When to Obey

Friday, November 3, 2017, 4:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Trust and Obey.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 13 (NASB).

Established by God (vv. 1-7)

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Good rulers or bad rulers, we still are in subjection to their authority. Honest and trustworthy, or scoundrels and despicable, we still have to obey them. God puts in authority over us bad kings and good kings, those who honor him as Almighty God, and those who despise and reject him as King of their lives. So, we don’t have to be in agreement with those in authority over us in order to obey them. They also don’t have to be fair or just for us to submit to their rule.

Now, are there exceptions to this? Yes, there are. Look at the examples of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel. They obeyed the authorities until the rulers told them they must disobey and reject God. And, this is where God draws the line in the sand, which means to go to a certain point, but no further. If a ruler requires we go against God and his Word, we don’t do it! Also, the disciples of the New Testament provided a wonderful example of this when they told the authorities, who were demanding they no longer speak in the name of Jesus, that they must obey God rather than man. God always trumps man in authority.

Although we are not to resist authority, in the sense of rejecting or not submitting to that authority, this is not to say that we cannot challenge that authority in a respectable manner and/or in a legal course if we believe the authority is unjust and/or that we are innocent of all charges brought against us. Paul gave us an example of this, as did Jesus. Paul, when he felt the authority was overstepping their bounds, and his life was at risk, appealed to Caesar, who was the emperor (king). Upon his initial arrest, and up to this point, and beyond, he gave several statements of defense in his own behalf where he challenged the legitimacy of his false arrest and the false charges brought against him.

Jesus, too, although he submitted to the authorities, with biblical exceptions, frequently challenged corrupt authority, specifically those who were also in positions of religious authority over the people.

So, we are to give to authority what is due them unless they require or they encourage that we disobey our Lord and his Word. Not only do we not submit, in those cases, but we are also permitted to challenge them. But, we should do so respectfully. And, not only that, but if a ruler claims faith in Jesus Christ, and is leading the people, through deception, to reject the teachings of scripture, because this ruler is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we are allowed to expose the lies and deceptions in order to rescue the people from being deceived so they don’t fall away from their pure devotion to Christ.

Jesus and the apostles did this. They exposed the fruitless deeds of darkness and they warned the people against false teachers/leaders, and they, in contrast, told them the truth, so that their eyes would be opened, and so they would obey God instead of humans, who were leading them astray.

Love One Another (vv. 8-10)

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

If we are to love one another, we need to know what this love is. The Greek word for love here is agapē, which means “to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to ‘live through Christ’ (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power… refers to what God prefers as He ‘is love’ (1 Jn 4:8,16)” (1).

So, if we are to agapē one another, this love will embrace God’s will, and will be in submission to God and his Word, and it will obey them, not go against them. So, don’t call it “love” when you cheat, lie, commit adultery, view pornography, or have romantic or sexual affairs with others to whom you are not married. Don’t tell people lies and then call it “being polite,” either. Don’t willfully gossip about people behind their backs, in order to try to make them look bad, and then act like you like them to their faces. Lies are never kind, no matter how you dress them up.

Love does no harm to a neighbor, a friend, an acquaintance, a family member, a spouse or a member of Christ’s body, his church. So, love does not sin against others, which is sinning against God. And, sinning means to go against God’s will, his directives, and his choices for our lives, i.e. what God prefers, i.e. what he deems as right (pure, moral, just, honest, decent).

Put on Christ (vv. 11-14)

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

These words are addressed to those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives. We can be Christians and still be failing in some areas of our lives. We can be alert in some or many aspects, and still be asleep (not alert) in others, especially with regard to deceiving spirits and self-deception. So, we need to have our minds, hearts and spirits awakened to the truth so that we follow the truth and not after lies. And, all lies of the enemy are not all that obvious, but many are very subtle and carefully and skillfully blended in with truth to make them look like truth, which is why many people, even Christians, are being deceived.

One of the greatest deceptions within the church right now is to convince people that they can be saved from their sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven by merely repeating words after someone in a prayer, or by merely acknowledging Christ’s existence and accepting his forgiveness of their sins. But, forgiveness is not automatic, otherwise everyone would be saved. It comes following being turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (See: Ac. 26:16-18). It comes following turning from our sins (repentance) to follow our Lord in obedience.

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. When we come to him in faith, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk, not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we walk (in lifestyle) according to the flesh (sin), we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. This is not to say that a Christian will never sin, but that sin should no longer be our master so that we obey its lustful desires. Rather, Christ Jesus should be the one we obey (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25).

Trust and Obey
John H. Sammis / Daniel B. Towner

When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise,
not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Resources:

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/25.htm

 

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