What is a Christian’s response to a corrupt government? #government
Romans 13:5 “Therefore one must be in subjection (to civil government), not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
God has instituted a principle for ruling among men, and this principle is for our good. This certainly does not mean that those men or women who are ruling at any given time are doing so above reproach. After all, fallen mankind is fully incapable of carrying out God’s perfect plan without also interjecting bits and pieces of their “fallenness.” We must remember that as Paul was writing this about being in subjection to governing authorities, he had experienced unfair imprisonment, beatings, and torture at the hands of civil authorities. But what was his response in those instances? In Philippi, he and his companions sang praises to God while in prison. Paul knew that his subjection was to the institution put in place by God for maintaining order among mankind; his subjection was to the principle of this order, not necessarily to the practice of this order. We subject to God’s ordered plan for governance because of our conscience, which is that inner voice speaking of what is right and wrong, and not simply because we fear punishment. Our Christian responses to civil authorities are based on our God-given knowledge of what is right and wrong. What God puts in place is right and for our good. Our subjection is based on that principle and not on human behavior.
Study/Meditation: How is unfair or corrupt government another example of fallen man’s attempts at carrying out God’s perfect plan? What other examples can you think of?
*Father, You are perfect and holy, and I worship You. I delight in the things You have set in place and I submit to Your plan and purpose. Amen.
The might of civil government must not make right. It must enforce right. #obedience
Romans 13:3-4 “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.”
Paul gives a clear picture in verses 3 and 4 about the role of civil government (which includes church leadership and leadership in the home), and that role has everything to do with God’s moral law first and foremost. Notice that Paul uses the words “right” and “wrong” and “good” and “bad.” God has established a system of order and authority among His creation for its good. In all things within the realm of man, order of roles and function, when followed and administered correctly, works to the betterment of that system. Even more important than that, however, is that this order is designed to reflect God’s moral law of right and wrong. Paul is saying something deeper and higher than mere obedience to authority. Authority itself should be in the service of the moral law expressed in the words “good” and “bad.” Might does not make right in this text. Might enforces right. Our submission to this kind of civil governance is not a submission to the institution; it is a submission to what God has established to govern His moral standards of right and wrong. When the authority and those under it operate within God’s standard of morality, it is designed to be good.
Study/Meditation: Read 1 Peter 2:13-17. How did Peter echo Paul’s words from Romans 13:1-7? Why do you think both men saw this topic as so very important for Christians?
*Father, help me to always look to You for the moral standards by which I should live. I pray for those in authority over me and my family that they, too, will be led by Your laws. Amen.
If we know that God is sovereign, then we must live as if He is sovereign. #Godissovereign
Romans 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
Christians ought to be the most law-abiding citizens on the planet. That is not to say that there are never times when civil disobedience is allowed. The Bible presents us with examples of times when God’s people engaged in civil disobedience. (Daniel 3:9-18, 6:6-10, Exodus 1:15-20, Esther 4:16) However, those are extreme cases and times in which God had a specific plan to exhibit His glory. The overarching truth is that Christians recognize that because their citizenship is in heaven and they have relinquished all things to God, they also relinquish any rights they have against those things God has put into place, namely civil authority. Everything is God’s, so when we surrender everything to God, we are in a position to surrender obedience to civil authorities without committing treason against heaven. As a matter of fact, the contrary is also true. If we resist civil authorities by living against the law of the land, we are really resisting God. We are, in essence, resisting the means by which He has mandated this earthly realm be governed. The judgment we receive from the law is just, but it is only part of the judgment we will incur. Ultimately we will stand in account in front of the true Judge, and we will answer to why we resisted His authority in His creation. If we know that God is sovereign, then we must live as if He is sovereign.
Study/Meditation: How does understanding and accepting God’s sovereignty apply to being law-abiding citizens?
*Father, give me a deeper understanding of Your sovereignty so that I might live as an obedient sojourner in this land. Amen.
“God removes kings and sets up kings.” Daniel 2:21 #Godissovereign
Romans 13:1 “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.”
We may pause to wonder at Paul’s train of thought here. Why after his instructions on how we must behave toward each other as Christians does he go to quite a lengthy dissertation on how we respond to civil government? Understand that Paul is writing to people in Rome who lived under Nero as Caesar. The apostle knew he needed to address Christian behavior under an unjust, persecuting ruler in light of such statements in Romans 8:38 that “rulers” could not separate them from the love of Christ or Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The first thing Paul tells us is that we subject ourselves to earthly authorities not for their sake but for God’s. The people in authority over civil government, whatever the level, are in that position because God has deemed it to be so. It is God’s will to govern the world of mankind through human civil authorities, and He places them there for His purposes. Daniel 2:21 tells us, “(God) removes kings and sets up kings.” God called Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” in Jeremiah 27:6, and Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11) We can breathe easier knowing that we submit to our government and civil authorities out of reverence to God, not out of reverence to them—“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” (1 Peter 2:13)
Study/Meditation: How do passages like this comfort you in today’s society? What do you think is the correct response to any government, corrupt or not?
*Father, I lift my civil leaders up to You. Give them wisdom and continue to use them to Your will. Help me respond to them in reverence to You. Amen.
September 28th of this year will mark the fourth anniversary of my Grandma’s passing. As you can imagine, my thoughts have been filled with memories of her, mostly sweet. I don’t know, maybe we clashed in personality, but some are painful and have left wounds that I am unsure will be healed on this side of heaven. But the good I remember, it is oh, so good! I think at times she was a hard woman because she had to be. She had a lot to manage as one woman. She not only raised eight children but aided in raising a few of her grandchildren, myself included.
As the memories of her life and her last days flood my mind, the words “purpose” and “moving forward” keep popping up. (more…)
Christ is our Overcomer, not the evil committed against us. #Redeemer
Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Fallen human nature tends toward blaming someone else for their shortcomings. It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for eating the forbidden fruit to which Eve in turn blamed the serpent. How often do we hear those who have been caught in some sort of evil or misguided deed trace the root of their action back to something someone did or said to them in the past? Paul would use wording that mirrors that in verse 21: When we do evil and blame it on some evil that was done to us, we have been overcome by that evil. We’ve allowed it to dictate to us how we behave and respond. That’s why Paul has made this statement immediately following the ones telling us not to seek vengeance but to repay evil with good. We have a great Redeemer who is also the great Overcomer in our lives, a Redeemer who responded to the evil in us by giving His own life as a ransom so that we could live. Jesus is our perfect example, and His is the life we are to emulate as we live now. We must not allow the evil that is done to us dictate who we are and how we respond. When we do, it has become our overcomer. This should never be in the lives of the redeemed. As John Piper said, “When Christians encounter evil, they don’t merely respond to evil; they respond to Christ who deals with the evil.” (“Christ Overcame Evil with Good—Do the Same,” John Piper, March 20, 2005, desiringgod.org)
Study/Meditation: Think of some practical examples where you’ve seen believers respond to evil with good. How do those actions glorify God and draw others to Him?
*Father, help me to remember what You done for me, though I am a sinner, so that I can respond to those who wrong me with actions that give You the glory. Amen.