Compelling Reasons for Submitting to Civil Authorities

Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:5).

Nowhere in the Bible does God say a citizen is obligated to agree with or like his civil rulers or their rulings. Submitting to civil authorities is enjoined for two compelling reasons:

  • Wrath’s sake. The most practical of all reasons for abiding by the laws of the land is to avoid being punished by the civil authorities. The best way to stay out of jail is to not break the law.

    As the book of Acts repeatedly documents, however, staying out of jail is not the most important priority of a disciple of Jesus. Obeying God is. If obeying God’s will resulted in jail time and/or punishment, the apostles joyfully embraced their suffering for Christ (Acts 5:41; 16:25). Suffering as a Christian is not sinful or shameful (1 Peter 4:16).

  • Conscience’ sake. Obeying civil authorities—God’s ministers for good—is a personal obligation you have to their Sovereign. For you to have a clear conscience before God, you need to fulfill your obligation to Him. Regardless of your personal opinion about the ruler or the law, if there is no transgression of the divine line drawn between God and Caesar (Matthew 22:21), you are to submit to the governing authorities out of love and deference for your Sovereign.

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Author: jchowning

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