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. (Romans 13:1)For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
If you look at social media, it seems that many believers have given up all hope of winning the left to the Lord. Instead, we attack them as if they are our enemy.
If you will permit me, I would like to challenge this mindset from the Bible. The questions I want to ask are:
How does God want us to relate to the part of our society that has a depraved moral compass when compared to Biblical values?
Are we aware of how our witness, or lack thereof, is perceived by the lost? Do we care?
What does the Bible about how we should relate to ungodly government?
One of the most successful, if not the most successful, evangelists in US history was Billy Graham. He never compromised the message of the gospel, but neither did he unnecessarily provoke those who held to a different political view. He simply preached Jesus, and with remarkable success. He was known, not for his bravado, but his humility—and his laser-like message of salvation.
What about our witness?
I watched yesterday as many believers posted images that projected joy, elation and a sense of victory that only a majority of 57 Senators wanted to convict former President Trump. Never in his history have seven senators voted to convict a president from their own party—yet, somehow, that is a victory? How do you think this appears to the lost? It comes across as if we don’t care that:
The United States Capitol was stormed and temporarily taken over for the first time in 200 years.
These people believed they were doing the bidding of the president.
The president said to the majority leader of the House of Representatives when he was begging for help, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
An angry mob had built gallows with the goal of hanging the vice-president as a traitor.
Even after the president knew that the vice president and his family were in danger, he chose to wait for more than an hour before giving a half-hearted encouragement for the rioters to go home, including statements such as “we love you” and “you are special.”
You see, to the lost, this looks like we support the guy whose feet were on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, or the Viking whose tattooed body has become the featured image of the insurrection, or the guy beating the police officer with an American flag. In Jesus’ final words, he was concerned not about our rights, but our witness!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
While it is easy to engage in a battle of “what about-ism”, we must remember that God is calling us to a higher level of love, humility and compassion, than those who do not know Him, those not called to walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We must always remember that our secret weapon is the presence and power of God. If you believe that your only choices are to either “fight like hell” or curl up in a ball in denial, then you are not reading your Bible.
The great English Bible teacher David Pawson writes, in the introduction to his commentary on the book of Romans, that Romans 13 is our map to dealing with government officials.
Chapter 13 is on the Christian relationship to the state. That is a vital insight. Notice that the state in that chapter is not a democracy, yet we are told there to pay our taxes, to pray for the state and so on. Many Christians need to learn particularly the word he gives – respect for the state. If you join in mockery of politicians, you are going directly against Paul’s letter to the Romans. If you make fun of politicians and pull them down to your level, then that is what you are doing. You are disobeying Romans (and thus God!). As far as the state is concerned, we are to accept their political duty but to reject their moral depravity. That is a delicate balance to keep.
Let me confess that, in the past, I have been very guilty of mockery. I’m trying to do better. I am no fan of the policies of Joe Biden. I’m sad that he has chosen to start from an even more progressive agenda than for that which he has been known. However, what does the Bible say?
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. (Romans 13:1)
By telling us to “be subject to the governing authorities,” the Bible speaks against the popular idea that Biden, who lives at the White House, is not really the president but Trump, who lives in Mara Lago, is. I reject the prophecy that there are actually two presidents. I reject the absurd notion that the military is taking orders from Donald Trump and, eventually, he is going to be reinstated. (In truth, after January 6, I don’t think the former president could have found a single general who would have been willing to follow him into martial law.)
Paul did not write Romans 13 because of righteous leaders
According to the apostle, God has established the presidency of Joe Biden. Now as outrageous as that may seem to some, we have to ask ourselves: Why did Paul write this? Would he have written this if all of the governing authorities were moral and righteous? No. There would not have been a need. He was writing it precisely because the governing authorities were immoral and unrighteous.
The Caesars were dictators who thought they were gods. Nero used Christians as torches for his parties, using their body fat as oil to keep the flames going. Yet, God said we are to pay him taxes (Romans 13:6) because they are “God’s servants” (Romans 13:7). It goes against human nature, which is why it is written in the Bible. God tells us that His ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8) This is why Paul told Timothy not to waste time in earthy affairs but to stay focused on the commands of Yeshua. (2 Timothy 2:4)
There is a Caveat
If God expected the Christians in the first century to submit to Nero, how much more does He expect us to submit to Joe Biden? Now, to be clear, submission does not mean to compromise your faith. If you have to choose between that which the Bible tells you to do and that which President Biden tells you to do, you go with the Bible every time. When the Sanhedrin told Peter, John and the other apostles not to preach, they said, “No, we have to obey God.” Daniel prayed even when the law said you could not. But on other matters that did not require them to compromise their faith, they would have gladly acquiesced.
After I wrote this, I came across an article by Mario Murillo called What the Bible really says about Submission to Government, that quite honestly, was a zealous misuse of Scripture. You be the judge. He seems to think that anyone who believes the plain truth of Romans 13, believes that we never resist (as the apostles and Daniel did). With that false assumption, he concludes that Romans 13 doesn’t mean what it says, thus he is free to disobey governing authorities.
He starts with a straw-man argument that I have never heard anyone use: “Doesn’t the Bible tell us to obey them no matter what?” He says you only obey good and righteous governments, but misses the fact that this letter was written to Romans under the dictator, sadist Nero!
I’m deeply concerned. People have become more zealous for the future of America than for the propagation of the gospel. When the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him if He was now going to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, a nation far more consequential than the United States of America, He pretty much said “Now is not the time, the day will come, but in the meantime, you are to go get full of the Holy Spirit and be my witnesses all over the world.” (Acts 1:5-8) That is where our focus should be.
The New Testament, taken as a whole, seems to say very clearly that we should not get caught up in national interests to the point of rebellion. As someone who has been involved in politics my whole adult life, let me say, believers get into danger when they become more nationalist than they are Christian. (Of course, many will claim that their nationalism is fueled by their Christianity, but just take a look at what you are reading and what you are posting, to see where your heart lies.)
It is one thing to be a patriot who loves your country, as I am. I still tear up during the national anthem. I love the American flag and what it stands for. That being said, my greater loyalty is to the Great Commission.
Yeshua: Am I leading a rebellion?
Let’s not forget, Yeshua could have easily led an insurrection against Pilate and, ultimately, the Roman government. By just answering the soldiers, He knocks them to the ground.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:5b-6)
There was so much injustice in the world, why should He not have led a rebellion against the evil Roman Empire? We all know the answer, because His mission was to die for the sins of the world and to commission us to spread this message to every nation.
When they came to arrest Yeshua with weapons, he said:
“Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?” (Matthew 26:55) (*It was rhetorical. The answer was no, He was not leading a rebellion.)
When Pilate asked Him if He was the King of the Jews, He was quite clear:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
So Jesus says clearly, His kingdom is not of this world. Paul introduces himself as a slave to the Romans; it is the second word of his massive letter: “Paulos doulos—Paul, a slave.” This is on purpose.
I love Hollywood and the Left!
Hollywood is not our enemy and neither is the radical left. Satan is our enemy and the left is our mission field. Jesus never attacked the worldly, just the religious. He hung out with the tax collectors and sinners, trying to win them. Remember who your enemy is!
For our struggle is not against [AOC and Nancy P], but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our battle is not for real estate, but for the souls of the people of this nation, and our weapon is not the sword of the flesh, but the sword of the spirit. Over the past few months I heard born-again Christians calling for marital law and firing squads, instead of calling on heaven for revival. Our tool is “a demonstration of the power of God,”(! Corinthians 4:2) and that is what the world needs to see, for they will now us by our love (John 13:35), not our anger and rage. If you really want to know who your enemy is, just read the book of Acts, and see how the apostles (including Paul) acted toward a hostile religious leadership and treacherous oppressive government. There you will find your answer.