One day, shortly after Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer. At the gate to the temple, they saw a man who had been lame from birth, asking for alms. Acts 3:6-10 “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” Peter and John began preached to the people about Jesus. Their preaching greatly disturbed the leading Jewish, religious leaders. Acts 4:18-22 “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.’ So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.” So the apostles continued to preach and heal people. Acts 5:17-20 “Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’” Acts 5:26-29 “Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 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 Man’s blood on us!’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
The high priest was seen as the leader of the Jewish people. He and the other leading men of the people had commanded the apostles not to preach about Jesus. But the apostles knew that they had been commissioned by God to preach Jesus. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” God is the highest authority.
We are taught to be subject to and obey the governing authorities that we are under. 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.” Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” We can be subject to and obey the vast majority of things that our governing authorities lay upon us without any problem. We may not like what they lay upon us. But until something they impose upon us violates a command of God, we are instructed to be subject to the governing authorities. When something imposed by our governing authorities is contrary to a command of God, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” We must decide that it is more important to do what God wants us to do.
If you are employed by an employer, you need to obey what they tell you to do. The Bible does not give instructions to employees, but it does give instructions to bondservants. I believe that these instructions are applicable to employees today. Colossians 3:22-24 “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Christian employees should obey their employers. But there may come a time when your employer tells you to do something that is contrary to God. You must make a decision whether to obey your employer or obey God. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
There may be other circumstances in your life where people tell you to do something that is contrary to the principles or commandments of God. You must decide whether you are going to obey man or obey God. There may be undesirable consequences for disobeying man, but pleasing God should be our highest desire. As a true Christian, you should decide to do what God wants you to do. His love and His eternal gifts cannot be matched here on earth. “We ought to obey God rather than men.”