What Does The Bible Have To Say About The Government
With polarizing political views and seemingly endless bickering about what does and does not make good government or godly leaders, its sometimes difficult to wrap our minds around what God thinks about government. It can be even more difficult for us to understand how to behave or think as Christians.
But government is not a new system for organizing people, and God has a number of things throughout Scripture to say about this.
What does the Bible say about the government? For starters, God wants us to be obedientto Him and to the authorities.
When Must Christians Obey The Government And When Not #masks #202
Hello everybody and happy Friday another weekend is nearly upon us. Todays podcast has me filled with a bit of fear and trembling because it delves into an area that, as a pastor, I specifically and intentionally have avoided for almost a decade. Dont get me wrong its not that I dont careI actually care a great deal about politics and follow political news closely from a wide variety of sites. No, I dont read 40 different newspapers a day, and I would be honestly shocked and astonished if anybody especially a pastor did that, but I do keep up. That said, when I read the New Testament I see very little focus on politics especially the advocacy of political candidates or anything remotely along those lines. Should Christians vote and be involved in politics? I believe so, but youd have a hard time coming up with a New Testament text that would clearly point you in that direction. Should pastors and church leaders focus a large percentage of their time in the political arena? I honestly dont see anything in the Word of God that would seem to indicate a positive answer there.
None of those, however, are our focus passagesinstead, we turn to Acts 4, in which we see a significant act of civil disobedience on behalf of the disciples of Jesus. Lets go read the passage and then discuss it.
Submit to the governing authorities, says Paul.
Why Paul why would we do this? They are evil and wrong on so many things.
Bible Instructs Followers To Obey The Government
Like many others, I have witnessed the election of a number of presidents of the United States, but never before have we experienced the vitriolic accusations, lying, name-calling and pure hatred as is being experienced by, and directed toward, our new president, Donald Trump. Regardless of which side you are on, the election is over, and its time for such vindictiveness to end.
The Bible speaks decisively to this issue. Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.”
This verse speaks to three issues: That it is God who influenced the election and elected our officials we need to follow the law of the land and, if we refuse to obey, punishment will follow.
We need to digest and obey this verse. The only time we are to disobey a law is if it is morally wrong not in our opinion but in God’s sight. Otherwise, we are to be good citizens and make the church and state work together for good.
Let’s lay aside any anger or disappointment and start working together for the good of our nation.
Arlene Kelly, Windsor Heights
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Can Christians Get Tattoos
Under this interpretation, tattooing is permitted to Jews and Christians. Others hold that the prohibition of Leviticus 19:28, regardless of its interpretation, is not binding upon Christiansjust as prohibitions like nor shall there come upon you a garment of cloth made of two kinds of stuff (Lev.
We Should Obey Not Just From Fear But From Conscience
“For the one in authority is Gods servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are Gods servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:4-5
One of the things the Bible says about obeying government and those in authority is we do so because they can punish those who choose not to follow the rules. However, this should not be your primary motivation. The main motivation should be conscience over fear. In other words, your obedience to government and authority should flow out of your obedience to God and your desire to please him. Because you have chosen to align your life with his word, then this becomes the basis for you obeying government. Your conscience and your belief in Gods Word, should be the main reason you follow the rules, not because you are afraid of the consequences. When you are able to do this, you can honor God and obey the government at the same time.
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What Is The Moral Law Of Christianity
Christian ethics emphasizes morality. The law and the commandments are set within the context of devotion to God but are deontological standards defining what this morality is. The prophets of the Old Testament show God as rejecting all unrighteousness and injustice and commending those who live moral lives.
Religion And The Government
Since the foundation of our country, there has been a conversation surrounding the intersection of religion and the government. For Christians, it is important to view every area of our lives through a Biblical lens, including the government. However, for others, there is a belief that the government and religion should never intersect.
The first law that was put in place to protect religious freedoms in the United States was the First Amendment written by James Madison. The First Amendment reads, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Following the ratification of the First Amendment in 1791, there were no significant rulings on government and religion until 1993. In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed by President Bill Clinton.
This federal law was put in place to protect religious freedoms by restricting the governments ability to substantially burden a persons exercise of religion. In addition to the federal ruling, 21 states have passed a similar act.
States with their own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act include the following:
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No Romans 13 Is Not About Obeying The Governing Authorities
Historically, the most terrible things: war, genocide and slavery, have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience. – Howard Zinn
Hey if the KJV is good enough for the Apostle Paul, its good enough for me!
If I ever get to meet the Apostle Paul, Im hoping to have a little chat about some of the things he wrote.
Its not that I disagree with him. Its just that I wish Paul had been a little clearer at times. Especially when he wrote the original King James version of the Bible )
Take Romans 13. This chapter is one of those classic clobber passages, used to make sure we are all being obedient citizens, which historically has led Christians into all KINDS of problems:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…
His fellow Bible-writer, Peter, wrote something very similar:
Submit yourselves for the Lords sake to every authority
I call these clobber passages because they are too often used to crush dissent, stifle protest and discourage civil disobedience.
But we live in times where dissent is more important than ever. All around the world we are witnessing the rise of the strongman brutal leaders like Putin, Erdoan, Duterte and yes, Trump. These are hard-line men who rule with an iron fist and with little regard for justice or the downtrodden.
Im concerned that if we dont get this right, we could easily find ourselves treading the path of the German church under Hitlers Nazi government.
So, lets take a closer look at these passages.
Obey Your Government Rulers
13 All of you must obey the government rulers. Everyone who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all those who rule now were given that power by God.2 So anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves.3 People who do right dont have to fear the rulers. But those who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be free from fearing them? Then do only what is right, and they will praise you.
4 Rulers are Gods servants to help you. But if you do wrong, you have reason to be afraid. They have the power to punish, and they will use it. They are Gods servants to punish those who do wrong.5 So you must obey the government, not just because you might be punished, but because you know it is the right thing to do.
6 And this is why you pay taxes too. Those rulers are working for God, and they give all their time to the work of ruling.7 Give everyone what you owe them. If you owe them any kind of tax, then pay it. Show respect to those you should respect. And show honor to those you should honor.
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The Biblical Obligation To Obey Government Authorities
In the last section, we considered the biblical fact that government officials authority and position are the appointment of God. My intent in this section is to consider the three biblical passages that command believers to obey government authorities.
The apostle Paul gave this command to the Roman believers: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers . In the context, Paul had just finished telling of the great salvation that we have in Christ . Having received such undeserved grace from God, Paul urges believers to give themselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service . In the remainder of chapter 12, he explains what sacrificial, transformed living looks like in the body of Christ. He turns, then, in chapter 13 to how believers should live in society. Committed Christians are willing to submit to their government.
Paul later commanded Titus to remind the believers in Crete to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work . This verse is in the context of good works which those which have believed in God might be careful to maintain .
1 Peter 2:13-14
What Is The Biblical Role Of Government
Basically, the biblical role of government is to act as a guide, leader, and authority over the people. While God is our ultimate king, our earthly kingsin the form of rulers, as well as oppressive systems such as the Babylonian Empire and the Roman Empireare to be the authority on earth.
Much as God wants us to honor our fathers and mothers, God also wants us to honor our government, respecting their earthly authority over us. God is the top ruler, but for earthly things such as taxes, wars, laws, etc., we are to obey these earthly rulers. They are tasked with leading people, and the people are thus tasked with listening to them. Its a hierarchy of command.
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What Makes A Law Just Or Unjust
A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of Harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
What Does The Bible Say About Obeying Unjust Laws
There are certain times where civil disobedience is called for. When obeying a law of the land would cause you to disobey Gods law, then you must make the choice to obey God rather than man.
An example of this in the Bible is found in Acts 4 and 5. Peter and John were threatened and commanded by those in authority not to preach in the Name of Jesus.
But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name. So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4: 17-20
Peter and John chose to obey God rather than man. They made a decision to disobey the law of the land in order to obey God. Any man-made law that requires us to disobey our God should be civilly disobeyed.
Again in Acts 5, Peter and the other apostles declared that it was right to obey God over man.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Mans blood on us! But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5: 27-29
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What Does The Bible Say About Following The Rules
The Bible speaks decisively to this issue. Romans 13:1-2 says: Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.25 2017 .
Second To Respect Hierarchies Of Authority
My friendIan Clary recently helped me to find the right words to describe this second reason why we should obey authorities. We should honour the hierarchies that God has formed to order creation.
In Romans 13:1, Paul writes, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Paul says God establishes authorities he instituted them.
Ian Clary explains: InEphesians 5:24 uses the same word for be subject to to speak of the churchs submission to Christ. There is an obvious hierarchy laid out by God and the Roman Christians are to obey the pagan governing authorities who had been set above them by God himself.
The Bible fills its pages with such hierarchies from priests to kings to angels to families to married couples. To list out these passages would require citing many passages of Scripture. But I suspect I do not need to prove this point since reflection will show it to be true. In summary, hierarchy, when ordered rightly, is good.
Christians should then submit to authorities for the sake of ordering themselves within Gods created hierarchies.
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What Does The Bible Say About Illegal Immigration
onlyâBe subject for the Lordâs sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of Godâ
A Prayer For Our Government
Lets remember that government is a tool God put in place to help us. His will is supreme, and as Romans 8:28 reminds us, in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Given that, here is a prayer for our government:
You are our true ruler. But help us to recognize thatjust like in a family, the father and mother are to rule the children and be respectedso too must we respect our governmental authorities. You have an ultimate purpose, and Your purpose will prevail. Let us do nothing that would work against Your purpose. Help us respect and honor those You chose to put in power on earth. But also let us understand our life on earth is temporary. As James 4 says, we are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. But the Kingdom of God lasts forever, and that is where our true citizenship lies.
In Your holy and precious name we pray,
If you are struggling with whether or not to obey or honor government leaders, or are worried about politics and their potential impact upon Gods people, rest assured: God is in control. His will prevails always. Trust, be obedient to the best of your ability, but remember: You are a citizen of heaven. You belong to God first.
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