ARE THEY ORDAINED OF GOD?
Rom.13: 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.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Let us at the outset present what is the semi-orthodox interpretation of these verses. The overarching theme is obey your government because God has put it in place. I realize that is an over implication, but it still is what is generally taught from these verses. But I would like to address certain inconsistencies as well as certain hypocrisies that arise from that interpretation.
If you believe God has ordained every particular government then you must believe God set up Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to name just a few. And if you actually believe that then you are at least consistent with your view of government even if that seems grossly inconsistent with what we know of the heart of God. There is no wiggle room if you suggest God directly ordains all particular governments throughout history. And for all you Republican-esque believers, that means that God has ordained the Obama administration including his infanticide policies.
Again, if that is what you believe than so be it. But if that is your view, then how can you moan about it? How can you say that God ordained the Obama administration and then complain and murmur about it? That either means you really do not believe it or you are a hypocrite. To me that view is preposterous. How can God ordain Hitler and then command us to obey him? And does God suggest that Hitler was a “minister of God to thee for good”? Come on, let us get real here. It is disingenuous with Scripture to take a few verses and make them lord over the preponderance of New Testament teaching.
Even in the Book of Acts believers disobeyed the dictates of the government and went to prison because of it. The Foxes Book of Martyrs is full of believers who were put to death because they refused to obey the government. And if they were not supposed to do so, then that book is about evil doers. The entire notion is unreasonable and at odds with what we know about following Jesus. You cannot follow Jesus and follow fallen, earthly governments as well. We are to be law abiding people who humbly go about living the gospel of light within the culture of darkness.
But read again those verses from Romans chapter 13 and in them you will find no admonition or even suggestion that we as believer participate in government. It seems reasonable to interpret them as God having ordained the concept of human government, but not that He ordains each and every single government. How can we stand for righteousness and believe God ordains unrighteousness? No, human government is ordained by God but of course as in all things man has manipulated it and changed it in order to achieve his fallen goals. God ordained marriage but do we believe God ordained each and every single particular marriage? And do we believe God approves of what has become of marriage?
Luke was a physician but do we believe God has ordained physicians to abort the unborn? Just because God has ordained offices and principles does not mean that man has not taken them and made them his unholy tools and at odds with the divine plan. God ordained and made man with hands but that does not mean He ordained us to use them to commit violence. You see, God ordained human government but man has taken that and made it an affront to God’s holiness and plan. But when possible we are to live quiet lives of humility and grace. And when the government commands us to do that which is against God, we must be willing to humbly refuse. And when the government restricts us from serving God, we must humbly disobey. All things in humility.
But nowhere does God say He desires His people to get involved with the earthly governments of man. It is a noble idea to place believers in government in order to influence it towards God’s desires, but however noble it is not according to the New Testament. When we get invloved with the fallen systems of this world they invariably change us. In fact God seems to specialize in shining His light the brightest through His people when they are persecuted for His sake. Many times the most oppressive regimes have produced the most vibrant expressions of Christlikeness in believers. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Some of Paul’s epistles were written in prison.
But fast forward to today and here in America. Much of the evangelical community believes it is their duty to participate in this fallen American system. They huff and puff about all kinds of things, money being a mainstay. And every two or four years the church gets all worked up and involved about the politics and their candidates. And when pressed they refer to Romans chapter 13. But that is an inconsistent interpretation, and the American political landscape allows both sides to suggest that there candidates need to be elected. How can believers suggest God elected the present government but only because He couldn’t find enough evangelical votes? The entire concept is illogical and more importantly unbiblical.
II Tim.2: 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
The third verse not only exhorts us to sacrifice, but defines us as His soldier exclusively. No one can fight for two countries and wear two uniforms. And if we are His soldiers, we wear a different armor and we fight with the weapons of the Spirit and not of the flesh.
But look at verse four. There we find an exhortation to not get entangled with the affairs of this world. Well we know that we are supposed to work and support our families, so what are these “affairs” about which Paul speaks? These are the world’s systems which are trusted by man to effect change. These are not prayer closets, these are not fastings, these are not the gospel witnesses. These are politics and war. And Paul tells us that these do not please Him who has enlisted us in His spiritual army. The governments of man are not the battlefields of God’s army of light. We do battle with the gifts and callings of the Spirit. And our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone.
Be not deceived, anything earthly that demands our allegiance is antichrist. And it is a great mystery as to how and where the western church has pledged its allegiance to an earthly government while attempting to suggest it still pledges its allegiance to Christ. No man can serve two masters. No man. Can you imagine an earthly soldier storming the beaches of Normandy. And when he reaches France he begins to frequent the French bars and clubs and theatres while the battle still rages. And in a startling display of duplicity, he enlists in the German Wehrmacht because he feels like he can effect change in that wicked army. He would be considered a traitor!
The problem with American believers is that they fail to see the utter duplicity in their enlistment in earthly affairs and specifically this earthly government and the cesspool of politics. And many, if not most, view this nation as beginning as godly and having strayed off course. And that is in fact patently false. Even Israel in 1948 was not a godly nation. So here are millions of professing believers who have been told not to get entangled with the affairs of this world and yet they attempt to wear the armor of light along with the uniform of Americanism. And in effect, they are spiritually AWOL. They have put on the enemy’s uniform and have abandoned Christ. Yes, it is that significant and that diabolical.
And all this stems from two distinct falsehoods. One is the misinterpretation of Romans chapter 13, and the other is the fanciful view of America and its origin. And impacted by those two deceptions, the church which should only live in America has become the American church. America has impacted the church and the church has had precious little impact on America. And the visible church still insists that through political leverage, voter registration, education, Supreme Court appointments, and a massive influx of evangelical participation the tide can be turned. It is a fool’s errand.
Let us return to Christ with our whole hearts, and being clothed with humility, let us live and share the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.
That, brothers and sisters, is the only answer for each and every soul regardless of which nation they happen to inhabit.