Conscientious Citizens

Conscientious Citizens

The will of God as revealed in the gospel addresses every facet of human existence. A Christian has certain obligations to Christ as a citizen in His kingdom; he also has specific responsibilities to the earthly nation of which he is a citizen.

Paul declares two basic obligations a Christian citizen has to his country: 1) Live in sub­jection to the authority of your earthly government and 2) Pay your taxes. He writes:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

The principle of civil authority is always approved by God. This does not mean evil rulers who do evil deeds (as the Emperor Nero would shortly carry out on the Christians in Rome) are sanctioned and approved of by God. The violation of the principle does not make the principle bad; instead, it identifies a bad ruler.

Like all God’s ministers, civil authorities have specific duties assigned to them by God and for which they are accountable. When evil is punished, innocence is protected, and good is praised impartially a civil ruler is faithfully performing his God-given responsibilities.

When a Christian obeys the law (provided it does not violate God’s law), prays for his political leaders, and pays his taxes, he is faithfully performing his God-given responsibilities.

The gospel in daily life results in conscientious citizens.

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Author: jchowning

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