Tuesday: The Christian and the State

Read Romans 13:1-7. What basic principles can we take from this passage about the ways in which we are to relate to the civil power of government?

What makes Paul’s words so interesting is that he wrote during a time when a pagan empire ruled the world – one that could be incredibly brutal, one that was at its core corrupt, and one that knew nothing about the true God and would, within a few years, start a massive persecution of those who wanted to worship that God.

Christ and the Capitol

Christ and the Capitol

In fact, Paul was put to death by that government! Yet despite all this, Paul was advocating that Christians be good citizens, even under a government like that?

Yes. And that’s because the idea of government itself is found throughout the Bible. The concept, the principle of government, is God-ordained. Human beings need to live in a community with rules and regulations and standards. Anarchy is not a biblical concept.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that God approves of all forms of government or how all governments are run. On the contrary. One doesn’t have to look too far, either in history or in the world today, to see some brutal regimes. Yet even in situations like these, Christians should, as much as possible, obey the laws of the land. Christians are to give loyal support to government so long as its claims do not conflict with the claims of God. One should consider very prayerfully and carefully – and with the counsel of others – before embarking on a path that puts him or her in conflict with the powers that be. We know from prophecy that one day all of God’s faithful followers will be pitted against the political powers in control of the world (Revelation chapter 13). Until then, we should do all that we can, before God, to be good citizens in whichever country we live.

“We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. . . .

“We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way.” – Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 69.

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons