I. IntroductionII. The Power of the Sword
Romans 13:1-7 “1 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. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise
from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
-As Christians, whose citizenship in the Kingdom of God takes precedence over our citizenship as Americans, our views ought to be based, not on political loyalties, but on the unchanging truths of God’s Word. We should base what we believe on God and what He has said because Truth does not change, whereas cultural and political views and movements do.
-The aim of this article is to see what the Bible says about the right use of force and when, if ever, war is justified.
-Generally Christians fall into 2 camps when it comes to the subject of war
1)Those who support the idea of a just war because they read in the Old Testament of God’s command to Israel to make war, specifically the command to make a conquest of the land of Canaan.
2)Those who oppose war based on the 6th Commandment not to murder, and on Jesus’ teaching and modeling of non-violence in the New Testament.
-The governing authority at the time this verse was written was Rome.
-Paul recognized the God-ordained role of civil government and called on Christians to honor and submit to it. (verse 1)
-Paul is saying that civil government is ordained by God. God appoints the office of rulers over others because there is a need for it. That need exists because of the advent of sin during the Fall.
-Without an authority structure in place, the sinfulness of man, manifested in his
selfishness, will result in constant conflict.
-Paul equates a refusal to submit to the authority of civil rulers as nothing less than opposition to God Himself. (verse 2) Why? Because God ordained the civil rulers to maintain order. It is part of His Will for us on earth to answer to these governmental authorities.
-It is the duty of the ruled to be subject to the God-ordained authority of civil rulers.
-God ordains civil government to support what is morally good while suppressing evil. (v. 3)
-Authority is empty if it is not backed up by force.
-The sword is the “compelling power” to authority.
-Authority refers to the legal right. Force speaks of the ability to do so. For example, a policeman has a badge showing he has the legal right to enforce the law, and he has a gun which serves as the means by which he enforces it. His gun makes the authority of the badge effective.
-God ordains civil government both authority and the power to back up that authority.
-We must recognize and honor the expressions of God’s authority, and that is what civil rulers are.
-Since submission to civil rulers is seen as a submission to God according to the Bible, then a defiance of civil rulers is likewise a defiance toward God.
-What about those civil rulers who hate God and place terrible demands on people?
It is interesting to look back at the persecution of early Christians and notice that those who were being persecuted did not defy the authority and become full out protestors; the early Christians instead displayed a quiet, gentle humility toward the executioners who were abusing them. Although the Christians disobeyed the law by refusing to worship and call Caesar god, they were obeying the spirit behind the laws given…a spirit of humility and submission to the laws of God. As a result of their quiet, yet strong spirits, many of their executioners became Christians also because they saw how good and upright the Christians were and how they humbly submitted to the sentence given them by the government as opposed to non-Christian law breakers.
-Christians not only owe a debt of submission and respect to civil rulers, they owe them support. This support is shown through the paying of taxes.
-Taxes are us affirming the God ordained role of government and showing our recognition of God’s authority through government.
-What about governments who misuse taxes? Should we stop paying taxes because we do not agree with what the government is doing with them? No, we should continue to pay our taxes regardless of what the government does with the money because God is the ultimate judge and these civil authorities will ultimately be judged and held accountable for their actions when we all will stand before His throne.
-Our duty as Christians right now is to obey the laws of God given through civil government.
The Use of Force
-Paul sees the proper or just use of the “sword” as being the restraint and punishment of evil.
-Because we live in a fallen world, force is necessary to restrain those who are doing evil, and when they perpetrate evil, to punish them.
-God will spiritually judge individuals for the evil they do by eternal means.
But He also judges evil in the here and now through human agents.
-Justice and Love are not mutually exclusive. True justice always comes to bring out the most perfect virtue: love. True justice seeks to restrain evil so that love and peace can prevail.
-God is NOT opposed to the use of force if it is used to a just end. In fact, Jesus will judge with a “rod of iron” in the Millenium where justice will be perfect and swift (no lawyers, no juries, no long drawn out trials…Jesus will use force swiftly to bring about peace and justice).
The Doctrine of “Just War”
The “Just War” must…
1) Have just cause (ie. restraining evil or punishing evil doers; or preventing imminent evil harm from occurring).
2) Be declared by a proper authority (not just anyone can declare war).
3) Possess right intention (ie. to redress an injury or prevent one from occurring).
4) Have a reasonable chance of success (there must be a good enough reason to risk the lives of troops)
5) Have as its ultimate goal the establishment of peace in a region.
6) Be waged with means proportional to the end.
7) Use weapons and methods which discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.
-In Romans 13, Paul is identifying the God-ordained role of civil government and the way believers relate to it. The previous verses, on the other hand, deal with interpersonal relationships, not the role of the civil government….it’s apples and oranges.
-The 6th commandment prohibits MURDER, not killing. Murder is the premeditated, purposeful taking of a life (or lives) without the legal justification or authority to do so.
-Civil rulers have a God-ordained task with the delegated power to back it up–the protection of those they serve by leading them. Police are delegated to do this on a local level, and civil government is authorized to do this on a national and global level.
-A strong and capable military acts as a restraint to evil.
III. ConclusionSometimes War is Necessary!
War that’s waged to protect a nation’s citizens from imminent harm is the proper function of civil government.
No matter how good the world may be doing, it is ever the role of the church to stand as a prophetic voice, separate from the world and separate from the government, calling the world to an even greater degree of righteousness.
-Churches should NOT buddy up with any political view or movement. Our duty as Christians is to stand to the side calling others to the cause of the Kingdom of Christ. We are not Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Green Peace in God’s eyes; we are Christians and should act likewise.