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April 26 – I Must Not Rebel Against My Government

April 26, 2012

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.” – Romans 13:1-2

As discussed yesterday, Paul is writing at a time when the imperial leader of Rome is Nero.  Why does he say I should submit to government?

1. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Paul is no doubt talking in general terms about government, in general.  God does not condone anarchy; and we only have to look at what happens when this kind of government breaks down to appreciate why (Somalia, Yugoslavia, ex-USSR, etc.).  As bad as some forms of government are though, they generally maintain some semblance of law and order.

2. Those who rebel against the government are rebelling against an authority instituted by God Himself; and are therefore subject to judgment by Him.

This conclusion gives me a bit of a problem, because in my American mind-set, I have rights!  The U.S.A. exists today, partly because our forefathers, after the king of England declared them to be in rebellion, resisted this government.  England was levying taxes upon them, even though many attempts were made to plead for representation (which was supposed to be given under England’s laws).  Yes, there was religious persecution as well, especially those who wished to obey what they believed the Bible taught.  The Church of England did not allow for this either.  Nevertheless, much of it was considered a rebellion.  As a matter of fact, virtually all governments exist as a result of some historical overthrow (usually violent) of a constituted government.  Usually those who led the successful revolt are honored as national heroes.  Of course if the revolt was unsuccessful, the leaders are generally punished as traitors.  So I ask: Must I always support the established government however bad it may be, when I may assist a revolutionary attempt to supplant it with one better?  If I accept that a Christian must always respect the regime in power, then I must also accept that the overthrow of corrupt rulers must always be left to sinners of the world to oppose evil regimes.

It is unlikely that Paul had in mind a revolutionary challenge to an oppressive government.  He is rather emphasizing that a Christian must, as a matter of conscience, respect the rule of law.  It is immaterial whether the government is a monarchy, socialist, communist, republic, or a democracy.  A Christian must respect and obey the regulations of the political society in which he lives.

I, in no way, am endorsing corrupt governments.  However, it behooves me to have a proper understanding of what God expects of me as His ambassador.  Before you jump to any conclusion, stay with me and allow me to further explain how understanding this principle will benefit me in my Christian walk. I will continue this tomorrow by looking at verse 3 of this same chapter.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie Huntley permalink
    April 26, 2012 9:14 am

    Enjoying the series Leland, and look forward to what is oncoming!

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  1. media bias, corrupt governments, and evil churches « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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