Reading: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” —1 Peter 2:13–15
I write these words at a time when there is much discussion about politics and governments. Civil authorities are in the public mind. Politicians are vying for prominence and many talk about changing legalisation and overturning majorities. In the political turmoil that exists in many countries we can be thankful that scripture has something to say on this subject. Consider the following:
God is the sovereign and supreme ruler of this world. While scripture speaks of kings and governors this does not suggest that men are the supreme governors of the world. God is the sovereign ruler of all men. He controls all things and rules all things in heaven and earth.
Civil government is a divine institution. Civil government is part of God’s sovereign providence. This does not mean that every ruler is godly; what it does mean is that God, in His sovereignty, raises one up and pulls down another. In this sense they are the servants of God (Jeremiah 27:6).
It is the duty of civil government to promote good and punish evil. Authority comes with responsibility, and the magistrate has the awesome task of promoting good and doing that which will ultimately bring glory to God. It is not unscriptural for the Christian to be involved in the civil or political life of a nation. God does not place a ban on believers entering the world of politics, but let us remember that the future of the work of God is not dependent on the political situation within a nation. He will build His church regardless of who sits in government or authority.
Christians must obey civil government in accordance with the Word of God. We bear good testimony when we are exemplary citizens. Believers should be the very best inhabitants a country has. We are commanded to pray for those in leadership over us (1 Timothy 2:2). Take time today to pray for wise and gracious government.
Where Christ’s government in his ordinances and his Spirit is, there all subordinate government will prosper …. Where Christ’s laws are written on the heart, there all other good laws are best obeyed.” (Richard Sibbes, Works, 1:91)