Christians and the Government

Greetings to all. The message I want to send today is with regards to how we as Christians have to behave towards a sitting government. How must Christian behave towards the authority given to and exercised by a government. The reason why I am raising this, it is because of the current E-toll system that will be live and up and running as from tomorrow the 3rd of December 2013. Most people are saying they will not buy etags, others are saying they will not even pay the fines. 
Now, as far as I understand, you do have a choice wether to buy an etag or not, however, when you do use the roads, you must pay. You do not have a choice on wether to pay or not and failure to pay is an offense in terms of Section 27-29 of the Sanral Act. This will lead to imprisonment and/or fine and a civil fine of R1000. Section 29 also talks about the demerit system that may be applied to you if you do not pay. This is as far as I know. So, refusing to pay is an offence but refusing to buy etag, is your choice. 
Now here is the question, should Christians refuse to pay? Should Christians disobey the law? In answering this question, I will be using the etoll as an example but this covers all other areas of government as well. 
NB: First I want to say, I do not work for the government nor for Sanral. I am not advocating or speaking on behalf of the government or Sanral. I am simply using the etolls as an example to highlight my message. 
Let us look at how a Christian should behave towards a government.

Romans 13:1-7 (ESVST)
1 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. 

The word “subject” is a Greek word “hypotasso” meaning to completely submit or to be absolutely obedient. So, every person must be absolutely and completely obedient and submissive to governing authorities. Now, governing authorities refer to governments as we know them today. Therefore, complete and absolute submission and obedience to governments is demanded from us as Christians.  Here are two reasons that Paul gives. One, all authority is from God and no other and two, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. In John 19:11, Jesus confirms this when he was talking to Pilate. 
John 19:11 (ESVST)
Jesus answered him, “ You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
Paul here is saying all authority is from God and those that are in government are instituted and authorized by God himself. I know some of the people will ask, do you mean even the apartheid government? And my answer will be Yes, even the apartheid government. Let me give you an example of why I say this. If we go back to the Old Testament, we find a king of Babylon by the name of Nebuchadnezzar and in Jeremiah 25:8-9, we see God calling him “my servant” whom God will use to destroy the nation of Israel. God says that he will make him a destruction, a horror and an everlasting desolation. 
Jeremiah 25:8-9 (ESVST)
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:Because you have not obeyed my words, 9 behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation.
Nebuchadnezzar did conquer Jerusalem and took slaves with him back to Babylon including the prophet Daniel. This was God’s will and the reason was simple in this case. Israel disobeyed God’s words and this was a punishment. There are many other examples where God used other nations to punish others or even the Jews. 
So, no matter how bad the government is, according to the bible, it is instituted by God. It is hard to understand and even to swallow this but, it is true because the bible says so. Look at these verses
1 Peter 2:13-15 (ESVST)
13 Be subject for the Lord ‘s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Daniel 2:21 (ESVST)
He changes times and seasons;
 he removes kings and sets up kings;
 he gives wisdom to the wise
 and knowledge to those who have understanding;
Titus 3:1 (ESVST)
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
Now, what if I don’t want to submit to the government because I think they are corrupt, unfair, oppressive and so on?what then?
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 

The answer is simple, you resist the government, you resist what God has appointed and you will incur judgement. 

3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God ‘s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 

Paul gives even more reasons why you should be completely and absolutely obedient and submissive to the government. He says governments are not there for terror to those who do good. Infect most government will encourage and reward all those who do good. Paul says but if you do bad, you should be afraid, for these government do not have authority just for fun. They have authority so that they can use it against those who do bad. Paul says government are God’s servants who carries out God’s wrath, not their own, on those who do bad. 

2 Chronicles 19:5-6 (ESVST)
He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “ Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord. He is with you in giving judgment.
Ecclesiastes 8:2 (ESVST)
I say: Keep the king ‘s command, because of God’ s oath to him.
So, governments, no matter how bad they are, are servants of God and are carrying out God’s work. 

5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them:taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul then concludes by saying, we must all be subject to Governments to avoid God’s wrath and also for the sake of conscience. Meaning so that you keep a clear conscience with God. Paul again says the governments are ministers of God. Paul’s says because you are obedient and submissive, you pay taxes, revenue, you give respect and you give honor to whom it is owed. 

Now, how does one know, what is good and what is bad in the eyes of governments so that one obeys? Most governments use the law to indicate what is acceptable and what is not. So, if you break the law, any law, you are disobeying and are not submissive to the government and in turn are disobeying God directly since the government was instituted by God. God says you will incur wrath and this wrath will be carried out by the government. 
So, if you use the road and refuse to pay etolls, you are breaking the law, which means you are disobedient and are not submissive to the government that was instituted by God and therefore are liable for God’s wrath which will be carried out by his Ministers appointed by him, that is, the government. Peter says this is the will of God.

1 Peter 2:13-15 (ESVST)
13 Be subject for the Lord ‘s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Now, wether you choose to obey God by obeying the government that have been instituted by God is your choice. But a true Christian will be seen by his good works. 
Colossians 3:16-17 (ESVST)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
John 6:60 (ESVST)
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “ This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
John 6:66-69 (ESVST)
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Clearly, it makes sense that where the government disobeys God’s law, a Christian is not obliged to obey government law. 
Father thank you for always guiding us to do the right thing. Our conduct and speech must always reflect your glory at all times. Give us the wisdom to know how to always do you will. In Jesus name, amen.

Posted in Christian living, Romans, Romans 13.

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