The Christian and the Government
Although the Christian is not of the world he is still in it. Our service begins with heart consecration to God, and the circle widens from the local assembly reaching out to all believers and to the unsaved round about. Now we are to view the believer’s attitude towards the political world. We notice the chapter is summed up under three words SUBJECTION, LOVE and SALVATION.
1. Subjection vs. 1-7 The Believer’s Attitude
A Christian is a pilgrim and a stranger here. He is a pilgrim because he is passing through this world to another. He is a stranger for he is a citizen of the country to which he is going. But as such he must obey the laws of the land thru which he journeys. He may not always be pleased with the laws passed but his business is to obey knowing that all authority is of God.
An American traveling through Canada has no part in the forming of her laws but while there is subject to them. There is a tendency in some parts today to do away with government. The Christian can have no sympathy with any such socialistic, communistic, tendencies. Neither should he be grumbling about the taxes or trying to change the laws. The simple rule for the Christian is given in verse 7. We render to all their dues, and there our responsibilty ends.
2. The Law of Love vs. 8-10. The Believer’s Walk.
The Christian is above the world and therefore should be indebted to it in nothing. However there is one debt that will never be paid in full. Every one of us will always be in debt in this respect. “Owe no man anything but to love one another.” Above the law of the land is this law of love. There will be no danger of transgressing the laws of the land if we have the love of Christ dwelling in our hearts. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
3. The Present Outlook vs. 11-14. The Believer’s Hope.
In Israel long ago there were men who had understanding of the times, they knew what Israel had to do. 1 Chron. 12:32. We need such men today. The outlook is dark in the world, the uplook for the Christian is bright. We know the time that it is no time for sleeping, the night is far spent and we need to be watching. The Morning Star will soon appear and end the night of Christ’s absence and our sorrow. That will be our salvation when He comes and it is much nearer now than when we first believed. Our souls are saved but we wait for the salvation of our bodies and full deliverance at the coming of Christ.
All signs point to the breaking of the day. As children of the day we are not to be like the children of the night. Our chapter closes with what we are to do as those who know that the time is near. First we have a threefold injunction.
1. Let us cast off the works of darkness. Vs. 12: Separation.
2. Let us put on the armour of light. Vs. 12: Warfare
3. Let us walk honestly as in the day. Vs. 13: Conduct
Then we have three negatives in vs. 13.
1. Not in rioting and drunkenness. The reveling crowd.
2. Not in chambering and wantonness. The slaves of passion.
3. Not in strife and envyings. The warring world.
The safeguard against all this we have in the last verse of the chapter “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
The Lord Jesus is in us. He came to dwell in our hearts when we first believed. We are to put Him on so that He may be seen ON us. Just as we recognize a mailman, policeman, or soldier by the uniform they wear, so a Christian should be known by the wearing of Christ’s Character. But for this the flesh within us must be kept on starvation rations. Some one has said we are to feed him from “Mother Hubbard’s cupboard,” which was bare. If we do not, Christ will not be seen in our lives.
1. What is our standing nationally?
2. Do you think a Christian should take part in politics? Give reason.
3. What debt will we never be able to pay?
4. How do we know Christ’s coming is near?