No Greater Power

The highest authority in the land regally stood in front of three men who waited for his pronouncement over them. Would they live or would they die? Would a miracle save them or would they become fodder in tomorrow’s town square? Their crime? Not obeying the edict mandated by the king.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego calmly listened as King Nebuchadnezzar asked them if it was true that they refused to serve his gods and to worship the golden image that he’d set up. If they acquiesced to the mandate, they’d live. If they still refused to serve and worship the king’s gods, they’d die in the fiery furnace. We all know the ending of this story, how Christ was the fourth man in the furnace and saved them from a fiery death. This brings to mind an interesting question.

Should Christians today blindly obey and submit to the higher authority without question as some Christians advocate? Nothing could be further from the truth or is it even biblical. Many Scriptures teach the opposite either by inference or flat out. The aforementioned anecdote is one such story of civil disobedience. Listen to the narrative of the accused.

v18 But even if he (God) does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the object of gold you have set up [Daniel 3:18 NLV].

The passage of Scripture that most expositors use in teaching an extreme 100% civil compliance and submission to all higher authority is Romans 13:1-7, which basically says in verse one, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . .

Scriptural Context
Without going into an exhaustive teaching on verse one or this passage, suffice it to say that the Bible explains the proper context in verse three. Most only read verse one and stop there. However, verse three says, 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. . . Context is everything when studying God’s Word.

Verse three is critically important in understanding what Paul is trying to share via the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What verse three means here is that an appropriate God ordained good government would only be a terror to bad works. A God ordained good government would not be a terror to good works, and as such if a government is a terror to good works, then Christians are under NO obligation to submit to that authority. In other words, if man’s law dictates an action that is squarely against God’s Word and law, then we are not to obey man’s law. If we then submit to man’s law and a terror to good works, then we disobey God. It is our decision.

In fact, when government is a terror to good works, then Christians are obligated peacefully to remove said government, for that government has no God ordained authority. There is NO higher authority than God [1]. When we do good works by choosing God’s way and not man’s way, society will commend us as being a good neighbor, and citizen, says John Gill’s exposition of the whole Bible on verse 3c of Romans 13.

Paul, who was the author of two-thirds of the New Testament, and the same author of Romans 13, unabashedly disobeyed the powers over him. If he didn’t disobey the authority over him, why did they imprison him, whip him, beat him, and stone him [2]? Having said that, Paul was either hypocritical and God made a mistake giving him an Apostleship. . .or civil disobedience is acceptable to God, in the proper context, and he was NOT obligated to follow man’s law. Christians cannot have it both ways. Even Peter and the other Apostles unequivocally said that. . .We ought to obey God rather than men [3].

However, as a caveat, the number one tool for the injustice of an evil government is prayer, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [4]. Question? Should Christians just pray for justice and leave the rest to God, which again is the opinion of many a Christian. Sorry to say that the Bible teaches the opposite and is NOT what God’s Word asks us to do.

Granted, we are to submit to the powers to be, but ONLY if they are NOT a terror to good works. On the contrary, we are to be God’s hands for justice [5]. The Bible mentions “justice” over 200 times [6] in the Scriptures. God tells us that

v33 These people all trusted God and as a result won battles, overthrew kingdoms, ruled their people well, and received what God had promised them; they were kept from harm in a den of lions. . .[Hebrews 11:33 TLB]

America’s Founding Fathers believed that when King George broke his own laws, he was acting without authority, so fed up with the oppression, the Pilgrims left Britain because of that religious oppression and sailed to the new world (which would eventually be America). America is God ordained and is a gift from God to a righteous people. Even today, when the leaders break their own laws and oppress the people with injustice, they act without authority and are a terror to good works, which is against God’s law. The Bible cannot be any clearer. God is also the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow [7].

Brothers and sisters, we need to pray like never before. Focus on Jesus Christ but at the same time be God’s hands PEACEFULLY, LEGALLY, and within the law of the land through your letters, marches, and protests. Redress and justice is not only our Christian and biblical obligation, but our Constitutional right [8] under the Bill of Rights as well. If we do not address the concerns of a run amuck government, and work toward justice, then we stick our heads in the sand, and worse yet, we disobey God’s Word, the Scriptures of which I have previously given. Trust me; there are many more [9]. The Bible says that we are to work toward and for justice.

The Mark
If you are still not convinced of the need for civil disobedience at the proper time and context, let’s look at Revelation 13:15. I guarantee you this will put it all into perspective for you. It will personalize things.

v15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed [Revelation 13:15 KJV].

Do you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego at the beginning of this blog and how they refused to worship King Nebuchanezzar’s gods? Well, déjà vu. Revelation 13:15 strangely sounds like the Daniel 3 story.

There is coming a time when the Beast will force those who are alive during the end times to worship the image, and those who don’t. . .will die. At that time, we will see whose faith has been a conviction or has only been a preference. Question? Will you be civilly disobedient then, or will you acquiesce to civil obedience and take the mark. It is an individual decision. It belongs to you.

The Lord says, focus on me during these times and I’ll be that fourth man in your fire.

v14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land [2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV].

[1] Romans 13:1a
[2] 2 Corinthians 11:24, 25
[3] Acts 5:29 KJV
[4] 1 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 6:12
[5] Joshua subdued the nation of Canaan; Gideon, the Midianites; Jephtha the Ammonites; David the Philistines, Amalakites, Jebusites, Edomites, and etc.
[6]Psalms 106:3; Isaiah 1:17, 56:1; Jeremiah 22:3, 13-17; Deuteronomy 16:19, 20; Job 11:5, 7 just to mention a few.
[7] Hebrews 13:8
[8] Listed within the Constitution of the United States of America as part of the Bill of rights, stating that the government shall not prohibit the petitioning of a governmental redress of grievances. Adopted December 15, 1791.
[9] * Exodus 1:l-21 (v17) Midwives let boys go.
* Joshua 2 Rahab helps spies escape.
* 1 Samuel 14 Jonathan disobeys his father Saul and people save him from death.
* 1 Kings 18 Obadiah hides 100 prophets.
* 2 Kings 11 The kings daughter hides Joash from Athaliah.
* The book of Daniel records many acts of civil disobedience, the first of which is in Daniel three with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The second in chapter six, is where Daniel himself defies the king and prays to God. There are a number of others.
* David subdued many nations and yet was the apple of God’s eye, Acts 13:20-22.
* Peter and ALL the Apostles disobeyed and continued preaching.
* There are many other examples.
* Christians today are in good company especially if we choose to peaceably march and protest in the street, searching for justice for the oppressed, as God’s hands, while sending up many prayers for not only the people but for the government(s) as well (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

3 thoughts on “No Greater Power

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.