Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abuse Accounting Activism Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife America Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Borders Born Again Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Celebration Character Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Creation Creator Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deception Defense Delegation Demon Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Fellowship Finances Fire First Coming Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles George Wood Giving Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lamp Law Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Man Old Nature Old Testament One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Patience Patriotism Peace Pentecost People of God Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purpose Questions Racism Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Satan Savior Schemes Science Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Trouble Trust Truth Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Volunteer Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Zion

Weekly Word

Entries in Government (3)

Tuesday
Sep062016

Society under Siege: Of Nations & Borders

Acts 17:26-28.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 4, 2016.  Please note that this is the second part to a previous entry on Racism (August 28, 2016).

Last week we talked about racism, so today we are going to segue into the issue of nations and their borders.  Many have asked this question in one form or another, “Doesn’t Christian unity and the sovereignty of Christ demand that Christians work towards a global government that fixes all the evils of this world?”  Some picture this as a test, in which our passing will bring Christ back to pat us on the back saying, “Good job!”  So is it the job of Christians to build Utopia for Christ?  Within this idea are some who state that nations, borders, and patriotism are somehow racist things and should be abolished.

So what makes something racist anyways?  Typically for something to be racist, it has to be motivated by a sense of superiority.  So let us look at national patriotism.  It can be racist, but it can also not be racist.  It depends on the heart of the person.  If a person’s national patriotism is based on racism, it will become obvious in their treatment of other races.  If our patriotism leads us to attack others unprovoked, or to rejoice in their misfortunes and take advantage of them, then it is very likely racist and at least self-centered.  But, people can simultaneously be patriotic towards their own nation and respect the identity and patriotism of other nations.  So, tongue in cheek, let’s deal with that age old question, “Which person would Jesus deport?”

God created nations and boundaries

In Acts 17 verse 26 Paul was in Athens, Greece.  He reminds the wise men of Athens that there was One God who had made all the separate nations of the earth, from “One Blood.”  His purpose in doing so is to tie the fate of a Jew (him) and them.  His main point is that this One God is working out His will among all the nations, not just one.  Thus we are all in the same boat.  So why are there so many nations?  Where is Paul getting this idea from?  Well, he gets it from Deuteronomy 32:8-9.  Before we go there, let’s remind ourselves of Genesis 10.  Often called the Table of Nations, this is the first place we see nations in the Bible.  It is also important to note that Israel is not in this list simply because they didn’t exist yet.  Genesis moves from the account of the flood, to a list of the nations that developed after it.  It then gives the account of how these nations came about in chapter 11, The Tower of Babel.  It is here that mankind began to rebel against God’s command to multiply and fill the earth.  Instead, Nimrod led the people to build a great city and a great tower that would serve as a gate to the heavens (Babel meant “Gate of God”).  Thus Genesis 11:7 records God saying, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their languages, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  There was a clear judgment event of which we are not given full details.  “Let us go down there” implies a visitation of sorts.  This is the backdrop to Deuteronomy 32:8-9.  Moses is pointing back to that time when God’s judgment of mankind separated it into different people who could not understand one another.  Basically Moses is explaining to Israel their place among the nations.  At Babel, God had disinherited the nations.  If they wanted to connect with the “gods” of the heavens, then God would separate them through language and boundaries.  Notice in Deuteronomy it is God who sets their boundaries.  Although some versions say that God separated them “according to the number of the children of Israel,” this is not the best reading.  The original was “sons of God.”  Space doesn’t permit going into this deeper.  But the sons of God, were a high class of spiritual beings that were present at the creation of the earth (Job 38:7).  God delegates the nations to these beings and from the list in Genesis 10 we can recognize 70 original nations.  However, Moses tells Israel that they are God’s portion or inheritance.

Let’s put this thread on hold for now.  So it was God who broke mankind up into nations and gave them set boundaries, and their preappointed times (i.e. how long they would last).  According to Romans 13:1-4, God has given each of these nations authority over what goes on within their own borders.  Of course history is littered with examples of how this authority has been abused and exercised for ignoble purposes.  Thus these nations are accountable to God for how they rule themselves and how they interact with other nations.  In that sense each nation is sovereign.  The individuals within each nation are to respect a nation’s authority, whether their own or another.  Thus we see the example of early Christians doing their best to respect the governments of the world.  The only law we see them disobeying is one that tells them to stop telling people about Jesus.  Why?  They do so because this is precisely what Jesus had commanded them to do.  So they respect the nations in so far as those nations operate within their God given authority.

Even Israel, when they were taking over Canaan, was told to respect the boundaries of other nations.  They were not just willy nilly conquering whatever they could like mindless, blood-thirsty savages.  Deuteronomy chapter 2 records several times when God warned Moses that Israel must not mess with other nations on their way to Canaan.  God had not given them those nations.  They were to respect the authority of those nations and purchase anything they wanted to use.  In fact, Israel ended up having to go many miles out of their way out of respect for nations that basically told them not to even set a foot in their territory.

Lastly, we must recognize that God is still sovereign over the affairs of all the nations.  As Paul states in Acts 17:26, the nations have been “preappointed  times” by God.  In His wisdom He has allowed the friction and fighting between nations to change from time to time.  In fact, those original nations that are listed in Genesis 10, no longer exist by God’s decree.  Romans 13 uses the phrase that the power that are (which currently exist) have been appointed by God.  The whole theme of the book of Daniel is that the living need to know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32; 5:21).  This is important because in Daniel 7 there is a vision of the “Son of Man” approaching the Ancient of Days and receiving authority and sovereignty over all the nations.  So where are we with all this nations and borders?

The Nations have rebelled against God

As we saw back in Isaiah 24:2, in previous sermons, the nations of the world have rebelled against God.  In fact they have joined a rebellion of those spiritual beings God had put in charge over them, the sons of God.  So separation into nations was followed by further rebellion and loss of any hope of belonging to God.  Yet, God had not created Israel to be a kind of special “teacher’s pet.”  Rather, through Israel He was launching a plan to take back the nations from the devil and his angels.  The death and resurrection of Jesus is the good news that Christians have for all the nations of the world, even though they have been part of a rebellion against Him.  In fact, even Israel itself was in rebellion to God.  If it were not for Jesus, the plan would not have worked. 

So, does Christian compassion for the lost cancel out nations and borders?  Well in some ways it does, but in other ways it does not.  If we are talking about who can belong to God then nations and borders lose their significance.  People from every tribe, language, and nation on earth will belong to God.  But, that does not mean that Christians are to ignore governments and their laws.

Christian compassion does not cancel out God’s prior judgments

This seems to be the anthem of many.  A true Christian will not respect governments and their borders.  Our Christian compassion must cancel out the nation’s duty to protect its people.  Yet this mentality is not based in Scripture.  The Bible teaches us that God is not taking over the governments of the world through His Church.  Rather, He is calling people from all of these nations to identify with His rule and the Kingdom that He will bring at His second coming.

It is one thing for a Christian individual to participate in government and attempt to bring it into conformity with the righteousness of Jesus.  But the mission of the Church is not to take over governments and rule.  The problem of sin and the flesh stands in the way of any governmental system being perfected.  Even churches run into the problem that no matter how hard we try to run things by God’s Word and by His Spirit, we continually have to deal with sin and flesh cropping up.  Thus a true Christian knows that this is not the time for ruling over the world.  This is the time for ruling over our own sinful nature and bringing it in subjection to the rule of Jesus.  The judgment of all the nations has already been pronounced.  It is our job to save the Rahabs, the Ruths, and the Naaman’s of the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another confusion that exists is the blindness to the fact that if we exercise compassion to an extreme for one, then it leads to lack of compassion for another.  Thus in an extreme attempt to be compassionate towards all “refugees,” we can lose compassion for our own citizens, or even those refugees who need the most help.  Compassion can become a trite phrase that hold as a banner over all manner of evils.  No matter what system of compassion you set up, others will abuse that system because of sin and their evil desires.  This leads us to the real problem.

We cannot live together without laws, and yet we cannot perfect this world with better or more laws.  Our founding fathers understood this.  That is why they created a small framework of laws (i.e. showing restrain, not enamored with the power of legislation, under which men must be free to live out their lives.  But we live in a day that has been seduced by the power of the State.  We see society as a wonderful Petri dish in which we can perfect our social experiments to create Utopia.  Thus we are headed to great tyranny. 

Is it wrong for nations to have immigration laws?  The Bible says nothing against a nation protecting its borders and in fact does state that a government’s proper duty is to protect its citizens from evil.  Thus having good control of one’s border can be a righteous thing.  Does any nation do this perfectly?  No.  So are Christians justified to rebel against the nation’s immigration laws simply because they think the laws are unjust or unfair?  No.  Fair and just laws are not the litmus test given to us in Scripture for righteous, civil disobedience.  Christians are told to obey the government unless it contradicts a direct command of Christ.  Thus in the name of righteousness and compassion, we can be guilty of rebelling against Christ and becoming children of lawlessness.  Yes, Christ will hold nations accountable for how they treat their own citizens and their neighboring nations, etc.  But, He still leaves room for national and individual freedom within His governance because He is not a tyrant.  Our problem is that we allow ourselves to be seduced by the power tyrant who can “fix everything.”

Lastly, there is confusion between individual responsibility and a government’s responsibility before God.  Yes, nations should be compassionate in their governance.  But compassion for others is a command for individuals, not governments.  We can have compassion for potential immigrants and refugees without rebelling against our country’s laws.  If you don’t like them, then work to get them changed in Congress in the proper way and proper spirit.  We can also advocate for getting supplies and safe havens in their originating countries (or ones nearby).  In all things we need to have a humility that recognizes our greatest need is Jesus, not more power in the hands of a smaller group of people.

Nations Borders Audio

Monday
Sep072015

A Trial of Tricks and Traps

Luke 20:20-26.  This sermon was preached on August 30, 2015 by Pastor Marty Bonner.

In the last week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, he was at the temple each day teaching the people.  Unable to challenge his authority successfully, the religious leaders resort to different tricks and traps in order to try and stop Jesus.  Their rebuff by Jesus only led to a more determined desire to get rid of Jesus.  Today we will be looking a a specific type of trap and that is a political one.

It is important as believers in a difficult situation to observe how our Lord deals with this trap and learn from him.

The Schemes of the Wicked

In verses 20-21 we are told that they were watching Jesus as he was teaching, both obviously and in a hidden way through spies.  They were looking for anything to use against Jesus.  As brothers it is good for us to look out and watch out for one another.  However, these were looking for anything they could use either to neutralize Jesus or to apprehend him.    It also says that they were hoping to find something that would legitimize handing him over to the Roman authorities.  This attempt to trap people in order to take them out is not a path of righteous people.  It is a hallmark of the wicked.

Thus they operated in pretense.  They only pretended to be righteous and concerned about righteous matters.  But in reality they are wicked.  They use pious questions and religious cover to keep their wickedness from being recognized by people.  Of course this didn’t trick Jesus.  But we need to recognize how the wicked operate.  Not everyone who speaks piously has pure motives.  We need to have the wisdom of Christ and not take everything at face value.

Notice how they set up their question in verse 21.  They approach Jesus with flattery.  Now everything they say is technically true of Jesus.  But their motivation of flattery is intended to mask their true motivation.  We must be careful of those who talk us up and give us high praise.  It is not wrong to praise people where it is due.  However, if you are receiving praise you need to be careful to keep pride in check.  Also, on the other side, if you are giving praise, you need to be careful that you are not trying to make yourself look better in the eyes of the person you praise.  Keep it short and sweet and move on.  Do not use praise to try to obtain power or influence on others.

Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar

In verse 22 we are given the question, which is a political trap.  “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  I believe the response of Jesus, “Why do you test me,” is intended to let them know that he sees through their ruse.  Yet, it is an important question.  Whether we are questioning others or being questioned, the motivation of the questioner is key.  Often a questioner has no desire to actually learn anything.  They ask the question as part of a greater agenda.  This is not a marker of a righteous person.  Thus Jesus prefaces his answer with a challenge to these men to think about why they are testing him.

This question has some history in Israel.  Since Judea had been taken over by the Roman governors, taxes had to be paid.  Several tax revolts had surfaced over the years with the understanding that to pay taxes to this wicked country was compromise.  They usually taught that God would help them if they “quit compromising” and fought the Romans.  Each of these uprising were crushed quickly by the Romans.  So the question is a legitimate one for that day and age.  However, it was also a very dangerous question to answer. 

If Jesus says it is not lawful, then the Romans will see him as a threat and at least imprison him.  If Jesus says it is lawful, then it will undermine his popularity with the people.  They believe he is the messiah.  He has essentially refused to publicly renounce this.  Thus it would be strange to the people to have the Messiah teaching that they should be paying taxes to Rome.  Surely the Messiah has come to deliver us from Rome.

Jesus tells them to bring him a coin called a denarius.  By this time much of the trade and commerce of Israel and the surrounding area was done in Roman currency.  Thus Jesus points out the reality that they are using Roman currency.  If you are using Roman currency then you have an obligation to the Roman government.  Rome had conquered Israel.  Now Israel had the authority to fight to the death to the end and never surrender.  But in the end they did surrender to Israel.  Such a surrender is a recognition that God had allowed the other country to conquer you.  Thus Jesus tells them to give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and to God the things that belong to God.

This reminds me of the prophet Jeremiah.  He had warned the king of Israel that God had given Israel into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.  Thus he counseled them to submit to Nebuchadnezzar, rather than fighting.  This was rejected by the leaders and things went worse for them.  Jesus here reminds them that it is lawful because God who gave the law had also given Rome authority over Israel.  They needed to submit to this and look to His timing for deliverance.

Yet, the master stroke of Jesus is to also remind them that they still have obligations to God as well.  “Give to God the things that are God’s.”  So what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God?  Caesar has much things under his authority, including Israel.  However, even Caesar belongs to God.  Tyrants and statists have often made demands on Christians throughout history.  Submit to us!  And, often Christians have submitted in many ways.  However, they have also stood up to them in other ways.  So what do we do?  Rebel against tyrants or submit to them?  The answer is determining when the tyrant or All-Powerful-State demands from us something that belongs only to God.  Yes we could abuse that by declaring that everything belongs to God and thus we should give nothing to such governments.  However, the Bible says that no power can rise up but what God allows it.  Israel can claim that all their money belonged to God, but that is a pious ruse that seeks to avoid the harsh reality that they were under judgment of God.  When we humbly admit and submit to our disciplines from God, then we will learn to wait upon Him for our day of deliverance.

We see this with the apostles.  When the Jewish authorities commanded them to stop teaching about Jesus, they answered that they had to obey God.  God had directed them to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thus they would not comply with such an unlawful order.  Yet, these same apostles submitted to the repercussions of such a choice.  In other words, they rebelled against the unlawful order without becoming rebels themselves.  If we are rebels then we are rebels against the demands of the flesh.

So what about a democracy?  Christians should exercise the rights that they have to their fullest extent without becoming belligerent to the results.  If such a society deems it “good” to persecute Christians for obeying God, then we accept that.  Sure, there is a time to flee such persecution.  There is also a time to stand and be a prophetic witness to that persecution, even a martyr.  Yet, each must be led by the Truth of God and the Spirit of Christ, not our rebellious flesh.

Today there are groups that seek to trap Christians with the politics of the day.  Christians need to be careful that they know exactly who they are serving.  May God give us wisdom in these days to see through the political traps that seek to make us fear.  We are His.  We can fulfill our obligation to the USA as long as it doesn’t conflict with God’s commands to us.  Take this to heart because it will be critical in the days ahead.

Tricks and Traps audio

Tuesday
Nov062012

The Virtue of Submission

Today we will be looking at 1 Peter 2:13-17.  In this section Peter goes on to instruct believers in the virtue of submission; especially in light of the previous point that we need to live honorably among unbelievers.  Now any virtue has its proper boundaries and priorities among other virtues.  Thus submission as a virtue is often rejected in the modern era because of evils done in its name.  Some Muslims will kill those who do not accept Islam out of submission to Allah.  There are Christians who have followed pastors into suicidal situations out of submission to the “man of God.”  Submission has also been used as a stick against women to endure physical and emotional abuse.  Thus for many it is a code word for unquestioning obedience.  When they hear the word they immediately shut down and reject whatever follows.

The meaning of submission is literally to take your proper place under an authority.  It is the opposite of rebellion.  With any virtue, it has its place and sometimes runs into conflict with other virtues.  Thus any virtue requires us to think.  We will do best when we think with the mind of Christ and according to the Scriptures because it will save us from the self-justification that is so prevalent with our own thinking.

Submit To Human Government

Because of the false accusations against Christians mentioned in verse 12, Peter goes on to teach believers to take their proper place under human government.  Some of these false accusations were that Christians believed that Jesus was king and were a rebel group against Rome.  There were other accusations as well, which is why Peter is telling them to live in such a way that those false claims will be counteracted.  Our representation of God and Jesus Christ calls for us to have an above board approach to how we live in this life.

Next he gives the scope of “every ordinance” or every human institution and at every level (King to governor).  Governments have laws and delegate authority out to different levels.  The king was the highest authority.  In light of other passages it is clear that "every" here does not exclude exceptions.  However it does apply to every kind of government humans design.  Within godly reason we are to submit to every human government that we find ourselves living under.  So our starting place is simply doing our part to cooperate with the government and obey its laws.

Peter mentions the legitimate function of governments and that is to restrain evil through punishment and encourage good through protection.  The Bible is clear that God allows governments to rise and at his timing causes them to fall.  Believers are to live with a baseline of submission to the human governments not out of agreement with all their actions, or belief that they are good.  Rather, to keep from giving the impression that God’s people are rebels.  God has not told us to take over the kingdoms of this world.  He has told us that he would do that and then hand the kingdom over to the saints.

In verse 16 Peter mentions that they should submit, but as free people.  What does he mean?  True submission should flow from freedom.  Submission is not about slavery.  If we turn it into slavery then we have prostituted what the virtue is meant to be.  Christians have been set free.  However, we are not set free to do evil.  Freedom must never be used to either openly pursue evil things, or secretly pursue them.  Thus believers freely choose to serve the interests of God rather than their own.  Is it not true that our actions sometimes have caused people to say that God is evil?  This is what Peter seeks to avoid.  God, who is the highest authority, asks us to serve these lower authorities as righteously as we can out of respect for how we represent him.

Perhaps it is time to deal with the obvious question, “Is there ever a time not to submit?”  The simple answer is yes.  However, our flesh can abuse the idea that there are exceptions.  When we look to the Bible there are two obvious exceptions that we should mention.  When Israel was in slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh had commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill any Hebrew boys who were born.  These women pretended like they were trying to do the job, but told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women kept having the babies before they could get there to help.  Here we see how virtues can conflict.  Submission is good but killing a baby regardless of its gender is worse.  Even the lie that they tell Pharaoh would be recognized as a lower priority.  This is not situational ethics.  Rather it is recognition that virtues have boundaries.  These ladies properly drew the boundary at taking the life of another or infanticide.  Another situation is found in the book of Acts with Peter and John.  They had been taken by the authorities and commanded to quit teaching and promoting Jesus.  They respond that it is better for them to obey God than men.  Here they have been given a direct command from Jesus.  Go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus.  They would have to disobey God in order to obey their “proper” human authorities.  Thus they refused to comply.  However, notice that they always submitted to the punishment.  Instead of stirring up a revolt against the Jewish leaders or Ceasar they stood and spoke firmly on Jesus and accepted whatever punishments they were given.  Thus submission requires us to think and have a clear understanding of what God wants from us.  It is not unquestioning obedience to human authorities.

Peter goes on in verse 17 to give a series of commands.  Honor all people.  Love fellow believers.  Fear God.  Honor the king.  Notice that honor begins the list and ends it.  Also that honor is directed towards “all people” and also “the king.”  Just because people are lost and do not know God does not mean that we are free to de-value them.  Honor basically means to value them.  We honor or value those in the world with two motivations.  Our actions can adversely affect our fellow Christians.  Love cautions us to not act in a way that would foolishly bring harm and hurt to our fellow brothers.  Thus we should be motivated by love.  However, we should also fear God.  God has often used evil governments or even evil people to chastise those whom he loves.  We are not above doing wrong and when we do God is not always going to use a Christian to rebuke you.  If we fear God then we will honor any authority that we are under knowing that we too need restrained from evil.  It is recognition that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God and that there is value even in fallen people and corrupted institutions.

Further Thoughts

Rebellion must never be romanticized.  There are some who are unable to take their place under any authority.  Their over-powering need to have no authority over them brings pain, suffering, and hurt to themselves and others.

Submission alone must never be the greatest priority.  In our own country men like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized that we can properly refuse authorities for the right reasons.  They rejected violent methods often in the face of violent authorities.  By doing so they gave a clear public testimony that they were doing good.  Even in their “disobedience” they were submitted to the overall rule of law and authority.

Regardless what governance we live under we are to do our best to obey its laws without disobeying God.  We are in a better situation compared to many.  We have precious little excuse.

Lastly, we must beware self-justification.  Our justification must truly be from God himself.  We must operate with the mind of Christ and the direction of God’s Word.  Only then can we properly represent Him to this world.  Pick up your cross and follow Jesus!

Virtue of Submission Audio