What Does Romans 13:1 Mean?

Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but from God: the powers that are, are ordained by God.

Romans 13:1(WBS)

Verse of the Day

We sometimes feel that we are surrounded by evil leaders who seem to have an anti-God agenda and we find it difficult to understand why. Sometimes we can be tempted to wonder if God has lost the plot, as we see evil men triumphing, while the children of God are in the midst of distress, and we wonder if Satan is winning. NEVER!! Whether it was the cities of Babylon, Rome, Greece, or the nation into which we ourselves have been born, God is in control, "for there is no power but of God and the powers that be, are ordained by God."

Whatever the circumstances of your life or the decisions made in the global corridors of earthly rule, God is firmly and eternally in control, both of your life and over the governments of the world, and He has scheduled a time when He will put all principalities and powers under His feet. Despite the polices of politicians, the regulations of religious leaders, and the dictates of both national and international dignitaries under whom we are currently placed, we have an assurance from the authoritative Word of God, that He is in control and has authorised every authority to carry out His eternal plan and purpose - so that CHRIST is ALL, and CHRIST will be ALL and in ALL.

The Lord God established a number of divine institutions at the beginning including marriage, the family, nationalism, and governmental authority, and down through history, we see that basest of men are often those the Lord sets in positions of authority. Let us never forget that it is the Lord Most High Who remains ruler over the realm of mankind... and He uses each one to forward His perfect purpose and plan.

There are those that object, often justifiably, to Paul's clear directive to be subject to the ruling authorities and higher powers, both in secular governments and the hierarchy of the church, but the apostle Peter clearly emphasises this teaching in his first epistle, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God.. that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-slaves of God. Honour all men; love the brotherhood; fear God; honour the king."

Paul's instruction to, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers", can often be resisted by those who recognise the problems and corruption that is often lurking in the corridors of power, but even in those difficult times, we must never forget that, "there is no power except that which comes from God and the powers that are, are ordained by God." However difficult we find the circumstances of life, within our family unit, or our national boundaries, we must never forget that God uses the difficulties of life to hone and strengthen our faith, and to draw us into closer fellowship with and dependence on Him.

Paul was not claiming that earthly governments must be obeyed because they are good or trustworthy. Rather, he was establishing the principle that we should all be subject to the higher powers, in spite of their faults and failings, because there is no authority except that which God Himself has permitted, and the powers that exist do so by God's sovereign appointment.

We must always remember that the power of every government, whether good or ill, is delegated authority from heaven, and the Lord will often use the effectual fervent prayers of His committed saints to accomplish His plans and purposes, through the good or evil choices of human rule. And no matter what righteous or ungodly decisions are made in the elected establishment or any unelected shadow administration, God remains in sovereign control, and will only permit men to achieve their objective, when it forwards His perfect plans and purposes in His redemptive programme. 

The Lord Jesus was the perfect example of a Man who subjected Himself to the established earthly authorities. The road He took in His earthly walk was a lonely way of isolation, rejection, and derision. He warned that those who are called by His name will receive the same treatment from religious worldlings... for in this fallen world-system we will suffer tribulation and trials. And though He instructed His children to give unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, He never once deviated from His overriding life-principle, to give unto God the things that belong to God.

We who are His children are also told to be of good cheer, for by His death and resurrection He has overcome the world, and although we will inevitably face difficulties and dangers in this fallen world, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us - Praise His Holy Name.

We are not to cherry-pick passages of which we approve and refuse to obey those we find difficult or offensive! We are to remember that good will overcome evil, Satan and sin have been defeated, Christ has won the victory, and one day every wrong in this world will be put right. Our attitude and actions are to be compliant to the higher powers without compromising the truth - we are to be as gentle as doves but as wise as serpents. We are to give unto Ceasar the things that are Ceasars and to God the things that are HIS and when we trust Him in every situation of life we will find that His grace is sufficient and that His power is perfected in our weakness.

My Prayer

Father, I thank You that You are in control of all that is happening in my life, throughout the world, and beyond. I pray that while I am here, You will take my life and use me in whatever way You choose, that I may be a faithful witness and bring glory to Your name, in my small corner of this world. I pray for the leaders and government of this nation and pray that You would expose and punish the evil-doers and being men and women of integrity to lead our country. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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