As we continue through the book of Romans, Paul sums up his teaching on God-given authority.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
As far as believers go, we don’t submit to our authorities because we fear wrath or punishment. According to Paul, our consciences should be telling us it’s the right thing to do. We need to learn to listen to the inner voice of our conscience.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.
2 Corinthians 1:12
Our conscience is a very important part of our being. God has given us a conscience to work with our spirit and God’s grace. It’s important to understand how it functions.
Our conscience puts together what we know from God. It then applies it to our present situation. As it continues to operate, it either tells us that our actions are right or wrong.
Unfortunately, many of us have learned to ignore our conscience. We find ways to justify what we want to do, even though we know it’s not God’s will for us.
There are times when we’ll blame others. They give us godly advice and in response, we get upset at them. “Why are you trying to make me feel guilty.”
Most of the time it’s because they care about us. They’re not trying to put guilt on us. It’s just that our conscience agrees with them. Instead of fighting it, we should learn to listen to the voice of our conscience. We could avoid a lot of trouble that way.
If you continue to ignore your conscience for too long, there’s a terrible effect that this has on your life.
Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
1 Timothy 4:2
People in this condition are walking in hypocrisy. They say that they love God and are serving Him. Yet, it’s obvious from their life that this is far from the truth.
I said all that to reinforce the fact that we need to listen to our consciences in regard to submission to our God-given authorities. It’s a normal part of life. Paul gives us some practical applications.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Paul makes a clear statement. Because of our understanding of authority and submission, we should pay our taxes. That’s because there are those giving their full time to governing. They’re our public servants.
You may not like the person in office or the public officials you have to deal with. That’s not the issue. It’s all about what’s right, and listening to our inner man.
He makes it clear that we need to pay all that we owe. Paul uses different words to describe these debts. Taxes and revenue are what we pay on property and income. Actually, they tried to trip Jesus up with this question.
The word translated, respect, is literally the Greek word for fear. From my perspective, God is the only one fear is owed to. This covers what Jesus answered about taxes. Give Caesar his portion (money) and give God what belongs to Him (fear).
Finally, honor is the value you place on someone. Without value there’s no honor. We need to value each other. This is how we stay in the flow of God’s authority.
Question: How well do you follow the voice of your conscience?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi