Submitting to Government

In every place in the world and throughout time, God has raised up and pulled down various governments. God doesn’t ordain any one form of government, the truth is, whatever form of government you and I are under, God is behind it. This is true for governments that persecute Christianity, such as Soviet-style communism or in strict Muslim nations such as Iran, or the oppressive Roman governments at the time of Paul.

There is NO government that can overturn God’s plan for human history. 

God’s purpose will be accomplished even in the most godless repressive regimes imaginable (such as North Korea or during Hitler’s reign in Germany).

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. (Romans 13:1)

Even in the Old Testament book of Daniel, where the prophet stood before Nebuchadnezzar, a great autocratic king and said: 

And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:21)

Daniel tells the king that God is not some remote figure on a distant mountain, rather active in the affairs of humanity, and He is the one who sovereignly elevates a king—or removes a king

GOD is not remote from our political affairs.

When Paul wrote his letters to the Christians in Rome, they at the time were living in one of the most repressive regimes in human history. Nero had just begun his reign when Paul writes that the authorities that exist in Rome have been established by God and that Christians, who are living under the persecution of Rome, are living under a government ORDAINED by God. Wow, that must have been hard one to understand. Why would God ordain a government that persecuted Christians? A question that continues to be asked today.

When Paul writes about living under “governing authorities” he is referring to not just the heads of state (president, prime minister, king) but ALL level of government. For us in Australia, this includes Federal, state and local government — the Prime minister to the the local council member. 

So when we obediently submit ourselves to the governing authorities, we are truely submitting ourselves to GOD. 

Paul goes on to say: 

Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:2)

If we rebel against our government, we are rebelling against God. Opposing God. This is a difficult one, what does one do when a government carries out atrocities or injustices against its own people or changes law that goes against our Christian beliefs? Should Christians stand up and say enough is enough, or wait for God to act. We saw during the rise of Hitler, that nations went to war to defend borders and citizens and likewise we are see something similar with North Korea. God put these governments in power for a reason of which I cannot understand or get my head around—it is one of those things I will have to accept and wait on the Lord to make His plans clear. 

Some would say that Christians should remain silent on matters of politics, others say we need to be active and express our views such as in the same-sex marriage debate in Australia. I do not know the answer to this one and it varies greatly among Christians — some are silent, others are active in a non-violent manner, others enter politics to "try" and make a differences. 

Governments are here because God put them here, but governments are not God, even if they like us to believe they are. That doesn’t meant that God only gives us good and kind governments. We have seen many time governments that are very unkind and lack any concern for sub-groups within society (i.e. the poor and homeless) — why does God allow this,  perhaps to teach us a lesson on trusting in God rather than ourselves. 

Governments have control over our property, the laws of the land, even down to educating our children (in some countries) BUT they cannot control how we worship our Heavenly Father, or stop us from praying. However we know that governments do try and control how we worship and try very hard to remove God completely but God always wins as we see in China. 

We do not need to be afraid of government as long as we are law abiding citizens and do as required—pay our taxes, keep to the speed limit, don't take what isn't ours, work hard, pay our bills, don't rob a bank or commit murder.  Whilst it sounds all very sensible and it is easy for us in our relatively safe western democracies, not as easy in countries such as Syria, Russia, China etc. 

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. 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. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. (Romans 13:3-6)

The purpose of government is to provide for our security, defence and services such as hospital, schools, roads etc.. and throughout history governments have done this to a greater or lesser degree. NO government is perfect and many impose on us things we do not agree with. Governments do not always  do things that are biblical, however we need to live quietly within any government that God ordained in our country. Regardless of what we think of our government, we need to maintain a good attitude towards the authorities. Whilst many groan and complain about government (I am sure everyone of us have done it to some degree), we must as Christians be respectful and with good cheer. Remembering that submitting to our government, where good or bad, stupid or wise, we are submitting to God. 

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17)