Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

Is it Christian to be Anti-Government?

by Tony Warren

In recent discussions on our Reformed Christian Forum, the question was brought up, "Should a Christian rebel against their Government?" In other words, is it Christian to be anti government, or can a Christian righteously rebel against the authority of the state? According to the Bible, if state laws do not violate God's laws, the answer is an unequivocal no. The definition of rebellion in this context is the disobedience against a lawful authority, whether that be of local, state or federal governments? It is to be anti or opposed to government rule in the sense that we refuse to obey the laws laid down by the governing bodies. It is my opinion that this rebellion against our government is decidedly not only against all that Christianity stands for, but places us in direct opposition to Christ. This subversion is not what a faithful Christian should ever do "unless" said government laws violate God's laws. In other words, unless a law mandated support of what God clearly forbids us to do, such as having an abortion or committing murder.

Having said that, I do understand that the way some choose to define rebellion, may make it appear as if there is some gray area involved. For example, some contend that voting in an election against a ruling or governing party is in itself anti-government. A view like this is generally self-serving, because voting is not in any way forbidden by Scripture when it is lawfully provided for by said government. So this would in no way be unbiblical or rebellious to vote against any ruling government that obviously had laws that allowed for it. In our form of government, the American constitution provides the right of its citizens to vote their government leaders in and out of office as they are our lawful representatives. Thus, this is indeed an integral part of the government and not something that can in any way be deemed anti-government. There is nothing within scripture that forbids us from voting to elect Godly representatives to govern us. Likewise, if we feel that we cannot with good conscience support any particular government candidate, we can simply abstain or not vote to give our assent to them. By contrast, rebellion or sedition against our government by means of subversion, treason, military action, lawlessness or insurrection is designed to overthrow government officials. This is not only Biblically unjustifiable for Christians, according to scripture it is a rebellion against God Himself. Because it is He who commands that we be subject unto our rulers in all things lawful. For example, consider the actions of the Apostle Paul. He lived at a time when the Roman government was unjust, brutal and in many ways tyrannical. The emperor at the time of the early church was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, who was said to persecute Christians and was even suspected of setting the great historic fire. But did the Apostle Paul rail on about his unrighteousness or the unrighteousness of the Roman government (as many Christians today do), support a militant Christian action against it, or teach the church to rise up against the exorbitant taxes that the government leaders had implemented? On the contrary, unlike many Christians today, as a sound minded, faithful follower of Christ, he encouraged the church to a Godly response in righteous understanding of submission, rather than a carnal world view of rebellion. The Apostle Paul (Romans 13:1-5) under inspiration of God exhorts us to carry out our God fearing duties as members of a civil society.

Romans 13:1
  • "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."

Is it Christian to be anti-government? Without any ambiguity, God instructs the faithful Christian to submit themselves to the governing authorities because the powers that be are sovereignly ordained and established by Him. This indeed is a declaration of God's supreme power over all mankind. No government authority exists other than what has been ordained by God for His own purposes, so those rulers are in some way working out God's divine plan in their appointed office. More than that, in the very next verses God further enlightens us concerning His direct sovereignty over this by declaring that as powers ordained by God, whosoever resists that governing authority resists the ordinance or law of God.
Romans 13:2-3
  • Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
  • 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:"

Those who resist shall receive to themselves condemnation. Now those are not only clear and unambiguous words, but very strong precepts that God is laying down concerning rebellion against our civil governments. Indeed, as faithful Christians of the Reformed faith illustrated in the doctrines of grace, we should inherently know this because we of all people understand that God is sovereign over all. Thus rulers are allowed their position for a divine reason or purpose, and those who unlawfully resist them are those whom God declares need to fear. For the government is no terror to those who obey them in all things lawful. This is because they generally have no reason to fear the authorities if they obey their rules. If we submit to civil laws and do that which is good as God has instructed us, then we will have the praise of the government rather than their terrors. God has established governments for the good of mankind so as to avoid lawlessness, anarchy, disorder and chaos in the world. They will not be perfect, nor the best rulers in our eyes, but as the next verses illustrate, they serve a divine purpose in the great scheme of things.
Romans 13:4-5
  • 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.
  • Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."

In other words, the general principle is, if the Christian is faithful and obeys the government in all things lawful, then he should have no reason to fear that government. But when people become a law unto themselves, think seditiously, or have a subversive mind to feel self-righteous and rebellious, then they indeed will have reason to fear. They should then fear becuse rebels are (and should be) punished by the government, for it is ordained by God and do not bear the sword in vain. The civil rulers have the divine charge and responsibility to both govern and punish law breakers. That is how they are God's ordained servants governing or ministerinbg revenge against lawbreakers. That is how they are a revenger to execute wrath upon renegades or dissenters who would rebel against their rule. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but throughout history this general principle has held true. Indeed we read that the governments ordained of God are in that sense "servants or ministers of God to us for good," and those who rebel against governments should fear because they don't yield the sword in vain. This truth should also be obvious to us as the governments are carrying out a service of God by restricting any uncontrolled sin and wickedness of men. Man of course is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) inherently, so that if he had absolute liberty or freedom without government laws, there would be chaos with everyone doing whatever they pleased (Proverbs 21:2). For example, murder is punishable by the governments of every country upon earth. Without governments, the sin of mankind would run unrestricted because of his desperately wicked heart. But because God is forever in ultimate control of what nations or governments come to rule, this chaos is clearly "restrained" and controlled by God. Either that is absolutely true, or God is not sovereign in all his purposes and will. Thus I find it disturbing that many Reformed Christians (of all people) don't seem to understand or appreciate this simple fact concerning ruling governments. This obvious truth of complete sovereignty over such matters is also vividly illustrated in passages such as Daniel chapter 4:
Daniel 4:17
  • "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."

Mankind sees through a glass darkly and so he may not realize that it is ultimately not man who makes leaders and rulers, or who places this one or that one in power, but ultimately it is God. Leaders do not come to rule strictly by lineage, or by a candidate's talents, his excellency of speech or even his vaunted positions, but it is by the will of God that he is set in a position to govern. From Pharaoh over Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:17) who was one of the most despicable people in all of time, God raised them up to their positions, to His own glory.
Romans 9:17
  • "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."

Clearly God is asserting that Pharaoh was brought to power as ruler and governor of the nation of Egypt by God in order to exhibit to the world the bondage of sin and its consequences, and the sovereign power of God to deliver His people from servitude to sin and bring them into the true and spiritual promised land. The sovereign power and control of the Almighty God is absolute over all nations and all people so that whoever is ruler, is there by divine decree.
Psalms 75:6-7
  • "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
  • But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another."

Again the clear declaration that no one is elevated to a governing office or ruling influence among men except God places him in that position. Yet in our day the contempt and disdain for governments, its leaders, the office of President and almost any ruling authority (good or bad) has risen to epidemic proportions. As a result there is so much more confusion about proper Christian behavior concerning the propriety of submission to governments in general. All over the world, rebellion against governments is rampant, driven by the spirit of disobedience and revolt that is so prevalent in this era of misplaced liberty, narcissism and quick information. Often hidden under the guise of a Christian's personal rights, freedom of speech, liberty from taxes or right to independent thought, many professing Christians are systematically ranting against and tearing down governments, laws and institutions in a non-ending march toward degradation and anarchy. Many often tend to forget that God is sovereign and that governments rule for a reason, even wicked ones (Daniel 2:21; 5:18). Should God's people have worked to overthrow that evil government recorded in the book of Daniel, which would have obviously been against the will of God? No, the righteous thing to do was to place themselves in subjection to the rulers with the knowledge that God is in full control and has ordained them? Likewise, the evil ruler Pharaoh was raised up by God specifically for His own sovereign purposes, which none of God's people knew at the time. Most certainly his power and reign over Egypt was all of God's doing.

Exodus 9:16

Did Moses command the children of Israel to gather together, institute a revolt and leave? Did he instruct God's people to take up sword in armed rebellion against the government of Egypt? Not at all, what He did was as God instructed him to do--to go and ask the ruler to let God's people go, that the glory of God might be seen in Pharaoh's wickedness. If God can have a David defeat the giant Goliath, He most certainly could have had the children of Israel revolt and defeat the Egyptian army. Indeed, the Egyptians actually feared such a rebellion by Israel, supposing their bondage and great numbers would cause such a revolt. But rebellion of the Children was not in God's plan, the deliverance of them by His own hand was His divine design, just as it is for His people today. He had allowed Pharaoh to come to rule precisely for this moment to be recorded in Holy Scripture for all God's people throughout history to read and consider. In deliverance of the children of Israel by God's hand, we come to understand that it is not about the power of man or wicked armies. It is not about our rebellion against men or covernments that rule over us. What it is all about is a portrait of the Savior and the salvation of God's chosen people. Nations, countries and kingdoms rise and fall as instruments at God's bidding. But have we become so arrogant that we think we know all the ins and outs of why rulers of nations are wicked or why they rise and fall, seemingly without purpose? Did the nation of Iraq become one bit more righteous because Saddam Hussein was no longer governing it? No, not one bit. When this country recognized the overthrow of the Shaw of Iran, did Iran become better? Not one bit. Did Russia with their changes in government bring in righteousness to the country? Did Libya or Syria for all their upheaval become any better in the eyes of God? Nations are used to serve God's purpose in keeping a certain order when they rise, and also to bring to power other rulers when they fall. For us to rebel against our appointed rulers is to rebel against that ordinance of God. Indeed, under inspiration of God, the Apostle Paul declares that it is necessary for Christians to be in subjection to their rulers, not only because of wrath (fear of retribution), but also for conscience’ sake. In other words, our sense of right and wrong in obeying a divine ordinance in reverence for God's sovereign will and authority over all things. These clear statements apply equally to all forms of government, including unchecked despots, wicked kings or wandering democracies. These divine commands of God concerning rulers come through the pen of the Apostle Peter as well. There should be no escaping their God breathed truth, authority, meaning or relevance.
1st Peter 2:13-20
  • "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.
  • Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
  • For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
  • For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."

These words seem to have become of non-effect to many Christians today. God says we are to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors. It was of special importance to them (as it is today) that the peaceful, submissive, faithful spirit of those Christians who resided in a time of abusive political power and rebellion among Rome's subjects, should receive of God an unambiguous refutation of political rebellion or sedition against the governing authority. Is it Christian to be opposed to our Government? According to scripture the answer is no. As Christians, faithful to sovereign God, we are to surrender to the authority of God's word and submit ourselves for conscience sake to our human governments in all things lawful. Whether to the authority of a ruling king, a parliament, a president, a premier or any other ruling government body. Civil rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and vain stubbornness against our rulers likened unto iniquity and idolatry. For this is the will of God concerning these insurrections so that we understand that by doing the Godly thing (as opposed to the popular, carnal, self-willed thing), we may silence the ignorant and foolish men who would use this to do the cause of Christ harm. For it is self-evident that the natural man hates government (Romans 8:7) of every kind specifically because he wants to do whatever is right in his own eyes. Government rule tells him not only what he must do, but also what he cannot do. Therefore there is a natural/carnal resentment of those in power making him submit to seemingly arbitrary ordinances, rules and taxation. But for every new personal freedom that mankind gets within their government, the more the collective good of the state, the church, and the family is degraded and brought into chaos and confusion. Like making a tiny leak in a dike that just naturally keeps getting bigger and bigger. To every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. Rebellion of any kind brings disorder to a God ordered world, and the results are predictable. Yet those who preach Christian rebellion against rulers cannot seem to see the big picture, because they see only personal liberty because they are so busy looking at individual trees. They do not see the havoc and degradation that unrestrained personal liberty brings to the forest.
Proverbs 17:10-11
  • "A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
  • An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him."

It is my view that the tendency to rebellion against ruling governments is but a symptom of the deeper malignancies of lust,arrogance, self-will, self-governance, stubbornness and vanity. So of course there will always be professing Christians who will attempt to twist passages like 1st Peter chapter 2 and Romans chapter 13 about the lawlessness of Christians revolting against their governments. Nevertheless, I think we all can read that it says exactly that. This precept is unambiguous, unconditional and unqualified. The law may not be to everyone's liking, and many attempt to degrade it so that they may declare themselves justified in rebelling against a tyrannical (perceived or otherwise) government. But that doesn't change the perspicuity of what is written. Those unable or unwilling to surrender to the divine authority of the word, are also not likely to surrender to the ordained authority of government. It's a matter of the heart and of walking after the spirit, and not after the flesh. We should not despise those who have rule or lordship over us.
2nd Peter 2:10
  • "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities."

Self-willed means to reject the will of God that we may do our own will. In the Lord's prayer we assent to God, "[i]Thy will be done[/i]," and that for a very good reason. It's because God knows man inherently doesn't like His will and wants his own will to be done on earth.

This precept against despising governments and against the sedition of men, goes for government's "authority" to asses taxes as well. This hot topic always sends a large number of professing Christians into ostentatious logorrhoea because it affects their wallet, however this area is not ambiguous either. That's not to say that (as a type of democracy) we cannot vote those who would place an unfair tax burden upon us out of office, only that it is unbiblical and unchristian to turn against the elected government in sedition or armed revolt because of it. Even as in that very same context of Romans chapter 13 dealing with the subject of "Can Christians Rebel Against Government," we see that this clearly pertains to paying government taxes as well. Unfortunately, in our day of gratuitous covetousness and greed, Christians seem to want to pick and choose what to believe in scripture whenever they want, while throwing the rest out the widow as if it were irrelevant or worthless. Nevertheless, again we see that God's word on the matter is crystal clear.

Romans 13:6-7
  • "For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
  • Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour."

That throws a monkey wrench into the tax evaders. The Bible says, for this cause (for this reason of them being ordained by God) we submit ourselves to the governing authorities and pay the taxes requisite for maintaining the civil government also. As appointed by God, our payments are as a homage to God, an action performed in obedience to his will concerning governing. In truth (regardless of the worldly rhetoric), it is a small price to pay for the government's continual care, maintenance, protection and industry. Moreover, in this regard we also have as our Christian example, Christ. The fact is, neither Paul, the Apostles or any of the early church rebelled against paying unfair government taxes. On the contrary, what they did was teach and follow Christ's example of submitting to payments, customs or taxes. Even as Christ circumspectly demonstrated this when the Pharisees took counsel how they might entangle him in his words "thinking" He might counsel the people not to pay taxes to Caesar. But far from rejecting paying taxes, Christ supported paying the civil fees because it was the mammon of unrighteousness, and though it can be used of God's people for good, it is worldly and the love of it belongs to the people of this world. Why do we think He labels it the "mammon of unrighteousness" anyway?
Matthew 22:17-22
  • Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
  • But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
  • Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
  • And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
  • They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
  • When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way."

The Pharisees sought to entangle Christ in His words perchance to catch Him declaring that Christians are not to pay tribute (taxes) to Caesar, but far from falling into their trap, Christ supported paying Caesar what was his. Namely the money that his government had stamped out. Likewise today, the mammon of unrighteousness is not ours, it belongs to this world's governments. But we may use it to further the Kingdom. For we are not of this world or its system, but as foreigners and pilgrims here, we live out our lives in this world. But our real home is elsewhere.

There are some professing Christians who surmise that Christ wasn't declaring we should pay taxes at all, but simply side-stepping the question because the Pharisees attempted to entangle Him in His words. But the truth is, He didn't side-step the question at all. He told us quite clearly to pay Caesar what was his. In other words, the money was the currency or assets of his government, and thus we have no real claim upon it. By contrast, the currency of Christ's government is a different kind of riches that cannot be taken away. Moreover, this isn't the only place where this issue of paying taxes is addressed, and so to read such passages in a vacuum is unwise. Christ was omniscient, and knowing this trickery of the Pharisees, He could have very easily revealed to us that the customs or taxes were unfair and that people should rebel "if" that was what He wanted to teach us. As the perfect speaker He could have done so without being entangled in His words or speaking against Caesar. But He didn't because God is not the author of confusion. We are commanded in Romans 13 that we should pay our taxes, because the government rulers are ultimately ordained of God to this end and this rule. Again:

Romans 13:6-7
  • For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
  • Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour."
    This negates any self-serving private interpretations or ideas about Christ not really declaring that we should pay government taxes, as clearly this is God's counsel for His servants. To render to all governments what is due them. Tax to whom tax is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear and honor to whom honor. Again, it's not ambiguous.

    I should also address the objection that has been raised, "Is rebellion against rulers rebellion against God, and if so, what about the founding fathers of the United States who rebelled against taxes?" There are actually three questions that should be addressed here. Number one, was what they did Christian and Biblically lawful. Number two, does the outcome of that rebellion give justification to the rebellion? Number three, weren't they good Christian men? Let's look at all three in turn.

    Number 1: Was the American Revolution a Christian and Biblically lawful action? According to all we read in scripture, and despite all patriotic claims to the contrary, the answer is an unequivocal no. What might Christ have said about the American War of Independence (which began as revolt against taxes)? I am constrained to believe, "nothing good." I am well aware that there are many well meaning conservative Christians who attempt to justify their actions as wholly Christian, however, no matter how patriotic they may have been, this was decidedly "not" a Christian revolution. Nevertheless, we have to understand as I've said before that God is sovereign and He could have stopped their actions or caused the revolution to fail, but He didn't. Meaning that the resulting government was all a part of God's sovereign will, which was worked out in these unlawful actions of men. Which by the way, God has done many times before.

    Number 2: Does the outcome of the American Revolution justify our own, or any other rebellion against like-government taxation? Again, the answer is, absolutely not! The fact that God often uses man's evil for good (Genesis 50:20) does not in any way justify the unlawful actions themselves. God being sovereign over all things, including the rise and fall of governments, does not justify rebellion in direct contravening of His commands concerning our faithful subjection unto those who rule over us. Otherwise, we have anarchy where we can violate God's word whenever we subjectively deem a ruler unjust or taxes a heavy burden.

    Number 3: Were the founding fathers of America good Christian men? Well, that's not really for me to say. But I feel pretty confident that at least some of them were. But Christians aren't perfect, and they both can and have done things that are not justified by scripture. There are lots of examples in the Bile. As said the preacher, "there is nothing new under the sun." God's servant Lot got drunk and slept with his daughters, God's anointed David lusted after another man's wife, and King Solomon got entangled with false gospels. None of which justifies their actions, but neither did it mean these men were not Christians.

    Make no mistake, I am in no way saying that if a Christian has been anti-government, he is not Christian. I am saying that it is Biblically unlawful and forbidden by scripture to be anti-government, or to side with or support such rebellious actions. The declaration of a man's salvation I leave up to God. In our country we have options against terrible rulers and high taxes. If we don't like either the rulers or the taxes, we can vote them out of offices and hopefully replace them with people that will be more responsive, will lower taxes or will change laws. However, if we are outvoted, then according to the simi-democratic system that we are under (Republic), the fact we don't think the taxes or laws are fair don't change the fact that we must submit to that rule of government. We cannot as faithful Christians then decide to take up arms to revolt or turn against our government because we think what it is doing is indeed unfair or unjust. Such resistance is not only rebellion against the powers that were ordained by God, but against God Himself. Let's be clear, that's not what I say, that is what is recorded in the Holy Bible. Even in the context of what the apostle Paul wrote about being subject to government, he had already written several verses about how we should respond to evil, where he concludes, "Overcome evil with good -Romans 12:21". So we cannot lawfully resist our government simply because we personally surmise it is unfair or evil and thus feel justified in doing what seems right in our own eyes. This principle is again clearly stated in scripture in the example of Christ:
    Matthew 5:38-41
    • "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    • And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
    • And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

    The Spirit of Christ in us is not unto fighting wrongdoing with lawlessness of our own, or with rebellion against the governments or attacking those who are ordained to have rule over us. Our example Christ didn't resist the unfair Roman government, what He did was clearly to avoid the governors, politics, taxation inequities and the simmering seditions. Instead He demonstrated a submissive Spirit, He came to us lowly, humble and meek. He made Himself subject to the laws and rules of the powers that be because they were ordained by God.
    John 19:10-11
    • "Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
    • Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."

    The ruler Pilate had power to rule only because God had ordained him to have this power to rule. It's the same in the world today, governments rule because God has given them the power to rule. To rebel against them is to rebel against what God has ordained. Following Christ's example, we are to be subject unto them in all things lawful (not against God's laws).
    Titus 3:1-2
    • "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
    • To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."

    Have you noticed that in our day, many Christians (and everyone else) condemns and speaks evil of every politician that is opposed to their own personal views. They are as far away from being obedient, gentle, meek and subject to the powers that be, as night is to day. In my view, this is because most professing Christians today are more of this world, than they are of Christ. They are ambassadors of this world when they should be an ambassador of a far greater world to come. One with far more important issues than taxation, a large bank account or being on the right side of politics. Christ's mission (and ours, as followers of Him) is to be a witness of the word that people understand that the politics of this world are temporal, while of the principality of the world to come is eternal. Too many Christians misunderstand the scriptures, surmising that our job as Christians is to guide the nation's people to reform the governments of men, when it is actually our duty to witness to people to have themselves reformed under the government that rests upon Christ's shoulders. Salvation is on an individual and remnant basis. We are not sent to reform the nations, but to gather in an election from out of the nations.
    John 17:9-11
    • "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
    • And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
    • And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."
    John 17:14-17
    • "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
    • I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
    • They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
    • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

    We are not of the world and we should not have any delusions about making the world a righteous place, for we know that this is not God's plan. His plan for His servants is in calling those lost sheep out of the world, as these are the elect for whom Christ died. We should not get confused thinking our job as Christians is to make the world better. That is never going to happen. We are not here to reform governments (an impossible task), but to preach a restoration of the people of the world to communion with Christ. We are to be a light to the world, not try and make the world a light in itself. In faithfully doing this, we humble ourselves in subjection to the rulers and governments in all things lawful.

    Thus the question of "is it Christian to be anti-government," is answered. Which of course begs the question, "What if the government asks us to do something that is unchristian?" For example, should Christians obey a criminal government? First of all, a government is criminal and subject to our disobedience only when it asks us to do something against God's law. Not when it asks us to pay taxes, to follow federal rules or to obey officers upholding the duly established laws of the state. When or if we are asked to do something by our government that is against God's word (as aborting our children, to lie in a court of law, etc.), then we would not do these unlawful acts because they violate God's explicit laws. Clearly God's word takes president over the commands of men.

    Acts 4:18-19
    • "And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
    • But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."

    Should we hearken unto the governments of men rather than the government of God? Of course not. When we refuse to obey, the chances are that we will suffer the consequences just as all the faithful servants of God did that went before us. But that cannot dissuade us from taking up our cross and following Him. So the rule is, we obey in all things according to what is lawful before God, but not in all things. We also cannot use this exception as an excuse to disobey with unreasonable interpretations of this edict. We are faithful to God's word, as indeed we are shown in the book of Acts when the Apostles were brought before rulers:
    Acts 5:27-30
    • "And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
    • Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
    • Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
    • The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree."

    In the case where the rulers (church or State) ask us to do something against God's word, we obey God rather than men. We surrender to the word of God and submit to church or government authority, as unto God. What we do not do is take up arms against our government in some misguided belief that we are doing God service in rebelling or revolting against such unfair laws or taxes. We know what rebellion is, but rebellion is not the disobedience of a law against God's word, even when commanded by a lawful authority or government. For we must obey God rather than man. We have Biblical examples of Christians refusing to obey rulers when their commands contradict God's word.
    Exodus 1:16-17
    • "And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
    • But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive."

    They feared God rather than man, and so they disobeyed their ruler Pharaoh because his word was contrary to God's will. So clearly the only time when we are to disobey and not submit to government authorities is when it conflicts with God's laws. Because an insurrection against government by its people stems from a rebellious mind-set, where we have our eyes upon ourselves and this world rather than upon Christ. If our mind is upon Christ, we will not be feeling sorry for ourselves, be filled with anxiety or be careful or worrying about taxes and government laws not being totally fair. Instead, our minds will be on what Christ desires of us and upon taking up our cross and following Him. Our eyes will be upon whatsoever brings peace and is God glorifying, rather than on divisions, offense of politics, rabble-rousing and unfair taxes. Because the truth is, where our heart is will be where we will be.
    Luke 12:34
    • "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

    Worrying about a better tax rate so we can have a better temporal home, a better car, a better education and job opportunity is not what Christianity is all about. That's certainly not the most palatable view among Christians, but it most certainly is the truth. Too many professing Christians act as if this is all there is, but our comfort in this world is a side-bar to our real mission and purpose here. Our thoughts are better spent on Christ and whatsoever is God glorifying, rather than upon the comforts of this world, its politics and governing bodies. If our eyes are truly on Christ and not our tax rate, we will be content. Are our hearts on the governments and kingdoms of this world, or the government and kingdom of Christ in the world to come. On the Israel of God or upon the welfare of the Israel of the flesh. Where our mind is, there is where our thinking will emanate from. Or to put it another way, what controls our thinking is what rules our mind, body and being.
    Philippians 4:8-9
    • "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
    • Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

    It is useless to waste our precious time on this earth attempting to bring righteousness to politics, or to restore worldly Israel, or in rebelling against our tax rate, or bemoaning the planet's governing bodies thinking that we can change the governments of the world, when God is ultimately in control. The truth is, our commission is not to cherish the flesh, but to nurture the spirit. It is not to rebel against physical governments, but to surrender to the spiritual government. It is to change man's heart, rather than his political leanings. Like those before us, we must come to grips with the fact that in truth, we are temporary visitors on this earth, just strangers and Pilgrims passing through this world. Our job is testifying of a government ruled by Christ that is so far above these earthly governments that it makes them pale by comparison. This is the work we should spend our time and energies on until that great day when we are brought into our real home land. Just as the prophets of old looked forward to that same glorious land promised by God.
    Hebrews 11:13-14
    • "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
    • For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country."

    Strangers and Pilgrims means we are aliens here, sojourners just visiting, non residents whose home is in another place entirely. So there is no need for us to attempt to cut down trees to rebuild a political house that is ultimately destined for the fire. Rather, our job is to witness to the inhabitants that by grace of God some may escape that coming fire and find a house that will never be brought to desolation. Yes, we vote in elections--Yes, we support righteous candidates and issues--Yes, we stand for morality and the fear of God. But we should have no delusions about any real change in the direction of this sin cursed earth. The change that we should hope for is a change in the hearts of men that will only come about through the Spirit of Christ, by the witness of the word. As far as the world and its nations, the conclusion of the matter concerning them is inevitable.

    So what have we learned from scripture? We learned that Christians can and should disobey a government that commands or compels them to do things that are contrary to the law of God. We learned that Christians can vote or participate in any non-violent action that is within the laws of their government to effect a change in that government. We learned that a Christian should not rebel against, disobey or plot against their rulers and governing bodies when what they require is not against God's law. If we revolt against our government, we revolt against God who ordained it and are subject to government punishment for such actions.

    The fact is, "none" of our human governments are perfect. They are often filled with injustice, corruption, inefficiency, nepotism, bribery, fraud and even outright criminal activity. But that doesn't give us the Biblical right to sedition or to refuse to be in subjection to that government. When asked "What is our Christian duty under corrupt government," I say it is to submit "in all things lawful," not in all things. We know from scripture what we cannot do as faithful Christians against our Government, as well as what we can and should do. Number one on our list of what we can do is to pray for wisdom for our leaders in their ruling, as this is acceptable before God. This is something that is far too often neglected by professing Christians in favor of hatred, condemnation and disdain of them. Nevertheless, It is what God exhorts us to do.

    1st Timothy 2:1-3
    • "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    • For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    • For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;"

    Contrary to popular conservative Christian opinion, we are to pray to God for all who are in authority, and that includes all those in public office, government officials and our rulers whatever party they call their own. We pray for them that by God's grace we may lead a peaceful and conscience free life in obedience to God. We pray that God will move them to administer their office with equity, faithfulness and righteousness. Then the honest and noble Christian can worship God in good conscience, hoping that rulers discharge their duties toward all in a proper fashion. I know this is contrary to many Christian writings, which seem to promote hateful, venomous, spiteful and villainous behaviors toward opposing politicians. Nevertheless, the good and faithful action is to pray for them and ask that they might receive wisdom.

    As the faithful prayer of old, May the Lord who is gracious above all, grant each of us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.



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