“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:1-2; 5
Civil authority was God’s idea, not man’s. To be a good citizen of heaven and a pleasing child of God, we must also aim to be a good citizen of whatever country we live in.
Our goal is not just to stay out of the trouble that comes when we break the law, but to keep a clear conscience before God. We honor positions of civil authority because God established them to restrain evil in this present time. To honor civil authorities, therefore, is part of honoring God.
But our duty to civil government goes beyond blind obedience. Conscience limits us when government asks us to do something that is against God’s commands. When this happens, we appeal with honor toward them, and if they still will not relent, we must disobey and be willing to suffer the penalty.
This is what happened in Acts 4. Civil authority commanded the apostles to stop speaking in Jesus Name (Acts 4:17), but this was in contradiction to Christ’s command to go into the whole world and preach the gospel. Here was Peter and John’s response: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
For Jesus’ sake we should be model citizens of America. We should pay taxes, we should stay within the limits of the law, and we should pray for all who are in positions of authority. Yet if the government in the future makes laws that force us to disobey God, it will be our duty to follow God, not men.
All over the world we have brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and martyred for just this reason. Let’s pray for them, thank God for the freedom we enjoy in America, and continue to pray for all those in authority.