Text: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man (i.e. civil laws) for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to King...or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him (i.e. the Lord) for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”
1 Peter 2:13-14.
Good morning, law-abiding Christian! Because you love the Lord Jesus, you are always conscientious to abide by the laws of the land, the legal ordinances of the elected government of the day. You see your obedience to such government as your Christian duty which, of course, it certainly is and therefore, we do well to obey it.
However, there are marks by which we can recognize God’s ordained governments, and unless these marks are obvious in the government in power, then the Christian is in no way morally obliged to submit to, or be obedient to, such rules or laws such an ungodly government legislates. God’s ordained governments are clearly recognized by their description from Holy Scripture.
Our passage today, in its opening verses, teaches us that we are indeed to be legally submissive to government agencies which are clearly ordained by God. To resist the laws of such government is to sin gravely against the Lord God.
The ideology known as Anarchy promotes a society which runs without State agencies; a society without an established government; a society which is especially marked by the complete absence of either a standing army or any semblance of, otherwise essential, State force such as a police force or a judicial system.
Now in an ideal world, this type of ideology would be absolutely lovely. But, we do not live in an ideal world, human nature and the sin stains within it, make some sort of government and state security forces, necessary. Otherwise it would be a case of the survival of the strongest; what the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes described as’...the law of all men for all men...’ - which naturally evolves into a type of ‘law of the jungle...’. In such a practiced ideology, might and power would appear to be right, and the weak would go as natural victims to the proverbial wall.
Without a degree of central government control, such anarchist ideology deteriorates into social chaos, and disorder soon rules the realm. Old Testament times were often described in such chaotic terms of lawlessness. All doing what was ’right in their own eyes...’(Judges 21:25)
Verses three and four of Romans 13: contain the marks of a God-fearing, God glorifying, government; and these characteristics must be manifested by a government, if it is to receive the Christian’s full allegiance and support. Our subjection, therefore, must be qualified by these marks before our electoral consent can be given to the State government.
First, a Godly government must fulfil two important functions: it must punish evildoers and, at the same time, reward well doers. That way evil works are curtailed, and good works are encouraged and, as a direct consequences, further promoted. Basically, this is the main function of a God-ordained government - social and legal order.
Government agencies wield power - and power is very prone to corrupt those continually wielding it. Individuals covet power for power’s sake, and thus State tyrannies are created. (Proverbs 29:2)
Therefore, every government must be made accountable to the people or the society which elects it to office. If the Christian recognizes an ungodly government, he/she must vote against it, and speak out against it without hesitation. To do otherwise is to place man-ordained civil powers above God-ordained human government, which is of course gross sin. (Genesis 20:1-17)
Thus, we commit ourselves as Christians to the democratically elected government and its laws - just as long as that government submits itself to God’s Commandments and seeks to govern in the spirit of His revealed instructions. (John 3:3-8)
To do this is to be a law-abiding citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven; submitting ourselves willingly to the ‘...higher powers...’ that the Lord has Himself ordained to govern. Amen, so be it, Lord.
Thought: For the Christian, it’s God first, governments second.