Two thousand years ago, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirt, the apostle Paul went to great lengths, in the book of Romans, to teach believers who they are in Jesus Christ. All of the lessons taught can be applied to us today, and through reading Romans, we discover that we are children of the King of Kings, ambassadors for our Lord, citizens of Heaven, pilgrims on this earth, and we are here to represent Christ on this earth.
If this is true, then what is our relationship to civil government? How are we to respond to those in authority and those who govern us? In this series, I want to take a closer look at our responsibilities as Christian’s and the role civil government plays in our lives.
1. Authority, Including Civil Government, Is ordained by God
The original concept of government actually comes from God. In Genesis chapter nine, we see several things:
- When men are not self-controlled, they must be controlled by an outside source.
- When men are self-controlled, then less government is needed.
- Since God is a God of order. He uses government to maintain that order.
- Without government, we have chaos.
2. Authority Is for Everyone
Roman thirteen says, “Let every soul be subject….” This indicates that none of us are exempt to being subject. What does this practically mean, and who are we supposed to be subject to?
- Parental Authority
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.—Ephesians 6:1
- Spousal Authority
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.—Ephesians 5:22
- Workplace Authority
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;—Ephesians 6:5
- Spiritual Authority
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 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.— Hebrews 13:7, 17
- Civil Authority
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:—1 Peter 2:13–15
3. To Resist Authority Is to Resist God
When our older son, Matthew, reached a certain age, Anna and I would sometimes put him “in charge” to watch the other children so that we could have a date night. Although Matthew was not to abuse his authority, when we left, we gave him the responsibility of managing and taking care of the other children.
If the other children tried resisting Matt’s authority we heard about it, so we told them that if they resisted Matthew, they were resisting my authority, since I placed him in charge. So it goes with our governmental system. Even though we may not agree with them, God has placed them in their positions and we are to obey their authority, the same way we would obey God’s authority.
4. Authority Is Ordained by God to Be a Terror to Evil
For he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.—Romans 13:4b
- The government is put in place to uphold the rule of law.
- The military is to protect us from foreign danger.
- Police officers are to protect citizens from dangerous and evil citizens.
5. The Christian’s Response to Authority
So how is the Christian supposed to respond to this God ordained authority? Well, here are some insights that we can glean from the passage in Romans thirteen:
- Christians should be subject for wrath’s sake.
- Christians should be subject for conscience sake.
- Christians should pay tribute and customs (taxes) to support the function of those who protect them.
- Christians should pay respect and honor towards their authority. They should not disrespect or degrade the office or title that these officials hold.
- Christians should exercise their responsibility to vote for officials if they live under governments that have that freedom.
- Christians should pray for the salvation and protection of those that are in authority.
- Christians should demonstrate love towards their authority, just like Christ would.
This is part one of this series, click here for part two.