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Respect Government Authority

How should you treat officials with whom you disagree?
What are your obligations, as a Christian, to the government under which you live?


 WHAT is your duty toward the government under which you live?

Should you resist Supreme Court injunctions?

What about "peaceful demonstrations" and sit-ins!

Do you owe respect to officials with whom you may disagree? Should you pay taxes to political office-holders even when they abuse their high offices? Are officials responsible "to the people," or to God?



What Does Scripture Say?

This generation has grown up in an atmosphere of utter disrespect toward authority. You see it everywhere both in the home and in public life.

It's high time to realize there is a JUDGMENT coming. It does make a difference how you act toward those in authority.

Your Bible explains the relationship of Christians to human governments. But how many of you know what it says?

Notice Romans 13:1-7:

"Let EVERY soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be ARE ORDAINED OF GOD. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: AND THEY THAT RESIST SHALL RECEIVE TO THEMSELVES DAMNATION!

This is not just Paul speaking. It is Jesus' directive to Christians for all time, for every generation.

Notice it! "They that resist" — those who refuse to submit to authority" shall receive to themselves damnation."

That's not just the penalty for assassination or for murdering a policeman who is protecting the peace. That's the penalty for any who resist constituted authority. That's the awful judgment God renders on those who incite civil strife, or who create incidents by so-called "peaceful demonstrations" or "sit-ins" or bombings of churches and schools.


"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause PAY YE TRIBUTE ALSO: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. RENDER THEREFORE TO ALL THEIR DUES: TRIBUTE TO WHOM TRIBUTE IS DUE; CUSTOM TO WHOM CUSTOM; FEAR TO WHOM FEAR; HONOR TO WHOM HONOR.

Instead of preaching this truth from the Bible, most ministers preach their own words about "getting out the vote," or "supporting a Christian candidate." "It is your duty," they say.

This is not what Jesus or the apostles taught. The real Christian duty is NOT to mix with political affairs of this world, but to be subject to authorities to show respect for those in public office. You are to be separate from the world, although living decently and respectfully in it (John 17: 15, 16). The time to change this world is at the coming of Christ. And it will take Christ to do it.


Does Government Authority Come from the People?

Government authority and power are ORDAINED OF GOD. They are not derived "from the consent of the governed" the people. Your Bible says so!

"There is NO authority but of God." "The authorities that exist are ordained of God."

Human beings seem to reason that because men may be elected or appointed or may seize power, that their only authority proceeds from the people that supported them. And the people like to have it so because it puts the people in the place of God!

This is an age when men don't want to acknowledge the God who rules in earthly affairs. The clergy is failing to preach the truth. Almost everyone is as ignorant of this power as was Pontius Pilate. Jesus had to tell Pilate that the authority vested in him came from the Almighty.

Notice that Pilate reasoned just like people today: "Then saith Pilate unto him, Speaketh thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" Jesus answered, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, EXCEPT IT WERE GIVEN THEE FROM ABOVE (John 19:10-11).

Since all authority is ordained of, or allowed by, God, we are to be subject to human governments. In respecting that authority, we are showing respect to God. Anyone WHO RESISTS THE AUTHORITY OF HUMAN GOVERNMENTS IS ACTUALLY REBELLING AGAINST GOD WHO ORDAINS THAT AUTHORITY. This applies not only to civil authorities, but equally as well to any person in a position of authority, whether a schoolteacher or a foreman in a factory.


Thinking up an Excuse

It is only human nature for people to think of an excuse to rebel against God. It doesn't matter how evil men in office may be. It is God who will judge them!

God ordained rulers to punish evil works and protect the obedient. Even though officials may be elected or appointed by the people, they are accountable only to God who permits them to exercise authority. Persons in responsible positions may fail to properly fulfill the responsibilities of their offices to punish wrong deeds and preserve order. They may even in some cases corrupt the government. But as long as God permits them to be in authority and to remain in office, you are commanded to REMAIN in subjection to the divinely ordained authority which they hold.

You pay respect to God when you respect men who hold office by God's permission and authority. Since it as God who sets men in office, it is His responsibility to remove them. One who does violence to public office — or one who approves such an act — is trying to steal God's authority as supreme ruler.

It is so hard for human beings to conceive this principle because nearly everyone has been deceived from childhood into believing God has nothing whatsoever to do with the civil governments of this world. Perhaps you were never told that the right to exercise authority over human beings is solely the prerogative of the divine Creator. Human beings do not inherently have the right or the ability to rule properly over fellow human beings. But God is a God of order, not confusion. Since men won't submit to His own government and laws, He has given permission in this age, before the return of Jesus Christ, that men may exercise authority in all phases of life.


Example of Saul and David

Human beings in authority sometimes serve themselves and the devil, but the OFFICE is ordained of God! You honor the person because of the office which he holds, even when his deeds may be evil.

Consider the case of Saul and David. King Saul obtained his position from God, as do all rulers. Saul was disobedient to the Eternal and David knew it. Did David therefore rebel and seek to organize the people to remove him from office?

No, he did not — not even after God had chosen and anointed him to replace Saul as king. Instead, David said this: "The Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish. The Eternal forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the External's anointed" (I Sam. 26:9-11).

Notice that David recognized the fact that it is God's right to put persons out of office. It could not be the people's right since the people have never been given the right in God's sight to put such men into office in the first place. David respected and honored and submitted to the office which Saul exercised. He left it in God's hands to remove him from office at the appointed time! Christians must do the same.

Nebuchadnezzar had to learn this truth, and it took him seven grueling years. He finally admitted after gaining his sanity that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the BASEST OF MEN (Daniel 4:17; 2:21).

Even if God decides to place in office the least capable and the basest men — because of the sins of the people — who are we to condemn the wise judgment of God? And strange as it may be, sometimes the people, in their attempt to make themselves wiser than God, elect the least capable man, which is ACCORDING TO THE PLANNED FORE-KNOWLEDGE OF THE ETERNAL GOD.

God never approves corruption or abuses by office-holders. But it is God, not you, who will judge them. Your obligation is to respect the authority of the office.