The Christian Responsibility of Obedience and Action
IT BEGINS WITH MOTIVE
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. not for men.
Romans 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Romans 14:23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
PRINCIPLE: Truly right deeds/decisions can only be made by the Christian from a heart of faith, guided by God’s Word, regardless of its perceived outcome.
A CHRISTIAN SHOULD NOT LOSE SIGHT OF HIS PURPOSE IN LIFE
2 Corinthians 6:2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Hebrews 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Matthew 5:16 in the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
PRINCIPLE: The purpose of life is to glorify God by coming to, growing, and then sharing that faith with others by our word and examples.
THE OPERATIVE WORD IS “OBEDIENCE”
Leviticus 18:4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God.
Romans 13:1-7 Everyone 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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For 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. For 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. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
- God has established all governments
- The tool he gives the government is the sword (force).
- Through the government God wishes to bless us with:
- Law and order (Romans 13:4)
- Peaceful circumstances for Christian living
- 1 Timothy 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
- Protection of human life
- Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
- Protection of the weak and helpless
- Psalms 82:3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
- The Christian owes the Government his obedience, support and possibly his service.
- Matthew 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
- Luke 3:12-14 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.
- The principle to obey the government is absolute (we ought not focus on exceptions)
- Disobedience is rebelling against what God has instituted 3. Individuals are not to usurp the government’s responsibility or its tools.
- Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, bur overcome evil with good.
- Matthew 26:51-52 With that one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
- The Christian’s obedience to the Government is not to conflict with his obedience to God
- Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!
THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM: WHEN DOES THE GOVERNMENT PRESENT TO THE CHRISTIAN A CONFLICT WITH HIS OBEDIENCE TO GOD?
The Easy Cases:
God specifically commands something and the government specifically forbids it. (see Acts 5:29).
- Exodus 1:16-17 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
The More Difficult Cases:
When God’s command may be fulfilled in different ways and the government specifically forbids some of those ways.
- Acts 28:30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
- Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Cases Where Life is at Stake:
The life of Christ illustrated that while human life is important and is to be cared for it provided no greater cause for civil disobedience than other sins – especially when compared to the exceeding importance of worshiping God properly:
- Mark 11:15-17 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
- Matthew 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then be said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
- Financial support of God-pleasing work.
- Volunteer support of God-pleasing work.
- Proclaiming God’s Word on issues.
- Writing political leaders.
- Becoming a political leader.
- Supporting legislation reflecting God’s will.
- Writing letters to the editors.
- Sidewalk counseling.
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