Romans 13:1-7 / Civil Obedience (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on July 5, 2014


This is the fifty-third in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Romans. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of June 29, 2014. This message deals with the believer’s obligation to be subject the governing authorities. Special attention is paid to the limits of that subjection, and situations where a believer is to obey God over man. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

AUDIO – Listen Now:


Rom 13_1-7




Romans 13:1-7

God is a God of order.

1 Corinthians 14:33

Therefore, God has ordained governments among men, as a means to provide and maintain order and justice.

As such, we Christians should understand the need to be subject to those in authority over us.

We also need to understand that these powers are ordained of God.

We should also understand the Biblical limits to that subjection.

None of the earthly governments are perfect, some are not even good.

However, for reasons we may not understand, God has put them in power.

(i.e. Babylon/Medo-Persia – These were not good governments, but they served an important purpose in God’s plan.)

Romans 8:28

Subjection is not optional, but it does have limits.

When the law of the land contradicts God’s law, then we are to obey God (period).

The government has no actual authority to limit the parts of the Bible which we can use, and when they try, they are violating God’s law.

Acts 5:28-32

We (Christians) should all follow the examples of Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego.

The law required them to bow to an idol, yet while everyone else bowed their knee, these three men stood tall!

We should follow the example of Daniel.

The law prohibited Daniel from praying, yet he continued on as he always had. He was not about to obey that law.

We should follow the example of Peter, John, Paul and many others as they chose to obey God over man.

We should follow the example of John Bunyan.

When the british government ordered him to stop preaching, he stood his ground and continued to preach.

The government has no place in deciding who can and cannot preach the Word of God.

In each case, disobedience was not only appropriate, it was the expected and ordained behavior by God.

And in each case, these people had earthly consequences to pay for their disobedience. That is something you must be prepared for.

Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego were thrown into the fiery furnace.

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.

The apostles were jailed, beaten, and all but John eventually executed.

John Bunyan spent 12 years in prison.

God has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to obey Him, therefore we should obey, no matter what.

Acts 5:30-32

In any case where man’s law contradicts God’s law, the Christian is expected to obey God over man.

God will certainly reward obedience to Him, if not in this life, then in the next.

Apart from the aforementioned scenario, where civil law is in conflict with God’s law, resistance to lawful authority is prohibited.

Simply put, its a sin. As with any other sin, its wage is death.

Romans 6:23

A few years after Paul wrote these words, Nero launched a persecution against the church at Rome.

Multitudes lost their lives, and not because of doing evil.

Later emperors also lashed out against Christians.

Both Scripture and secular history record tyrannical governments who trample God’s law and persecute the righteous.

As already noted, there is an exception to submission in such cases.

Paul is actually presenting an ideal, rather than a commentary on all governments.

Paul is presenting the norm here, i. e., the ideal for government, which is certainly that of punishing evil and rewarding or encouraging good.

Generally speaking, people will have a hard time condemning a man for doing what is right, though it does sometimes happen.

The Ideal, though, is for government to serve justice.

This reinforces the need to be subject to authority, as they LAWFULLY carry out their ordained duties.

We should do so, not just out of fear, but for our conscience.

We should do it because its the right thing to do.

As such, we are obligates to financially support our government as a God-ordained power.

We should take care to treat those in authority with honor and respect (whether or not you like them, whether or not you agree with them).

This honor and respect must not rise to the level of worship, as sometimes happens.

Exodus 20:3

We need to treat those in authority appropriately.

It’s easy to bad mouth and disrespect leaders you disagree with, but such an attitude goes against Scripture.

It’s OK to disagree. It’s OK to speak out.

It’s not OK to dishonor or disrespect those in charge.

Neither Daniel, Shadrak, Meshak, Abed-Nego, nor any of the apostles disrespected the authorities – even as they stood in Godly opposition, and even as they faced judgment.

In the end, it’s really quite simple: Our allegiance is to God and God alone.

Allegiance to God means that we are to obey God.

As such, by His command, we are to obey our earthly governments, unless they contradict God’s own law.

In such a case, our allegiance to God takes precedence over our obedience to any government.

The time is coming when Christians will be put to the test. Are you ready?

Posted in: Sermons