Civil Disobedience and the Gospel of God
There are three passages we want to focus on initially when tackling the issue of submission or subjection to government by Christians:Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1, and 1 Peter 2:13-17. From these passages, we can gather some key points that shed light on Christian submission to governing authorities or government.
The first thing we can take from Romans 13:1 is government is instituted by God. Because a government is a government it is not inherently wicked. Wicked governments, ran by tyrants, who rule and establish law directly opposed to the Law of God, that’s a wicked government. Because a government is a government, that does not necessarily mean that it is wicked. Wicked governments are wicked. Evil governments are wicked. Governments are instituted by God.
Second: governments possess delegated, not absolute authority. We see this from Romans 13:1-4. We certainly see this from 1 peter 2:13,14. Governments possess a delegated authority, it is not absolute. It is granted to them by the Lord God. As such, they cannot rule at their own discretion. They possess a delegated, not absolute, authority.
The third point to note is that governments are to be submitted to by all people. (Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1) We are to submit or place ourselves under the authority that God has delegated the governments to possess. We are to place ourselves under the authority, whether it’s an emperor, governor, one of higher capacity or lower capacity.
The fourth point: the one in such authority is “God’s servant for your good.” (Romans 13:4) The governing authorities are to act as God’s servant for your good. They are to be a servant of God. Can you be a good servant of the Lord God if you do not apply His righteous and just standard for the laws that are established for your nation? NO! Absolutely not. It is not arbitrary, it is not subjective, you cannot rule at your own discretion, you cannot do whatever is right in your own eyes if you are a governing authority. You are to submit to the Lord God and His Word.
Fifth: these governing authorities are an “avenger of God”, carrying out wrath on the “wrongdoer.” We take this from Romans 13:4.
The sixth point we want to point out is that they are to “punish those who do evil, and praise/reward those who do good.” (1 Peter 2:14)
We look at all these passages as a whole and one thing we need to point out is the government should be pretty limited as to what it is actually responsible to do. Punish those who do evil, reward those who do good. Think of all the ways that our government, the way it is established currently, interferes with different spheres of life, and they do not do it as a servant of God. They do it at their own discretion.
They do it for all sorts of reasons, but they certainly don’t do it as a servant of God. They are to punish those who do evil, and praise and reward those who do good.
So those in authority over us as a nation are a “Servant of God”. They are an avenger of God on the wrongdoer. Who determines what’s wrong? Who determines who the wrongdoer is? Is it a separate standard? Is it subjective? Is it just the power of the majority, or whoever has the most money? They’re an avenger of God on the wrongdoer. His standard is their standard for determining who the wrongdoer is. To punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. Again, His standard. It is the Lord God’s standard that they are to apply when establishing justice and enforcing righteousness in the nation. A servant of God “for your good”. Our government has instituted laws that oppress our nation. They protect and promote child sacrifice. They protect and promote something that God, throughout the scriptures, He only promises a nation judgment for this kind of rule. It is His standard, God’s standard of righteousness and justice which is the right standard for the nations, all nations. You don’t need to point to your theology, who Israel is, and who Israel isn’t. It is His standard for the nations, foreign nations alike.
Click the image above to read the entire pamphlet on Christians, Government, and Righteous Resistance
So many passages confirm this truth. The first example we want to look at is Psalm 2:7-12. “I will tell of the decree of the Lord. The Lord said to me, “you are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Ask of me and I shall make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth you possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore oh kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son.” Acknowledge the Son as the one who is good. He is the one who is the Lawgiver, the standard. “Lest he be angry, and you perish in the way. For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” Serve the Lord with fear.
Psalm 22:27-28 continues on this theme. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations.” This is not a passage that merely supports a sovereign God who just puts kings in place arbitrarily. This is about God being the one who establishes the rule and standard those kings are to follow. Kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules, it is His law. He rules over the nations.
Deuteronomy 18:9-14. “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you.” It is not arbitrary judgment. It is not merely because He is a sovereign God. They violated His standard of justice and righteousness, and that is why He brings judgment upon a nation. “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.”
Leviticus 20:1-5. Again, God’s standard for the nations applies to all nations. Judgment is brought about on nations who do not obey this standard in the laws that are established. “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.” God is assuredly a God of love, but there is great judgment that comes upon a people who turn a blind eye to child sacrifice, to incredible injustice. When laws are enforced based upon some arbitrary measure that isn’t appealing to the standard that God has provided clearly in His Word. What do we have of scriptural examples of what God can do for a nation such as this? What do we have, unless we repent?
He continues in verse 22 of the same chapter: “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.”
Speaking of the standard of the Lord God for foreign nations, Jonah, verse 2 of chapter 1, “that great city, Jonah, go call out against that great city, for their evil has come before Me.” What is the response of the people? What do they do? They believe God. The people of Nineveh believed God. He went to them with a word of warning. He went to the capitol city of the Assyrian empire and he said to them God will overthrow you in judgment if you do not repent of your wickedness. You have neglected his standard His standard of righteousness and justice. You must turn from your wicked ways, now! The people believed God. The king says let everyone turn from his evil way. In verse 8 of chapter 3, “and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” Then verse 10, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said he would do to them, and He did not do it.”
Speaking of the authority the governing authorities possess, Jesus Christ says to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:7-11) Again, this is a delegated authority. This is granted to him by the Lord. He is supposed to be a servant. He is supposed to be a servant of God. Not to rule at his own discretion.
Isaiah 42:1-4, It’s more of the same. It’s His law. His law is the standard for the nations. It’s His justice His righteousness that is the standard for the nations. The governing authorities are supposed to establish law in accordance with our God’s character. He will bring forth justice to the nations. “I put my Spirit upon Him. He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or lift up His voice or make it heard in the street, a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench, He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. And the coastlands, from coast to coast, wait for His law.”
Many other passages affirm this truth: it is the righteous and just standard of God that the nations are to implement in their laws. He has authority. He gives it to whom He wills, and they are to be a servant of Him in the way they are to practice law and establish justice in the nation. The coastlands wait for His law. The great commission is about discipling the nations in accordance with obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are to obey His commands. By faith they can do so.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. He has authority, He is a King, right now. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So many more. So many more passages. This isn’t arbitrary. Folks, there are people in your church that divide the gospel, who divorce government and the laws of our nation from the gospel and mission of His people. So many more passages that affirm these truths: Psalm 47:1-9, Isaiah 9:6-7, 1 Samuel 15:1-23, Jeremiah 18:1-11,Ephesians 1:15-23. Just to name a few. He is King. Jesus is King. He is king over every individual, every city, every state, over every nation, the world. It is His standard of righteousness and justice that is supposed to be appealed to and looked at when we are to establish laws in our nation.
It has been said when it comes to examining your own life in light of Romans chapter 13, regarding this submission or subjection to the governing authorities. I’ve heard that when evaluating the problem with Christianity in our nation, when we come to this passage, because we are a rebellious people, we see we are supposed to be submissive to the governing authorities, but because we’re rebellious we just want to get past that and go to the exceptions so that we can rebel. Is that what our nation is full of? And the example provided that I hear from these individuals is not paying your taxes. Is that what our nation is full of? No! We are full of people who say that we are to submit to God’s Word, for it carries authority because it is from the Lord, and they appeal to that and say “let’s submit to our governing authorities”, lets continue this non-confrontational Christianity that simply rolls over. And we do it in the name of good and proper theology. That’s our problem. We come to a passage like this and bible believing, the Word is sufficient, Christ-centered, gospel-centered churches, you people know and have been in fellowship with individuals who are a part of these churches, they say these things, they claim these things, but they say “wait until the Lord fixes it in the end.” This has everything to do with our passivity.
It has everything to do with the laws of the nation that are established. It has everything to do with the judgment that comes upon a nation such as this.
How did godly people respond to and interact with ungodly government in the Bible?
First example we list, the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1:15-21. They were told, “if it is a son, you shall kill him. If it is a daughter, she shall live.” In verse 17 of Exodus chapter 1, “but the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” So God punishes them later because they didn’t submit to the governing authorities. No! He blesses them! He shows His approval of their actions, how they did not submit to such injustice. “So God dealt well with the midwives and the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, He gave them families.”
Moses’s parents rescued him by faith, Exodus 1:22-2:4. Again, wicked Pharaoh commanded people to throw children into a river. Moses’s parents didn’t obey that. They disobeyed the king. And then you have the entirety of the interaction of Moses with Pharaoh and the oppression that was being afflicted upon the people. He (Moses) goes and says “Let my people go!” Great oppression being afflicted upon the people and he says let my people go, because Pharaoh’s standard is not just subjective or arbitrary.
We find later in Hebrews 11:23-28 how God was pleased by the civil disobedience lived out in the lives of Moses, and his parents, and a lot of individuals surrounding these events.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”
Rahab the prostitute hides the spies, Joshua 2:1-14, 6:15-25. Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. So she hides the spies. She acknowledges later “For the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
She disobeyed the command of that king, the Israelites then devote that city to destruction, and we find out that “only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent.” We find her later in Hebrews 11, verse 31, in the great hall of faith we should look to for examples of how we ought to walk in obedience to the Lord. “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Obadiah in 1 Kings 18:1-18, he is hiding prophets of the Lord, who were to be killed. Again, civil disobedience. He feared the Lord God. Not the king, not these unjust laws.
Jeremiah. You can really say look at the prophets when it comes to biblical examples of individuals interacting with ungodly government authorities. Relentless confrontation of the unjust laws being enforced, of the injustice that the people were carrying out. Calling the nation to repent. They did this everywhere. They did this with Israel and they did this with foreign nations. Jeremiah 22:1-5. Jeremiah 25:1-14.
Then we get the example of the Apostles. We get to the apostles and how they interact with the governing authorities in Acts chapters 4 & 5. They were presented before the rulers and elders and scribes. They were the ones convening regarding addressing Peter and John. And the say in verse 17 “But in order that it may spread no further”, IT, may spread, this message that Jesus is King and His standard is the standard for anyone and everyone. At all times. “Let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”(Acts 4:17) And what is their response in verse 19? “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They leave and go inform others of what had happened and what had taken place at that convening. They go and pray. “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken…”(Acts 4:31) They had prayed to speak the Word with all boldness. In direct disobedience to the command of those in authorities over them. “and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
They say later in Acts 5:28-29 “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” And the people want to kill them. They are saved. We find later in that same chapter in verses 41-42 “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” The King, the promised Messiah who was going to establish righteousness and justice throughout the world is Jesus.
As far as looking for examples on the significance of government and the laws established in the nation and what it looks like to submit; Daniel. Read the whole book of Daniel. All of it. It’s everywhere. I mean, an Idol is constructed. Likewise, we have these idols of sexual immorality and greed and materialism that rule our nations. The people rule at their own discretion. They want to do whatever is right in their own eyes and our governing authorities establish law consistent with that. Yes. It’s not that 90 foot high pillar looking thing with the face and the eyes on it but that’s what rules our people. The governing authorities say come and worship. So you have responses of faithful individuals who say “Let it be known that we will not worship your false gods but if you throw us in that fire, God will assuredly deliver us.” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown in. They were saved by God.
Nebuchadnezzar. He says in Daniel 3:29 “Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” You have a foreign king who is saying worship these false gods and obey these laws. They disobey them, God delivers them and it ends with their promotion. They are promoted as governing authorities. They feared God rather than men.
So many more examples. You have Daniel interpreting dreams. There is a hand that writes on the wall. Judgment is brought down on the king Belshazzar as a result of him worshiping false gods. Daniel tells him what was written by that hand. He says in Daniel 5:23 to Belshazzar “And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” Calling him to repent.
“Honor the Lord God”, that was the standard. And you had faithful people of God appealing to these individuals, saying, that He is the standard. Calling them to repent. Calling them to turn from their wickedness.
Daniel, we have to talk about this one. There are individuals under the king that realize that if they set up a law that Daniel has to disobey, because he has to obey God, they will try to catch him in that.
Because they know that he will actually obey God rather than men. They know that and that’s why they go and establish a law about prayer. So what does he do? Daniel went home, thought about it and said to himself, well, governing authorities are in place because of the Lord, so I better just do what I am told because after all, I am under the rule of a foreign king and God doesn’t expect all men, everywhere to repent, turn from their sin and acknowledge His ways. God doesn’t expect lost people to act not lost, so, I’ll just pray in a very secret, private manner so as to be at peace with all men. You know, because that is good. NO! What did he do? He went home and he prayed just as he had done before. He said “here I am! I worship the one true King” So should you! Forget your laws of injustice and unrighteousness.
Daniel does not in the name of love, peace, patience, waiting on the Messiah to make things right in the end, hold these kings or governing authorities to a different standard of implementing justice and righteousness other than that of the Lord’s. The faithfulness of these individual’s who disobeyed the governing authorities is commended by God.
Which brings us to the New Testament. We find in Hebrews, a great passage, affirming the faith of individuals. What does it say of them? The gospel and mission of the church is divorced from the laws of the nation and politics and government? No. Hebrews 11:33-38 “who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.”
Hebrews 12:1-4 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
That’s where he is now. He is seated on the throne. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” There is not this blanket submission to the governing authorities. You have to conclude from these examples of those who were praised and rewarded by the Lord God that to submit to the governing authorities in these aforementioned instances would be to fear men rather than God.
So great. Look at our nation. How did we get here? We have to have conferences to exhort everyone around us to love their neighbor and not practice child sacrifice.
How did we get here?!?
The world? Yes. The world loves the things of the world. That makes sense. What about the governing authorities? Those wicked people in Washington? We could pass the buck to them and say that it is their fault. You know, we need more conservative representatives. What is it? How did we get here?
Governing Authorities? Sure.
What about God’s people? Jeremiah 5:24-31 “But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’” He speaks of blessings they would receive if they would walk in His ways. “Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. For wicked men are found among my people;” My people. The Lord God’s people. There are wicked men found among the people of God. “They lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their
direction; my people love to have it so,” It says that the Lord God’s people love to have it so. And he warns them: “ but what will you do when the end comes?”.
The church, the people of God, they tolerate sin. It’s done in the name of patience. It is done in the name of love and being gracious to other individuals. It’s done in the name of proper theology and understanding how we are supposed to relate to one another. It’s done for all these different reasons.
The people are sinful. Not just the world and those in the world. It is the lack of faithfulness by the people of God that has resulted in justice not being established.
How many Christians? How many people that would say that they are a prolife, evangelical Christian go and purchase a drug over the counter that will murder their unwanted child because they are so selfish?
How many Christians pray for and support their friends who practice IVF? We are talking about a practice that produces fourteen abortions all at once sometimes. And this is found among my people, the Lord God’s people. We are to be salt and light and to teach the world to obey the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot inforce justice and righteousness in the land when we ourselves do not practice the same. Proverbs 6:16-19. The bottom line is that sin is tolerated in the church. That’s why we’re here. That is the bottom line for why we are here. Sin is tolerated in the church. It is promoted and protected by individuals in the church, it is promoted and protected by leaders of the church. Those who are esteemed, those who in earlier times would have been told by Jesus, if he had heard what they taught that they study the scriptures in vain.
So we are at a unique place in history where we are a constitutional, representative republic. We don’t have a divine right kingship or some sort of leadership that’s established by lineage. We can actually vote for and promote individuals who recognize that they are to be a servant of God. We can choose those. So, do I support in my decision for this election the Obama who is for all forms of child sacrifice as he has explicitly stated or this other one, Romney, who has said that he is really only for the cases of rape, incest, and danger to the mother? Should we do evil that good may come? Ever? We are in a unique situation in history. The entirety of history. We have so much freedom to actually appoint and elect representatives who are servants of God and they know that. They see that as true. We are in this situation because the governing authorities, those who establish laws in our nation, don’t simply do so at their own discretion as if their own discretion were contrary to the people of our nation. The governing authorities are an exact representation of the morality for the majority of the people in our nation. People in our churches.
There are ideas promoted by many self-proclaimed Bible-believing individuals and churches that undermine the significance of the relationship between one’s Christianity and government.
There are so many ideas that do this. They are expressed in this kind of language: “It’s un-American to not vote”. “It’s your Christian duty to practice your right to vote”. “People died for your right to vote”. You know people and have been in fellowship with people and these are your friends and your neighbors that say this very thing. Your response? Christ died for your right to no longer do evil that good may come. When faced with this choice of the lesser of two evils, as has routinely been the case in our history, if you desire to see the preborn neighbor protected, you want God’s laws to be adhered to by our nation as is consistent with what we’ve established through God’s Word, you don’t want God’s judgment to come upon us, and you want to obey God, you cannot vote for either representative. In fact, the governing authorities are supposed to be a servant of God; for our good. I’ve heard individuals say that you can vote for a non-Christian. If the governing authorities are to be a servant of God and appeal to his righteous standard of justice, by which they are to establish laws, they need to actually serve God to possess that authority.
Another idea that is promoted and expressed with this kind of language: “You’re not voting for a pastor” No. You’re voting for an individual who is going to establish righteousness and justice according to the standard of God and if he doesn’t do so then God might judge us. As if there is a smaller implication!
Another way this is expressed in the fellowships we have, the people we know, in conversations we have gotten in to, surrounded by the gospel, abortion, the laws of the nation:
“Why would you only address abortion?” Well, we aren’t only doing that but….
“All of us are sinners?” Why would you only address abortion if all of us are sinners? Are you not a sinner? It is true that all of us have sinned against the Lord our God and because that is the case, unless we repent, turn from those wicked ways and acknowledge him, obey him, trust in what Christ has done on our behalf as a substitute, unless we do that, all of us are condemned on that level. That is true. We are all sinners in that way, but some sin is a greater injustice against God and our neighbor. This point is seen in the different ways particular sins were punished throughout the Old Testament. There was a certain punishment for stealing something, and a certain punishment for shedding innocent blood, but they did not receive the same punishment.
We are talking about the sin of child sacrifice here. Do you understand that? By emphasizing the significance of legalized abortion in our nation, calling our nation to repent, this doesn’t excuse acts of a lesser degree. What it promotes is viewing sin the way God does. The result of such a mentality is expressed in that statement “All of us are sinner”, and frankly it’s rooted in a false humility. That’s what this is rooted in. You have to address it out of love, you have to be patient with people and you have to help them connect the dots and understand this but they have bought into this idea that this is the way to think when critiquing our actions, but it is rooted in false humility. It believes that Christians are only truly humble inasmuch as they acknowledge how terrible they are as Christians. That’s what this idea is rooted in. When true humility actually looks like, “I’m no longer going to trust in my own power and strength. I’m going to depend on the Lord in such a manner as to walk by faith so that I can obey him.”
That’s humility. Depend on the Lord.
Was Moses’ problem pride? Was Jonah’s problem pride? When he goes to address the sins of a nation and calls a nation to repent? What about Jeremiah, Isaiah, the apostles, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego? Did they not see sin and the theology of sin the right way? Is that their problem?
What this mentality produces in terms of how the church combats the world or other individuals? This type of church will combat one thing; the church who is actually being salt and light.
Here is another way that I’ve heard it expressed: “The church is here for the salvation of souls, not to see the laws of our nation adhere to a biblical morality”. Those aren’t opposed to one another. In fact, if the laws of our nation matched the character of God and his righteous and just standard, people would come under the conviction for the fact that they want to disobey that very standard. There is a salvific nature to laws being established in accordance with God’s righteous and just character. And when they don’t match the character of God, it hinders the salvation of people! It encourages them to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
Another thought, this is how this is expressed by the theologically astute:
“We are sojourners and exiles in a foreign land. We are aliens here, and our home is a heavenly home.
We are not of this world.” People believe this. You have to understand. When you get in conversations with these people, this is exactly what they appeal to. They say things like this and they point to 1 Peter 2:11 as an excuse to not correct oppression. They are waiting for the Messiah to return. That is the idea that throws out Luke 10. It just throws it out. The priest and the Levite, the ones who teach these things, who say this, who promote this idea, they are the ones who go and do a lot of religious stuff and they do it in the name of loving their neighbor and loving the Lord as they ought to.
The next one: “When the church gets a ‘political bent’, or confuses it’s mission with the laws of the nation, it will result in turning the mission field into the enemy.” What is the name of our conference?
Against the World for the World. You have to understand that you have to patient with people. You have to be loving of other people. You have to engage them in a manner out of love. Seeking to correct the wrong ideas, the terrible thinking that effects the way they live their lives. You have to do that with all patience and endurance out of love for people BUT was Jesus misguided when he said “love your enemies?” They are enemies but you are to love them. In fact he says in Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” People you know, and people that you form relationships with. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” People not walking by faith in the Lord Jesus are both our enemy and the mission field. It does not mean that we do not love them when we address them as such.
We seek to persuade men to be reconciled to God. Both are true. We are against the world for the world.
Some closing thoughts. I understand the tendency to shy away from the language and terminology of “civil disobedience” so I want to make this clear. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, and He has delegated vengeance to be carried out on the wrongdoer, by our governing authorities, not civilians who take vengeance into their own hands and kill abortionists. What has been discussed previously is disobeying the lower man-made laws that undermine and dismiss the higher law of God in a consistent manner that characterizes faithful Christianity. Our actions must be rooted in love for our neighbor. We persuade mankind, whether other individuals, cities, states, and nation with the Sword of the Spirit of God, His Word, not the physical sword. This is biblical, godly, faithful, civil disobedience.
Another closing thought, be prepared and count the cost. I would imagine that as we go forward with this there are probably going to be laws, city ordinances, or rules established that are attempts to hinder our efforts. I can’t speak about all the specifics of what those might be, but just know that you do have to count the cost when it comes to fearing God rather than men, obeying the higher law of God instead of those lower man made laws.
In all these closing thoughts, make sure these notions, these ideas that I have mentioned, if they still linger in your own mind, repent from this kind of thinking, and aid in the repentance of others. Go out of your way to bear the burden of other individuals who think this sort of way. Seek to persuade them out of love for them. Help them repent.
If you are a governing authority, or you know somebody who is a governing authority, they are to be a servant of God. It is not their wisdom they are to appeal to, it’s His word, his standard for righteousness and justice, and if you are to seek that God relents from judging us, you (governing authority) are to seek the abolition of human abortion. Judgment is promised if we do not repent as a nation, and a church. Judgment upon the church, judgment upon our families, judgment upon communities, and the generations that follow us. Judgment will come if we do not stand against injustice and rebellion against God’s commands.
Abortion is the greatest evil that exists in our nation, and it is being protected and promoted by the laws of our nation and its absolutely everywhere. Because it is so evil, and promotes the murder of children, in a nation where child sacrifice is legitimized by the governing authorities and our culture, widespread greed, and sexual immorality will also flourish, two sins that are rampant in our culture. To make abortion illegal according to God’s word, would drastically change the cultural idolatry that permeates our nation. It’s everywhere. Child sacrifice is everywhere. It’s in the clinic, and in the pills taken by pro-lifers and professing evangelicals across the nation.
Abortion involves the worship of demons. It sheds innocent blood. It is an affront to the very incarnation and redemptive work of Christ. It makes a mockery of His worthiness, is a direct affront to His standard of righteousness and justice and this (human abortion) is absolutely everywhere!
So, we have to convince the church to repent. We have to convince the leaders of the church to repent, individuals we know. This has everything to do with honoring God. This has everything to do with our mission as individuals, the people of the Lord. This has everything to do with the great commission. To divorce the gospel and the mission of the people of God from establishing justice and righteousness in the laws of the nation is inconsistent with all these passages we’ve looked at previously, and the fact that God’s judgment comes upon a nation who does not abide by God’s just and righteous standard.
For you as individuals, in terms of civil disobedience, look at all the biblical examples of individuals who did not submit to fearing men, but they feared the Lord God, they did as He said.
If you divorce the gospel and the mission of the people of God from the laws established in our nation and the way our government rules, that is a thought that is inconsistent with the great commission itself.
The good news of the kingdom of God has everything to do with the laws of our nation, and therefore, you must take an active approach in seeing our nation repent from disobedience. You must do so by proclaiming the true gospel.
This is certainly going to be the case as we face unjust laws from our government and governing authorities who are attempting to hinder our efforts. You need to understand that these are laws setup against Jesus Christ.
So that’s what we do, we preach the true gospel. God is king and He rules and reigns over everything. It is His standard that everyone is to live by. The laws of the nation are to be consistent with that standard.
We appeal to His higher law, so as to correct those lower laws that are opposed to His standard.
If we do this, if we teach this, and exhort one another in doing this, who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish. (Jonah 3:9)