Rom 13:1-4 “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. 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: 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.”
In today’s world, it sometimes seems a difficult task to be subject to civil authority. Our world appears to be flooded with corrupt leaders whose only goal is to increase their own power. Many of them would completely stifle the Church if it were possible. We often hear people wonder why God puts such vile men in places of power.
We should consider first of all the scripture says we should be subject unto the higher powers. It says nothing about being subject to ungodly men. God established the institute of government for the good of mankind. God ordained government, but it does not say that God ordained every man who has had (or currently has) a role in government.
At the same time, have no doubt about God’s ability to use men in government, whether they are corrupt or not, to do His will or show His mighty power. In Exodus, chapter seven, we find that God hardened Pharoah’s heart against the children of Israel. He did this because He would multiply His signs and wonders, and so all Egypt would know that it was God’s hand that had delivered the children of Israel.
God is certainly able to take corrupt leaders and change them by His might power. Because of his vanity, God caused King Nebuchadnezzar to be as a beast (Dan 4:30-33). When the allotted time had been fulfilled, God caused Nebuchadnezzar to “praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase (Dan 4:37).
The scripture certainly tells us to obey the civil law. We are told that God established this power, and as His servants, we are to recognize that authority. However, we need to also recognize that God put that authority in place to compel men to do good. God placed that authority in the world to encourage men to live good and peaceable lives.
God ordained powers in this world to honor Him and to punish those who do evil in a peaceful society. This is God’s design for government. At the same time, God is not slack nor uncaring about His people when men corrupt His government. God displayed this power from the very beginning.
God set man in His garden to dress and keep it. He gave man one simple law to keep. When man decided that he knew better than God, God drove him out of the garden. He removed him for the place He has set for Him.
God is not mocked. God established powers, and we should honor those powers. However, when corrupt men begin to act outside the authority that God gives, then they should have a fearful looking for of judgment from the Supreme Authority.
As Christians, we should always rely on the love and grace of God. We should obey civil authority and recognize that God has ordained this. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that God’s authority is still supreme, and He has a reason for everything that He does and everything that He allows.
May our trust in God be such that we live each day confident that, in every situation, God will be glorified in the deliverance of His children, both here and in eternity!