Romans 13:1-4 – “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.” NASB
We began our venture into dangerous and controversial waters regarding this topic in the last devotional and will dive a little deeper today. It is my sincere hope and desire to show the biblical and rational balance. I warn that it may not look like it at the outset but if you will stay with me through the entire discussion, I believe you will see the balance.
Submission is not unquestioned obedience to authority. That is not biblical submission but servitude or subservience. Submission is the willingness to follow leadership or directions that do not violate what God has said to us individually, through His word or the directives of our conscience. When those conditions are not met (no violations) it is proper to submit to those having the rule over us in the home, government, job, or the church.
Conversely, when the leadership in the home, the government, the job, or the church violate what God has declared and decreed we must resist. If what is being directed is a direct violation of God’s Word and violates our conscience we must disobey and, in that disobedience, we are not being rebellious but obedient to God while disobedient to man.
LET ME OFFER SOME BIBLICAL EXAMPLES:
The kingdoms of this world and the glory of them are, for the most part, under the control of the ‘god of this world’, the devil. The god of this world dominates most of the human governments in existence and government affects lives. Therefore, the governments of this world are often not favorable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are averse to the Truth of God. In those situations, conflict is inevitable, and disobedience demanded of the conscience.
THE THREE HEBREW CHILDREN – Daniel 3:5-6.
Let me ask, “In this situation, what would you have done?” Most will say, “I would have refused to bow, but would you?” These three men were submissive and wanted to serve the king and were doing that. They wanted the best for the kingdom. They made a powerful faith declaration in (vv. 16-18) and sealed their fate with the government of man.
The Word of God prohibited idolatry and idol worship. They had a choice, they could obey the edict of man or the law of God and the price was seemingly a life or death choice. What would you have done? In Romans 13:1 we are told, “Let every soul be subject to the higher authority.” Remember the Bible and God are always the higher authority and take priority over any decree or edict of man.
In Daniel 3:24-25 we find the king perplexed and his questions and declarations are powerful. They put three men in the furnace, but he could see the fourth man in the fire, and they were all walking around unharmed by the blazing fire that killed the men who threw them into the flames.
Jesus stood with those three men in their obedience to God which meant disobedience to man. They had divine favor and divine protection. Here is something you must not overlook. After this experience, they went back to serving the King. They were only disobedient to the king’s edicts when they contradicted the Law of God!
There are many levels of authority and God clearly commands us to ‘obey’ higher authorities. We are not to go through life looking for a way to disobey but for an opportunity to obey and be submissive to proper legitimate authority with lawful decrees.
Let me offer this simple illustration before pausing. What if you had a teenage daughter and she imposed a rule over her six-year-old sibling while the mother was gone from the home. The authority of the home, while the mother was absent, had been delegated to the teenager. But, if the mother or father called on the phone and issued a new decree telling the younger child, “you can watch T.V. until 10 PM” guess which authority that younger child can obey and not be disobedient. The Higher Authority!
I am not teaching anarchy. You never take an extreme position to defend your faith. There is always a balance to be achieved and attained. I want to deal with this more in the next devotional and fear that this is growing and will take more sessions than I had intended. However, hopefully, it will be beneficial.
God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!