Romans 12 - 13

Romans 12:1 - A living sacrifice. Living is ongoing, constant, consistent. The old sacrifices were one time, occasional. Who we are, what we do and how we live ought to be a continual sacrifice.

Romans 12:6 - "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: ..." (ESV) We all have gifts that differ, therefore we will have service to God that differs, offerings that differ. Yet they all are pleasing to God. I heard it said once that in the old ICOC we favored one gift - evangelism - heavily over all others. Maybe 20% of our members had this gift, this person said. What that meant was that the other 80% felt that they never measured up, that they weren't good enough. I feel that we are finally getting to a place where we can honor the varying gifts in our membership. I am excited about what will be revealed as we do.

Romans 12:10 - The second half of this verse in the ESV says "Outdo one another in showing honor." Outdo one another. Go overboard to show honor. Whatever level I can go to to honor my brother, it is never too much. I wonder, do I have that spirit?

Romans 13:1-7 - I see nothing in this passage indicating that we are to agree with or support whoever is in power. We are to respect them and submit to their authority, but we do not have to agree. I'm not sure that I can see in this how it means that we are obligated to obey every law to the letter. Speed limits come to mind, but' that's just because it's my nature to want to drive fast (I generally do not, I stay within 5-10 MPH of the posted limit). But what of building codes? Other traffic laws? Laws regulating car maintenance and safety? There are laws dictating any number of things, some pretty ridiculous. Are we in sin each and every time we violate them? I think that this is more about respect and submission. That submission can be in the form of obedience and compliance, but that was not Paul's main point. His point was larger than that, to our hearts and our attitude to those in authority. Obedience can be made through clenched teeth and mumbling under our breath. Does that fulfill this passage?

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Romans 13:1-4 is the scripture that many of my brothers in our chosen fellowship use to justify war. I am glad that you have a clear understanding that this scripture clearly has the municipal powers in mind; like the local authorities, law enforcement, so on. I am headlong in the middle of "the Christian right" part of the country,and it amazes me how local subculture so heavily affects the local church. I'm even more amazed in how a group of Chrisians who proclaim no variance in the scripture can find hate justification in this scripture. But I know that they don't see it that way. I mean, they are dead on serious as to their point of veiw. I can barely guess what other Christians believe and methods of worship pending on geographical location. I think how wide and long and big and infinitely amazing God's grace is. I have also seen God answer the prayers of this fellowship to almost a fault. It's crazy man! I am constantly hearing from this mature and loving fellowship about how they are praying for me, and since I've been here, I have experienced healing in amazing ways.

I digress. Submission to local authorities is crucial. Obedience to the law, both Jesus' and Barney Fife's, is of the utmost importance. IF true Red Letter Christians are to NOT obey the law, then who will? Pagens? Non-beleivers? Some, yes, but obeying the law is loving our neighbors. It is vital in avoiding accedents and other circumstances that could prove harmful or even fatal. 5 to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit may seem harmless, unless you get in an accedent that proves fatal for the other person, and if you were going 5 mph slower it wouldn't have happened, not only are you subject to the law (for integrity's sake you would have to confess your crime to the local law enforcment), you would then have to bare the impact of your sin, not to mention the possibility that the person who's life you took was a non-beleiver and you sealed their fate for eternity, needlessly. Harmless? Maybe, but why gamble when it is obvious by this scripture that it is God's will that you obey the local authorities. Think of Matthew 7 where Jesus points out that only those who do the will of the Father will see the KOG. It is impossible to please GOd without doing what he wills. It is more than just an issue of integrity (which is one of the components in our holiness before the world), it is a love issue. 1 John makes it clear that to obey God is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him.

If you can't tell, I've had to work through this scripture many times over. I only hope I have it right, and look forward to see other's convictions.

Paul,

Speed limits are one of my pet peeves. Government studies have recommended that speed limits be set at the '85th percentile' speed. (See a 1970 study here and reference to other collaborating documents here.) That is defined thus:

If the speeds of all motorists are ranked from slowest to fastest, the "85th percentile speed" separates the slower 85% from the fastest 15%. (source)
According to that same site, 70% of motorists drive between that speed and 10 MPH slower. This 1992 government study found that
Speed limits were posted, on average, between 5 and 16 mi/h (8 and 26 km/h) below the 85th percentile speed.
So, if the point is safety, than speeding by 5-10 MPH is the right thing to do. The mantra repeated by law enforcement that "speeding kills" is simply not true. If you drive through downtown Indianapolis you'll see this illustrated very plainly. The posted limit is 50 MPH while most traffic, including 18 wheelers, is traveling 60 - 70 MPH. Driving 50 MPH is nerve racking and dangerous, yet technically the max legally.

I don't think that Paul's point here was to force into a legalistic obedience to every letter of the law, but rather to change our hearts toward those in authority. That will manifest it self an many ways beyond mere obedience. In fact, as my last sentence indicated, grudging and angry obedience does not fulfill this scripture at all.

Of course, if it violates one's conscience it is sin for that person. That doesn't mean it is sin for another, not does one's clear conscience make them innocent. My point is that to reduce this scripture to simply obeying the law misses the bigger point.

Do you always drive in the right lane, even on a 3 lane highway? The law says keep right unless passing. Do you signal for every turn and lane change? The law says you must. Do you leave the law required distance between vehicles as you drive? (Check this out!) Ever jaywalked?

My point is not a lot of words to justify me desire to speed. Frankly, if I had no respect for God or the law I would drive much faster than I do. I just don't think Paul was requiring us to be experts in all areas of the law so we could be blameless and obedient to every statute. Just as with OT law, that would be impossible and debilitating. Rather, we should respect the law and the law maker. We all have to live that out within our own consciences.



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  • Paul, Speed limits are one of my pet peeves. Government studies have recommended that speed limits be set at the '85th percentile' speed. (See a 1970 study here and reference to other collaborating documents here.) T...

  • Romans 13:1-4 is the scripture that many of my brothers in our chosen fellowship use to justify war. I am glad that you have a clear understanding that this scripture clearly has the municipal powers in mind; like the l...

    Paul Frederick
    Romans 12 - 13
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