Timidity seems to be the order of the day in many churches. Government dictates have caused many places of worship to either close down or greatly curtail their services, limiting attendance and demanding that all who attend wear masks and distance themselves from each other by six feet. Even well over a year since the worst of the pandemic porn of COVID, far too many pastors continue to spread fear by kowtowing to the demands of the State. If the leaders of these churches aren’t adhering to these physical codes, many of them comply with the unwritten rule that political and/or socially cultural relevant themes cannot be discussed in depth. Thus, issues like the wickedness of abortion, the evil of the homosexual agenda, the horrors of what is in the “vaccines,” are never preached so as not to offend those with delicate sensibilities.
One of the worst offenses is the misuse of Romans 13:1-2, which says:
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 authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
This is obviously good and Godly advice. But, what happens when the governmental authorities demand their constituents (or subjects) think, say, or do those things which are contrary to the will of God? What if the State makes laws or Executive Orders that violate Biblical mandates? What then are the people of God to do? Should they obey because such things are “the law”?
Surely, as Paul goes on to say in Romans 13, if someone disobeys lawful laws, the sword of the State is there for punishment and that is only right. But Paul never issues a direct command to adhere to that which is contrary to God’s will and His laws. As a result, it appears to me that we need to examine Scripture more deeply to understand our obligations when immoral leaders and laws are the rule of the day.
Let’s briefly consider a few examples. In Egypt around the time that Moses was born, the Hebrew people were multiplying like crazy. Pharaoh feared they would become so numerous that they would be a threat to him and his kingdom. He issued an edict that all male children be killed. And what did the Hebrew midwives do? They disobeyed and lied to this evil king. They honored life and made a way for the children to live. For this, God honored them with families because they feared Him and not man.
Fast forward to Israel’s captivity in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar issued a ruling that his golden image should be revered as god by being worshiped at the sound of various musical instruments. This was the law. What did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do? They refused to worship anyone but Yahweh as God. As a result, the Lord protected them in the fiery furnace.
Some time after that, Daniel came to the attention of the authorities because of his daily practice of praying to the God of Israel. This went against the grain because in Babylon many gods were worshiped. Evil men convinced Nebuchadnezzar to prohibit prayer to any but the pagan gods. When Daniel violated this law, the king had no choice but to throw him to the lions. Yet despite his having broken the law of man, Yahweh kept him safe.
In the book of Acts we read that the Sanhedrin prohibited Jesus’ disciples from preaching about Him. They did it anyway and broke the earthly “law” that they’d been instructed to keep. For their faithfulness, Christianity flourished.
What about today as we see governments worldwide, along with ours in America, clamping down on our freedoms? Already in Australia and Canada, the State has taken extreme measures against the Christian community. Of course, this has been the norm in communist China and in Muslim nations for many years. In these other locations around the globe, what did God’s people do? Did they obey the orders of their governmental leaders? No, they continued to obey God, going underground when necessary so as to remain faithful to their Savior and Lord above the demands of men.
The question is: As darkness increases in our land and the State demands obeisance to it alone, what will the people of God do? Consider what Paul said to his young disciple in 2 Timothy 2:8-9:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Paul suffered for continuing to preach God’s Word. The authorities prohibited him from doing it, but he did it anyway. He placed God and His commands above those of the religious and governmental leaders of the day. Why? Because God’s Word is not bound! It cannot be restricted and will not be confined by those who are faithful servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is what the apostle went on to declare in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
In other words, if we die in service to God, we live with Him regardless of what men do to us. Through faithful obedience to the Lord, we earn the right of ruling and reigning with Him in the Millennial Reign of Christ. In trying circumstances, if we should choose not to boldly exalt His Name by trying to protect our own skin, we dishonor God, perhaps losing the protective armor that is ours when we’re faithful. Despite our lack of faith at times, God never reverts to a condition of unfaithfulness to us. He loves us and always will. This is His nature, i.e. the character of God.
What are we to do when man makes ungodly laws? We are to be faithful to the Lord and His Word. If that requires civil disobedience, that is what we’re to do when commanded by an unrighteous government to violate any of the things we know God has taught and given us. From Scripture, the pattern is clear. When we honor God and do His will above that of men, He will bless us.