“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” (Romans 13:1).
Many difficult questions arise regarding a Christian and his government, but certain principles are very clear. First of all, government is a gift of God, and any form of government is better than anarchism, where “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). As Paul was writing the words of our text, the monstrous Emperor Nero—who would eventually have Paul executed—was at the height of his power, yet Paul said that whosoever “resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God” (Romans 13:2).
With this in mind, there are two clear Christian duties: Peter, who later was also executed by Nero, wrote: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: . . . that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (I Peter 2:13,15). Again from Paul: “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” (I Timothy 2:1,2).
A Christian can accomplish far more to influence his government and fellow citizens for good by prayer and law-abiding behavior than by complaining, criticizing, and covert disobedience. On the other hand, he is also subject to God’s higher law, and he must always remember that “our conversation [or ‘citizenship’] is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), and “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) whenever there is a conflict between the ordinances of men and the laws of God. To understand and apply these principles in particular situations may be difficult and may require much further study and prayer, but these are always the basic premises from which to begin. HMM