When a believer gets saved and has a genuine change of heart, they often will have a different attitude toward God, His laws and Bible principles. In fact, it is this attitude of sorrow for breaking God’s Laws, also called sin, that the sinner must repent of in order to be saved. Of course, it must also be coupled with faith in what Christ has done for us.
The new heart wants to do God’s will and is excited that God has accepted him or her into His family. Part of God’s will is that every believer recognize his or her place in the family and be willing to listen to and obey those who are over you, especially in spiritual things.
Prior to salvation, rebellion is often in the heart, although not always visible. Sin causes us to want our own way – not God’s, and often not anyone else’s either, unless it will help us get what we want or need (such as a boss, spouse, or friend). This rebellion is evident in those who know not God, as is seen in:
• Deuteronomy 17:12 “And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.”
• Proverbs 17:11 “An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”
• 2Peter 2:10 “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”
• Jude 1:8 “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.”
Christ’s way is never that of rebellion to lawful and righteous principles. He fully submitted to His Father’s will at all times; and we now see Him seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ obeyed, knowing that the Father would never permit anything to happen to Him outside of His loving will for Him. The same is true of us. As we obey the Father, He watches over us and delivers; though sometimes believers must suffer under the hand of wrong leaders, authorities, and governments.
In spite of that, God desires His children to be submissive to the government and to its rightfully appointed authorities. It is clear that some people who call themselves Christians love rebellion and criticizing people in power. Unfortunately for them, God cannot bless such attitudes.
Men like David, who was chased by Saul for years, and who had even tried to kill him, was gracious in his presence, and not cocky. He demonstrated a Christ-like attitude most of the time – and God blessed him for it.
The Bible’s plan for believers in relation to government is clear, as is seen in the following verses:
• Romans 13:1,2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
• Romans 13: 5,6 “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.”
• Titus 3:1 “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.”
• 1Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.”
As a preacher, I know that this message is not popular with some people. Some like the idea of being able to mouth off when they do not like something. Some even take it farther than that and are ready to take up arms at the drop of a hat – not willing to give God a chance. There was a time when Peter took up arms, too, but the “wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
As Christians in America, yes, there are legal courses of action that can be taken when there are problems – and they may not always work. Thank God for them, but they are not our most powerful tool. The most powerful is to lead holy lives without blame, and to remember to pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:2).
When the people of God please God, He is free to work behind the scenes, as He has so many times in the past: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Pr 16:7); and if God does not work as hoped, like Paul, we must then depend on His grace which is sure to be sufficient.