PHBC December 28, 1997
Series: First Peter, Ser. #35
PILGRIMS AND CIVIL GOVERNMENT
Scripture: I Pet 2:13-17
TEXT: 1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 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.
INTRO: The exact relationship of Christians and government have long been a subject of debate. There are those who believe we ought to obey every mandate of government even if it requires disobedience to the laws of God. These have manifest their presence more during times of persecution and use it as an excuse to escape persecution.
There are others who feel that they are only obligated to observe those laws of man and government officials with whom they agree. Consequently, some refuse to pay taxes in the name of Christianity, because they disagree with the tax laws.
In this message, we who are Pilgrims in this world, are reminded that we are to be subject to government officials. We may not agree with the form of government nor some of the laws passed but if obedience to those do not conflict our obedience to the laws of God then we are to be subject to the powers that be in the government.
THE HISTORICAL SETTING OF THE PASSAGE
We must remind ourselves that during the writing of the entire New Testament Godís people were under the jurisdiction of the corrupt Roman empire.
The principle that is set forth in our text was also and Old Testament principle.
Solomon admonished a spirit of obedience to the king whoever he may be. Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king.
Jeremiah urged Israel to seek the peace of those cities where they lived for in so doing they would promote their own peace. Jeremiah 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Under this government of Rome Jesus taught us to be subject to the government as far as was possible. Matthew 22:19-21 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
Under the Roman government Paul taught submission to the governmental powers that be.
In his epistle to Titus he told him to call on those to whom he preach to teach this submission to government authority. Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.
In his epistle to the brethren in Rome Paul exhorted them to be subject to government authorities. Romans 13:1-7 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. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 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: 4 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. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
In his epistle to Timothy Paul a principle similar to the one Jeremiah had given to Israel.
Jeremiah admonished Israel to seek the peace of those cities where they lived that they might have peace themselves. Jeremiah 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Paul admonished that prayer for those in power have as its object that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.
Jude indicated that it is the characteristic of false teachers, not true Christians, to rebel against government authority. Jude 8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
The word dominion in this verse means "government."
It is translated government in Peterís second epistle. 2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
It should be noted also that this passage is dealing with false teachers; it is they who despise government, as we saw in Jude.
It is in this same setting, the corrupt, often persecuting, Roman empire that Peter writes the admonitions of our text and about other ways in which we are to be submissive if found in certain circumstances.
Look again at our text. 1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 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.
Consider his words in verse 18. 1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
Note also his words in chapter 3. 1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
A rebellious spirit is not a Christian spirit; a submissive spirit is.
WHY GODíS PILGRIMS ARE TO SUBMIT OURSELVES TO THE POWERS THAT BE IN CIVIL GOVERNMENT
Peter gives us some reasons why we should submit to governmental authority.
It is the will of God. 1 Peter 2:15 For so is the will of God.
It will help to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
It is for the Lordís sake. 1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.
Paul gives us some reasons for submitting to government authority also.
Governmental authority is ordained of God. Romans 13:1 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.
In the book of Daniel we learn that God sets up men as kings and deposes them as he wills. Daniel 2:20-21 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.
God rules in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomsoever he will. Daniel 4:17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
Promotion into a place of governmental authority comes from God. Psalm 75:6-7 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalm 113:7-8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
Solomon was not silent on this matter. Proverbs 8:15-16 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
It was God who set up Saul as king over Israel and it was God who removed him and set up David. Acts 13:21-22 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Since no king or other ruler can come to power except it be the will of God then we ought to bow to the authority of those people as long as they do not legislate against our obedience to God; only then is disobedience to their authority acceptable.
To resist the governmental power and authority is to resist Godís government and power for he set up civil government. Romans 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
The government authority is for our good and it is suppose to protect us from evil. Romans 13:4 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.
We are to submit to governmental authority for conscience sake. Romans 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
THE EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE OF SUBMISSION
It is not when government is being oppressive; the Roman empire was very oppressive. 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
When governmental authority conflicts with Divine authority and we must disobey one to obey the other, obedience to God must come first.
We must hear God more than we hear government. Acts 4:18-20 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
We most obey God first and foremost. Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
We should never use our liberty in Christ as grounds for disobedience to laws which do not conflict with our obedience to God. 1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
CONC: Historically, Baptists have been some of the best, most consistent supporters of organized government to be found. Baptists have been friends of government, not its enemies. Let us continue to support and give honor to the powers that be, for that is Godís will for his people.
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