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The Kingdom Dilemma: God and Government - Part B

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The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2024 6:00 am

The Kingdom Dilemma: God and Government - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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June 11, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip challenges you to consider if you’ve submitted what is God’s to Him.

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Skip Heitzig

Have you rendered to God what belongs to Him? If you're made in the image of God, if you bear the stamp of God Almighty, have you given yourself back to Him in surrender? Have you really rendered to Him the things that are God's?

For you to take this passage to heart means that you submit and surrender to Him. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip challenges you to consider if you've submitted what is God's to Him. Now here's more about this month's resource to help you get to know the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. How deep is your understanding of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives?

Listen as Skip Heitzig unpacks his person and power in this teaching clip. The Holy Spirit is a divine person who helps us. How many of you think you need all the help you can get to live your Christian life?

Yeah, I'm with you. We need help. As you grow in your understanding of the Holy Spirit through our Connect with Skip Heitzig monthly resource, you'll learn how He helps believers, that's you, to walk with Christ. When it comes to living the Christian life, it's not hard. It's impossible on your own. You need His power to be able to do that. You need His help to be able to do that, and we have His help. For your Connect with Skip Heitzig gift of $50 or more, we'll send you the complete expound Holy Spirit series and Bring the Rain, Skip's book on expositional teaching.

Call 800-922-1888 or give securely online at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Ready to get started? Great. Let's turn to Matthew 22 as we begin. Jesus can read minds, right? He knows what they're thinking. He knows everything. And so if they think they can trap Him, they're about to find out that they cannot because He knows their thoughts. He's like the messianic mouse that can swipe the cheese and live to see another day. They can't trap Him. They can't trap Him. So He calls them what they are, hypocrites, hypocrites, actors, mask wearers. Why? Because what they said is not true.

Verse 16, and they came to Him saying, Teacher, now that probably was hard for them to say that, Rabbi, to acknowledge that He was a figure of authority, these Pharisees, He had to bite their tongue to get that word out. We know that you are true. No, you don't, you liar. You don't think He's true at all.

You want Him dead. And you teach the way of God and truth. None of this is true. They're lying for the sake of expediency. And hypocrites will do that.

They'll say what you want to hear, butter you up, but it's all a smoke screen. People use words as a smoke screen. Every time I hear people, not everyone, but most people, especially in the media, talk about the separation of church and state, I think this thought. Because that's a phrase that has been distorted to silence the faith community. And when that idea came forth, when Jefferson talked about the wall of separation and then subsequent administrations and presidents and lawmakers fleshed that out, that didn't mean the church shouldn't interfere in government. That's what people take it to mean. It meant that the government has no right to interfere in church work. That's what it meant.

That's what they meant it to mean. Now they bring up here, again, they bring up taxes. Let's just talk quickly about taxes. Taxes are important. Every country needs taxes in order to operate. We need taxes for any society. We couldn't function without taxes.

We couldn't function without government. The Roman government afforded many benefits to people. Peace was one of them. There was the Pax Romana. It was a, granted, heavy-handed military peace, but the world before the Pax Romana was very violent.

When Rome came in, they had their own violence, but they quelled basically the wars of the world and brought stability for a couple hundred years. They were very successful at that. Well, you had to pay for that. You got to pay for those armies. You got to pay for Roman roads. You got to pay for aqueducts to bring water to your city, all built by the Romans. And so they collected taxes.

But in funding Rome through their taxes, they are also funding their own oppression because Rome would oppress them. And so because of that, many refused to pay. The people who refused to pay were called the zealots. Since they're not mentioned in the story, I'm not going to really remark on them, but they refused to pay taxes. Pharisees paid taxes, but they hated paying taxes. Now, when they bring up this question about, hey, is it lawful to pay tax or not, it was a particular kind of tax. It's called the poll tax, P-O-L-L tax. The poll tax, also called the head tax, also called the census tax, it was on every single person once a year, a denarius per person per year, every single year. You paid a tax that was a tax for just existing, not based on your income. There was income tax. There were also agricultural tax, fish taxes, cart taxes, import, export.

There was many layers of taxation. The poll tax was a tax on everyone just to stay alive, also called the census tax. And if you recall, Joseph and Mary had to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a very particular poll tax because they had to count how many heads there were from each tribe, tribal allotment, so they could tax them. Now, when the poll tax was established, many years before this, well, about 6 A.D., there was a guy who revolted against this, a Jewish guy by the name of Judas, not Judas Iscariot, Judas of Galilee. Some of you, that rings a bell because that Judas, Judas of Galilee, is mentioned in Acts 5 by Gamaliel. He brings up this guy named Judas of Galilee. Judas led a revolt because of the taxation, the poll tax.

Josephus writes about this, and he said this, and I quote concerning Judas, he called his fellow countrymen cowards for being willing to pay tribute to Romans and for putting up with mortal masters in the place of God. So here's a guy who says you should not pay taxes to the Roman government because they're placing themselves in God's place. What did he mean by that? He meant it's against Jewish law to pay taxes.

Why would he say that? Because of Deuteronomy 17, which says you will not set a foreigner over you who is not your brother. So Judas of Galilee said it's unlawful to pay taxes to Caesar.

So this has been an ongoing controversy. They bring it up with Jesus thinking, perfect question to ask this guy from Galilee. Is it lawful? Is it biblical? Is it right to pay taxes? Now if he was to say yes, pay your taxes, it's going to anger the Pharisees, and they'll say Jesus is a Roman sympathizer.

If he says no, don't pay taxes, the Herodians are going to march into Pontius Pilate and get him arrested and killed because it's treason against Rome. So it's a heads I win, tails you lose kind of a question. That's what they think. They think he's trapped.

They think he's trapped. You can't answer this question without a controversy. It's sort of like the question I got asked two years ago. There was never a right answer to it.

People said, should we get vaccinated? There was never a right answer because as soon as you say yes or no, you're going to have one group or another. So Jesus was faced with one of these kind of dilemmas, questions. So that's the tension and the trouble about God and government.

Now let's close this out by looking at the truth about God and government. Verse 19, show me the tax money, and they brought him a denarius. He said to them, whose image, icon is the Greek word, icon, inscription, whose image and inscription is this? They said to him, Caesars.

He said to them, then render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. Now a denarius was a silver coin. It was a day's wage.

Essentially, it was equivalent to an entire day's wage for a common laborer or a soldier. And the Roman denarius was the silver coin that you would use to pay the poll tax with. These were coins that were minted by Caesar himself. Only Caesar had the authority to mint silver or gold coins.

Now get this. On one side, it bore the image of Tiberius Caesar. On the flip side, it showed Caesar sitting in his chair. And on one side, there was an inscription that said Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus, which means Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus. In other words, he's the son of God. On the other side was the inscription Pontifex Maximus, which means high priest.

By the way, the pope is called the Pontifex Maximus today. Now can you understand why the Jews hated to pay this tax? First of all, that's blasphemy to say this guy's the son of God and that's on the coin. It's like walking around with an idol in your pocket. Second, it was against the second commandment to have an inscription of any person, an image of any person to cast an image at all was forbidden by the second commandment.

So this is a doubly offensive tax. And so he says, show me that coin, bring out that denarius. And we know this answer is very famous, render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. It's a very simple answer, but it's profound.

Don't lose the profundity by the simplicity. It is a foundational statement. This is a one sentence biblical view of God and government of religion and politics. There's two parts to the statement, render to Caesar, render to God. Man has an earthly obligation and a heavenly obligation. By the way, render doesn't mean to give.

You know what it means? Give back or pay back to Caesar. It implies debt. You owe that to him because it's his. Render to Caesar, give back, pay back to Caesar what is Caesar's.

So in essence, he's saying, yes, it is right to give taxes to Caesar because it belongs to Caesar's domain. So pay your taxes. It's an oppressive government, pay your taxes. Hey, did you know, according to Forbes magazine, 7 million Americans fail to file income tax returns each year?

5% of Americans don't do it. I'm just seeing if any of you are squirming at all to see if you might be one of them. I've always loved that letter to the IRS. Somebody wrote and said, sir, I cannot sleep. Last year when I filed my income tax return, I deliberately misrepresented my income so I can't sleep. So enclosed is a check for $150.

If I still can't sleep, I'll send the rest. So here is Jesus saying, look, give it back to Caesar. It's his, his inscriptions on it. God is the ultimate authority, but God also says that we are to submit to intermediate authorities. Now, this is the gospel account. We know that there are other passages in scripture that talk about this. Romans 13 is one of them. We've covered that before. You know about that.

Let me just remind you of it. Romans 13, one. Paul writes, let every soul, are you a soul? Yeah, you got one.

So it's you two, you and me. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Ooh, that hurts. Same chapter, a couple of verses down. Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath, that is, you'll get punished if you don't, but also for conscience sake. For because of this, you also pay taxes for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.

And boy, do they do that. Render, therefore, to all there do, taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Simply put, Christians are not to be rebels, not to be subversive.

We should be model citizens. Then there's 1 Peter chapter two in verse 13. Therefore, Peter writes, submit your soul to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, whether to the king is supreme or governors, as those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good, you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. So, God is honored when his people are seen as stabilizers in societies, not subversive, stabilizers. So, render to Caesar what is his.

Pay it back, give it back. But he continues, the second part, and to God the things that are God's. So, Caesar has the right to collect taxes. Caesar does not have the right to command worship. Caesar does not have the right to collect worship. Caesar does not have the right to prohibit worship. Only God is worthy of total alliance.

Only God regulates worship. Whose image is on this? Icon. It happens to be the exact same word if you were reading, not a Hebrew, but a Greek translation of the Old Testament. And it says in Genesis 1 that God made man in his own icon image.

Same word. Whose image is on this? Caesar, give it back to him. Whose image is on you? God's. Render to God the things that are God's.

You're stamped with his image, your life, your allegiance, the totality of your being in worship, in submission, in obedience belongs to him. Now, that's the passage. Let me just give you a few takeaways that you could write down. Number one, you can be a good citizen even if you have a bad government.

That's the first takeaway. You can be a good citizen even if you have a bad government. Roman government was certainly not the best government. They oppressed and killed thousands of Jewish people, crucified thousands upon thousands of Jewish people to get them to submit. Herod Agrippa I beheaded James the apostle, put Peter in prison, Caesar Nero the Roman Caesar had Paul beheaded. Within a few days from the account we're reading, the Roman government will ensure that Jesus gets sentenced and put to death. And in the years following, the Roman government will persecute and kill Christians by the hundreds of thousands. No matter how much you hate politics or you think governments are stupid, Rome is worse. So you can be a good citizen even if you have a bad government.

That's the first takeaway. Second takeaway, allegiance to God and allegiance to country are not mutually exclusive. It's not an either or proposition. Should I be loyal to the government or should I be loyal to God? How about be loyal to the state and God?

You know, he didn't say render to Caesar or to God. But and to God, the things that are God's. I just got to say this, you know it's true, the problem with human government, you know what it is? Humans. Humans. It's run by humans.

That's the problem. And humans are sinners. Because humans are sinners, they make stupid policies.

A lot. It's always been the case. But human government is also the problem.

It's been the case. But human government is also established by God to curtail sin and to provide benefit in common grace. So it's not an either or proposition. You can honor both Caesar and God at the same time. I have come across a little letter, an epistle it is called to Diogenetus. We don't know who it's from.

We just know who it's to. Written about the second century about Christians, they were growing in the Roman Empire. And there's just a little excerpt that fascinates me. The letter says, concerning believers, Christians, they pass their days on the earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives.

They love all men and are persecuted by all. What a statement. What a statement. Third takeaway is this.

We'll close with this. The state is not God. The state is not God. They cannot mandate worship. Frankly, they cannot regulate worship. And they cannot prevent worship.

It is not their jurisdiction. The separation of church and state was to ensure that state is not God. Here's the general rule. The Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian. That's the general rule to work off. The Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means that you're a bad Christian. So, for example, there are many examples.

I'll just give you one. Acts 5, a law was passed in Jerusalem. You can't preach the gospel of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection anymore. Okay, that's a law.

That's the state. And the Bible says, submit to every ordinance. What do you do with that ordinance? You disobey that ordinance. Because if you obey that ordinance to be a good citizen, you're being a bad Christian. This is why Peter said, look, we're not going to obey what you have to say because we must obey God rather than man.

That's where he drew the line. So a Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian. Finally, closing remarks. If you happen to work for the government, let me say thank you.

I sincerely mean that. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being involved in the common grace and benefits to us. We pray for you. I hope we pray for you. We should be praying for you. The Bible says, pray for those who are in charge and are in government positions. So thank you. We pray for you.

But be careful and remember your role. I heard a sermon and I did a little research afterwards. There's a group of Christians several hundred years ago in England and Scotland called the Covenanters. I have visited their places of worship and some of the relics of the Scottish Covenanters. They were bold.

They resisted the government controlling the churches, which was really a problem back then. One of the leaders was named Andrew Melville. He was jailed in the Tower of London. I visited the Tower of London.

I have imagined all this. But he was imprisoned for a few years in the Tower of London. He was put in prison because as a minister he confronted the King of England, King James, King James VI. He said this in his public statement. There are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland.

There is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is King Jesus, the King of the Church, whose subject King James is and of whose kingdom he is not the king nor the lord nor a head but only a member. The government, the state, is not God. Be a good citizen. Obey the laws.

Watch those traffic laws, the speed limits. I preach to myself when I say that. If you've ever seen me pass you up, you know I'm preaching to myself. But you cross the line when being a good citizen means that you be a disobedient bad Christian.

Here's the final question. Have you rendered to God what belongs to him? If you're made in the image of God, if you bear the stamp of God Almighty, have you given yourself back to Him in surrender?

Have you really rendered to Him the things that are God's? For you to take this passage to heart means that you submit and surrender to Him. A powerful reminder to submit to God and surrender your life to Him.

That's Skip Heitig with a message from the series Kingdom City. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. God has revealed Himself and His will through scripture so that we can know Him and connect with Him in a meaningful way. That's why we share these messages, to help you connect to God through His word and grow in your relationship with Jesus. And when you support this ministry through your generosity, you keep these teachings you love available to you and to so many others around the world, helping others grow and connect with God. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today. That's 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate.

That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Come back tomorrow for a message that's all about the compassion of our Lord Jesus. No one was more compassionate than Christ. Nine times the New Testament describes Jesus as having compassion, having compassion for those who had incurable diseases like the blind beggars of Jericho, like the leper in Galilee, those who were brokenhearted, downcast, outcast, even a woman caught in adultery. He had compassion. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross. Connect with Skip Hyton is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-11 05:09:21 / 2024-06-11 05:18:25 / 9

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