Submission to God’s Authority!
Rom 13:1 ¶ 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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 ¶ Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
I got to thinking about this passage today, in a slightly different light. Previously, I simply thought about the government of the kingdom of God as two-fold: 1. The political system or earthly government in place 2. The Church of the Living God.
While this is indeed the case on the macro view, it becomes incredibly more complex, in our day to day walk. Questions arise such as:
1. To what degree do we submit to the government?
2. How are we, as Christians to respond, when the government is doing things clearly opposed to the Word of God?
3. What about Indian tribes?
4. What about community groups, do they have any authority before the throne of God?
Now, as Christians, we should be cultivating servant hood, and a strong work ethic, based upon love, yet pretty quick, we discover that as we grow in our gifts and callings, we are required to lead and act responsibly towards our families and our country.
I guess we grow in these things, through conflict.
In general, we should obey the laws of the land, pay our taxes, and serve our country, and work to make our communities, states, and countries, safe, healthy places to raise our families in peace in. We should all belong to a strong local church (or be starting one someplace), where we can worship, serve, and hear the Word of God, from shepherds after God’s own heart.
Conflict produces growth.
How do we respond, when a government is corrupt, or doing things clearly contrary to Scripture?
1. We pray! In the case of American Christians today, and Christians in Nigeria, Egypt, China, Ukraine, and other places, that prayer life takes on a whole new intensity, as our governments have opposed righteousness, and seek to implement programs and policies that would oppress freedom, and free practice of our Christian faith.
2. We vote, or run for political office. Even if it appear that we are like Daniel, or Joseph: men of God called to serve in a pagan empire in high positions of leadership within their countries, they pray, stay in the Word of God, and seek always, to promote honesty, integrity, and the principals of the Scripture, wherever they are given authority to serve.
What about the Church?
Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
How are we to respond to a church that is either stuck in tradition, or is acting contrary to the Word in some area?
1 Tim 3: 15 that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
In the preceding verses (1Tim 3:1-7) we find the ‘battle cry’ verses of every church leader in the world, the character requirements that qualify a person for leadership in the kingdom of God.
No Christian should ever submit to sin!
Here is my thought on this: Whether an early government (perhaps Islamic, or communist, demanding you deny your faith in Jesus), or a church leader demanding submission to something clearly contrary to Scripture or your conscience, or when their life clearly does not align with the character requirements of a leader, we must stand against it, and perhaps them, if God has not released you from the ministry they are leading.
We had an interesting discussion one time here at my house during family devotions. We attend a great church, and my children have heard Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right, pretty much since they were born.
I accented to them, the phrase: ‘In the Lord’, to make a point.
I said to my 12 year old daughter: ‘Princess, if I had beer or alcohol here in the house, and told you: Drink a beer!’ What would you do?
Her eyes got really big, because she is an obedient child, and she squeaked out: ‘Say no?’
‘Yes!’ I exclaimed. You see, I am your father, and head of this house, with responsibility to protect and provide for you, and I have authority to love, correct, and command you in righteousness, but I have no authority, to command you to sin, ever. It is against the law for someone to drink under the age of 18, and even at age 18, you have your own choice to make, as to whether or not you choose to drink alcohol, you only have to obey me, IN THE LORD.
The Lord is Holy, and He does not sin, ever.
So, if I ask a child to lie for me, do they have to obey? NO!
What if I asked them to go steal something? NO!
What if I asked them to have sex? NO!
What if I told them to intimidate or bully someone? NO!
The law of God is greater than any earthly authority or king, and it is the highest standard of morality that exists.
So, if a church leader, or government official should ask you to lie, cheat, steal, commit immorality, or any other thing, have an abortion, perform or give license to homosexual acts, support or endorse Islam, what should a child say? NO!
Now, how we choose to disagree, is the topic of many books on non-violent conflict, and history is full of examples where someone drew a line in the sand, and said:’enough is enough’, starting huge wars and conquests.
Yet, it all begins with a childlike simplicity, where an individual, in their heart, decides, ‘That’s not right, and I’m not going to do it!’ Whether it is confronting the local bully on the playground, standing against a corrupt administration, or serving your country in battle to defend your borders, there is a place where wickedness approached, and you, as a child of God, could only say: NO!
So, in this simple example, you see how this can be carried out in a local church that had missed Holy Spirit, and refuses to grow, or in a local or federal government institutionalizing things contrary to the clear commands of Scripture.
It is time child of God, to look into your world, and pick your battles.
When it comes to sin or wickedness, like the anti-drug campaign slogan says here in America, ‘Just say NO!’
What about Indian tribes and community groups:
Indian tribes are far different than community groups in this regard. Though they may not hold authority in certain cases before the government, as the here in America, as the host people of this land, I believe they hold much authority before the throne of God. This is the topic of another article, but I honestly believe that God Himself, is currently speaking on behalf of the First Nations peoples of the United States of America, and that He is doing incredible things presently both for them, and with them, for he who has ears to hear. They are the key that will unlock the United States to the move of the Holy Spirit we all seek here.
Community Groups: When a community assembles, around truth, to correct community problems, and to implement good wholesome things that government and church are not doing, they become a law unto themselves. God honors love and truth, wherever He finds it, and blesses all the clubs, sports teams, social groups doing well, wherever they serve.
Romans 13: 7 ¶ Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
If there is a local custom, based upon culture and tradition, honor it, if it is not evil.
If a person is honorable, honor them, simple.
Honor and respect seem to be forgotten virtues these days!
‘Father, You are love. Yet, You are holy. Give me strength and courage, to stand against sin, always. Whether in my own life or in the world you have called me to live, show me how to take my stand in prayer, or correct action, to prevent the spread of wickedness in the earth. May I be a peacemaker, wherever you place me, whether as a soldier or law enforcement officer in stopping criminals, or in my local church, using my position and influence, to prevent cliques and bullies from trampling those new believers You have called us to reach, teach, and love to life. I ask this, knowing I am heard and answered, for I ask in Your name Lord Jesus, Amen’