Liberty and independence are values highly esteemed in the American culture, and I respect the statutes that were delivered to us by men who formed a government by which the rule of law may be exercised and carried out as best as possible. These men made choices that carried great weight and burden and they did not make them lightly- these men were the men who gave their lives establishing the United States of America. During such times as those I believe the Lord’s will prevails, as the Word of God says, all authority has been established by God and He raises up kings and tears them down.
Barely 200 years later though, the republic that was founded, not on the basis of disrespect for authority, liberty, law and order, or government, but on the basis of respect for these very principles, has been cast into a daze of disorder, confusion, chaos, and disrespect of law. Though our founders used force against their ruling authority, they did so with great care, and God will judge them according to their deeds and actions when the time comes. We, on the other hand, see people who are hurling disrespect and insults at their governing authorities without any care or caution, and we too, will be judged for the words and the deeds that we commit.
This is likely to be a very hot issue and that’s why I’m going to defer to the Word of God and let those who read this consider the implications of what it says and measure themselves by the judgments that God has rendered (not me).
OBEDIENCE FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR OATH TO GOD:
2 I say, ‘Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God.
We’re to honor the oath we’ve made to God by our conduct towards ruling authorities.
Do you say, “yes, but that was spoken to Israel, whom God Himself appointed and established the kingship of”?
The Word of God says that “all authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1) and we “submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors” (1st Peter 2:13). Just as in Israel’s time, we too, for the sake of the Lord, submit to authorities, and this, if done for the sake of the Lord, is done for His honor! Therefore, honor the authorities!
ALL AUTHORITY IS FROM GOD—HONOR YOUR RULERS:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Governments act as God’s minister and carry out His will- whether they know and accept this or not- to render justice where justice is due. God has made them His ministers and set them up to judge men in the flesh, therefore, let God judge the judges! For, “blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings…” (Daniel 2:21-22).
If a government is found to deny justice to those who are oppressed, God will avenge them and their punishment will be just- but the workers of chaos are not those who carry out God’s vengeance; His is greater than theirs!
Furthermore, the Word of God says,
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
~1st Peter 2:13-25
Those that mock and hurl insults at their rulers neither fear God (the one who gave government the sword to punish evildoers) nor honor their king! For God said, “Honor all people… Love the Brethren… Fear God… Honor the King”, yet these make mockery out of the authorities He has established!
Therefore, obey your authorities and give them honor; render everything to them that is due to them.
YOU ARE BLESSED IF YOU SUFFER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE:
But, “what if the government does not punish evildoers and, instead, bring suffering on Christians?” Do you think that we bring cheap honor to God’s name? If we suffer when we wrong, we suffer rightly, but if we suffer when we are righteous, we bring honor to God as Jesus brought honor to God by suffering without one word of rebuke, though He Himself is over all. Let us that are lower than Him honor God as He also honored God!
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
~1st Peter 3:13-17
THOSE WHO DESPISE AUTHORITY ARE RESERVED FOR JUDGMENT:
4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
~2nd Peter 2:4-11
God is over all and set all authority upon Jesus: there is no room in God’s eyes for despising authority. To do so means that you are ignorant of the supremacy and sovereignty of God to carry out all of His designs and bring honor and glory to His name as He brings His children into the inheritance that He has prepared for them by His own goodness and mercy and grace!
All around the world we see people rising up against their rulers, talk show hosts hurling reviling insults at their leaders, and demonstrations, protests, and Occupy movements sweeping every corner of the Earth. But just in case you have doubts that God does not see these evil acts, let me reassure you that He does see them, and He has reserved those who despise authority “for the day of judgment”.
I believe the prophet Daniel when he spoke concerning God’s designs to raise up and tear down kings—that may have been His design with the revolution in America nearly 200 years ago, it is not for me to say, but the fruits seem to show this to be the case.
But we must be honest: what we saw then is by no means what we see now. What we see now are hosts of dishonoring and cavalier mouths bring reviling insults against every kind of authority possible, from the President to congress to the judges and on down to local governors, mayors, and courts. There are no positions of authorities that have been spared in our wicked day! Even our taxes have been reviled!
Satan tried to set this very same trap against Jesus and it did not work:
So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. 21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? 24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.
Jesus saw their intentions and the trap that they had set; He saw that they intended to deliver Him over to the power and authority of the governor. And, if Jesus had reviled the authority of the governor then He would have reviled God’s authority and could have rightly been handed over for punishment!
Therefore, do not speak evil of the authority that God has rightfully given to our rulers, my brethren. Jesus, our Lord, is greater than us, so who are we to speak rebuke where He did not?
OUR DUTY TOWARDS GOVERNING AUTHORITY:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
~1st Timothy 2:1-4
How far have we fallen in our response to ruling authorities from the wisdom with which Paul instructed Timothy here?
Our aim and desire, in the attitude of godliness and reverence, is that we be allowed to lead a quiet and peaceable life. Therefore, Paul said, we should first of all make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all men and kings who are in authority.
Is that our aim today, to live a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and reverence?
SUBMIT TO GOD FIRST AND FOREMOST:
Are there times when the ministry of government goes beyond the authority that God has granted to it and what would God’s will be for us during these times?
Because governments are composed of people, usually unbelieving people, it will most certainly go beyond the boundaries of authority that God has granted to government. Therefore, this teaching would be insufficient without instruction about what the Christian response should be during these times.
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birth-stools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.
God gave governments the authority to punish evildoers with the sword for injustice, but He did not give them the authority to slaughter the innocent; in fact, God says that He is the one who avenges the blood of the innocent (Psalm 9:12 & Job 3:21).
Therefore the Hebrew midwives did not obey the king because they feared God and therein have fulfilled and demonstrated the scripture that says “the fear of God is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13); they would not commit this evil.
So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” 6 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever! 7 All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the written decree. 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
The prophet Daniel was serving us even today when he demonstrated faithfulness in worshipping the LORD his God alone. He could have hid in secret or thought to wait out the 30 days of the decree, but Daniel submitted to God first and foremost and worshipped Him in all of His ways!
Far before Peter wrote that we should not suffer as murderers, but that we should suffer because we are found righteous, Daniel was found to be so righteous that they could not trap him unless it was by his obedience to the Word of God! The Lord be praised for such servants as Daniel!
God did not give the government authority to govern our worship, nor did God assign to government the authority to be worshipped as God; if the ministry of government says that we cannot worship or counsel with the Lord our God we submit to the One from whom all authority comes!
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
The Sanhedrin was a council in Jerusalem of judicial authority. They sought to silence the Word of God by commanding the Lord’s apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus. God gave “all authority in Heaven and on Earth” to Jesus (Matthew 28:18)—the government does not possess the authority to silence His name or His word.
Neither did Peter and John revile them or speak any insult, not even an insinuation of mockery. Rather, they submitted themselves to the councils judgment by saying “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than Him, you judge” and openly said that they “cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.
IN SUMMARY—SUBMIT TO GOD AND HONOR ALL AUTHORITY
Governments do not have the authority to silence God, forbid His worship, or command His people to commit injustices, however, neither do the children of God carry the authority to take vengeance on the Government, to speak reviling things against their rulers, or to mock them in dishonor.
I know that governments, leaders, and authorities will make mistakes and errors, but we should forgive and overcome evil with good. We submit ourselves to the judgments of all men with righteous conduct and make room for the wrath of God!
1Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
It’s my task to remind you, my brethren, to be subject to your rulers and authorities, to obey and be ready for every kind of good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable and gentle, and to show humility to all men.
I know what it is like in America even though I am now living abroad in a persecuted country; I was born and raised in a home that was passionate about politics. But this teaching was not given in my home and I learned to disrespect rulers from opposing political parties or ideologies. For many years of my life I issued insults and spiteful remarks against my political leaders—now I am moved to sorrow and repentance for these things and have taken a sober mind in reverence and respect for all authority everywhere. I hope you, my brethren, will also take this mind, as is the will of God for you. Amen.