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Romans 13:1-14

Follow the Example of Christ

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • March 17, 2024

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. It is a continuation of the practical principles of how to live as a follower of Christ.

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.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Follow the Example of Christ
Romans 13:1-14
March 17, 2024

            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. It is a continuation of the practical principles of how to live as a follower of Christ.

          “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.

1 Corinthians 2:16, … we have the mind of Christ.

         That is the goal. To have the same mind as was in Christ. He becomes the measure we measure ourselves against. His mind, His Spirit. His way of doing things.

Colossians 3:16-17, Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

          That’s the question: Does everything I do glorify Him? Living Christ-like becomes the goal, but again, not in our own power, but by putting our trust in Christ, living by faith in His faithfulness and power.

          In chapter 13, Paul continues to define that victorious Christian life in very practical ways. This is one of those chapters with topics that aren’t easy to hear. Some of these things, frankly, we chafe against. Why? Because the flesh is filled with pride and doesn’t easily give up.

          We do not build our lives on the opinions of man, or our own feelings. We build our lives on God’s word, even when it chafes the flesh, and believe me, for some of you in some of these areas it will.

           Our example though, is how Christ handled these difficult things. Even though we might not sometimes understand why we should do or not do certain things, He should become the standard we align to.

He’s showing us a better way; that which is more glorious, more powerful, more beautiful, more honorable – more like Christ.

I. Be subject to Authority

  • A lot of people have real issues with authority. This often starts at a young age and needs to be dealt with, otherwise, it keeps on affecting them negatively all through their lives.
  • Why do people chafe against 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.
  • This was the reason for the fall of Satan, the reason for the fall of Adam and Eve, and it is still the primary flesh problem and temptation.

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 – We are now heading into political silly season which can be very challenging for some. Society gets polarized. People can get caught up in frustration with what is going on as there are inevitably people who don’t agree with policy or the different viewpoints of politicians.

  • 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 agree.”
  • Some people believe they’re above the law. 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, we see this principle.

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;”

  • But what if governing authorities and God’s word don’t agree? Is there a spiritual principle 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.”

  • We see the same principle with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
  • Ultimately, God’s word stays the highest authority, but we should not abuse it to entertain our fleshly thinking. Discern well with wisdom.
  • Paul says we should be in subjection for conscience’s sake. So a great test is this: Are you doing what you are doing out of rebellion, or out of conscience’s sake?

B. Do what is good

  •  God continues to transform our minds, 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.
  • God ordained authority. If you resist authority, you are directly resisting God. Then you receive punishment. It was set up by God to generally create an ordered, peaceful life.

Illus –You do not fear SWAT breaking down your door if you did nothing wrong. You do not fear the traffic officer if you do not speed.

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?

C. Give honor to whom honor is due

  • Verse 7 – render to all what is due them. Without regard to whether they deserve it or not. whatever is due, render it to them.
  • Tax to whom tax is due. This is a great subject, seeing that we are in tax season. No one actually likes paying taxes, but Paul connects it to our faith. It honors God.

Illus – I once knew a Christian who was very vocal about his faith. He would manage money in a way that wasn’t exactly illegal, but if you stood back and looked at his dealings, it did not reflect integrity. Even people from the world that saw this, would say, “But isn’t he a Christian? Is what he is doing right?” Although people in the world do certain things that are morally in grey areas, they are watching Christians. When a Christian does it, it immediately dishonors God. We are held to a higher standard.

  • 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 – Today, people who do not believe in God think they are self-sufficient. That is a great delusion. Just in a physical sense, many years after your birth you are not even close to being self-sufficient. I believe God designed it that way, so that we would understand our dependence on others, and it be a picture of our dependence on Him.  He created the cosmos we are living in. He created not only our lungs, but also the air that fills our lungs. He created not only the stomach, but everything that fills it. He created the raw materials of everything we wear, drive, use, and consume. He gave intelligence to bring advancement. He is our maker; His image is imprinted on us. Is God not deserving of praise, thanks, and honor from us because of this?

  • But God isn’t interested in you just giving Him stuff so that He would leave you alone, like the IRS you only hear from once a year. He wants you. All of you He wants to be in a relationship with you.

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.

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.
  • 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. Awake from your sleep

  • Verse 11 – Time is short, Paul is saying, and it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep.
  • What is he referring to? Some have become sleepy, lulled into conforming and being influenced by wrong thinking, not even discerning that somewhere they have gone off script.

Illus – Nowadays many people sleep with white noise…

  • Salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Although the world is growing darker, the dawn of light, Christ’s return, is drawing closer. We are called to not wait for the dawn before we start walking in the light.
  • No, we are already children of the light, and have the light of Christ illuminating our souls, empowering us through his Spirit. In the darkness, wake up, and walk as in the light.
  • We are exhorted to focus on eternity in which we are already living.
  • So, Paul wraps up chapters 12 and 13, encouraging us to lay aside deeds of darkness. People are saved out of the world and bring a lot of the world with them. Lay aside those things and put on Christ.
  • Have you fallen into bad habits? Are you stuck in worldly thoughts, patterns, and actions? Does the news and the media pull you into the realm of the flesh and the temporal?
  • Step into the light. See it for what it is. Judge things by spiritual principles.

Illus – I am sure we have all had the experience at night when you see a shape in your room that looks scary…

  • Offer your life as a living sacrifice. The difference between a dead and a living sacrifice is that a dead one doesn’t have a choice. We do! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind Become spiritually alive.

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 specifically addresses sexual immorality.
  • We are living in a time of great sexual promiscuity and sensuality. Satan has blinded the minds of people. Every great empire has fallen specifically because of this. It erodes society.
  • We are moving closer to the way it was in the days of Noah when the world became a cesspool of immorality.
  • Living in the darkness and things of the darkness, makes the soul feel sick, yucky.
  • We are encouraged to not be blind. Do not be lulled into this. See the signs. Be different.
  • Put on the armor of Light. We have authority over the works of the enemy who has blinded people so they cannot see. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
  • We should live in the light, but also intercede for those who are blinded that the light of the truth will flood their souls.
  • Then finally, put on Christ. He is our armor.

Illus – It is interesting what people see when they look in the mirror. I once saw this comic strip that really captures it well.

  • Putting on Christ means to ‘see’ yourself having the attributes of Christ. How do you see yourself spiritually when you look in the “mirror”?
    • Authority – Having authority under authority
    • Victory – sin and the enemy
    • Garment of praise
    • Attitude of Christ
    • Humility of Christ
    • Confidence in Christ.
  • The Spirit of God within produces the new image until we reflect His Glory.

Illus – Is there anything plugging the hole of your fountain? What attitude, what frustration, what mindset is keeping you from following the example of Christ?

Romans 13:1-14    NASB 

13 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.

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.” 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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