So there are times when we are called to disobey government, but the general rule is you're not to be subversive. You're not to be a rabble rouser. You're not to stir up trouble. You're not to always be against the government.
You don't want to be known for that. Are there times when obeying God means disobeying government? Find out today on Connect with Skip Heitzig as he shares how you can live honorably both as a believer and as a citizen. But first, did you know that Skip shares important updates and biblical encouragement on social media?
Just follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest from him and his ministry. That's at Skip Heitzig, at Skip H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. Now, we're in Romans chapter 13 as we dive into today's teaching with Skip Heitzig. Next time you get pulled over by a police officer and they notice that you've been doing 25 miles over the speed limit the last few miles and they're going to write you a ticket. No warning, a ticket. You really should thank them. You should thank the officer because the officer is writing you a ticket, pulled you over because he is there to protect your life. He understands.
Obviously, you don't. You and I, when we get pulled over, we're too dumb to protect ourselves, so that's why we hire it out. And the police, whom we hire, are there to protect your life. So thank the officer for stopping you and writing the ticket and watching over the community.
They're part of the common grace, the common blessing. You know what's worse than a bad cop? No cop. If you were to defund the police as some propose you should, we should. You probably wouldn't make it. If there were no police on the streets, you probably wouldn't make it home from church. Eventually, that would be the case. There would be total anarchy without laws and without those to uphold those laws and force those laws. It's part of common grace, common blessing.
God's minister. Now, I will say this. When I was younger, I did not think this way. We had, where I lived right down the street from us, a couple of police officers, CHPs, California Highway Patrols, who just loved their job a little too much, loved the authority it brought, and in particular did not like motorcyclists. Well, my brother Bob and I were riding motorcycles up and down the street every day for months, for years, not always abiding by the law. We were kids.
So at age 13, 14, 15, I'm already riding a motorcycle in California on the streets. The officer would pull us over. We felt unduly hassle us. That began a very uneasy relationship that I had with law enforcement.
It wasn't good. To this day, because of all those altercations I had, to this day, whenever I see a black and white, a police officer, a sheriff, a state trooper, I white-knuckle the steering wheel. I grab. It's instinctive. I may be doing under, and I look down and go, I'm doing the speed limit. Now, that's not always, not even often, but when that happens, it's like, right?
Right? The first time I got pulled over in a car, I was 15. I had my learner's permit. Didn't have a license. I was pulled over by California Highway Patrol in San Bernardino, California, and he said, can I see your license? I didn't have a license.
Again, I had a learner's permit. So he said, and now that was illegal, what I was doing, right? He pulled me over, and he said, can I see your license? And I said, officer, I forgot my license at home. He said, are you of age?
Do you have a license? I said, yes, sir. Now, I'm unregenerate at the time. I'm unsaved. So give me a little bit of a break.
Do you expect an unsaved person to act unsaved? And I acted very unsaved. So I lied. I said, I have a license. He goes, okay, what's your address? I told him my correct address, my parents' phone number, very confidently, and he said, okay, I'm going to check. I'm going to check our records. If you're lying and you don't have a license, you're in big trouble. I said, sure, no problem.
Go ahead. Call my folks. Now, I was hoping, dare I say even praying, that that wouldn't happen, which it did not happen. But here was the kicker for me at the time. I got pulled over, and he said, do you know how fast you were doing? I said, sir, I was doing the speed limit.
He goes, that was a problem. He said, you're impeding traffic. In other words, he said, and he explained this to me, you need to go the flow of traffic. If you are in this left lane and you are slowing down, you're slowing the flow of traffic.
That's dangerous. We call that impeding traffic. Now, probably only in the state of California do you get a ticket for going too slow.
Because I notice a lot of people in New Mexico impede traffic all day long, and it seems to be sort of the fair. But there was a problem here. If you do the opposite, you'll get a ticket.
I don't know why I even share that. It has nothing to do at all with this message, except I'm confessing my sin to you that I had an uneasy relationship with police officers, and now I thank God every time I see them. Therefore, verse 5, you must be subject not only because of wrath, not only because you'll get in trouble, not only because you might get a citation, not only because you might go to jail if you commit a severe enough infraction, but also for the sake of your conscience. For because of this, you also pay taxes. Now, Paul, now you're getting really close to home here. Because of this, you also pay taxes for they, that is those government tax collectors, they are God's ministers.
Now, it's really difficult to swallow. Now, he's saying the IRS are God's ministers. For they are God's ministers, and notice, attending continually to this very thing. That I agree with.
They do attend continually to this very thing. There's no end to the creative ways they come up with to tax us. Render, therefore, to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, so pay your taxes, don't try to sneak anything over when you fly somewhere in your suitcase, pay the custom, pay the tribute, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. So we are to support the government basically by paying our taxes and by giving them respect.
Now, once again, consider the background the New Testament was written in. In Israel, for example, the tax structure was far more burdensome than our own. In Israel, the Roman government and all over the Roman world exacted what was called the poll tax. Number one, the poll tax was a tax for everybody alive from age, if you're a male, age 16 to age 65. If you're a female, like age 14 to age 65, that was called the poll tax.
It is a tax on you breathing. For you just being alive, you paid the poll tax. Then there was an income tax on top of the poll tax.
The income tax was a 10 percent flat tax. Then there was a ground tax. You were taxed on use of roads, the use of bridges. Then there was a cart tax. If you had a cart with wheels on it, you were taxed depending on the number of wheels you utilized, whether it was one wheel, like a wheelbarrow, two wheels, four wheels.
The more wheels, the more tax. There was a fish tax on top of all those. The fish tax was if you live by the ocean or you live by the Sea of Galilee, you were taxed per fish you caught in your net. You were taxed for that. On top of that, you paid a ground tax on top of that. You paid a ground tax. Did I mention the ground tax? Okay, so the ground tax was if you grew grain, you had to pay the government 10 percent of whatever you grew.
If you grew wine, like in vineyards, you would pay 25 percent tax. So there was tax upon tax upon tax, and yet Paul says, pay your taxes, give them respect. Render to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Now before we get into the next section, we have to ask this. Okay, I understand what Paul is saying, but is there ever a time when you disobey the government? You don't honor them.
You don't obey them. Is there? Of course there is. We find that in the scripture. Book of Daniel is one of them.
I just mentioned it. When Nebuchadnezzar built that huge statue and commanded the whole world bow down, three Hebrew fellas decided not to do that. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, we're not going to bow down to that false idol. He said, well, if you don't bow down, we're going to throw you into the fiery furnace and you'll be dead. They said, listen, our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
And even if He doesn't, not going to bow. So they disobeyed government orders. In Acts chapter four, Acts chapter three, there was a healing of the lame man at the gate beautiful in the city of Jerusalem. Peter and John were there, used by God to do that. They were brought on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. The effect of that healing on the Jewish Sanhedrin was not great.
The effect of that healing was so great, it says 5,000 men believed in Jesus that day. So it created quite a stir in Jerusalem. Peter and John stand trial. And they say, by what name and by what authority have you done this? And Peter said, if we're being called into question because of a good deed done to a lame guy, be it known to you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth whom you killed, whom God raised from the dead, does this man stand before you whole? And they say, well, we're passing a law in Jerusalem.
No one can ever speak in the name of Jesus, use that name like you have. Nobody can do that from now on in the city. They were let go. They went right back out into the temple courts and preached again. Were arrested again, put in prison overnight and angels sprung them from jail. They went right back out and did it again.
They were arrested again in chapter 5, brought before the leaders. Leaders said, didn't we give you the command, the order, the law that you shouldn't speak any more in this name? They said, well, whether it's right in the sight of God to obey you more than men, you decide, but as for us, we must speak what we have seen and heard. And then he said, we must obey God rather than men.
We have to. So when the government passes a law that interferes with the laws God has told us to keep, with the dictums, dictates, things God has told us to practice, when the government says you can't do that, they infringe upon not just constitutional right, but what God tells us. At some point, we disobey. So being a good Christian means being a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian.
So there were times when this became problematic. Put yourself in the shoes of, you live in the south in the 1850s. You're a plantation owner, a Christian plantation owner. You have working under you people conscripted as slaves. You morally feel this is wrong.
Biblically, you feel slavery is wrong, but it's the structure that is set up and you want to feed your family and you feel the angst, the pull in your culture but in your spirit. And then you hear that the south in which you live is going to wage war, military war, against the union, the northern states, over this issue. What do you do? Do you leave? They want to secede from the union, the south does. Do you cross over enemy lines and now live in the north and fight for the north or do you stay in the south? What do you do? It's a moral dilemma.
Here's another example. You're living in the 1930s in Germany. You're a Christian businessman.
The leader of the country is seemingly very promising. Adolf somebody. Oh Adolf Hitler, right, right. Adolf Hitler, the chancellor of the Third Reich sees promise in you and wants to promote you, but you understand his ideology toward the Jews. And as a believer that's untenable to you.
What do you do? Those are things that people, that believers, dealt with during that era. So there are times when we are called to disobey government, but the general rule is you're not to be subversive. You're not to be a rabble rouser. You're not to stir up trouble. You're not to always be against the government.
You don't want to be known for that. So verse 8 he continues, oh no one anything except to love one another. Don't owe anybody anything, but owe everybody love.
Love everyone. For he who loves another has fulfilled the law for the commandments. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet. And if there's any other commandment are all summed up in this saying. Namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Now when Paul says, oh no man, don't owe anybody anything, he doesn't mean, as some people have said this means, he's not forbidding you to have a credit card or a debit card. He's not forbidding you to have payments for a house that you're going to eventually pay off in 15, 30 years or a car payment.
That's not what it's referring to. It's because if it were, you'd have to deal with a lot of texts that say it's okay to do that. Like Exodus chapter 22, which is laws governing borrowing and paying back.
So there were loans that were taken out in Israel. Or the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It says if somebody asks you for something, give it to him. If he wants to borrow something from you, let him.
Now Jesus wouldn't say that if borrowing and lending was prohibited. But the idea here is don't overburden yourself to the point where you can't pay it. Don't overborrow. Don't overbuy. You know, sometimes we want to buy something, we can't wait for it. And so we get behind in payments.
You want to have a good record going forward to show that you are a responsible child of God. Because Ben Franklin said creditors have better memories than debtors. It's just good wisdom. You take something out on credit, yeah I'll pay it off, and you may forget.
They will not. And they will compound the interest, as some of us well know. But you'll notice that he says that we have the duty to love one another. Then he lists some of the commandments. Now what he is listing is from what's called the second table of the law. The law of Moses, the ten commandments, had two tables. The first four, the second six. The first four dealt with our relationship with God.
The second six dealt with man's relationship to mankind. Paul is making a very important statement. A statement that Jesus underscored that if you live by the law of love, you'll fulfill the law of Moses. If you love somebody, you're not going to kill them. If you love somebody, you're not going to covet. If you love somebody, you're not going to rip them off.
You're not going to steal from them, etc, etc. So there were ten commandments. Jesus comes along and turns them from negative into positive and reduces them to two commandments. He said, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two hang all the law and the prophets. So instead of thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not, Jesus said, well just do this. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.
You'll keep it all. Then he really reduced it down to one when he gave the golden rule, do unto others as you would have others do to you. Now again, it's put in the positive. Love, verse 10, does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Now I just want to touch on something, if I can, briefly. And I say, if I can, like you're going to say, no you can't. But you'll notice in verse nine how he sums it up with that summary verse I just mentioned, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. So he says, love your neighbor as yourself. What does that mean, you shall love your neighbor as yourself?
And the reason I ask that is because there has come a teaching, I've heard it over the last couple of decades, but it resurfaces every few years. And it goes like this, if you really want to love your neighbor, you have to first begin by loving yourself. You won't be able to love others until you are in love with yourself. And once you learn to love yourself, then you're equipped to love your neighbor, and I've even heard this, and equipped to love God. You can't love God, they say, unless you love yourself first.
Because we're told to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So you begin with self-love, and then you love God, then you love your neighbor. Well, I'll answer that by saying, first of all, never is there a commandment in the Bible to love yourself. Two commandments are given by Jesus, not three. You can say, love yourself, and then love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then love your neighbor as yourself.
That's never there. And then, second, when it says love your neighbor as yourself, it's because it presupposes the love your neighbor as you love yourself, that's the presupposition. The presupposition of the truth is that you already do love yourself. And because you already love yourself, and everybody on earth knows that we all love ourselves, based on that, love others with that same kind of care, that same kind of interest that you have in yourself.
Turn that outward to others. It presupposes that everybody already does love yourself. So loving yourself is not the solution. Loving yourself is the problem.
And yet, this teaching has come into the church. We're going to teach you how to love yourself so that you can love others. You already love yourself. Paul said, if you didn't love yourself, you wouldn't nourish your flesh, you wouldn't eat, you wouldn't put perfume on.
Somebody's dressed up nice and they have perfume. Oh, I hate myself. Really?
I couldn't tell. So it's a presupposed fact, and often the very root of the problem. So love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, knowing the time that now it is high time to wake out of sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. That's Skip Heitzig with a message from the series Expound Romans. Now we want to share about a resource that will help you engage even deeper in your Bible study times. Is your personal Bible study time frustrating? Do you need direction? You can study the Bible with a plan and see progress.
Listen to this from Skip Heitzig. All of us, we have trouble with certain parts of the Bible. Sometimes it's tough, but exposure to the Bible, a consistent exposure to the Bible, and I would add on a daily basis with the consistent desire to obey it, will do more for you than any other thing that I can think of in your Christian life. Take the mystery out of studying scripture with Pastor Skip's book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It. Our thanks to you when you give $25 or more to help connect more people with this Bible teaching ministry. Get the tips and tools you need to open your eyes, mind, and heart to God's truth.
You don't have to be afraid of the Bible. Get your copy of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It by Skip Heitzig today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares how you can be a loving, encouraging neighbor to fellow believers and focus on God's calling for you. We will be judged before Christ and given rewards in the kingdom based upon our faithfulness to what God has called us to do now. We're saved by grace. You go to heaven, not by your works, but by His finished work, right? We know that, but your position in the kingdom is determined by your faithfulness to what God has called you to do. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
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