3 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. 4 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. (Romans 13:3–4, NKJV)
God ordained “governing authorities” (human governments), and He expects “every soul” to respect and yield to such authority (Romans 13:1). Today’s passage explains that God set these authorities in place, to protect the innocent, and to punish evil doers. Lenski comment is worth repeating here: “The world is full of wicked men, and God has placed rulers among them to check and to control this wickedness by means of laws and penalties, all of them being directed, not against good deeds, but against evil deeds” (Commentary on Romans, 789). There is no hesitation in the apostle’s explanation that governing authorities have God’s permission to “execute wrath” on the evil doer. The use of capital punishment is approved, since “the sword” referred to in verse 4 is the actual sword used by the executioner, as he applies the death penalty on criminals. When governments become a terror to good works, God removes them (Daniel 4:25, 34-35; Jeremiah 18:5-11). For our part, let us “do what is good,” and thank God for the protection He provides us by means of governing authorities.
I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. (Romans 7:9, NKJV)
Babies are not born sinners; they are innocent before God. The Bible says “unless you are converted and become as little children you, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Sinners are converted from sin and death into newness of life, not the other way around. Therefore, we correctly conclude that children are innocent and not sinners before God. This is what Paul describes in today’s verse. When Paul was a child he was “alive”, that is, he was not dead in sin. He did not have a corrupt nature. When he grew to an age of moral capacity he became responsible to keep God’s commands, one of which said, “You shall not covet” (Rom. 7:7-8). But, when tempted, he yielded and committed sin, producing his spiritual death. He needed to be saved from his sins. Like Paul and everyone else, we are sinners by choice, not by physical birth. We can choose to be “born again” and be doing so, become as a little child – humble and free of sin.
For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19, NKJV)
Faithful, obedient living has a positive influence that reaches much farther than you think. To keep a good influence the Lord wants you to develop the ability to discern good and evil. God’s word teaches us the difference between good and evil. By obeying God’s word you show yourself to be wise. Furthermore, by doing so you will be innocent of evil and your obedience will encourage others to also obey the Lord.