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Romans 13:1-14

Have this Mind in You

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 14, 2015

In Romans 13, Paul continues to define the victorious Christian life in very practical ways. Some of these things, frankly, we chafe against, such as submission to authority. Why? Because the flesh is filled with pride and doesn’t easily give up. But He’s showing us a better way; that which is more glorious, more powerful, more beautiful, more honorable – more like Christ.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Have this Mind in You

Romans 13:1-14

These last chapters in the book of Romans are all based on the first verses from chapter 12 where Paul describes the Christian who has surpassing victory.

“I implore you, brethren, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice… do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

When you offer your life to God as a living sacrifice, He’s going to do something with it, He’s going to transform your life. How? By renewing your mind.

When you came to Christ, you came out of the world, but you brought a lot of the world with you and that’s what God wants to transform. The point is that a lot of our thinking is off base and we need to think so as to have sound judgment.

And us I was mentioning last week, the best way to have sound judgment is to have a plumb line by which you can compare your thinking to that which is “true to plumb.”

Amos 7:8, Then the Lord said, “Behold I’m about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel.”

That plumb line is Christ himself, His character, His heart, His ways, His thoughts. Set your life next to this plumb line, God is saying, and measure your faith against Christ and see that God wants to transform you. We need more faith.

In chapter 13, Paul continues to define that victorious Christian life in very practical ways. Some of these things, frankly, we chafe against. Why? Because the flesh is filled with pride and doesn’t easily give up. But He’s showing us a better way; that which is more glorious, more powerful, more beautiful, more honorable – more like Christ.

I.        Respect Authority

  • A lot of people have real issues with authority. This often starts at a young age and if this isn’t settled, they’ll struggle with it all their lives.
  • Why do people chafe at authority? Because of the flesh. It insists on being in control; it’s independent and stubborn and it can’t stand the thought of being told what to do. In other words, it’s pride.

A.      Respect the authority of government

  • This is a real problem for a lot of people. They don’t agree with the government, so why should they be in submission or respect that government? After all, isn’t our government just run by a bunch of politicians?

Illus - One day a Pope and a politician both died and showed up at the pearly gates…

Illus - Speaking of politicians, they’ve come up with some of the most bizarre laws you can imagine and some of them are still on the books today; like – in Quitman Georgia, chickens are not allowed to cross the road; in Indiana it’s illegal to attend a public event or use public transport within four hours of eating onions or garlic; in Idaho it’s illegal for a man to give his fiancée a box of candy that weighs more than 50 pounds. In Washington you can be arrested or fined if you get caught harassing Bigfoot.

  • We have to remember that the government in power at the time Paul wrote this letter was ugly Rome with its boot on the neck of Israel. Paul didn’t say, “Be in subjection as long as you’re in agreement.”
  • Some people believe they’re above the laws. They look at it sort of like we should have “diplomatic immunity.” After all, aren’t we “ambassadors” for Christ? Don’t ambassadors get diplomatic immunity?
  • No, Paul is making a point that the principle of government authority comes from God. “There is no authority except from God,” Paul wrote.
  • When Jesus stood before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, He did not answer Pilate’s questions.

John 19:10-11, Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given to you from above;”

  • The point Paul is making is that He wants to transform us by renewing our mind; that means we need set our thoughts against the plumb line of God. Measure your faith against the character of Christ.
  • But what if governing authorities and God’s word don’t agree? Is there a spiritual principal that gives us wisdom to decide what to do?
  • Yes, here’s the principle; choose the highest good, choose that which honors God most.
  • When Peter and John were arrested for preaching the gospel, they were commanded by the Jewish leaders not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus…

Acts 4:19, Peter and John said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Illus - When Jordi was pregnant with our third child, she woke up one day in excruciating pain. I called the hospital, they said get her there immediately…

B.      Do what is good

  • God continues to transform our mind, renewing our thoughts; “He who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God,” Paul said.
  • In other words, respect authority because God is asking you to respect authority. Do it for Him.

Illus - This is a powerful perspective in parenting. I wanted my kids to understand that I was doing what God asked me to do when I set up rules and boundaries, and then I would ask, “What is God asking you to do?”

  • “Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good,” God is saying.

Illus - Would this be a good time to bring up driving and obeying traffic laws? Probably not. But in truth, if someone has a Christian bumper sticker or fish symbol on their car and then drives aggressively, does not that reflect poorly on our faith?

Illus - Like the time I got pulled over in Beaverton (I was on my way to pick up my poor, sick child at school) and of course he had asked me what I did for work.

C.       Give honor to whom honor is due

  • Verse 7 – render to all what is due them. Without regard to whether they deserve it, whatever is due, render it to them.
  • Tax to whom tax is due. No one actually likes paying taxes, but Paul connects it to our faith. “Behold, I set a plumb line in your midst.”

Illus - Someone once calculated that the Jews at that time would have paid about 49% of their income in taxes. Today, depending on income, a person in the US could pay 55% in total taxes. Although in Denmark, a person may pay up to 68% in taxes.

Illus - We are not surprised that no one likes to pay taxes; we just wish they would spend it more carefully. But all you have to do is travel around the world to appreciate our roads, police, and fire services.

Speaking of driving, a driver in Finland was recently fined $60,000 for speeding. Switzerland dished out a $1 million ticket for speeding.

  • Jesus Himself paid the Temple tax even though those who ran the Temple were corrupt. There is an interesting story about this in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 17:24-27 “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?”

  • On another occasion the Jewish leaders sought to trap Jesus by asking if it was lawful to pay tax unto Caesar…

Matthew 22:20-21, Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

  • In a similar way, God's image and inscription is on our lives. Render unto God the things that are God’s. Give honor to whom honor is due.
  • Although, when you pay a tax, you give a percentage, but with God, you surrender all.

Matthew 22:36-37, “The greatest commandment is this; ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”

Illus - In Russia, I was witnessing to a man I became quite close to, but he resisted. One day over breakfast he said, “Why doesn't God leave me alone to mind my own business?”

“Because He made you,” I answered, “you're living on the earth He created, He gave you breath, and He made you in His image and gave you a will so that you might freely choose Him.”

II.      Put on the Lord Jesus Christ

  • This last section is summarized in verse 14, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.”

  • When you put on the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re being transformed, you’re being made new. We brought a lot of stuff with us from the world and Paul is just calling it out and taking names.

A.      Love does no wrong

  • Verse 8 – Owe nothing except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
  • We owe each other the debt of love, Paul is saying. And then he quotes the same verses Jesus quoted. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and the second greatest is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • He then went on to say that on these two commandments hang the entire law and prophets. In other words, the entire Old Testament can be summarized in these two commandments.
  • We often think of the law in the negative, what thou shalt not do, but the greatest aspects of the law on about what we must do and that is to love.
  • But also, love does no wrong, Paul said. If you are not to return evil for evil, if you are to bless those who persecute you, if your enemy is hungry and you are to feed him, how much more then should we bless those who are not our enemies?
  • Verse 10 – love is therefore the fulfillment of the law. In other words, it’s simple. You don’t need 10,000 laws all parsed and put in the right order, God is love and when you love, you’ve become like Him, you’ve fulfilled His desire for your life.

B.      Live in the light

  • Verse 11 – Time is short, Paul is saying, and it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep.
  • Offer your life as a living sacrifice, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love your neighbor as yourself – and become spiritually alive.

Illus - If you missed it, we had an amazing night of worship last Friday and I was so excited to see the youth group upfront, worshiping God – on fire for God.

Ephesians 5:14, For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

  • Put off the deeds of darkness, Paul is saying. People are saved out of the world and bring a lot of the world with them. Lay aside those things and put on Christ.
  • When you live in the light, you feel His pleasure.

Illus - When the Olympic runner, Eric Little, was asked why he ran, he answered, “God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Romans 13:1-14     NASB

1 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. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 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; 4 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.

5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 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. 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, "You shall not commit adultery, Youshall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall notcovet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love yourneighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
 
11 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. 12 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. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

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