Subject To The Government

As a Christian, you are a member of the Kingdom of Heaven.  There are righteous rules and commands that you follow.  The Kingdom is ruled by our Holy God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  They are righteous, loving, merciful and all wise and they rule with justice.  Since you live in the world, you are also under an earthly government.  You would hope that your earthly government is a good government, but there may be times when there is corruption, injustice, and tolerance of evil practices.

As a Christian, how are you to deal with your earthly government?  Romans 13:1-7 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.   Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”  This passage of scripture is very important in understanding the relationship you should have with earthly governments. 

The earthly governments are set up by God; He is the supreme authority on the earth and every other authority that exists has been appointed by Him.  So if you go against these governments, you are in effect going against God because they are servants of God.  If you violate the laws or do evil, you can expect to receive consequences from these governments. In general, governments exist to establish order and wellbeing for their citizens. If you do good, you most likely will not have anything to fear from the government; they are there to help you and protect you from others who do evil. You should submit yourself to the government, not because you fear what they might do to you, but because they have been appointed by God.  Each one of us should be subject to the governing authorities and give them the proper respect and honor.

What kind of men does God cause to be rulers in our earthly governments?  King Nebuchadnezzar was told the following in Daniel 4:17b “In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.”  God gives the government to whomever He chooses.  The “lowest of men” implies to me that God may set over the government people with low morals and principles.  Such individual may make decisions in their own best interest and may not be godly in character. Even though there may be such individuals leading the government, you still have a responsibility to obey your government and honor the rulers.

Since governments need money to operate and provide their services, it is appropriate for you to pay taxes and the customs that they require. Jesus was asked about paying taxes to the Roman Government.  Luke 20:22-25 “’Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ‘Why do you test Me?  Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?’ They answered and said, ‘Caesar’s.’  And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’”  God wants us to pay the required taxes and customs.

You should be careful in what you say about those in authority.  One of the commands under the Law of Moses was to not speak evil of a ruler.  Exodus 22:28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”  Cursing or speaking evil of those in authority does not show the proper respect that you should have for them.

Your duty is to submit to the ordinances and laws of your government.  1 Peter 2:13-17 “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king 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 good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”  As a Christian, you should not be known as a lawbreaker or rebel against the government.  God wants you to be submissive to the government so you can silence people who look for ways to condemn and criticize the followers of Jesus.

Of course there may come a time when the government demands that you do something contrary to the principles of God.  The apostles ran into that problem when the Jewish leaders commanded the apostles not to preach about Jesus.  Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”  When you have to make a choice between obeying the government or obeying God, you must obey God.

It is appropriate to pray for your government.  1 Timothy 2:1-2 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”  The important thing to pray about is that the government will rule in such a way that you can live your godly life in quietness and peace.

I encourage you to submit to your government, obey its laws, honor the rulers, and pray for those who are in authority.

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