1 Peter Message #11 “Submit to Authority” Ed Miller, April 27, 2022

Listen to audio above while following along with the transcript below (also available for download in Word doc at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

We welcome you again to our look at the Lord Jesus.  I want to thank you all for praying for us all this last weekend.  We had a wonderful time.  We went up to New York, northern, and they even had snow on the ground, so we were way up there.  Anyway, it was a very blessed time, and I thank you for praying.

As we get ready to look in the Word, I remind my heart and yours again that principle of Bible study, total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  We need to trust the One who authored the Bible, to now illumine it, and to give us His Life.  We’re going to be this morning looking at, well, we’re in the principle of willingness to be done unto, and submission, and we’re going to look at submission to government this morning.  So, what I’d like to begin with before we pray is Psalm 33:10&11, “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations.  He frustrates the plans of the peoples.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever.  Then plans of His heart from generation to generation.”  You’ll see how that ties in as we go along.  Let’s pray together.

Father, thank You for the privilege of meeting in this place, and we ask You, and thank You for that indwelling Spirit who lives in our hearts, and we ask you, Lord, please unveil the Lord Jesus in a fresh way.  Take us forward in a heart knowledge of Christ through the study of 1 Peter.  We ask in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

I’m going to make one request before we start.  Since this whole topic of submission to the government is fodder for questions and discussions, since this is going on tape, if you could save your questions until the end, and that way we won’t break up the tape, because there is a lot I would like to cover this morning.  But we’ll take all the questions and discussions at the end. 

Let me give a very brief review, so I can get into our new material.  We’re in the section of 1 Peter that mentions the two manifestations of the pilgrim experience.  In other words, if I’m trusting the Lord Jesus, the true Pilgrim, the ideal Pilgrim that lives in my heart, then my pilgrim life will have two great principles that will be expressed with these two great truths.  One is in 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow in respect to salvation.”  If I’m really trusting the indwelling Lord, I will have an instinctive thirst, a desire to see the Lord Jesus in the Bible.  We will be childlike, and we will be His little ones.

The second principle we introduced last time is subjection, and I reminded you that the way Peter uses that word, usually we think of subjection as willing to do, “I will surrender.  I will do, I’ll give.”  But the way Peter uses it is willingness to be done unto.  1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”  And then he goes into government, whether to a king or one in authority.  Being done unto requires a great miracle of God.  Everything in the Christian life requires a miracle of God.  If anything in your life can be explained by you or me, by our own wisdom or strength, we’re probably on the wrong track.  We need the Lord.

Generally, and I say this of the most instructed Christian, we’re pretty good hypocrites.  We know how to fake, and we can fool a lot of people.  We can be clever, and we can hide our real selves.  We can fake humility and cover up our pride, or we can fake love, and cover up our bitterness or our envy, or like Joseph, we can even pretend we’re happy.  Genesis 43:30, “Joseph hurried out.  He was deeply stirred over his brother.  He saw a place to weep.  He entered his chamber and wept there.  Then he washed his face, and came out and controlled himself, and said, ‘Serve the meal.’”  Behind the scenes he was one thing, and then out in public he was another thing.  We can pretend that we have what we don’t have.  I can pretend that I have peace, and maybe fool you, when I know it’s really turmoil.  I can pretend that I’m living in liberty, and actually there is bondage in our life.  So, we can fake it pretty good, and masquerade that we’re gentle and we’re kind and generous and faithful and so on.  We can even pretend we’re in fellowship with God, and we may not be in fellowship with God. 

The reason I brought all that up is that I don’t think it’s possible to fake being done unto.  You need a miracle for that.  When you are being done unto, your face will turn red, your veins will pop out, your adrenaline will begin to flow, your voice will change, your eyes will begin to stare, your hair will stand on end, your heart will pound, and the atmosphere you could begin to cut with a power saw.  It turns into a glacier.  You can’t fake being done unto.  We need the Lord if we’re going to have this characteristic, the excellency of Christ coming forth from us. 

This idea of being willing to be non-resistant, and turn the other cheek, and go the second mile, and give our cloak also, Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” you and I need the Lord.  1 Peter 3:9, “Not returning evil for evil, insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead.”  I just suggest that we need the Lord for that kind of an attitude.  It’s so impossible to live that way.  But He lives in us to be done unto. When we closed last session, I remind you that because He lives in us and loves the will of God, even if my heart resists the will of God, I trust the One in me who loves the will of God.  I can’t be done unto.  He IS the One who is being done unto, and we need to trust the Lord.

If you will be patient with me now, I’d like to move into this second principle that we sort of outlined last week.  The idea that we are aliens and strangers, and God has delivered us out of the world, and He has called us to be subject, 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourself 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 evil doers and the praise of those who do right.  Such is the will of God, that by doing right, you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”  Then he says to act as free men.  So, not only submit, but keep your liberty, and don’t lose your freedom.

If you’ll be patient with me, I would like to discuss that we were in a culture, in the world, Satan’s world, in darkness, and He redeemed us from the ways of the world, from the culture, and He brought us into another culture, His own culture.  So, at first it may seem like this is disconnected, but if you’ll be patient with me, I think you’ll see where we’re going.  Colossians 1:13, “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  He redeemed us from one culture into another culture.  We’re still being sanctified from the culture we used to live in, and we’re still being enculturated into the culture He has brought us.  I know we’ve all experienced both.  We’ve experienced the world, and we’ve experienced the Lord, but what I’d like to do for moment is contrast those two worlds, God’s culture and man’s culture, but I want to do it technically, in other words, just a little lesson on culture.  This is not humanities or sociology.  I would like to show the contrast between God’s culture and man’s culture, and then sort of widen our discussion a little away from 1 Peter into the balance of scripture, and what God’s says about all of this, and then finally home in on 1 Peter.  If that’s confusing, let me just say it in other words, I want to first look at God’s institution of human government, and then I want to show the difference between absolute authority and delegated authority, and then, Lord willing, how that applies in our hearts.  May God help us!

I think it’s good to start at the beginning, and when I say the beginning I’m talking about the beginning, way back in Adam and Eve.  The plan was, and this was God’s original plan, that the human race would be one glorious society.  He never planned on nations, but that we’d be one glorious society, and that we’d all live together in harmony and manifest the image of God, which is Christ.  That was the original plan, but as you know, sin changed everything.  God’s plan for one society, one people, all living together in harmony was ended forever at the tower of Babel.  Genesis 11:7&8, “’Let us go down,’ God says, ‘and confuse their language, so they will not understand another’s speech,’ and the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth.”  And after the Tower of Babel the human race was not any longer one society with one language and having everything in common.  It became many societies and spread out all over the world, and with many nations.  Now, each group, each language group, everywhere they went, they had to organize society.  They had to live together, and had to learn how to get along, and learn how to survive.  So, you have many cultures, many societies.

I want you to picture this.  Sometimes we draw a pie, and they cut it up in four pieces.  Every society, no matter how remote, and no matter how undeveloped, or no matter how developed, must have these four things.  You cannot have a society without these four things.  Now, those four things will be applied differently in each society.  Let me mention the four, and then you’ll see how it ties in to 1 Peter.  Every society, no matter how primitive, has to have some kind of technology.   “How are we going to live?  Are we going to farm, are we going to fish, are we going to hunt?  Should we trade with one another?  How are we going to communicate?  Do we yell across the field?  Do we use smoke signals?  What is our dress going to be like?  How are we going to dress?  How are we going to live?  What’s our architecture?  What’s our art?  Are we going to live in a grass hut?  Are we going to have wood?  Is it going to be brick, or is going to be stone?”  Every culture on earth has to figure out how to get from the environment, a way to live, and if it’s more advanced, a way to live comfortably.  They want technology.  So, every culture, no matter how primitive, has it’s technology.

The second thing is that every culture has social organization, how to get along with one another.  “How do I get along with my neighbor?  What’s my society going to look like?  Is it going to be a cast system?  Is there going to be an upper class and a middle class and a lower class.  How do we respond?  How do we deal with the sick?  How do we deal with the elderly?  How do we deal with the stranger?  How do we deal with somebody who might be deformed?”  Some of these cultures have weird, weird ideas.  “How do we raise them?  How do we educate?  What are the norms of marriage?  What are the norms of funerals?” and so on.  Every society has technology, “How can I live, how do I get along with my neighbor?”

The third thing is religion.  Every society, God put it in everybody, and He put eternity in our hearts.  Everybody believes in two primary truths; there is a God.  I saw a shirt one time that said, “God doesn’t believe in atheists.”  That’s true.  There’s no such thing as an atheist.  You might say, “Well, what about that Bible verse that says, ‘There is no God.’”  Actually, the Hebrew says, “No God for me.”  It isn’t that there is no God.  It’s, “No God for me. I’m rejecting God.”  It’s a primary truth that there is a God, and it’s a primary truth that there is an afterlife.  Everybody believes that they’re going to survive, whether they’re worshipping a totem pole, and their ancestors, or the pyramids, and burying horses and servants with them, or their happy hunting grounds, or nirvana or the place of eternal dream, everybody in every society has to have a religion.  Some believe that bugs and insects have a soul.  So, they won’t kill an insect because they worship bugs and they worship beetles.  Sometimes, it goes the other way, and they worship Satan.  They’ve got to worship something.  I read one society that worships extra-terrestrial beings, and some people just worship nature, but they’ve got to have worship.  Every society on the earth has its own technology, its own social organization, and its own religion.

The last thing, and that’s getting closer to Peter, there’s got to be some form of government.  There’s got to be control.  There’s got to be rule.  Some are sophisticated, and some are pagan, but there’s got to be some kind of a government, whether it’s a democracy, or whether its socialism, or whether it’s a despot and communism or dictatorship or tyranny, aristocracy, or an oligarchy where the elite and few people take over, or tribal leaders, there’s got to be some kind of government.  Every nation on earth has technology, social organization, religion and government. 

Now, let’s go upstairs.  God has redeemed us from our society with its technology, social norms, religion, and government, and He’s brought us into His culture.  So, I ask the question, “Now that we’re upstairs, does He have technology that we’re supposed to follow in His culture?  Does He have social organization?  Does He have religion, or spiritual things?  And, of course, does He have government?  1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  Does God have anything to say about how we survive?  Matthew 6:25, “I say for this reason I say to you, ‘Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat, what you will drink, nor for your body, what you will put on.  Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing?’”  Matthew 6:31, “Do not worry, then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear for clothing?’ for the gentiles eagerly seek those things,” the society under your feet.  “Your heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things.  Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs.”  So, does God have anything to say about how to live?  He said, “Yeah, trust Me, and I’ll provide for you.  You don’t have to worry about your clothing.  You don’t have to worry about your food or where you are going to live.  Trust Me.”

Does God have anything to say about social organization, how to get along with one another?  It’s the golden rule.  He absolutely does.  Matthew 19:19, “You love your neighbor as yourself.”  He’s got a lot to say about how to get along with people.  Does He have anything to say about religion?  You know He does.  John 4:24, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  So, we’re pilgrims, and God says, “You’ve been lifted out of this society, and now I want you to take My technology, and trust Me, and I’ll meet all your needs.  Take my social organization, and I will work in you, and spread abroad love in your heart, and you will love.  Worship in spirit and in truth.”  So, we take God’s technology, God’s social organization and God’s spiritual view.

We come now to government.  Does God have a government?  Matthew 2:2,
“Where is He who has been born king of the Jews?”  Our government we have a king, and His name is Jesus.  Right from the start that government antagonized the government of this world.  You know the record, Matthew 2:16, “When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became enraged and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem, and in all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.”  That idea that there was a king threatened the government of this world.  God’s society has a king.  That was His issue all the way to the cross.  Remember when He was being tried, Pilate asked, John 18:33, “Pilate entered again into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to Him, ‘Are You the king of the Jews?’  He answered, verse 36, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If My kingdom were of the world, then my servants would be fighting, so that I would not be handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’”  So, the idea that we have a government, and He’s a king, that’s when they mocked Him, and that’s what the thorn of crowns was all about.  It was mocking the king.  That’s what the sign on the cross was all about, “This is Jesus, king of the Jews,” but now here comes the twist, and this is why I wanted to start with that background.

When we live in God’s society, we trust Him for our needs.  When we live in God’s society, we trust that He will love through us.  When we live in God’s society, we worship Him, in spirit and in truth, but not this is so important.  Our king has given us a command, and our king says, “Use My technology, use My social organization, use My spiritual principle, but when it comes to government, I, as a king, am commanding you to submit to any government in which you find yourself.”  That’s different.  That’s not just His technology or social organization.  He said, “If you are born in a democracy, you submit, then, to that democracy.  If you are born and there’s a monarchy, you are going to submit to that king, or that queen.  If you are born as a communist and a communist government, you are to submit to that government, and to that czar, even if it’s a tyrant.”  This is different, and Peter is going to develop that.  “Trust Me for technology, and I’ll meet your needs.  Trust Me to love through you.  Trust Me to enable you to have a relationship and a fellowship with Me, but when it comes to government, I, your king, command you to submit, and be willing to be done unto in any government on the planet where you find yourself.”  And as I submit to any government, listen to Romans, and this is where it’s really developed, Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to governing authorities.  There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God, and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”  Any government, no matter how cruel and evil and Godless, any government is better than anarchy, any government is better than no government at all.  No matter how bad the government is, it’s better than every man doing what’s right in his own eyes.

Do you remember when Jesus told Pilate, when Pilate claimed to have authority, John 19:10, “Pilate said to Him, ‘You do not speak to me?  Do you not know that I have authority to release You and I have authority to crucify You.’”  Do you remember Jesus’ answer? John 19:11, “Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.’”  This is an amazing verse.

I want to focus for a moment on the power of the two governments.  The government up here that we live in, God’s technology, God’s social organization, God’s spiritual truth, and God is king, that government has absolute authority.  The government down here that we’ve been redeemed from has delegated authority. It’s not absolute authority.  It’s delegated authority; it’s derived authority.  Therefore, it has limits.  There is limited authority.  Every authority on the earth comes from God.  1 Peter 3:15, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart.”  That’s why I made the point earlier that when it comes to government and all these things, we don’t submit to government.  We submit to the Lord in terms of government.  We submit to absolute authority in terms of delegated authority. 

Once again, that Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to governing authority.  There is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”  Verse 2, “Whoever resists authority, has opposed the ordinance of God.”  Romans 13:4, “It is a minister of God to you for good.”  You say that Greek word “minister”, what is that?  It’s exactly the same way if you are talking about church.  It’s the same word for “deacon”.  They’re deacons.  The ministers of the government are deacons, political deacons.  Romans 13:6, “Rulers are the servants of God.”  If you resist, you resist God.  They’re ministers of God.  They’re deacons of God.  They’re servants of God.  That’s why I’m saying this is going to be impossible unless you trust the Lord.

Government is mentioned first in 1 Peter because it’s the illustration.  The verse is, “Submit yourself to every human institution.”  Let me illustrate government, government and then everything included under that.  All authority derives from Him.  I love in that connection Proverbs 8:15, “By Me kings reign, rulers decree justice.  By Me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly.”  Daniel 4:32, “The most high is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”  Government is the big illustration.  All authority, whether it’s bosses, whether it’s teachers, whether it’s parents, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s the police force, whether it’s the elders in the body of Christ, whether it’s a crossing guard, whether it’s those who make rules at Bible schools and seminaries and certain institutions, my response to delegated authority must flow from my union with Christ who has absolute authority.  If I resist, I’m resisting God, and I need to check my heart.

While we’re looking at this truth of absolute authority and delegated authority, let me ask this question and then try to answer it.  Since we have Romans 13 which seems to be the full mention of this, where God has given us all the government, why do we need 1 Peter 2?  What does Peter give us that Romans does not give us?  I think partially the answer is in the commonly accepted chronology.  Romans was written about 58 AD.  Almost all conservative commentators would hold that, or close to that.  1 Peter was written about 64 or 65 AD.  So what?  What’s the difference?  I’ll tell you the difference.  Romans was written in relative peace time.  1 Peter was written when the government had turned against the people of God.  In a general way, in Romans the government had a favorable disposition toward the message and toward Christians, but, as you know, when 1 Peter was written and Nero ascended the throne and Rome burned down and Christians were blamed, the government took a stand and turned against God’s people. 

If I only had Romans I might be tempted to say, “Submit to government, as long they don’t persecute you.  Submit to government in peace time.”  But by giving us 1 Peter, God says, “Submit to government no matter what they do to you,” and that’s a different story altogether.  1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”  1 Peter 2:15, “Such is the will of God.”  It’s called, “the will of God.”  The Christians in Peter’s day would say, “Are you serious?  This is the will of God?  They’re putting us to death.  This is the will of God?  Our children, our wives, our families are being torched, and are being put on poles and being set on fire.  They’re being crucified, and they’re being martyred.”  It’s a hard teaching.  So, that’s why I want to spend a little time, because it’s such a basic thing.

Next time, Lord willing, I’m going to get in a little closer to the reasons; why does God say, “Submit to every government on the earth, wherever you go?  Use my technology, except for government.  There you just submit.”  Why does He say that?  There are several reasons, but I want to jump over a couple of those reasons, and then get to the big reason here.

Delegated authority and absolute authority, Matthew 28:18, “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given Me in heaven and on earth,” either by decree or by permission, all authority dwells in the Lord.  All delegated authority and all deprived authority, as I said earlier, is limited.  It’s restricted.  There are boundaries.  Submit to the government, but there are boundaries.  Of course, the famous verse is Matthew 22:21, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God.” 

Here is an interesting thing.  When you read 1 Peter, and I was a little bit surprised at this, I went through it several times to make sure I was correct, Peter tells us to submit to the government, but he doesn’t mention the limitations of that submission.  There are limitations, but in 1 Peter, Peter doesn’t mention it.  That doesn’t mean he didn’t know them, because we know he knew when Caesar went past God.  How do I know that?  Acts 4, for example, the delegated government commanded Peter and John not to minister anymore in Jesus’ name.  Acts 4:19, “Peter and John answered, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than God, you be the judge.  We cannot stop speaking about what we’ve heard.”  So, Peter himself knew that Caesar stepped over the line.  Again, in Acts 5, the public official put the apostles in jail, and God delivered them, and they returned to street preaching.  When they were re-arrested, Peter said in 1 Peter 5:29, “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”  So, there are limits and Peter knew it.  He just didn’t mention it in 1 Peter.  He didn’t tell us about those limits because he is illustrating to those who are martyrs that the need is to submit.

I think it’s important not only to emphasize 1 Peter, but here’s where I said I want to back off and get a little broader.  There are limits.  Caesar does step over the line.  What are those limits?  I’d like to look at that just for a moment.  I’m not going to read this.  I’ll just tell you the story.  Matthew 22:17-21, in the context of that we ought to obey God rather than Caesar, he tells this story.  They came to Him mocking Him, “Are we supposed to pay taxes?”  He said, “Give me a coin.”   Remember that?  They gave Him a coin.  He said, “Whose image is on that coin?”  They said, “Caesar’s is stamped on that coin.”  He said, “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”  It’s a very precious principle, because it’s authority from God and authority from men, and the issue is this, whose image were you stamped in?  That’s what He’s talking about.  He said, “Caesar is on that coin.  You were created and stamped with the image of the Lord.  You render to God what belongs to God, and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”  Matthew 22:21, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

The question comes, “How do I know if delegated authority has crossed the line and gone into absolute authority?”  Clearly, we ought to obey God, and everybody knows that, and not to obey men.  Sometimes it’s clear, and it’s not conflicting.  If the law says to keep the speed limit and don’t litter and dispose of dangerous waste in a certain way, or leash your dog, or license your dog or get your car inspected, that’s not going against God’s authority; don’t pass a school bus, yield the right of way is pretty easy, even though some Christians struggle even with those things.  I’ll give you the big answer.  If your heart is set on pleasing the Lord, you don’t need all the stuff I’m about to give, because you are going know.  If your heart is pleasing the Lord, the peace of God will rule your heart.  You’ll know whether you should do it this way or that way.  Having said that, there are some believers who say, “Let’s find the Bible principle and then apply that Bible principle.”

Here’s an opportunity for me to share a principle.  There are Bible principles, and all Christians would agree with the Bible principle, but not all Christians would apply it in the same way.  What I’d like to do now is just share this, because the danger is that we’ll come to the same principle and we’ll agree, and then you’ll apply it one way and I’ll apply it another way, and then we get critical of those who don’t apply it the same way we apply it.  I want to deal with that just a little bit, so that we’ll always have that Spirit of the Lord and the Spirit of love.

Sometimes, and we’ll look at this next time, too, God gives the principle and the application.  If He gives the principle and the application, like pay your taxes, that’s His application.  So, that’s not up for grabs.  You can’t disagree with God’s application.  If He gives the principle and the application, we go with His application.  But if He gives a principle, then we need to trust the Lord who lives in us to show us how to apply that.  In order to illustrate that, let me give several principles that we all agree on, and then show you different applications.

The first principle I already mentioned, Matthew 22:21, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Everybody here would agree, not to let Caesar get out of bound and go over to God.  We obey God.  If there is a word from God, we obey God.  But how do we apply that?  I think you might be familiar with John McCarther.  He’s the reformed Baptist pastor of Grace Community Church in California.  Actually, he’s pastored that church now for sixty-three years.  It’s a long time to be in one church.  He has that radio program “Grace to You”, and so on.  When California put a ban on church gatherings because of Covid, McCarther refused to submit.  He said, “Caesar crossed the line.”  His reasoning was, “I am supposed to submit to delegated authority.  I submit to the authority of the Lord and to delegated authority, if it doesn’t cross the line.”  Here is his reasoning.  The authority of the United States, the government of the United States is not some governor from California or even some resident that might live in Washington, D.C.  The government of our country, according to McCarther, is the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.  He said, “I may have gone against the governor of California, but I’m submitting to our Constitution.”  So, he said that he applied it that way.  I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, and I’m not judging his heart.  That’s how he applied.  Not everyone would apply it that way.

In another example, 1 Corinthians 4:1&2, I’ll read at the end, “It’s required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”  I think every Christian would agree that we’re stewards: stewards of money, stewards of property, stewards of the gifts of God, stewards of ministry, and we’re all to be good stewards, faithful stewards.  I know a family that refuses to go to any movie, even if it’s G rated.  They won’t go to a movie because they want to be good stewards.  They’ve got the principle, and that money is spread out in Hollywood, and they aren’t going to support Hollywood.  That’s how they apply that principle. 

I have a friend back in Rhode Island, and I still think he’s going to get in trouble, but every year he holds back a percentage of his taxes.  He figures it out, and he says, “I’m not going to support planned parenthood, and he figures it out and he does the math, and he refuses to pay that.  He’s been doing that for years and they’ve never caught up to him, yet.  That’s how he applies it, and he says, “I want to be a good steward, and the government stepped over the line.  I cannot support that.”

When I was a pastor of a little church, a navy church in Rhode Island, we were supporting a missionary from Africa, and he was doing tribal work, and was in the jungle.  He wanted us to send clothing.  He said, “These tribal people need clothing.”  In his letter he said this, “We encourage you, if you are going to send new clothing, wash it, and then it will get by customs as secondhand clothing.”  That was the reasoning, and his reasoning was, “I want to be a good steward.  Why should we pay customs when you are ministering that way?”  Evidently, he didn’t hold literally Romans 13:7, “Render to all what is due, tax to whom tax is due, custom to whom custom.”  That’s how he applied it.  I’m not judging his heart.  For him he’s a good steward.  He just wants to be a good steward.

Let me give another example.  2 Timothy 2:4, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the One who enlisted him as a soldier.”  The principle is clear.  We’re pilgrims, and we’ve been redeemed.  Let’s not get entangled in this world, its methods, it’s system.  Then the question comes, “What is ‘entangled?’  How do we know if we’re entangled?”  The early brethren, the Christian brethren, the Plymouth Brethren, said, “Voting is entanglement.  You can’t vote.”  They based it on Matthew 5:37, “Let your statement be yes, yes, or no, no.  Anything beyond this is evil.”  So, if you can’t give 100% yes to your candidate, you have no right voting.  That’s how they applied it.  That was entanglement. 

Some apply it even more strongly.  They said that a Christian has no right to be entangled.  There is no such thing as a Christian policeman, no such thing as a Christian, it’s being entangled, politician.  You can’t be on a school board.  You can’t be on a counsel, man or woman.  Others would say, “Yeah, but how about Jeremiah 29:7, ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile.  Pray for the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will have welfare.’”  We’re to seek the welfare of the government in which we find ourselves. So, they say, “Seeking the welfare is not only your civic right, it’s not only your civic privilege, but it becomes your civic duty.  You not only can vote, you should vote.  You have to seek the welfare of the place in which you are living.  You’ve got to get on the school board and run for office and march against abortion clinics and try to get bad literature out of public school, and all of that, write to your congressmen.

Now I apply it differently.  Not everybody would apply it my way.  I believe in redemptive change.  People have come to me very often and they say, “We’re going on a march and we’re marching against this or that, and will join us?”  I’ll say, “No.”  Will you write your congressman?”  I say, “No.”  They say, “Why?”  And I say, “That’s change, but it’s not redemptive change.  I want redemptive change.”  That’s how I apply it.  That doesn’t make me right, and it doesn’t make me wrong.  I’m just saying, the principle, everybody would hold it.  Caesar can’t go into God’s authority.  We believe that and we hold that.  We need to obey God, not Caesar, we need to be good stewards, we don’t need to get entangled, and there are other illustrations, as well.  God leads in paths of righteousness.  According to Matthew 10:23, “Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next.”  I know a Christian during the Viet Nam war, and he said that war was unrighteous and, “I can’t get involved in that war,” and therefore, according to Matthew 10:23, he fled and went to Canada, because he didn’t want to get into the war.  He’s applying a principle, and he applied it in such a way, and then he’s regarded as a traitor, and he’s not allowed to come back because he went against the government, and so on.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  I was at school with one of my professors and he didn’t believe in contact sports, “If you’re a Christian, you would never box and never play football, because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.”  I was told one day by someone who was selling health food that I’d be out of fellowship with God as a Christian if I didn’t buy health food from them, because our bodies are supposed to be healthy, and so on.  It’s the same principle, but people apply it differently.  1 Peter 3 :15, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart.”  Render to Caesar what’s his, and to God what is His.  Be good stewards, and don’t get entangled in this world, walk in paths of righteousness, commit your bodies to the Lord, they belong to Him.  It’s not your property.  I love in that connection Romans 14:4, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls, and he will stand.  The Lord is able to make him stand.”  So, you are responsible to your Master.  I’m responsible to my Master.  I can’t criticize you if your Master allows you to do something and my Master doesn’t allow me to do it.  I can’t judge you, and you can’t judge me.  As far as the principle, we all agree on the principle.  As far as the application, may God help us not to be critical and to be loving, and not necessarily apply it everybody else applies it.

I’m not quite finished with this subjection, but I don’t want to end on the sour note I’m talking about now.  So, having said that, I’d like to end in a Christ-centered way.  I always want to end in a Christ-centered way.  So, we’re going to look at some of the purposes of subjection.  It’s for our good, it’s for redemptive reasons, but the main reason that God says this is way, way, way, way beyond our ability to understand it.  Every delegated authority is fulfilling the ultimate purpose of the Lord.  We are so short sighted.  We look at the nations of the world, and terror sometimes fills our heart.  We look at Russia, at China, at North Korea, Iran, and they’re talking about the possibility of a nuclear war, WW3.  That’s not how God sees nations.   Isaiah 40:15, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales.”  Verse 17, “All the nations are as nothing before Him.  They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”  Russia, Iran, Ukraine, United States, Europe – a drop in the bucket, less than nothing, and a piece of dust on the scale.  That’s how God’s sees it, and that’s the problem that God’s people have always had, trying to figure out in this world, “Submit to every government, wherever you find yourself,” and we’re seeing this government as huge and oppressive and over-bearing, and we say, “Why in the world did God allow Egypt to let His people be slaves 400 years?  Why did He allow the Assyria to swallow up nine tribes?  Why did He allow Babylon to put His people in captivity for seventy years?  Why did He allow Hitler to reign?”  Don’t answer this; just think for a moment.  Is God behind that devastation that’s going on in Ukraine?  Did He put Putin in his place to carry out that genocide?  Is Biden part of His plan?  It’s because we’re so blind to God’s big purposes; God is working, and He has high purposes.  Now I’m going to say something, but I’m guilty.  I’m probably more guilty than any.  I love to joke about Congress.  I love to mock Biden.  I speak evil of the government, and so on.  The Lord is checking me on this, but it’s because we have such a small view of all of this. 

This is the same question that the prophet Habakkuk struggled with.  Habakkuk 1:13, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil.  You cannot look on wickedness with favor.  Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously?  Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?”  That was the prophet’s question.  How does God answer?  Habakkuk 5:1, “Look among the nations, observe, and be astonished and wonder, because I’m doing something in your days you would not believe it if you were told.”  Isn’t that a marvelous verse?  God is at work in this world among the nations of the world.  Then He says in verse 3, “The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal.  It will not fail, though it tarries, wait for it.  It will certainly come, and it will not delay.”  God has plans for the nations of this world, and they’re not going to fail.  Then in verse 4 He tells us our part, “Behold as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by faith.”  We’ve got to trust the Lord.  We’ve got to live by faith.

One more thing and I’ll close.  Romans 8:31, “What then, shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Naturally we think that all of our enemies are against us, but if you’re trusting Christ this morning, and if I’m trusting Christ, all of your enemies are fighting for you, and not against you, because God causes all things to work together.  Sometimes we just start the verse with, “All things work together,” but don’t forget that God causes all things to work together.  You might say, “Well, what if our enemies hurt us?”  They might hurt you, but they can’t harm you.  They might hurt me, but they can’t harm me.  God is in control and He’s watching over His people and He’s doing something redemptive, working in your life, your family, your neighborhood, the nations of the world.  He’s working and we can’t see it, but He said, “I’m doing something in your day, that if I told you, you would never believe it.”  He’s working, and He said, “Now you trust Me by faith.  Wait for it; it will come.  My purposes will unfold.  They’re going to unfold, and it will come.”  Fire doesn’t really harm gold, and pounding doesn’t harm the clay.  It might hurt it, but it doesn’t harm it.  Grinding doesn’t hurt the grain, and pruning doesn’t hurt the fruit.  We need to see Jesus, the One who has all authority, and living in your heart, and He says, “I want you to submit, but I want you to trust Me because I’m going to submit through you.  He’ll unfold so much as we go along, but may the Lord help us to just see the big picture, that God is everywhere.  We’ll close here.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, not that we understand anything, but, Lord, help us to understand Your heart in this wonderful command, as we live in Your culture and you enculturate us, to submit to You, and to crown You as Lord, and sanctify You as Lord in our hearts, and then that we might be that testimony as we submit to delegated authority, by trusting You.  Thank You for the promises, that You’re working a work in our days, that even if You were to spell it out, we wouldn’t believe it.  Thank You, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.