Paul continues to tell us what a transformed life looks like!
First of all, we are to submit to the government, because they have been instituted by God (13:1-7). They help make life better for everyone if they are doing what they are supposed to, because they punish evil by enforcing a certain standard of living for the community. We are to obey laws, pay taxes, and be respectful. They literally have the power of life and death (which refers to capital punishment – 13:4). The only time we are to disobey is when earthly laws are in direct contradiction to the Bible (Acts 5:29). Since we have the distinct privilege of living in a democracy, we have the ability to vote and influence our nations laws to reflect Biblical truth. We should take that responsibility seriously.
Paul goes on to reiterate that a transformed life is a life that loves others (13:8-10). It must be a real problem for us since he talks about it so much! He provides a very simple standard for us: “love does no wrong to a neighbor.” Loving neighbors was a significant part of the law too. Ironically, what we couldn’t obey before, we can now through the power of the Spirit.
Next Paul talks about one of the motivations to live a transformed life (13:11-14). That motivation is the return of Jesus Christ, which is the culmination of our salvation! We should make sure we are living for Him while we await His return, which means living “not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.” We do this by putting on Jesus Christ, which implies some effort on our part. We don’t just lay back and assume the Spirit makes us better. The Spirit provides the insight and the desire, but we must still pray, read, study, and worship.