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Living in the Light of Day
Scripture: Romans 13:1-14
Track 12 of 14 in the Study of Romans series
Running time: 35 minutes, 32 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, August 17, 2003
"Living in the Light of Day"
(Romans 13: 1-14)
C. Sackett

If you're not aware, nearly, somewhere near a hundred people from here were at the CIY Conference this summer. Many of them, not all, but many of them are seated over here wearing these rather dull and drab shirts that you can hardly notice. If you were a sponsor and went to CIY, would you stand up? Come on--there are more of you--are there any of you out here? Would you just thank them for what they did? Now, if you're a kid and you went to CIY, you can stand up too! Oh, nice bunch!

We live in a world that is looking for heroes and frankly there are about a hundred of them sitting in here. If you haven't looked at what the world is like these days and wondered what it was like to be sixteen again, take a good look, cause you couldn't pay me enough to go back there and try to do this over. It's hard! And it takes heroic people. It takes exceptional people to be able to live the kind of life that God is calling for in a world like ours.

We've always been enamored with the heroic. We've always been attracted to the exceptional even when you think of Biblical stories. You know the ones that we tend to remember, are a young Daniel, who absolutely refuses to NOT pray when told NOT to pray and then ends up in the lions den.

We think about those three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow to the idol and end up thrown in the fiery furnace.

We think of Esther, who, if she comes into the Kings presence, unannounced, uninvited, may as well count herself as dead and she does it anyway, for the sake of her people, Israel.

We've always been attracted to that kind of heroic sort of personality and that heroic sort of event. There's always, it seems, in our culture the place for those exceptional people. I think about it, even in Biblical days. Peter and John, before the Sanhedrin, have been told repeatedly, stop preaching and they just adamantly refused. Here's their comment . . . which would you rather, that we obey God or we obey you?

I remember walking with my friend Slavic, down through the streets of Prague and we turned the corner and in the downtown center of Prague, right near the clock of the Twelve Apostles, there's a statue of John Huss, who gave his life during the reformation for the sake of bringing the Bible to the people. We're attracted to that kind of heroic, exceptional sort of person. I count one of the greatest privileges in my life to have the opportunity to teach for TCM in Eastern Europe, because I have met these people who are living legends in my mind. Men that have been in prison, women who have faced the difficulty of living faithfully before God under a communist regime. A man who carries a toothbrush, toothpaste, a notepad and his Bible in a plastic bag everywhere he goes because he never knows when he's gonna go to prison, and he wants to make sure that he always has the essentials with him.

We live in a world that is enamored by the exceptional, but I have to tell you that that's not the norm. That's why they're called exceptions, because they are not the norm. The norm we find in Romans Chapter 13. It starts back in Chapter 12. You know that passage. Because of God's great mercies I invite you--No, I urge you to give your life as a living sacrifice before God. Don't be conformed to this world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And then for the next four or five chapters he simply describes what it means to be a renewed person, a transformed person.

Chapter 13 starts this way.

Everyone must submit himself to te governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

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.

The clear teaching of Scripture is the government belongs to God. The same word that's used to describe me, a minister, is used to describe you in your ministry, is exactly the same word that is used to describe our governor or our president in their ministries or our policemen or our school superintendent or our principal, or our employer, anyone in a governing authority position is considered to be a minister of God. They're there because God has put them there. And so the clear teaching is of God's sovereignty over rulership. Just read Daniel, Chapter 4 or Isaiah, Chapter 40 or Isaiah, Chapter 45. These people are in place because either God has chosen to put them there or in his wisdom has allowed them to be in that particular position.

That had to be hard for Paul, Romans being written late, as it was, in the 50ties or early 60ties just before Nero and the persecution under Nero. Here Paul was suggesting that we be submissive to a government that was anti-Christian, and yet he's calling for the norm. The every day life of the believer is to simply be in submission to the government, even when the government isn't particularly Christian, which often describes who we are.

I don't think it's any easier to be in submission to an American government than it is to the Roman government. Oh we don't have persecution. Nobody is out to get our neck yet.

Somebody sent me this email thing. I'm always a little leery of email stuff so I always have to go look for a confirmation. I just don't like to read stuff that isn't somehow confirmed. Everything that I can find is that this is, in fact, true.

Rowan County High School, Kingston, Tennessee-- this happened to occur in September of 2000--a statement read over the P.A. system at a home football game--Rowan County High School, Jody McCloud is the principal. It has always been the custom at Rowan County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court I'm told that saying a prayer is now a violation of federal case law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternative lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's okay. I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and call it safe sex and if someone is offended, that's okay. I can even use this public facility to present this. . . . . . . .babies. . . .as a viable means of . . . . . . . . . . No problem. I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the Goddess Mother Earth and call it ecology. I can use literature, videos, and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong traditional Christian convictions as simple-minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment. However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God or ask him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, federal case law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and his commands. Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules which they do not necessarily agree with. For me to do otherwise, would be inconsistent at best and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

For this reason I shall render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God and ask him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law, yet.

Reports are that there were prayers said in the stands, in the field, in the band, at the concession stand and in the announcer's booth.

I remember my daughter's high school graduation well, when she and four others stood up and prayed. The first time one of them prayed, the school superintendent went to the microphone and said, "All law suits will be sent to your house." His disclaimer, that this was a school project.

But the call is, to submit to the governing authority, in spite of the fact that the governing authority may, in fact, not be Christian. However, if you do that, you need to recognize that with a Jody McCloud or my children or yours, there may be consequences to pay for those kinds of actions and you have to decide whether or not you're willing to pay those kinds of consequences.

I don't know if you read much, the Letters to the Editor? This is an interesting one from August 8th of this month. Somebody left this for me in my mailbox here at the church. On one page, interestingly enough, is a Letter to the Editor from a young lady in Liberty about the whole homosexual agenda being foisted on the American public and we're being told to be tolerant of it and on the other side an article out of the Missouri paper from Columbia telling us that it's okay, don't pay any attention to it. They don't call it gay marriage yet, but they will, just be patient. If you're going to stand up against the American culture, you better be prepared to pay the consequences. My guess is that she will pay the consequences for that letter to the editor, somewhere--someplace.

But, the norm is, submit to the government. Now please hear, in Paul's day as in ours, I do think you need to clearly understand, it does not say that you always have to obey the government. It says you have to submit to the government. And there is a difference. Subtle as it may seem, I live in a hierarchical structure where they. . . . . . .over me and my responsibility is to submit to those people so long as that does not contradict what God calls me to do. He does not tell me that under any circumstance, under all totalitarian circumstances, I must obey the person over me if that violates what God calls me to do. The clear teaching of Scripture in Daniel's trip to the lion's den, in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's trip to the furnace and Esther's trip to the King--well in numerous places, particularly John and Peter before Sanhedrin--here is the issue; Obey the government, submit to it as long as you can, until it violates what God calls you to do. And then your response has to be what Peter and John said. I cannot obey you. I have to obey

God. But when you come to that point, I hope, as in Acts, Chapter 5, Verse 41, you can say with them; We will rejoice in the privilege of suffering. Because that's what it will bring.

The day comes, I'm absolutely certain, when Christians will have those hard decisions to make and here's the principle that I'm trying to leave you with. Our Old Testament allegiance is to God and so we submit to the authorities. Our ultimate allegiance belongs to God, but yet, the call and Scripture is as an every day experience, we submit to the authorities that are above us so long as they do not contradict what God is calling for in our lives. But the day that an employer or any other authority calls for you to do something immoral or illegal, that goes against your conscience, that goes against what God has called you to do, it is the day that you have to stand up and say, I cannot obey you. I have to obey God.

Well, we're attracted to the exceptional, aren't we? You know, if you had to name one of the most influential people in all the world everybody would automatically say, Mother Theresa. Not because she changed governments or changed the world, but because she changed the poor people's lives of India. Those have paid India. . . . . . . to what went on. . . . . . . . . identified at least from a Christian perspective. . . . Cory Tinbloom, who's family hid literally dozens of Christians in their home and then Cory and her sister, as well as, the rest of her family went to prison camps where her sister Betsy died at the hands of the Germans. Cory lived through that experience and she became, literally, an American hero. A movie was made after her by the name of The Hiding Place. It's a phenomenal story. We're attracted to the exceptional. I think of Joseph in Scripture and how his brothers mistreated him and how so clearly Scripture portrays him as a man exceptional above all other men because he was able to live with that kind of deceptive family and yet love them and forgive them. We, obviously, are attracted to Jesus dying for those who are ungodly, but quite honestly the norm is not the exception is it? That's why those people are exceptional.

If you look at Romans 13, look at Verse 8. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Well - huh--the clear teaching of Scripture is personal responsibility. There are all kinds of exceptions. Heroes out there who have showed us this amazing level of ability to love and yet, the teaching is, pay your bills, don't owe anybody anything, don't be in a position where you have defaulted on what you owe. Pay back what you are supposed to pay back. You can translate that in a number of different ways. There have been some who have treated this text as if it says you should never, ever, ever be in debt to anybody. Well, I don't know that, that's what it's trying to say nor is it humanly possible in our culture. But the principle is you never put yourself in a place where you can't pay your bills. That's tough in an American culture like ours.

We'll have a whole bunch of folks leave here in another week, maybe some today in fact, and then in the next couple of weeks they'll go off to college and one of the things that they'll find in their mail boxes shortly after they get to college is a credit card application. The average college student owes $2,800.00 in credit card debt. . . . . . . . .Most of them are unemployed. I can't figure out what credit card company is absolutely insane enough to let them owe them money ‘cause they won't get it back. And if you paid minimum payment on that particular credit card, 35 years from now you would have it paid off so long as you never used it again. Ninety-four thousand under the age of 25 filed bankruptcy last year. We're not talking about how much us old folks owe, just talking about how much us young folks find ourselves in debt. We live in a culture where it's really hard to abide by this particular principle, Let no debt remain outstanding--It's tough in American life to be able to live this particular ideal.

A friend of mine, some of you have met him, Tom Ewald, was teaching a class at Jefferson Street Christian Church, it was a class for single moms on how to, basically, raise children. The opening day of the Sunday school class he made this rather, what he thought to be, innocuous comment about how the courts seem to favor wives over husbands when it comes to child care and all of a sudden, he had about eight or ten angry single moms attacking him. Not that they didn't agree that it was probably correct that the courts tend to give children to the moms. The problem was the court doesn't follow up on the deadbeat husbands who don't pay child support. And suddenly, he had an earful of those who had not . . . . . . . basic human responsibility. Fulfilling your obligation--doing what you have been called to do in our world. It's . . .Paul's principle is that Love does no harm to its neighbor. You love one another. That's what he says. In fact if you went back and read the Levitical code, you would see that God is explicit on how you take care of neighbors and friends and enemies, aliens and strangers, you love them--generously.

Our ultimate responsibility--here's principle number two of this text. Our ultimate responsibility is to love our neighbors. So you pay your bills. Not particularly exceptional is it? Our ultimate responsibility initially is to God and so we do the mundane thing of obeying the law. Our ultimate responsibility is to love our neighbors so we do the mundane thing of being a responsible person and taking care of our debts. But we're not interested in the mundane, we're attracted to the exceptional. We're interested in Enoch, who walked with God and did not die. We're attracted to the person like Stephen, who is able to stand against the persecution and he gets stoned to death, yet Jesus is standing in heaven welcoming him into his presence. We look at that and it excites us because it says something heroic about Stephen and probably about Jesus himself. And I do think there is a place for us to think about what happens after we're here.

To be really honest with you, I mentioned to you Slavic Pechauvska, who walked with me through Prague--probably the finest translator, interpreter, I've ever worked with in Europe. Probably my, well, it's the only person I have ever found about whom I would say, this is my sole mate. I met him and within twenty-four hours he and I just, well, we might as well have known each other for a lifetime. We didn't speak the same language. We didn't grow up in the same world. But it was like we could talk in sync. Was the most phenomenal experience I have ever had. I was so looking forward to seeing him the next time I went back and the Hungarians were going to be at Haus Edelweiss, I was delighted that he was going to be there. Three or four months before I went over there he died of a heart attack and went to heaven. I don't want this to sound bad, I want to go to heaven because God's there and I want to go to heaven because Jesus is there. But I gotta tell you the honest truth, I wanna go to heaven because Slavic is there. I just want to see him again. I want a chance to talk to him one more time and this time it won't be through the difficulty of Hungarian or Romanian or Czech or anything else.

We're enamored by that kind of exceptional person. But to be real honest with you, Slavic's not the norm. Here's the norm.

Verse 11.

Do this, (pay your debts - all of that stuff) understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

See, the principle is we behave decently. It's a clear teaching on morality. It's just a matter of saying, behave like you ought to behave. That's the norm! And yet I would suggest to you that as hard as it is to be heroic in this culture, it's hard to be moral in this culture. It's hard to just behave decently in our world. That's not what the world is calling you to do.

I don't know how many of you have email. I'm almost ready to just turn it off. Oh, it's not enough that I get that litany of a hundred spam messages a day about where to buy my Viagra or where to go for some other health insurance or how to buy some particular health product. My problem is that unsolicited pornography comes to my internet site. I don't know how to stop it from happening. I click on it to try to make it go away and it opens up to three or four more sites and I'm sitting here staring at it, thinking what do I do with this. I don't need it--thank you very much. It doesn't help me live like a Christian.

America doesn't want you to be moral. Have you watched television lately? You know I first became a Christian in a church that didn't believe in television. They said it would send us all to HELL. I thought they were crazy. I'm about ready to join them now. I turned my TV on the other night. There was this teenage program--have you seen this teenage program called O.C.? Orange County. Don't! It's just awful! The previews for Temptation Island are enough to make an old man blush. And it's just the previews!

The culture is calling for us to do anything but behave decently! The norm now is immorality and debauchery and drunkenness. I didn't think I'd ever be preaching about those things. I mean, I grew up around it. I've seen alcoholism all my life. I never thought I would see the day when the average teenager, the average teenager, drinks at least one drink a day. If you're average! I didn't think I would see the day when this statistic would be true. One out of every three high school kids binge drinks at least every weekend.

I didn't think I would be preaching in a day when we would have in the Chicago Tribune a book advocating adultery. I mean, I'm not naive. Adultery is not new. We didn't invent it(???). . . . .. . . . . . . . .it's been around a long time--it was around when I was a kid and it was around before I was a kid. Judith Brandt, a book called the Fifty Mile Rule, Your Guide to Infidelity and Extramarital Etiquette. The question from the Tribune is, Is this some kind of a joke? NO! This is not a National Lampoon take on adultery. This is serious information presented in a fun way. There are no books out there on this subject in a format that's not judgmental. I just want to help people make smart decisions.

The smart decision--don't! You don't have to write a book. It's already been written. Colby Bryant will wish he hadn't. That's not a statement about whether he's guilty of the abuse. It's a statement that if he hadn't bothered to be adulterous in the first place, he wouldn't be where he is now. Because vision. . . . . . . .a long time ago in another way. Don't do it!

Well, here's the question the Tribune, the Tribune is asking this question. Well what about ethics and morality? That's odd that the national newspaper is asking moral questions. Well, there's a simple answer she says. Affairs are immoral and they're wrong. You know there's another word coming, right? She wrote the book, but doesn't that just slay you? Listen to that again. Affairs are immoral and wrong. But, that's the problem. But the reality is that people are having them anyway. So you have to meet people where they are. For a lot of people, morality doesn't end up in it. So if people are going to do it anyway, you have to try to mitigate the hard circumstances. You say in your book, don't feel guilty. Guilt is basically something built into society to keep you in line.

If you are going about your business in a discreet way, and you are continuing to take care of your wife and most importantly, your children, there is no need to feel guilty.

Life in America is hard if you want to behave decently. How many of you are going to college this year? Would you stand up? Any of you going back to college? You know what? Within 24 hours of arriving at most of their campuses, there will be an onslaught of temptation. Alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography and within two weeks, for most of them, there will be an onslaught of how to cheat and get by. So would you join me for just a second. I want to pray for them.

Father, there's not much harder in this world than to try to be faithful to you in a secular part of the country. It's hard on a college campus to know you, to be free in you to do what we believe is right and so I'm praying for our young people, all of them who will be off at schools. Free them from the temptations of the internet, from the temptation of unscrupulous room mates and hall mates. Guide and direct their lives. Help them to see themselves as our missionaries to that community, to take the gospel with them, we pray in Jesus name. Amen

We're really interested in the heroic and quite frankly, here's the principle. Our ultimate destination is salvation. That's where we're headed and yet, it isn't about having to do the hard thing. It's just about behaving decently. To be real honest with you, here's what I'm trying to tell you. This is all I came to say. It's the every day stuff that matters. It's the every day stuff that matters. It's not the heroic stuff that matters, it's the every day that matters. Most of us are not going to be called to die for our faith. Most of us are going to be called to live like good people. Christians living like Christians. That's all it is! And our decision today is all rather simple. Our decision is for you to live like a Christian. To clothe yourself with Christ and to not give yourself to gratify to the flesh. There are a couple of ways we're going to ask you to demonstrate that decision if you so choose.

Over here on this wall and over here in this corner there are prayer walls. There are note pads, sticky note and pencils and if there are particular issues about which you would like to pray, well then we want to ask you to go over and write those down and stick them on the wall. We will make sure that they are prayed for. Maybe it's an issue that your facing in your own life. It may be that you have read your Bible carefully and you have come across this text, he who has clean hands and a pure heart. . . . . you know what preceded that - right? Who is allowed to see God? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. And so sitting up here are basins of water where maybe symbolically you want to come and wash your hands. We're going to be singing. We ask you to remain seated while we sing. Maybe you just need to make some decisions right where you sit. That while the world may need and want some heroic deeds, the bottom line for most of us most days is just the every day stuff. It's just being responsible, being decent, just obeying the law. It's just being Christian, and letting the world know that's just what your going to be. If in some way we can help you with a decision - we can pray for you if you want to come and in your own way spend some time washing your hands before God. If you have a decision you want us to know about, I'll be waiting right here. We'll take some time to sing and give you a time to decide if you want to live for him, like him, every day.