When Do We Not Submit to Governmental Authorities

Church Family:
Does any governmental authority have the power to ban Christians from meeting in corporate worship? Does any governmental authority have the power to determine when human life begins? Does any governmental authority have the power to define what it means to be male or female? Church, your Christian responsibility to discern how to live under governmental authoritieshas never been more important than it is today.

Where does our governmental authorities even get their power? The Bible identifies two reasons for the existence of any governing authorities aka “The State.” First, when sin entered the world and brought social chaos the state was created as a device to restrain sinners. If the destructive power of sin had not entered this world, governmental authorities would have been unnecessary. Second, God has graciously ordained governmental authorities to be empowered to create and enforce law for the purpose of restraining evil (Romans 13:1-7).

The issue of governmental authority and Christian freedom is an everyday issue.Does God call Christians to complete unconditional submission to every government leader and law whether they are the servant of God for good or a servant for evil? God spoke very clearly through His prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20) The Covid-19 pandemic forced us to reconsider our “unconditional” obligation to submit to the governing authorities. Is the Christian ever allowed to disobey the decrees and laws of the state? If so, when and why?

In Romans 13, Paul gives us three factors that determine our obedience or disobedience to governmental authorities. We are to submit to governmental authorities when:

1-Authorities are not a terror for those doing good works, but to those doing evil works. (13:1)

2-Authorities are for the good of the people they govern. (13:3-4)

3-Authorities are the avenger to execute God’s wrath upon those who do evil. (13:4)

These four verses have clear clarifying conditions that determine when we the people are to live in submission to our governmental authorities. Francis Schaeffer says it best, “The civil government, as all of life, stands under the law of God. In this fallen world God has given us certain offices to protect us from the chaos which is the natural result of that fallenness. But when any office commands what is contrary to the Word of God, those who hold that office abrogate their authority and they are not to be obeyed and that includes the state.”

Therefore, under what circumstances is a Christian justified in disobeying the government? It would appear that when the state prohibits us from doing what the Bible commands, or commands us to do what the Bible forbids, we are justified in disobeying.

Remember when King Darius signed an injunction forbidding people to pray to any god or man besides himself and then Daniel went home opened his windows and prayed three times per day on his knees to the One True living God. But don't forget, the governmental authorities also threw Daniel into the lion's den (Dan. 6). There will be consequences to obeying God rather than man (Acts 5:29).

See you Sunday, loving the Lord and the USA: Steve

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