Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

God, Man, and Society - Part 5

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Barry Johnson

God, Man, and Society - Part 5 God, Man, and Society - Part 5

Date 2009-08-16
Series The War of Holiness
Sub-series God, Man, and Society
Document (PDF) BFF-20090816-GodManAndSocietyPartV.pdf

God, Man and Society, Part V (War of Holiness)

Call to Worship

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9: 6-7a) HALLELUJAH!!!!

Message

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, upon Whose shoulders rests the government (Isaiah 9:6). You can't talk about the government without talking about men -- the citizens (or subjects) of government, and you can't talk about men without talking about God. Hence, we speak in this series of the relationship of God, Man and Society.

And, thus, we continue in our study of Romans 13:1-7, and in God's instruction as to the proper structural relationship of God, Man and Society -- as centered around the institution of civil government, its exercise of civil authority and power, and the duty of Man to God to act in obedience to the civil government. Let's review the passage, Romans 13:1-7.

We have come to understand from verse 1 that the governments derive their power from God and that the authorities that exist are appointed (KJV: "ordained") by God.

Last week, in our initial study of Romans 13: 2-5, we came to the conclusion that our duty to obey government is tempered by the substance of the ruler's (note, not the government's) exercise of the authority and power of government, regardless of the form of the government. In particular, we saw that verses 4 and 5 explain to us the role of the ruler in our analysis of obedience: if the ruler leads or commands us to do evil, we must disobey; if the ruler leads or commands us to do good, we must obey. Our obedience of the ruler, the ruling authority, is not to go so far as to produce evil, because God does not command us to sinful obedience of anything, not any government, or ruler, or law, or ordinance!

Today, our focus is an elaboration of the differences, Scripturally, between the evil works and the good works, to fine tune our understanding, and our discernment of the difference between good and evil, as we evaluate what and when we must disobey our government's ruling authorities.

First, we remind ourselves that, in general, our works are a product of our faith, and evidence of our faith, and flow from and out of our faith. Our works are not intended by God to buy us God's grace. Rather, our faith, by His grace, affords us salvation in the blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:8 ("For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."); James 2:17 ("Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."); James 2:18b (". . . I will show you my faith by my works.")

Now, as to the results of our faith, and as to the commandments of the rulers of our government, we ask this question: "How do we know what is a good work and what is not?" As a beginning to answer that good question, we remember that we have to know the difference between good and evil, and how do we know that? Well, the Holy Spirit -- if we let Him -- will guide us in the way of all truth (John 16:13), and he will convict us regarding sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). And as the guidance and convictions of the Holy Spirit settles and secures in us, we mature as Christians, and more and more in our lives we apply that guidance of truth, and those convictions of sin, righteousness and judgment, as the principles of our lives in Christ, and make our decisions based on them. Those decisions, piled up together over the years of our lives, are the "exercise" spoken of in Hebrews 5:14, by reason of which we learn, and have learned, to discern – or tell the difference between – good and evil.

So, in this context, we know what the filters are for the answers, we know how to discern the answers, when it comes to the commands of the rulers of our government, and this answer is clear: "Good Works" are such as the law of Christ demands; they are all the external results and fruits of the operations of the Holy Spirit. "Good Works" is said by merely heathen philosophers to derive from a humanistic morality universal to mankind. But, to the Christian, "Good Works" includes much more than mere humanistic morals; Christian Good Works includes the public profession of the name and truth of Christ, the assembly of believers and seekers, the study and worship of God in the Trinity, and efforts to advance God's Kingdom and evangelistic plan for the salvation of all men who are willing to be saved.

Thus, it is written, Ephesians 2:10 ("For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works . . . ."); 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ("All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."); 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17 (our prayer is that "Christ Himself . . . (will) establish (us) in every good word and work."); Revelation 2:26 ("And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations . . . ."); and remember this, Revelation 14:13 ("Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.")

It can only be true that Paul was referring to the Good Works we have just defined, not merely to humanistic morality: hence, Romans 13:3, our government's ruling authorities are not intended by God to be a terror to such Good Works. Government is an ordinance (KJV) of God, and that is confirmation that government is called to command, and thus in our democracy, by legislation, judicial decision and executive order, "Good Works" as defined in Scripture? We believe with Job, Job 41:11, that "Everything under heaven is (God's)". Indeed, the purpose of our worldly government and its laws and commands is to glorify God. We see this thoroughly explained by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 ("But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God . . . .")

Romans 13, verses 3 and 4, divide the citizenry into two classes: those who do good works, and those who do evil works, and explains that the job of government is to restrain those who do evil works! Pure and simple – that is it, just like Paul explained in I Timothy 1: 8-11:

  1. Good works (good conduct) will secure you certain advantages under a Godly government;
  2. The ministers of a Godly government are God's servants for doing good, themselves, and thus it must be the purpose and process of their government to do God's good works, promoting God's laws, the Gospel of Christ, and God's glory and kingdom
  3. The ministers of God have a duty to protect us from evil doers.
Concluding thoughts
  1. Reflect of the situation of Pace High School in FL
    1. Under a Godly government, this would never have happened anyway.
    2. By settlement of the lawsuit with the ACLU last year, COMPROMISE broke the integrity of a current defense
    3. Like Paul, and Peter and John, the good Pace HS Principal and Athletic Director should have disobeyed and accepted the punishment for their disobedience to the government then, as a badge of honor in God's kingdom.
  2. Consider where the atheists and human secularists have taken the government of our country: they have hijacked it from God's intended purposes and processes. Now, God's kingdom is no longer a purpose or a process honored by the ministers of our government, whether in the majorities of the legislature or court, or in the executive branch.
    1. Ask yourself, 2 Samuel 23:3 (" He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God"), if our rulers are just (under God's laws) and if they live and rule in fear of God.
    2. Ask yourself, not just under the scrutiny of the New Testament, but of the Old Testament, Exodus 18: 17-23 ("So Moses' father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. Moreover you shall select from all the people, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers . . . And let them judge the peoples at all times . . . . And if you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.")
  3. Moses was not perfect, nor were the able and just and God-fearing men he appointed, nor are you and I. Same is true today in our rulers and leaders and judges, but that does not mean that we, and they, should not be striving for God's perfection, completeness and maturity in our personal lives, and in our rulers and ministers of government and in our government itself.
  4. BEWARE, of our government and educational and media propaganda! Colossians 2:8, "BEWARE lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." The tradition of men and the basic principle of the world is SIN.
  5. The next general election is in the Fall of 2010. Start preparing yourself now to vote and to evaluate your obedience to the rulers of government. Base your decisions on Christ, and not on SIN. Strive to conform your role in Society, as Men and Women of God, o God's rules and His plan and His call for righteousness in holiness, even in the public sector – indeed, no less so than in your private sector. May God bless you+