‘consider My servant Job.’ It was not Satan who first brought up Job. God superintends all things for His purposes.

Psalm 119:91b “… for all things are your servants.”

Tyler Cupit 4 days ago

That was a good devotional God is in control of this nation he puts rulers in our government.

Michael Scaman 4 days ago

Q1 God used Kings in strange unexpected ways. In Ezekiel 21:21-22, the king of Babylon will come and do some weird divination at the fork in the road (with arrows, idols and a liver - yes a liver) and decide to take the road to Jerusalem and attack as God foretold.

In Joshua 10, Adonai-Zedek king of Jerusalem called for many kings to attack Israel ( he wasn’t as godly and his great grandfather Melchi-Zedek apparently who brought bread and wine to Abraham). God used kings to band together and attack Israel so God could make the sun stand still, throw giant hail from heaven and defeat them

Michael Scaman 4 days ago

Q1 God used Herod (the great) to get Jesus to be born in Bethlehem on tax day.

God used the King of Babylon ( who defeated the Spartan 300) and an over the top party to get a new wife named Esther (who would become queen of all India… Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, middle east, Egypt, and Libya…etc etc… ) and would use Esther to save his people. The Babylonian infrastructure that would later inspire the pony express would help everyone ‘see what God has done’

Sue Bohlin 4 days ago

Thanks, Alana! What a powerful position of influence you have, to be able to tell your patients who bring up politics, that a good and loving God is in control no matter WHO is in office!

(As a calligrapher, one of my ever-favorite pieces hangs in my dentist’s waiting room: an illuminated plaque that says, “Blessed are they who engage in conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called dentists.”)

One of my sisters continually posts disrespectful, contempt-filled memes against the president on social media. And every time I see one, I think, “You don’t have a biblical worldview. Romans 13!” Starting today, I will designate her posts a prayer-trigger for myself. As Hope said below, I don’t have to agree with someone to pray for them.

Hope Harris 4 days ago

GM Thanks for the encouragement to pray for our leaders in government. I think that is a responsibility for all who submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Biggest reminders and takeaways this week were:

God allows those into elected office. I have to trust God sees the bigger picture.

Those who rule and are submitted to God rule from a place of peace and order. Those who do not know God rule from unrest and chaos.

God created the law for my protection

I do not have to agree with someone to pray them.

Hugh Stephenson 5 days ago

Today I am reflecting on what verse 1 is saying…

In an AA meeting in 2013 I heard the analogy of being on a tandem bicycle with God; Him in the front, me in the back. He’ll stay in front until I want to drive - then I get in the front. Not good.

Since that AA meeting I have been taught a much more accurate understanding of who God is. Even so, there are many times I still want to drive. And He lets me. It NEVER ends well.

I learned early not to ignore police officers. “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.”

Yet, I ignore God’s clear instructions and warnings all too often. When He lets the consequences happen I experience the natural chaos my choices bring - Just like Genesis 3 teaches me.

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