1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet,"[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.[c]
As I looked over this chapter I it is hard to think I could ever do any better job than Paul did himself. I almost just posted this chapter without any thoughts added. Yet, as I thought more I realized that in the past I did not understand or follow this at all. Submission to authority is not optional. God ordains it and it is. Many skirt around this with rationalizations like “If the governing body is unjust and ungodly we do not need follow them.” In some sense that is justified as we have cases in scripture like Daniel who did not compromise who he was. Now I hope you caught that last bit as it is of most importance. God’s ordained authority should not change who we are in Christ. It should not compromise who we are even when it goes against God. Yet, mostly we are to live in peace and under the obedient submission to the laws of the land and governors. We in the USA seem to miss that most people do not share our ideals or even understandings of freedom and choice and many other things we just take for granted. In Jesus day there was abortion, but it was often against children who were already born… in fact Herod murdered all the males under two years old at at whim to get the rumored new born King of the Jews.
I am not saying that we need lie down and allow unjust men to rule, yet we also must realize what we do will gain ramifications. I we live at peace and know that God is a God of order and governments are given for that purpose and in fact the taxes we pay help protect us, we need be thankful to God for protecting us in this fashion. Yet we must understand to go against those in power and to purposely break law as to steal from our neighbors, we will reap the punishment we out to. For justice goes two ways.
Debt is another area that is great in our nation. I heard one person proclaim that if we all just never paid back our credit card debts all will be on a level economic field. The issue though is of fraud. If we choose not to pay back those we owe we are committing fraud against them as we promised in good faith to pay our debts. Now, as one that has had much financial issues myself I am not condemning anyone for mistakes. Yet, we need to learn from mistakes and choose not to commit them again. We need to strive to not owe anyone anything but the debt of Love we owe God. As Paul states, “love is the fulfillment of the law.” In that we fulfill the Law by loving others. In loving others we show our own gratitude for our forgiveness and in this worship God as we Love others as we have been loved.
All this is because the time of the Lord is at hand. We need live accordingly and not speak of our faith then for all outward appearances look and live like we have not changed. I am not stating some sort of Puritan lifestyle, but that we strive to find God’s best for us and not live as those still caught in the bondage of sin live. We no longer need to seek sex in place of love for we now know love. We no longer need to drink our problems away as we have One that is on our side and will work all things out for our good and His glory. The Christian life is not about stopping “sinning” but it is not about satisfying our sinful desires. It is to live in a way that glorifies God as He lives in us.
For more on the topic of the Higher Law of Love