THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-11-01
LESSON TITLE: THE LORD'S RESPONSE: IS IT LAWFUL TO PAY TAXES TO CAESAR?
Here we are together again on another wondrous Lord Day! As the great Psalmist David said, "This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."
How truly blessed we are to be given this new day in the service to our God. So let's start out the day right by singing praises to His name and by studying His word. Furthermore, let's take advantage of the opportunity right now to speak to our creator in prayer. Bow with me please!
Isn't it wonderful to know that in Jesus Christ we have a master who shows us the way to go. He also guides us in what to do and tells us what it expected. Another thing which is encouraging to me is to know that He is there beside me, holding my hand - helping me day by day.
This morning, our first song reminds us of the many things Jesus does for us in our daily lives. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time, as we together sing, "Each Step I Take."
(SONG # 1)
As Christians, we often become introverted from this world and really seem focused mainly on those things related to the church and our brethren. However, what about those in this world who need help. Aren't we to help those who need help or do as much as we can for our fellow man?
Well if we look into God's word this is the attitude of Christ. In fact, throughout His ministry we find that Jesus was willing to help all of those He came in contact with as best He could, but Why? Because Jesus said He came to serve in this world, not to be served. Read with me His words in Matthew 20:28, there it says, "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Jesus was focus on serving others and in helping this world know Him in order to be saved.
Another question we might ask is, "what type of people did He serve?" The Bible tells us that Jesus died for the whole world, 1 John 2:2! It also tells us that whoever believes in Him will be saved, John 3:16. So Christ was a servant to all.
Now this is the very reason that we see the writers of the New Testament confirming our duty of service toward all mankind. John said, "Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers," 3 John 1:5. Paul said, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith," Galatians 6:10. These men realized that we are not only to do good to our brethren, but also to the whole world.
But again, you might ask why? Read with me from 1 Corinthians 9:19. There it says, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more." Paul said, we serve others as Christ did, so that we may influence them for His sake and so that we may truly let this world see God in us. If we want this whole world to follow Jesus we are going to have to let them see that He does wonderful things in the lives of those who follow Him.
So I ask you, are you allowing this world to see Christ in you because of your service to those who live around you in your daily life. Are you helping your neighbors, friends and family to know more about Christ, because of the things you do and say in your life. If so, praise be to God. But if not, why not begin today serving God through doing good to others in this world. Remember the words of Jesus, "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me," Matthew 25:45!
Today, our specific topic will deal with the question, "Is It Lawful To Pay Taxes To Caesar?" This is our next lesson in the series called "The Lord's Response." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Christ We Do All Adore Thee!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
This morning, as we continue our study together on questions that were given to our Lord, I believe we have a very good one, an interesting one. At least, I find it very interesting in relationship to whether we should pay taxes or not, and that's exactly what was asked of Him by a group there in the book of Matthew chapter 22. So if you'll go ahead and get your Bibles, we will be turning and reading several scriptures from there in just a moment. But you might see here in this text that we really are dealing with the Pharisees and as you notice throughout our discussions, we've had different groups of the Jews, again followers of God, the Father, who were trying to trick Jesus. Obviously proving that they didn't believe in Him in many ways and trying to somehow discredit Him. We talked about the Sadducees at times. Now we're talking again about the Pharisees. We've talked about the scribes. We've talked about so many different groups here that again tried to come to Him and ask questions and confuse Him or to somehow make Him look bad in front of those who are followers also of the Father, but yet He was trying to tell them that He was the coming Messiah, or the one who had come.
Now as we look here then again, we find that Jesus was asked a question, and then as He is asked this question, He even asks them a question very clear and to the point causing them to think in their own minds exactly what the point was or to think for themselves what it all was about or what it really meant in relationship to what He said. So here in chapter 22 of Matthew, I want to begin by reading if you will with me, verse 15 and following as we begin to see here this group of Pharisees as they came before our Savior Jesus Christ. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted how the might entangle Him in His talk and they sent Him their disciples with the Herodians saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God in truth. Nor do you care about anyone for you do not regard the person of men. Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
Now if you consider here a little bit more about the situation that we would have already read about in the book of Matthew or the other gospel accounts, we would be reminded that Jesus was one who as professing to be the king of the Jews, this Messiah that we've mentioned, the Savior, that He really didn't have that good of a reputation at times in that respect with governments. A lot of governments felt that maybe He might be a threat especially the Jewish people. But other nations also at times felt that He also might be a threat because He spoke about His kingdom, about how that He would be the king. Now when all these things are considered, and we come to this point here, we can begin to see how maybe they were trying to trip Him up because they were asking, "Well, is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? If you are a king and have your own kingdom, how is it that people would pay taxes to another government? Really, if He was to set up His own kingdom and He Himself would require taxes on His behalf. Obviously again, the Pharisees asking a question. It was not based on factual things, not based on understanding, not based on understanding the scripture or the word of God because Christ always said His kingdom was not of this world. He always said it was spiritual in nature as God is a spirit. He always said that these things were those things that they would truly understand some day, but yet they were not of an earthly sense. So, when they asked this question, and said, "What about your servants? What about you paying taxes? As a king, as a kingdom, why would you pay taxes to Caesar?"
Now, what is Jesus response? In verse 18, very clearly we see that He comes out addressing this issue with a question. Notice how He very clearly puts them in their place as far as what He understands them to be doing. In verse 18, But Jesus perceived their wickedness and said, "Why do you test me? You hypocrites." Here again, these people were testing Christ, testing Him trying to use the very words of His father, trying to again discredit Him, to cause people to feel that He was not trustworthy or honest. He told them that. He told them, "I understand what you're doing and I reject it. You're hypocrites, " and basically that they would answer for this. But then He goes on in verse 19 and He says, Show me your money. And I can just imagine them holding up the coin there with again, Caesar on the front, and an inscription there because he was the king at that time. So they brought Him a penny. There in verse 20, it says, The image was Caesar's. In fact, He asked them the question, "Whose image is on it?" And they said, "Caesar." And that's when He comes out with the beautiful statement, probably to me one of the greatest statements in theses responses that we've considered because here He says, Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. You see very clearly here, He showed that there was a distinction in their responsibility to the government, to Caesar, and also the responsibilities to God. He didn't say, "Well, don't pay taxes because I'm going to have to charge taxes." But He said, "You need to obey the government. You need to do what the government has asked you to do because you live under it."
Now, you might wonder and be questioning here how this all fits together. And we have this question throughout the New Testament and we're going to look at some more places in just a moment, but also let's consider before we move from this passage verse 22 of chapter 22 because there it again says, When they heard these words, they marveled and left Him and went their way. They were just astonished by the response again, trying to trick Him, hoping that they would make Him fall or be looked at in some way as being bad or as if He didn't have a good knowledge or wasn't able to handle Himself well. But here, they marveled and basically went away in astonishment, wondering again how this Jesus was able to do these things so well. Well obviously, in their first question they answered that because He was of God. Truly, He was of God. He had proved Himself through the miracles and other things that He did.
Well, as we discuss this concept of citizenship, we see that Jesus told them clearly of their responsibility to give unto the government, the governing authority, those things that were due them as well as you were to give to God what is God's. Again, very clear distinctions, but God's will, Christ says requires that they do and they follow those things according to the laws of the land. Obviously, you and I understand that that would be as long as they are not contrary to the will of God. There's no way that the government could ask us to do something or be involved in something and we get involved because we are to follow our governments, but yet it's contrary to the will of God. God's law always supersedes. It's always greater because God is the one who offers eternal salvation but as we are citizens, we have a dual citizenship and this is exactly what Paul understood to be true. He understood that he was a Roman citizen as well as understanding that he was a citizen of the kingdom of God. You can actually find that for yourselves, because of time we won't be able to look deeply at that, but you can find it in Acts 22, verses 25 through 29. He mentions there his citizenship. He mentions there Rome and how he was born as a Roman citizen, but then on the other hand, he mentions that he's also a citizen of God. He was a follower foremost of God but still responsible to the government to fulfill the laws of the land. Just think for a moment before we proceed, how important this would be though. How is it that we can have an effect on governing authorities? How is it we can have an effect on those who live around us and upon those who are in situations of authority? Policemen, and those who might carry out the laws of the land? How can we have an effect them to know Christ if we rejected that rule of authority? If we showed that we weren't people who were obedient? Well, that's why in the book of Ephesians, we have there the concept that there's nothing wrong with being a servant, with serving others. Christ was a servant. Nothing wrong with having somebody over us or in authority. We are to show that our masters are worthy of honor as long as they don't do things that are not according to the will of God. We are to show that we are willing to follow them and do what they say, as long as they don't ask us to do things contrary to His will and by doing this, we again show them Christ in us. They see our goodness. They see that we are holy. They see that we are righteous. And they see that our leader, Jesus Christ, does not tell us to rebel or to somehow cause problems, but rather to serve and to honor those who are over us and in these types of positions.
I do want to look at several verses. If you will, turn with me now though. If you'll go back again as we mentioned to the book of Acts for your reading later there in chapter 22.
But now I want to look briefly there at Acts chapter 5 because there are a few verses here again that help us to understand that really we are to obey God and the concept that not to put God before the government but still to obey the government, but God's authority being that of the final authority. Look with me if you will again then in Acts chapter 5 and we want to read together verses 28 through 29 as it speaks here about these things concerning the pages of God's word. And it says there in these things, Saying, Did we not strictly command you to teach in this name and look you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intended the blood of this man's blood on us. But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, "We ought to obey God, rather than man."
Here again, the concepts are laid down clearly. We have different laws that we are under. As citizens, the laws of the land. As Christians, the laws of God. But yet, when it comes down to, so to speak, the brass tacks, God is the final authority. We must obey God rather than man. If man tells us to do something contrary to His will, we must obey God.
Now in relationship to these things though, we might also wonder and ask the question or consider the issue of these citizenships, the authorities of God being over us, who has placed them there. And this is always a question because I've had people ask me before, "Well, why is it that God would allow such a person to be in power?" Well again, we must understand that all things are done according to His purpose.
Turn with me over to the next book in our Bibles and we want to look at the book of Romans as we consider there in chapter 13 again this concept of why it is that we must recognize these authorities and obey them. Notice with me a few words that are said here beginning in chapter 13 of Romans. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities for their is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed of God.
Here, in these things and in this verse, we see that Paul says, "Those in power are appointed. They are there because God has allowed them to be. God has control over all these situations. So, it says respect them. Follow them. Do what they've asked you to do."
Now, go down to about verse 6 with me. For because of this, you also pay taxes for they are God's ministers attended continually to this very thing. Render therefore, all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, and then also custom to who customs are due and also fear to whom fear, and honor to whom honor.
Here we see, give respect, honor, obey the government, the laws of the land, give taxes. Do what is necessary. Why? Because God has allowed them to be there. He has placed them there and He has allowed them to carry out theses things. Again however, when it comes between the two laws, whose law is supreme? We must give God the glory. We must give Him that which He deserves.
There's a final verse I want to look at this morning. And it's found by Peter because Peter also shows a great wisdom in relationship to the things that we're talking about today. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? As we clearly are seeing that Jesus said, "Yes, it's not only lawful but it's a requirement of those who follow God."
Turn with me if you will to 1 Peter chapter 2. We're going to look here at this inspired writer and see exactly what he had to say along the same lines beginning in verse 13, if you will. Again, chapter 2, 1 Peter, verses 13 and following. Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the kings as supreme or to governors as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God that by doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men as free yet not using liberty as a cloak for vise but as a bondservant of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Here again, the discussion is clear. Why do we do it? Again, why is it that we should act this way and respect our government? For their sake, so they might again see Christ in us. So they might see that we are people of integrity and honesty, people that do those things that are asked of them as long as they don't go against God, people that can be counted on and respected, people in government, people in positions of authority. Yes, we need to be that as Christians. We need to show that truly not only are we to pay taxes but we are to be a part of our governments, to all that we can to take actively roles that will help us to have an effect on every law that comes down, so that it might be to the glory of God, and might be able to accomplish those things unto His will. But again, we see here clearly Peter says, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's. Give taxes. Honor to where honor is due." Paul clarifies that for us. Jesus tells us again that this is the case, that this is what we must do. So when we think about maybe sometimes paying our taxes or maybe doing the IRS as it's getting close to that time of year, or the different problems that we have, so to speak, in our day and time, remember that it's God's will that we do these things, that we honor these things according to the laws of our land, and that we do it because we want to bring glory to Him, and we want to let all mankind know that not only do we know how to respect our God and do what He has asked us to do, but we know how to respect everyone according to the authority that they've been given or according to the things that they honor this world in.
(SONG # 3 - "He Lives!")
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we always remember and fulfill our God-given responsibility to be good citizens. May we also obey the laws of the land which govern us - according to Gods Will!