Submission to Civil Authorities
1 Peter 2:13-17 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
We have learned previously that we are pilgrims here on earth. We are just sojourners, and we are citizens of heaven. Being citizens of heaven requires us to abstain from fleshly lusts and behave honestly as long as we live. We are also required by the Lord to submit ourselves to civil governments as peaceful and law abiding citizen of the land where we live.
I. Our responsibility to “submit”
A. To submit means to subordinate, to obey, be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, to be put in subjection.
B. God wants us to submit, be obedient, to be under subjection to civil government.
C. The “ordinance of man” is for me here the human government
D. The term “for the Lord’s sake” means because of the Lord’s sake. The drive to obey the government is our love for the Lord.
E. We submit ourselves to the social and political institutions to honor the Lord.
F. By being subject to the government, being obedient, peaceful and law abiding people, we bring glory to God.
G. There is however, an exception for this:
1. When the government violates the higher authority of God as shown in Acts 4:19, 20, and 5:29).
2. When the government forces us to disobey God, we then can we disobey the
Government (like restricting us to worship God and not allowing us to go to church on Sundays).
3. Only the specific laws intended to force us to disobey God that we have the right to break. We have no authority to break other laws which are not contrary to God’s law.
4. We still should submit and pray for them in all other matters.
H. Rebellious conduct by Christians brings dishonour to Christ
Illustration: Murder of Israeli males
When the Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill the Israeli baby boys, they did not obey because they fear God (Ex. 1:17). The midwives knew that Pharaoh’s command to murder the male children contradicted God’s moral code (Gen. 9:6), and as a result they obeyed a law higher than Pharaoh’s. By saying “no” to him they said “yes” to God. God’s law will always be higher than any government laws, even their supreme courts. We must obey God rather than man.
II. Paul wrote the same rule
A. We are to be subject to “higher powers” (governing authorities). Rom. 13:1
B. We show such submission by paying taxes and customs, and showing respect and honor to our civil or government officials. (Rom. 13:5-7)
C. We are to pray for the leaders in human government. (1 Tim 2:1-3).
Illustration: God-Ordained Authorities
Government: Rom. 13, 1 Peter 2:17
Employer: Eph. 6, 1 Peter 2:18
Husband: 1 Peter 3:1, Col. 3:18, Eph. 5:22
Parent: Eph. 6
Elders: Heb. 13:17
Each of the above requires submission which in turn brings honor and glory to the Lord. It brings blessings also to those who will be obedient.
III. Reasons why we must submit
A. It’s God’s will. (1 Pet. 2:15a)
1. Obedience to the government is part of the will of God for us Christians.
B. That we may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Pet. 2:15b)
1. Put to silence means to muzzle. To stop criticism.
2. Foolish men here are non-Christians who verbally abuse believers for their faith.
3. A good testimony puts to silence the mouths of the critics.
C. Human government that exist and now governing have been appointed or ordained by God. Rom. 13:1
1. This truth is told in the book of Daniel – ( Dan 2:20-21; 4:17)
2. God sometimes uses those that are evil for His divine purposes. (Ex. 9:16 (Egypt); Isa 10:5-12 (Assyria).
3. Thus we can say that, to resist the government means to resist or rebel against God Himself. (Rom. 13:2-4).
IV. The four-fold command
A. Honour all men – we value all the people regardless of who they are. We give them respect and dignity regardless of their color or nationality.
B. Love the brotherhood – love other Christians. We may not fellowship with lots of them due to doctrinal issues but still we have to love them.
C. Fear God – That fear, reverence, awe, and esteem for God’s holiness and power, which results in careful obedience to God’s will
D. Honour the King – respect those who represent government to us. A lot of country leaders are corrupt even murderers. On human level we could not honour them. It is not the person but the office of the king that we are to honor (Rom. 13:7)
Are you a law abiding citizen of your country? Do you submit and obey the statutory laws of the land? Will you now pray for the government even if you don’t agree with some of its policies in obedience to the Word of God? Christ can enable you to do difficult things if you just trust Him. Will you trust Him now?