The Bible reveals that human governments are cut off from God, heavily influenced by Satan and terminally flawed. Does this mean you should resist and rebel against them? What should be your individual attitude toward government? The Bible is clear on God’s answer to true Christians.
When human authorities order you to break God’s law, you must “obey God rather than men” (Acts 4:19; 5:29), even to the point of facing execution, as did Daniel, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Stephen, most of the apostles, and, of course, Jesus Christ. God obviously does not command you to condone the sins of those human authorities. But these are only two aspects of your overall approach toward human government. Following the rest of what the Bible commands on this subject will change your actions and even your thoughts toward human government, and toward God.
“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28; Revised Standard Version). “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers …” (Romans 13:1). “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s …” (Mark 12:17). “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Romans 13:7). “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors …” (1 Peter 2:13-14). “[B]e submissive to rulers and authorities …” (Titus 3:1; rsv). Pray to God “[f]or kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Do not “despise government” or “speak evil of dignities” (2 Peter 2:10). Accept that it is God who “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” and 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 2:21; 4:17). “… For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1).
Such thinking is decidedly unpopular in today’s world, but these scriptures are clear. Moreover, it is clear that this attitude toward government should extend into your workplace, even your family. The Bible commands servants (employees and other subordinates) to show obedience toward their supervisors and bosses, “not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward,” on account of their positions (Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18). It commands children to obey their parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20), wives to obey their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 3:18). It specifies that obedience to these offices applies whether the officeholder is a true Christian or, as in most cases, not.
Why does the Bible command us to obey human authorities?
One reason is that disobedience brings punishment, whether it is a fine for speeding, imprisonment for tax evasion, or execution for treason. But there is so much more to this command.
Another reason we must obey parents, husbands, teachers, bosses, law enforcement, civil executives and other human authorities is to protect and enhance God’s reputation, to “glorify God,” and to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” “that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” This can even win over people who are not true Christians (see Titus 2:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:12-21; 3:1).
But there is even more to this command. This is a command about obeying human authorities not only in your words and actions but in your mind. “[B]e subject, not only for wrath [civil punishment], but also for conscience sake” (Romans 13:5). “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought …” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Obey “not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God” (Colossians 3:22; also Ephesians 6:5-7).
Submitting to your flawed human superior, even in your conscience, your heart and your thoughts, is actually about learning to submit to God!
God created the universe, and He actively rules it through His government. He established a throne over the Earth and placed on that throne the archangel Lucifer. Lucifer’s fundamental act was to put his will above God’s will. He became Satan through rebellion against government! As god of this world, he spreads his attitude of disobedience to authority (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). Have you noticed that in private conversation, speeches, history books, news programs, social media, sitcoms, children’s movies and almost everywhere else in modern society, one of the most dominant themes is defiance toward authority?
Government is ordained by God. He is the ultimate authority, and His loving, spiritual, God Family government is His most important priority: It is the method through which He creates, maintains, preserves, defends, gives, forgives, saves and loves us! God’s loving government is actually the theme of the entire Bible! God commands you to reject Satan’s attitude of rebellion and submit to Jesus Christ’s attitude of obedience. Why? So that He can draw close to you, you can draw close to Him, and the horrific vices of Satan and the human societies he influences can actually, finally be solved by God’s Family government.
Fear God. Honor the king.