“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” -Romans 13:1-2
This is being written before the votes are even counted from Tuesday’s Election Day. What do the results mean for Christians? How do the laws which legislators pass instruct the Christian in the path of righteousness, that is, the educative value of the law? Romans 13 addresses the believer’s response to government and to those authorities who lead it.
God’s apparent answers may not be what those in a democracy want to hear. Then again, depending on who wins, there are some who are temporarily happy. In any case, until Jesus actually reigns, no Christian can or will be completely satisfied. For men are like the grass which fades; all flesh consists of nothing more than fallen sinners.
Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when an evil, anti-God government ruled much of the world, and he still told believers to be submissive to the government God establishes, that is, the government which is currently in power. It is hard to know what to do with this instruction from God when we know there have been many evil leaders directing evil policies.
We live in a country where you are allowed to vote for your authorities, unlike Rome of the First Century. Caesars were dictators. Still, America remains a republic only if it can keep it, as they have for about 250 years. Citizens vote based on their understanding of what constitutes moral God-fearing government, or, on the other hand, what voters feel is good for them even when it isn’t.
People without any government at all live in chaotic conditions, anarchy, which is good for no one. Paul teaches, “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.” Government, even evil government, is compelled to keep order in the general populace, despite certain portions of the populace, such as Jewish people in Germany during the Second World War, being victimized by heinous torture and mass murder. Other governments in history have even exceeded the number of victims of the horrendous Nazi government.
In any case, these German perpetrators of this demonic evil were soon crushed, brought to justice, and some executed. This came at the hands of better, more righteous, God-empowered government. Though not all evil authorities receive judgment in this life, it surely awaits them in the world to come.
Believers in a fallen world wait for the return of Christ. Government of any type will never satisfy, nor govern with perfect justice and righteousness, that is, until the Lord comes and establishes His reign. Before then the Christian must persevere in earnest prayer and godly behavior, even suffering under unjust conditions, waiting and watching with eager expectation the return of their Lord and Savior.
Until then they must exercise the responsibility of a godly citizen wherever God has provided this to them. To avoid citizen-responsibility only encourages the removal of this opportunity by God. There are too many professing Christians who in great laziness or defeatism avoid being godly citizens.
I hope you voted and considered your vote in light of God’s commands. A Christian does not vote responsibly unless he consults the Word of God and votes for those candidates who most further, however imperfectly, God’s instruction of righteous behavior. In any case, the church of Jesus Christ outlasts all governments and will alone prevail.
“Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but the church of Jesus constant will remain. Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail; we have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.”
(Fourth verse of Sabine Baring-Gould’s hymn, “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” 1865)
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