VERSE OF THE DAY
Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.
VERSE OF THE DAY
That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders. * * *
Did you know God chose the government workers to respond in respect to God we shall pay our taxes so that government workers are respectfully paid and honored for the are God’s Chosen
Obeying the law means paying our taxes. We need to pay what we owe to those in charge of us, both money and respect.
Paul gives an example of a law to obey. We should pay taxes. Remember, rulers are servants of God, they are acting on God’s behalf devoting themselves as justices and law-makers and peacekeepers. With the perspective that God is above our government, we should obey the law. We should pay our taxes and show respect to officers of the law, judges, and elected officials.
The entire book of Romans is about living righteously by faith. If we are law-abiding, tax-paying, well-behaved citizens, we are living as God designed for us to live, obeying Him by obeying our governing authorities, and living in harmony with others. We are to render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Righteousness means harmony with others in our community. The Greek word translated righteousness in Romans, dikaiosune, is also properly translated “justice.” Justice occurs when everything in a community is lined up with laws that support freedom and harmony. The government’s job is to address those who are creating disharmony, such as robbers and murderers, and prevent their actions from allowing citizens to live together constructively.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
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Giving Glory to God from Sarasota, Florida
Sunday, 1 December 2013
For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Romans 13:6
In the previous verse, one avenue concerning the change of governments was looked at. There are many ways in which governments change – coup d’etat, elections, overthrow by attacking enemies, etc. are common ways that changes in political landscapes may occur. Another one is implosion through over-taxing of the people and abuse of the taxes which were levied on them.
This is where the United States is today. Although the implosion hasn’t happened yet, the meal is already over, the cake has been served, and her fall is inevitable unless drastic measures are taken; a self-inflicted wound due to greed for power and control. And it has come about in no small part through the taxing system which is in place.
Having said that, and despite that fact, Paul instructs us that it is our obligation to pay taxes. “For” explains the previous thought which is that we are to be subject to the ruling authorities. Because we are, and because they are the ones who levy taxes, we are to pay what they levy. And Paul gives the reason. “For they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.” Their job, even if it means financially ruining the lives of the citizens under them, is ultimately to meet God’s purposes.
It is God who sets up nations and it is He who gives them either good leaders or crummy leaders. This is seen again and again in Scripture as Israel and her surrounding neighbors are highlighted. When a nation is obedient to God, He gives them good leaders who properly shepherd the people. When they turn from him and mock Him and His word, He gives them crummy leaders. In a constitutional republic like the United States, this means that the wound truly is self-inflicted, and yet God knew before the choice was made what it would be.
In a nation such as the US, having an ungodly leader means that a vast portion of the electorate chose that ungodly person. God’s foreknowledge of this is used in the overall plan of nations as He has ordained. Therefore, when a political party comes into power which ignores the constitution, redistributes the earnings of those who work to those who are indolent, shuns God, and promotes perversion, there is still no excuse to not pay the taxes which have been levied – no matter how exorbitant. God’s plans are being worked out, even through such wicked people.
One important lesson of the Bible is that even though God doesn’t author evil, He can work with the evil we perpetrate to meet His good end. So when you get your tax bill and see that it is unfair from your perspective, pay it as you should. You are a citizen of the nation you belong to and the money, though seemingly wasted, is having its intended effect.
Life application: Pay your taxes.
Heavenly Father, You have instructed us in Your word to pay our taxes as responsible citizens of the nation in which we live. It really torques my jaw to pay taxes for the often wicked agenda which I see set in place around me, but I know that even the self-inflicted implosion of my nation is a part of Your plans and that my taxes are ultimately meeting Your purposes. And so I shall pay them as I have been instructed (gritting my teeth and calling out for the return of Jesus as I lick the stamp). Amen.
11 months ago
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
Darn. I guess taxation isn’t theft. Time to go home.
But wait! We must pay careful attention!
I lumped these two verses together because I was finding it difficult to talk about the one without reference to the other. So here we go.
In these two verses, we come to the idea of taxation, and our text tells us 2 important things about taxation.
1. Taxes are owed to the governing authorities just like revenue is owed to businesses.
2. There is a reason taxes are owed: the governing authorities serve the people who pay the taxes by bearing the sword.
Verse 6 clearly says “because of this you pay taxes”. Because of what? “Because the authorities are ministers of God attending to this very thing.” What very thing? “he is God’s servant for your good… an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”
Why do you pay taxes? Because the governing authority has earned it.
How did he earn it? By doing the work God gave him to do: bearing the sword against those who do you harm.
So. The $64,000 question.
Is taxation theft?
There’s a trick of language going on here when we talk about taxation under the modern State. I firmly believe that what the State calls “taxes” (and what most people refer to when they use the word taxation), are not actually taxes at all!
These revenues are not earned by the performance of the role God has given to the magistrate.
Instead, they are demanded whether the service is performed or not, and they are used for other purposes God has not tasked the magistrate to do. Examples include: waging imperialistic wars, taxing from the rich to give to the poor, controlling the economy, creating and enforcing unjust laws, and violently opposing other avengers who might better serve society by actually bearing the sword the way God has tasked them to do. (We talked about the last one in verse 2).
Sure at least part of what the State does involves bearing the sword against the wrongdoer, but they do it almost accidentally. They don’t do it out of reverence for God, any sense of justice, or compassion for those who are wronged. They do it because it maintains order, which keeps them in power. And they do it with an arrogant heart and boastful eyes.
The extorted tribute payments that the State demands do not match the Biblical description of taxes. The duty we are given here is to pay taxes to those who have earned them by doing the work of the magistrate.
How can I do that under the State when the State monopolizes the sword and then uses it improperly? Who is there in society to whom I can actually fulfill this duty? I find no one who measures up.
Now it’s true that I am being a little bit idealistic in my demands here. But I think it’s important to start with the ideals and make sure we are clear on them as a baseline before we start talking about what we do with the reality that in a fallen world, nothing will ever be ideal.
I recognize, above most other concerns, that the State is the current form of governing authority that God has chosen to establish. This is completely his right, even if the governing authority is in the wrong. Because of this, I cannot completely say in absolute terms that the State’s taxes are theft. There’s at least a sense in which they are not.
Some of you right now.
Ok, let me try to be as clear as I can. Please stick with me.
Is taxation theft? As an absolute statement that would apply to any and all situations in which payments are made to the government, then the answer has to be no. There exists a definition of taxation that does not match the definition of theft.
However, very few taxation systems actually match this definition, and as I’ve already described, I believe firmly that the State, by definition, cannot measure up.
It is my view that not only does the Anarcho-Capitalist view of a free market for governing authorities harmonize with Romans 13, but that it alone of all the systems does so with no inherent, principled, definitional self-contradiction.
In a free market for governing authorities, there will be governing authorities who use their sword against wrongdoers. They will use their sword as precisely against wrongdoers as possible, not using it against good-doers, because they will need to satisfy their paying customers. Who will these paying customers be? The people who hire them to protect them from evildoers or to avenge them when they’ve been wronged. Their bottom line is at stake as well as their reputation – which affects their bottom line. There’s a natural incentive to keep them in check.
And the subscription and fee-for-service payments they receive can more rightly be called taxes than any State’s taxation system because they will have earned it by bearing the sword rightly.
I’m well aware that there are a host of practical objections to this sort of system, but I won’t try to counter any of them in detail here. I will simply make two points. The first is that while I understand why these objections are made, I don’t find any of them convincing. There are many good reasons to believe that they are nowhere near as serious as the objector insists. Take any objection you hear and simply google “Libertarian response to <objection>”. I encourage you to see what you find.
The second point is far more important which is this: those objections are all pragmatic, meaning the objector has conceded the point of principle to the Ancap view. By making these objections, the objector is tacitly admitting that the Ancap view, on principle, is better. Is it perfect? Of course not. We live in a fallen world. Show me the alternative that is better though.
Here’s one: Jesus as King!
Of course. And I can’t wait to live in that arrangement, but let’s be realistic about life now in our present age under the fall before Jesus returns. (Yes, I know. Jesus is King now. #DatAMil… but you know what I mean.)
So this is where I take back my Anarchist card. By the popular definition, I’m no anarchist. I believe strongly in the rule of law, property rights, and conservative values.
However, these things are best protected in society when there is not a single monopoly provider of law and order (the sword). Just like every other good and service in society is done better and more cost-effectively by the market than central planners, the police, the courts, the hangman, and everything else governing authorities do would be done better and more cost-effectively by the free market.
It’s this not having a single overlord like a king that puts me back within a form of anarchy. It’s just not the anarchy most people think of when they hear the term – which is why I try to avoid the term.
Back to the question of taxes. Is taxation under a State theft? Yes and No, but mostly Yes.
No. The State is the governing authority God has currently tasked with bearing the sword against wrongdoers. Support him by paying your taxes.
But Yes. The State’s taxes are theft.
It’s not even because the collection is backed up by force. Payment of your rent or mortgage is backed up by force, and that’s not theft.
It’s not because of the consent of the governed (although a better system would allow the citizens to choose which governing authority they support and select the one who does the better job). A pox on social contract theory.
It’s because the State does not earn all or even most of the money they take by doing the work God has tasked them to do. And even when they do the right thing, they do it with an arrogant heart and boastful eyes.
I’ve used that phrase twice now. It comes from Isaiah 10:12 in which God is pronouncing judgment on Assyria. God had appointed Assyria to conquer the Northern tribes of Israel. They did it, but they did it with an “arrogant heart” and “boastful eyes” (Isaiah 10:12). The following verses flesh this idea out. They did not do it to glorify God, they did it to enrich, exalt, and glorify themselves. They took credit for their success instead of returning thanks to God, and they took perverse pleasure in doing it.
When Assyria did this, their conquest was no longer merely the execution of just discipline God was sending on his people (the same way the Israelite conquest was just judgment on the wicked Caananite people). Instead, it became an evil conquest which God judged Assyria for.
I recognize that this is the case when it comes to any non-redeemed individual, group, or institution. Nothing anybody does under the sun, apart from the grace of God and without faith, rises to the standard God has for it. The world is full of people who seem to do the right thing, but they do it for the wrong reasons, with selfish motives, arrogant hearts and boastful eyes. This is true of any government, individual, charity, or private business. It would be true of governing authorities within the Ancap free market.
So on its own this does not make taxes theft. It’s really more the fact that the State misuses the sword is of much greater import. Nevertheless, their perverse motives and haughty spirits do not do them credit either.
My final analysis is this:
Taxation is not categorically theft. It does not have to be done in a way that amounts to theft, but…
When the State misuses the sword,
When the State taxes form one person to give to another,
When the State uses the sword against wrongdoers with an arrogant heart and boastful eyes (you know what I’m talking about)
Then they are no longer merely executing God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Instead, they are raging. They are plotting in vain. They are setting themselves against the Lord and his Anointed. They are storing up wrath…
And their taxes are theft……. even if we still have to pay them because they’re the only governing authority we’ve got right now. This is where God has sovereignly put us and called us to submit to.
Romans 13 – A Christian’s Obligation to Government
A. The Christian and government.
1. (1-2) Government’s legitimate authority and the Christian’s response.
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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
a. Subject to the governing authorities: The connection between Romans 12 and Romans 13 is clear. If the Christian is not to seek personal vengeance, it does not take away the government’s authority to punish wrongdoers.
b. Every soul: This certainly includes Christians. Paul simply says that we should be subject to the governing authorities. This was in contrast to groups of zealous Jews in that day who recognized no king but God and paid taxes to no one but God.
c. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God: We subject ourselves to governing authorities because they are appointed by God and serve a purpose in His plan.
i. No authority except from God: God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people or to ripen the nation for judgment.
ii. We remember that Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.
iii. “Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’” (Newell)
d. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God: Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).
e. Those who resist will bring judgment on themselves: God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.
2. (3-4) The job of government: to punish and deter evildoers.
For 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. For 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.
a. Do what is good, and you will have praise: Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.
b. He is God’s minister: Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.
i. If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.
c. An avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil: It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.
d. He does not bear the sword in vain: The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.
3. (5-7) The Christian’s responsibility towards government.
Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
a. Therefore you must be subject: We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.
i. For conscience sake: Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.
b. You also pay taxes… Render therefore to all their due: We are also to pay the taxes due from us, because there is a sense in which we support God’s work when we do so.
i. By implication, Romans 13:6 also says that the taxes collected are to be used by government to get the job done of restraining evil and keeping an orderly society – not to enrich the government officials themselves.
c. Taxes… customs… fear… honor: We are to give to the state the money, honor, and proper reverence which are due to the state, all the while reserving our right to give to God that which is due to God alone (Matthew 22:21).
d. In light of this, is rebellion against government ever justified? If a citizen has a choice between two governments, it is right to choose and to promote the one that is most legitimate in God’s eyes – the one which will best fulfill God’s purpose for governments.
i. In a democracy we understand that there is a sense in which we are the government, and should not hesitate to help “govern” our democracy through our participation in the democratic process.
B. The Christian’s obligation to his neighbors.
1. (8-10) The obligation to love.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
a. Owe no one anything except to love one another: On a personal level, the only “debt” we are to carry is the “debt” to love one another – this is a perpetual obligation we carry both before God and each other.
i. Some take this as a command to never borrow, but Jesus permitted borrowing in passages like Matthew 5:42. That isn’t the sense of what Paul is saying here, though the Scriptures do remind us of the danger and obligations of borrowing (Proverbs 22:7).
ii. “We may pay our taxes and be quiet. We may give respect and honor where they are due and have no further obligation. But we can never say, ‘I have done all the loving I need to do.’ Love then is a permanent obligation, a debt impossible to discharge.” (Morris)
b. You shall love your neighbor as yourself: Paul echoes Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 22:36-40. This is one of the two commands upon which hang all the Law and the Prophets.
i. Love your neighbor means to love the people you actually meet with and deal with every day. It is easy for us to love in the theoretical and the abstract, but God demands that we love real people.
ii. “No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. No man can fulfill his calling as a Christian by seeking the welfare of his wife and family only, for these are only a sort of greater self.” (Spurgeon)
c. Love is the fulfillment of the law: It is easy to do all the right religious “things” but to neglect love. Our love is the true measure of our obedience to God.
2. (11-14) The urgency to love and walk right with God.
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
a. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: Because we know the danger of the times and we anticipate the soon return of Jesus, we should be all the more energetic and committed to a right walk with God instead of a sleep-walk with God.
i. How important it is to awake out of sleep! It is possible to do many Christian things and yet essentially be asleep towards God.
· Sometimes people talk in their sleep.
· Sometimes people hear things in their sleep.
· Sometimes people walk in their sleep.
· Sometimes people sing in their sleep.
· Sometimes people think in their sleep; we call it dreaming.
ii. Because one can do many religious things and still be asleep toward God, it is important for every Christian to make sure they are truly awake and active in their life before God.
b. Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light: The illustration is from taking off and putting on clothes. When you get dressed every day, you dress appropriately to who you are and what you plan to do. Therefore, everyday, put on the Lord Jesus Christ!
i. We must cast off before we can put on. “The rags of sin must come off if we put on the robe of Christ. There must be a taking away of the love of sin, there must be a renouncing of the practices and habits of sin, or else a man cannot be a Christian. It will be an idle attempt to try and wear religion as a sort of celestial overall over the top of old sins.” (Spurgeon)
c. The works of darkness: These are characterized as revelry and drunkenness, licentiousness and lust, strife and envy. These are not appropriate for Christians who have come out of the night into God’s light.
i. The idea behind the word for licentiousness is “the desire for a forbidden bed.” It describes the person who sets no value on sexual purity and fidelity.
ii. Lust in this passage has the idea of people who are lost to shame. They no longer care what people think and flaunt their sin openly, even proudly.
d. The armor of light: This is related to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When we put on Christ, we put on all the armor of God and are equipped to both defend and attack.
i. “Putting on Christ is a strong and vivid metaphor. It means more than put on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, signifying rather Let Jesus Christ Himself be the armor that you wear.” (Morris)
e. Make no provision for the flesh: The flesh will be as active as we allow it to be. We have a work to do in walking properly, as in the day – it isn’t as if Jesus does it for us as we sit back; instead, He does it through us as we willingly and actively partner with Him.
i. God used this passage to show Augustine, the great theologian of the early church, that he really could live the Christian life as empowered by the Holy Spirit – he just had to do it. And so do we.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
What does Romans 13:6 mean?
Paul has been teaching the Christian doctrine of being submissive to our human authorities, including and especially government authorities. Christians are called to do this because we believe that God is the one who has put every human authority in their position. They exist to serve His purposes, including the purpose of punishing people who do bad things (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Context of this and other passages makes it clear that Christians are obligated to disobey government when—and only when—compelled to disobey God (Acts 5:27–29). As a general rule, believers are commanded to cooperate with their government authorities.
Now Paul gets to a specific example submission to human government: paying taxes. Christians are taxpayers, Paul writes, because those taxes support the work God intends to do through the human authorities He has put in place. Even when those men or women stand against the truths of God, their fundamental role as order-keepers is still part of God’s will.
This was a controversial position even among the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ and Paul’s day. Critics tried to trip Jesus up by asking Him if it was lawful to pay taxes to the Roman ruler, Caesar. Jesus, pointing out that Caesar’s picture is on the money, stated flatly that the taxes should be paid (Matthew 22:15–22). In a similar manner, some in the modern day have suggested Christians should not pay taxes if the government is funding evil practices. Jesus and Paul disagree. Both paid taxes to the same government that ultimately killed them and persecuted other Christians, as well. Neither endorsed the option of not paying taxes as a matter of conscience.
Paul’s larger point is that we must trust God to provide for us as His children. In the case of this passage, that includes provision through the government authorities He puts in place. God is fully capable of using them for our good no matter who they are or what their intentions.
Romans 13:1–7 describes the responsibility for Christians to live in submission to the human authorities in government. The reason given is that every government leader has ultimately been established by God for His own purposes. Generally speaking, human government serves to rein in and punish those who do evil. Governments do this on God’s behalf. Christians must pay their taxes to support this work God is doing. In addition, those in Christ owe respect and honor to the authorities that God has put in place. Other Scriptures, such as Acts 5:27–29, distinguish between ”submission” and ”obedience.”
Romans 13 tackles three big areas that living-sacrifice Christians must address. First, since God puts every human authority in place to serve His purposes, Christians must submit to them; this idea comes with a particular context. Second, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. Third, we are called to live as people of the light and throw off works of darkness like drunkenness, sexual immorality, and jealousy. We are to take on the armor of light against the darkness and, in fact, take on Christ Himself instead of serving our own desires.