1Pe 2:13-16 “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.”
The admonishment in verse 13 seems difficult to many in this day and age. Why, you ask, would I want to be submissive to the ordinance of man? Just look what man has done. You can’t have prayer in school, you can’t pray at sporting events, and we are treated as a menace to society because we believe God’s word to be true. There is the catch: if we believe God’s word to be true, then we are to be law-abiding citizens, not for men’s sake but for God’s. We are to be law-abiding citizens because God gives us the grace to be. Remember that in the first chapter Peter told us that it might be necessary for us to be weighed down now for the trial of our faith.
We are told here that our well-doing would put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Peter assures us this is the will of God. This is the same Peter who stood in the temple and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was arrested and put in jail for this. Does this seem contradictory to his advice here? Peter honored God by preaching Jesus, crucified and resurrected, which was against the wishes of the ruling council. However, we do not find where he protested being arrested and put in jail. There is no indication that he resisted the law (ordinance) of man in that respect. We have this and many other examples in the scripture of what it means to be true to our belief in God, to preach the gospel with our lives and words, and still be submissive to the ordinance of man. Even when they were beaten, there is no record that the disciples complained of unfair treatment. Rather, they went their way rejoicing that they were counted worthy to bear stripes for the cause of Christ.
Again, we have great liberty in Christ. We are to use that liberty to honor God at every opportunity. Our liberty in Christ is also the source of our strength to be able to submit ourselves to the ordinance of man. As a servant of God, I pray that I will never fail to stand on His holy truth as it is in Christ Jesus. With that same spirit of service to God, I pray that I will not rail against the ordinance of man, even when it is unjust. That is not to say that I turn a blind eye to injustice, but rather that I continue to serve the only One who can truly address injustice. The instruction here is that God will be glorified before men when we stand for the truth in His liberty without feeling the need to rail against a system that is not always righteous. We do this, not to honor man, but rather to honor God. Our confidence is to always be in Him.
May God grant us the grace to always do that which is right before Him, submitting ourselves to the governance of man without forsaking our stand for the truth!