Christian’s Responsibility to the Government - Part 2
Submission to Civil Laws
In our last post we looked at the fact that our God is our highest authority. He is the creator and the ruler of the world. We also noticed that God instituted earthly governments are commanded us to be subject to them. In this installment we will turn our attention to the responsibilities that God has given us in regards to our government. The first of these God ordained responsibilities is to subject ourselves to the governing authorities.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom 13:1-2).
Paul charged Titus to instruct the church in Crete:
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Tit 3:1-2).
Peter, too, wrote to the saints scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia:
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1Pe 2:13-15).
We have the responsibility to submit to the civil laws and to be ready to do good works. It is unbecoming of the children of God to speak evil of anyone. We are to show meekness, or courtesy, to everyone; and that certainly includes government officials.
Being law-abiding citizens is actually for our own good. We do want to live in peace with all men as much as possible.
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom 12:17-18).
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
By being law-abiding citizens, we “may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
There may be people who think they are not obligated to a government they didn’t vote for. The Bible does not grant that provision; we are instructed to submit whether we like the government or not.
In John 19, Jesus told Pilate that Pilate’s power was given to him by God yet we see Jesus, even though He is the Son of God, submitting Himself to Pilate’s power.
There are no perfect governments anywhere in the world. Still, we must submit to them as authorities put in place by God. The only time when we cannot obey the government is when its laws violate the Word of God.
“Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28-29).
The apostles were told by the rulers of the Jews not to preach the gospel, which was plainly against the Lord’s Great Commission given to the church (cf. Mat 28:18-20). If the government forbids or contradicts God’s commands, then we must submit to God.
If, however, the need arises, let us resist the unjust law “with meekness and fear” (cf. 1Pe 3:15), and “speaking the truth in love” (cf. Eph 4:15).
In our next post we will look at another responsibility we have to our Governments, paying Taxes and Customs.