GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
Concerns of Paul
By Keith L. Estes
These words are found in Paul's letter to the Romans and are just as important for us today as they were in the first century.
Power - Paul writes: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power (authority) but of God: the powers that be are ordained (appointed) of God. Whosoever therefor resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (judgement) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
What is Paul saying? Basically this, God has ordained or appointed power or authority to governments and citizens ought to be law abiding. The purpose of human government is to uphold the good and punish the evil. Right and wrong is determined by the state. The Christian is to fear and obey the government, as long as the government does not demand citizens to violate God's Word. Governmental officials hold office by virtue of God's appointment and are primarily the servants of God in their offices. The political leader is to actively uphold the good. The Sword- is a symbol representing the authority given to government to protect its citizens by punishing those who do what it has determined is wrong. It is important for Christians to be actively involved in government so that the government's values are consistent with the Word of God.
Debt - "Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Paul is not setting down, the fiscal policy of paying only cash for everything, but is talking about the Christian's social responsibility of not acting in such a way toward his fellowman that he incurs any debt other than to love him. This debt is never paid up. In doing this the believer will actually perform the righteousness to which the law could only point.
Sleep - "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 armor of light."
The kind of sleep I'm referring to is the type that Shakespeare refers to in Macbeth Lady Macbeth says: "The sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures." Paul is referring to the sleep that means insensitivity to the demands of Christ on the Christian's life. The coming of Christ to deliver us from this sinful world grows nearer every day. The NIGHT is the time while Christ is out of the world, and the world has been delivered into the control of the prince of the power of the air. THE DAY is a reference to the time when Christ will return and establish His reign of righteousness.
References Rom. Chap. 13 and Eph. 2:2. (KJV) The Holy Bible