Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Christian and His Authority: The Conduct Towards Authority (Part III)

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:11-14)

Submission to authority has an end goal. Soon the Lord Jesus will be back, and when He comes, His children need to be found walking in righteousness with a clear conscience before God and man. The judgment seat of Christ will be a fearful experience (II Corinthians 5:9-11), and every believer shall “...give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12),” therefore it is time for believers to stop acting like rebellious sinners, and to start acting like children of holiness. With each passing day, the saint's full salvation draws nearer and nearer.

In these verses, Paul uses the personal pronoun us four times. The English translation reveals only three; however, the fourth is found in verse eleven. A literal rendering would be “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time (for) us out of sleep to awake.” He then says three more times let us. This type of command enables the writer to put himself on the same plain as the audience. Paul was not asking these Romans to do anything that he himself was not either doing or willing to do. Humble subjection to God-ordained authority is for all believers. A man never becomes so great that he graduates from obedience to this principle. In context, disobedience to the commands and principles of this chapter would be synonymous with putting on the things of darkness; therefore, in complete contrast to the rebels clothing, God tells the believer to be clothed with the armor of light. The world would consider subjection to authority to be a trait of weakness, but God labels such as armor. Man's true strength lies not in his own abilities, but in God's. Though the humble believer may appear to be weak on the outside, he is actually clothed with the impenetrable armor of his Redeemer, but the rebellious Christian makes himself an easy target for the enemy by adorning the penetrable and untrustworthy clothing of darkness.

The Lord gives a list of behaviors that characterize a rebellious person. He is a troublemaker and a drunkard. He is sexually promiscuous (chambering) and lustful. He engages in strife, and he is envious of things which he cannot have, or chooses not to have. God's child should never be characterized by any of these things; yet, if he acts like a rebel towards authority, he is no better off than the man who makes these traits his own. He may not engage in all the sins listed here, but his attitude of rebellion is shared by the one who practices all these things; therefore, what is the believer's advantage?

The only righteous alternative is to be clothed with the character of Jesus Christ. He consistently submitted Himself to the authority structure of His day while maintaining faultless obedience to Scripture. He was consistently under the ultimate authority of His Father, and when government commanded disobedience to that authority, Christ stood firm on the truth. What was the end result? He triumphed over principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15). The rebellious Christian will never experience such victory, because he is fighting against that which God has ordained. His spiritual life will be plagued with turmoil. The peace of the Holy Ghost will not be evident in his life, and at the last, he will be held accountable for robbing men of that which he most owes them, the love of God.

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