5th October 2023
Read (Romans 13v3-4)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
We all have our opinions on what the government should do and how the country should be run but what does the Lord expect from the residents of Westminster and the White House? Paul has taught us in Romans 13 that we should willingly submit to the ruling authorities and certainly not resist them. They have been appointed by God and He requires us to pray for and honour those in positions of power.
Even so, the authorities have no remit to use and abuse their substantial power. The Lord requires earthly rulers to promote good conduct and to be a terror to bad (v3a). At this stage it is good to remember a famous verse which somebody should write over the door of number ten, it says “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14v34).
The wise ruler understands that he/she is in power by the grace of God and He expects them to rule righteously and to punish evil. In any nation, those who do good should have nothing to fear from those in power (v3b) but not so the evil doer. The Lord has given the ruling authorities “the sword” to punish the wicked (v4). What does this mean? The Lord has given our government the right to use force when necessary. In this manner Paul calls our rulers God’s servants and His “avenger” who can pour out God’s wrath upon the wrongdoer (v4b).
Talk of God’s wrath doesn’t marry well with our modern sensibilities. Nevertheless, God’s wrath (His righteousness anger) burns against sin and He has put civil authorities in place to punish the wicked. In practice this means that our government have the God given power to defend this nation from attack. They shouldn’t ride to war with glee or go looking for a fight. I humbly suggest that the decision to attack Iraq in 2003 was built on falsehood but the decision in 1939 to stand against the Nazis was the correct one.
At a local level, our government have the right to punish the terrorist, the murderer and the abuser. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that our streets are safe and that evil men cannot act with impunity. Indeed, although capital punishment has long been abolished in our land, I believe that a government has every right to take a life for severe crime.
We could talk politics all day long and probably never agree. Some of us are left, some right and some just don’t care either way. Even so, the Christian understands that the government isn’t an independent entity. Rishi Sunak is accountable to Almighty God and the Lord expects much from those to whom He has delegated power and authority. Let us pray for our land and her rulers for truly “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Q62 What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.