The Powers that Be

May 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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“The powers that be” is a common expression used to encompass worldly authority in general, or sometimes to refer to the state of things against which the “common person” has no recourse.

“I wish my taxes weren’t so high, but the powers that be have decided to make sure I never get ahead.”
“I don’t like to sit in a circle in Sunday School, but the powers that be have decreed that it’s the best way to generate class discussion.”

It is an expression that is often accompanied by eye-rolling, exasperated sighs, or exaggerated and resigned shrugs of frustration. However, its origin is straight from the Bible:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

In a time when wicked Roman emperors allowed, encouraged, and even commanded the persecution, torture, and death of Christians, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul told the believers in Rome something that we might think very odd: Recognize that earthly governments and authority structures are ordained by God Himself, and willingly submit yourselves to them.

Since this world is, by nature, opposed to Christ and His truth, what hope is there for us who are commanded to live out our faith under this corrupt system? The answer is that part of our hope lies in the knowledge that these earthly powers, although they are called powers that “be,” are not really “beings.” Only our immutable God is truly a “Being,” since He is the only entity in all of existence Who is truly self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, and independent. Even you and I, His highest creations, are not being accurate when we call ourselves human “beings,” for we have no existence apart from God’s sustaining power. Only in Him do we live and move and have our “being.” We are far from immutable, changing by degrees from one moment to the next all our lives. “Human becomings” would be a more apt term for our race. If our state of existence is in such flux, even more flimsy and subject to rebellion, public opinion, and changing of the guard are the political parties and philosophies of the world.

This helps us to remember that God is sovereignly in control of all earthly authority. He has ordained even wicked governments and evil rulers for some good purpose we do not yet understand, and the knowledge that He is ultimately in control will help us to humbly submit even to those who have no desire to glorify Him or to treat His people with respect.

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Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)

July 5, 2012 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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David appeared to be at the top of his game. Having been blessed greatly by God, David was exhibiting several signs of being a good steward of these blessings. But if Satan had been watching David, taking notes and looking for an opportunity to trap him with just the right temptation, then he would most certainly have noticed a major weakness. David had a weakness for lust, and a desire to have more and more wives.

Before the incident with Bathsheba, David had as many as seven wives: Ahinoam; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; Maacha; Abigail; Chileab. This was common practice in those days, but it was still sin against God (Matthew 19:8; Deuteronomy 17:17). So, when the devil planned an attack on David, he must have said, “Aha, he has a weakness for beautiful women.” And the snare was set.

Here are some lessons we can learn about avoiding Satanic traps:

1. When we’re blessed in fighting, we need to remember to ask for God’s protection and preparation. Prayer and spiritual warfare go hand in hand.

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

Psalms 144:1

2. When we’re blessed with family, we need to watch out for those with whom they would associate. Your family members can be influenced by others outside of your family.

Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

Psalms 144:11

3. When we’re blessed with faithful friends, we need to abide in God’s Word (not err from it).

The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

Psalm 119:110

4. When we’re blessed with fear, we shouldn’t have a fear of aviation.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

Psalms 124:7

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

I Corinthians 6:18

5. When we have the blessing of God’s favor, we need to remember to be alert.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I Peter 5:8

6. If we’re blessed with fame, we need to be awake and active.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:11-14

Light Wakes You Up

October 14, 2011 at 10:22 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Romans | 4 Comments
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Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

Isaiah 60:1.

The human body can only operate in a state of wakefulness for so long before exhaustion sets in. Mental and physical fatigue are remedied by sleep. Sleep is our minds’ and bodies’ way of recovering and recharging. With the invention of the light bulb and all the artificial forms of light we have today, people acquired the ability to work and play during the night as well as the day, but night time is certainly the traditional time for sleeping. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t sleep as well unless my surroundings are absolutely dark.

Spiritually speaking, however, Christians should live in light and not in darkness. God wants His people to be alert and vigilant, not dull and inattentive. Furthermore, although physical sleep is necessary for good health, there is no place in the Christian life for spiritual sleep. The Lord wants His people to be active. Are you alert, attentive, and active, or are you dozing through life in a state of spiritual passivity? “Rise and shine!” says the Lord. It’s time for Christians to reflect God’s goodness, grace, and glory in a dark, desperate, dreary, depressed, and dying world.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Romans 13:11-12

Love Demonstrated by Obedience

August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Romans | 7 Comments
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As Christians we need to “get into” the Word of God – and make sure the Word of God is “getting into us.” We are to surrender our bodies and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are not to be conformed to the world. When we are applying these principles, we will exercise our spiritual gifts in our everyday lives, in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, and even with our enemies. That’s the pattern for “proving” the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Chapters 1-12 in Romans give us great doctrine about the truths of salvation. This doctrine benefits us in very practical ways in day to day living. Romans Chapter 13 continues to deal with our relationships – not just with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not just with our specific enemies – but our relationship to “higher powers.”

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

Our government is one of these “higher powers.” We may not like the way our government is being run, and we may not care for the particular leaders who are in charge of it, but, ultimately, Father God is responsible for “Uncle Sam,” and our Father wants us to be subservient to our uncle.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:3-4

Nebuchadnezzar is a Biblical example of someone who learned this lesson the hard way. Although he was a powerful and feared ruler, he was only allowed to rule his nation and conquer other nations by God’s consent. In Daniel Chapter 4 we find it repeated three times (vv. 17, 25, 32) that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.

Most, if not all, governments today are influenced by Satan or the world, but God’s command to submit to our rulers is clear, as long as we’re not required to break a clear command from God’s Word.

Some people obey because of conscience:

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Romans 13:5

But some people only obey out of fear of being locked up:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:4

These are both good reasons to obey the laws of earthly governments, but the best reason of all is to show our love for God. God’s commandments can be summarized in New Testament language by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Can you say you love your neighbor if you commit adultery with his spouse? If you steal from him? If you covet and want better for yourself than what he has, or plot to get what he has for yourself?

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:9

As Christians, one of our favorite pastimes is complaining about how ungodly our government has become, and how one day soon there will be laws that try to force us into sin. But we have an obligation to demonstrate love.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Romans 13:13

Notice how the sins listed in that Verse are paired up: Rioting (wild partying) is often brought on by drunkenness. Chambering (adultery) is often brought on by wantonness (acting like you are available for fornication). Strife (fussing and fighting) is often brought about by envying. The gifts that God has given us are for building – not for fighting with or fighting over.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

When we “make provision” – when we make plans to get into the path of temptation – it will lead to sin. I see this often in marriage counseling. When one spouse considers the marriage to be over, the other spouse will pay lip service to the idea of wanting to save the marriage, but put himself or herself in places where he or she is likely to run into a sympathetic partner. That person then proves to be a temptation to move on to a new relationship. This type of behavior is an example of “making provision for the flesh,” not “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 20 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female). But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11


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