Another election day is coming upon us – a primary election for most of the US citizens – but this year’s primaries and general election this fall, are vitally important to local, state and federal governments.
As Christians – what kind of government does God want for us? Think of it a bit – God established civil government – and He set some ground rules for it. So let’s dive in and study it a bit.
God established civil government for our good. Paul wrote:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4, ESV)
Paul was writing that God established an authority, when it comes to government. Those in authority, have a responsibility to judge right from wrong – and good from evil. Good should be rewarded, and evil should be punished.
This also means that authority and power shouldn’t be used in ways to serve their own personal interests or advantage.
And – that those who are not in authority, are to be subject to those who are.
Let’s face it – this nation is so divided today. It’s been this way for many years – but it seems more so today. What people – both believers and non-believers alike – don’t realize, is that God is sovereign over both evil governments, and good governments!
YES, GOD IS SOVEREIGN!
Job 12:23 says:
He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
he enlarges nations, and leads them away.
He raises great nations up – and He brings evil ones down. In fact, He may even use one nation to bring another one down!
Jeremiah prophesied the exile of Judah for 70 years:
Yet you have not listened to me, declares the Lord, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm. “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” (Jeremiah 25:7-14, ESV)
The tenth chapter of Isaiah says that God raised up Assyria, to judge all of the surrounding nations, but then He judged Assyria as well – at the appropriate time – using another nation.
When God allows an evil government to exist – even for a little while – it may seem unfair to those of us who are believers. Believers are suffering greatly in nations ruled by evil people and governments, but these believers are also glorifying God through their courage and their faithfulness. We see examples of believers suffering in the Bible, and how God is glorified – and how it was credited to them. Let’s look at a few:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are a perfect example.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[b] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:16-23, ESV)
Then the apostles, who were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the Gospel:
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:27-42, ESV)
Everyone needs to obey the law – there are exceptions, which I’ll get into. Romans 13:2 says that if we resist the authorities, resists what God has appointed and should incur judgement. In other words, resist the law, you are resisting God, it’s as simple as that.
Now, Romans 13 also exists for the purpose of restraining evil and to punish those who do wrong. This includes everyone – rich or poor, the connected or not–so-well connected, the elite or the common person. God is no respecter of any particular person. There is no difference between me, you, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Donald Trump. We either do what’s right or wrong – and if we do wrong, we’re punished the same – and if we do what’s right, we’re commended the same.
Peter wrote something similar:
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)
As Christians, we’re to honor and respect those in authority – and as Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 – pray for them!
As Christians, we’re to have influence in government. Yes – we are!
I can hear the ACLU and the Liberals howling now – “SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE!” Let’s dispel the myth that faithful people must separate their faith from their politics.
The portion of the First Amendment that addresses this reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The framers were mostly Christian, and had at their disposal – a Bible. We just freed ourselves from England, who had an “official church” – the Church of England. Our framers declared that there would be no “official church” of the United States – but nowhere in the founding document does it state that there was to be a total separation between the two.
In fact, moral standards of the Bible come from the God of all creation – and all people in all societies are held accountable to God. Our laws come from these moral standards – and Christians should act on opportunities to influence government, to make laws consistent with the Bible’s moral standards. Daniel wrote:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)
Influencing a government – your local town council, state or federal legislature – to make good laws is one way of obeying the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Governments shouldn’t make laws enforcing allegiance to, or prohibiting the practice of, any particular religion – for Jesus divided the realms of responsibilities between things that “are Caesar’s” and the things that “are God’s” – establishing two distinct areas of authority.
So, when it it necessary to disobey civil law? Simple – when obeying that law would mean disobeying God’s law. We saw earlier that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego disobeyed civil law, because it violated God’s commands. The Apostles also did so, when commanded not to preach in the name of Jesus.
Other examples include Esther (Esther 4:16), Daniel (Daniel 6:10) and the Wise Men at the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:8, 12).
So, as we go to the ballot box this spring and fall – remember your faith, look at what the candidates stand for, and remember that your vote DOES indicate your belief:
- You cannot call yourself a Christian, and support ANY candidate that approves of abortion
- You cannot call yourself a Christian, and support ANY candidate that approves of homosexuality
- You cannot call yourself a Christian, and support ANY candidate that approves of same-sex marriage
- You cannot call yourself a Christian, and support ANY candidate that approves of gender fluidity
Think about it – pray on it.