Jesus’ response to the question: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not (Matthew 22:17)? He said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
So now we have a dual citizenship: Philippians 3:20 (ESV)—20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
God instituted government (Romans 13:1-4)
- Emperor Claudius had expelled some Jews after a dispute surrounding “Chrestus” (Christ). They’d returned by now, but lived under that volatile backdrop.
- There were Jewish Zealots who wanted to revolt against Rome.
- He suffered hardship from Rome.
God established government.
- Three institutions — home, church, government.
- There are two main, differening interpretations of instituted by God:
- God appoints every leader.
- God delegates some of His authority to government.
God is able to use the most wicked governments.
- Pharaoh / Cyrus / Artaxerxes / Pilate
- Daniel 4:25 (ESV)—25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.
- Bottom line: The authority behind the authority is God.
There are times, unfortunately, when a government will promote and encourage evil.
- We obey right up to the point where obedience to the state would entail disobedience to God.
- Acts 5:29 (ESV)—29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men
Christians should live in subjection to their government (Romans 13:5-7)
Consider Jesus’ relationship with government.
- Born under Roman suppression and census (Luke 2:1).
- Attacked by Herod at birth (Matthew 2:16).
- Popularized by the masses who thought he would overthrow Rome (John 6).
- Crucified for saying he was King of the Jews (John 19:21).
Martin Luther said it well - ”A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.”
Christians should owe only love (Romans 13:8-10)
Likely mostly a relational, not financial, command. However:
- Debt is sometimes unwise.
- Debt is sometimes sin.
- Debt is sometimes a bad witness.
We are called to be paid up in taxes, honor, revenue, and respect.
- Meaning all we have left is the ongoing debt of love to each other.
- Love leads to completing the law.
Christians should live like Jesus’ government comes soon (Romans 13:11-14)
Salvation is past tense, continual, and yet future.
- The future sense is spoken of here.
- As citizens of heaven, we know will experience it.
In light of His coming, we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
- In other words, we must live as we are, the way he has remade us.
In light of his coming, it is wisdom to make no provision for the flesh.