Q 010

Question: “Is there a point biblically when a child of God no longer has to submit to the government or those in secular positions of authority above them if they cross a certain line? Hope this is clear.” 

Answer: We have instructions from God in Romans 13:1-7 which clearly command us to “be subject to the higher powers.” Rulers should rule in a way that does not threaten the good works of their subjects and clearly punishes those who are evil. In fact, God intended it to be this way (Romans 13:3-4). It is important to notice the words which are used for the Christian about behavior toward their rulers. They are to “be subject to”. This does not imply blind obedience to rulers. Christians are to submit themselves to their rulers. This submission may include obedience, but it is better understood as support.

When those who govern over Christians make laws which break God’s Word, then the Christian is right to obey God rather than men as we see with the apostles in the early days of the church (Acts 5:29). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also chose to obey God over the clear commands of their governing rulers. Were these men out of line with Romans 13:1-7?

No, because they submitted themselves to the punishment as described by their rulers. The apostles were instructed to stop teaching the name of Jesus (Acts 5:28) but had been given divine instruction to speak in the temple (Acts 5:20). They obeyed God and did not obey the rebellious instructions of their rulers. However, they did submit to the punishment inflicted upon them from the council (Acts 5:40). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego also took a stand against their rulers and would not worship the gods of Babylon. Yet, they submitted to their punishment as laid out by their rulers (Daniel 3).

Christians need to be submissive to their rulers and willing to suffer the consequences of breaking the law. It is OK to take a stand for God and for what His Word clearly teaches is right. However, be prepared for the consequences you may face. Christians in the Tribulation period will be faced with global persecution. Many will lose their lives because they will choose to obey God rather than men (Revelation 6:9-11). I believe they did right by God in disobeying their rulers and suffering the consequences.

Simply put, know the Word of God to the point where you can discern good from evil. If you are told to do something that is in direct conflict with the Word of God… then obey God and pray for strength to endure whatever consequences may lie before you. Remember Romans 8:18.