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The Human Conscience Series: “Civil Disobedience”

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SIH TOA ICONThe wicked flee when no man pursueth:

but the righteous are bold as a lion.

(Prov 28:1)

 

It is a very dangerous thing to oppose a body which has God-given authority (ie the family, the church, the government).

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.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation…   (Romans 13:1-2)

THE SCRIPTURES:

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.
21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all [men] glorified God for that which was done. (Acts 4:19-21)

29) Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

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.  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.  8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.  11) And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.  12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].   (Romans 13:1-14)

THE STUDY:

Why are we to obey civil governments? (All texts from Romans 13:)

1.  To Avoid God’s Wrath
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.  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. 

The human governments were established by the Lord to punish evildoers and avenge the abused.  When the governments are fulfilling their God-given responsibilities, we need to support and submit ourselves to its laws.

2.  For Our Conscience’s Sake
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. 

We are to follow the dictates of our conscience, and monetarily support human governments, knowing that they exist for our good and the glory and honor of our Lord.  They are the Lord’s minister, we are to be supportive of their ministry.

3. For Love’s Sake
8) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law. 

Motivated by love for our fellow man, we are to be supportive of the human government that is fighting to stop abuse and harm coming to those we love.  This is done by the government upholding the moral laws of God and punishing those who choose to selfishly abuse others.

4. For Jesus’s Sake
11) And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.  12) The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].   

Submitting ourselves to our government will enhance our public testimony.  Submission to governments who are upholding His commands will result in us living holy lives that will glorify Him and set a good example for others to follow.

There are times when we are to disobey governments for the sake of Christ…

(Acts 4:19-21)
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.  21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all [men] glorified God for that which was done.

(Acts 5:29-32)
29) Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.  30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.  31) Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  32) And we are his witnesses of these things; and [so is] also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

In both the above texts, we find the early Christians choosing to continue to tell others about the Lord Jesus, in opposition to the government’s attempts to stop their witness. Peter describes it as “We ought to obey God rather than man” in other words, “the proper thing to do is to submit to the desires of God and put them ahead of the desires of the government.”

We have this same principle brought out in several other examples in the Bible:

1. Exodus 1: – The midwives chose to save the children of the Hebrews instead of murdering them as the government had commanded.
2.  Daniel 1: – Daniel and the Hebrew children chose to not partake of the unlawful food given to them by the government
3.  Daniel 6: – Daniel continued to set the proper example by pryaing in public in opposition to the command of the government.
4.  Jeremiah 37:-38: – Jeremiah refused to rely upon a heathen nation, as dictated by the government, but chose to rely upon His God.
5.  Acts 28: – Paul chose to continue His ministry in opposition to the governments command resulting in Him being emprisoned by Rome.
6.  Rev 1:9 – John had been place upon the isle of Patmos by Rome as a punishment for His continuing to minister for Christ.

Principles To Follow In Civil Disobedience (from Romans 13:)…

1.  We must be sure we have a consistent Godly testimony
13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.  14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].

2.  Our disobedience must be based upon CLEAR Biblical teachings
5) Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 

3. We must always be exhibiting love and concern for others during our disobedience
9) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.

4. We must disobey with the goal to be a witness of the glory of God.  This means we must behave as Christ would behave.
14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof].

5. We are to disobey only when all other avenues have been exhausted
18) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  (Romans 12:18)

PLEASE REMEMBER, TO CONSCIENCIOUSLY OBJECT TO THE GOVERNMENT MEANS:
1. TO OBJECT TO SOMETHING BASED UPON THE DICTATES OF OUR CONSCIENCE
2. TO OBJECT TO SOMETHING USING OUR CONSCIENCE TO GUIDE US WHILE WE ARE OBJECTING

THE SUMMARY:

Why are we to obey civil governments? (All texts from Romans 13:)
1.  To Avoid God’s Wrath
2.  For Our Conscience’s Sake
3. For Love’s Sake
4. For Jesus’s Sake

There are times when we are to disobey governments for the sake of Christ…
1. Exodus 1: – The midwives chose to save the children of the Hebrews instead of murdering them as the government had commanded.
2.  Daniel 1: – Daniel and the Hebrew children chose to not partake of the unlawful food given to them by the government
3.  Daniel 6: – Daniel continued to set the proper example by pryaing in public in opposition to the command of the government.
4.  Jeremiah 37:-38: – Jeremiah refused to rely upon a heathen nation, as dictated by the government, but chose to rely upon His God.
5.  Acts 28: – Paul chose to continue His ministry in opposition to the governments command resulting in Him being emprisoned by Rome.
6.  Rev 1:9 – John had been place upon the isle of Patmos by Rome as a punishment for His continuing to minister for Christ.

Principles To Follow In Civil Disobedience (from Romans 13:)…
1.  We must be sure we have a consistent Godly testimony
2.  Our disobedience must be based upon CLEAR Biblical teachings
3. We must always be exhibiting love and concern for others during our disobedience
4. We must disobey with the goal to be a witness of the glory of God.  This means we must behave as Christ would behave.
5. We are to disobey only when all other avenues have been exhausted

For a free copy of this series in book form pdf version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscience.pdf

For a free copy of this series in book form docx version: please go to: http://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/conscienceprotected.docx

Settled In Heaven Ministries Text Blog: http://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

 

 


17 Comments

  1. Terry says:

    thank you. I need to read so many of your posts today but I don’t have the time

  2. Spot on!!! Rich with the goodness of God’s word…outstanding study. Bless you!

  3. Shofar says:

    Reblogged this on God's Enduring Love and commented:
    Very good Bible teaching on the subject of submitting to government authority and civil disobedience.

  4. mtsweat says:

    Thank you for sharing this Pastor Rob. The playing field is getting muddy, and so it’s not nearly as easy to identify our role and rendering as once was.

    We really need to be versed in this area as “times are a’ changing’ for believers of the Way in this nation. As you so well put, to keep our eyes focused on Jesus will be key as we will be called to make decisions for the better of others. Many blessings good friend.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi MT,

      with everything going on around us, I’ve seen a need to teach on this subject for quite awhile now. It is very difficult to watch our nation continue on it’s downslide, but it is to be expected. After rejecting the Lord and His Word, we are feeling the natural results to our actions. Lord bless you.

  5. SLIMJIM says:

    This is very good…and a topic not often discussed but I like how you teach it in a way that’s thoroughly Biblical and nuance. I’m encouraged!

  6. Hello Rob! Thanks so much for sharing this rather intriguing post. It is truly edifying.

    God blesses.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Noel,

      Thanks for the kind words. The whole series on the conscience has been a very interesting one for me to study. There is quite a bit in the Bible on the subject and, I’m sure, for every principle I could see there are many more that I have left unaddressed. Lord bless you!

  7. I wish my people could read this, especially those who deem civil disobedience to be the only way to solve our country’s problems. There’s so much to pray for in my country Pastor Rob, I really do hope that Biblical wisdom prevails here. It would make such a huge difference in the way our country is run. Thanks for this.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      My same wish goes to the Christians in our country as well. It seems like many, well-meaning Christians, get so caught up in things they ruin the very testimony they are seeking to set. Lord bless you.

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