What does it say? Believers should submit to authority, love one another, and put aside indecent behavior.
What does it mean? Yesterday, we said that right actions come from right beliefs. In today’s passage Paul points out how Christians should apply right beliefs in a few practical areas of life. Believers have a responsibility to be good citizens and neighbors who live to please Christ, not their old sinful nature. Even civil leaders who don’t agree with biblical standards should be shown respect because it is God who gives them authority to maintain order and punish evil. Paul urged believers to wake up and be intentional in their relationships, witness, and behavior since Christ’s return is closer than ever before.
How should I respond? As a Christian, you have dual citizenship. Your beliefs as a citizen of Heaven should directly affect your interactions as a citizen on Earth. What should a Christian do when obeying an authority means disobeying God’s laws? For instance, under Hitler’s regime German believers were asked to turn in Jewish friends and neighbors. In our lifetime, strict family planning mandates mean that Chinese believers have faced similar issues as the midwives in Moses’ day (Ex. 1:22). Peter reminds us that man’s laws never take precedence over God’s laws (Acts 5:28-29). Pray for Christians throughout the world facing dire consequences for their beliefs; then ask God for the strength to do the same.