Question: “Do Christians have to obey the laws of the


Question: “Do Christians have to obey the laws of the
land?”

Answer: Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to
the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has
established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God
has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For
rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you
want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he
will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong,
be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an
agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary
to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also
because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are
God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you
owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then
respect; if honor, then honor.”

This passage makes it abundantly clear
that we are to obey the government God places over us. God created government to
establish order, punish evil, and promote justice (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 14:33;
Romans 12:8). We are to obey
the government in everything—paying taxes, obeying rules and laws, and showing
respect. If we do not, we are ultimately showing disrespect towards God, for He
is the One who placed that government over us. When the apostle Paul wrote to
the Romans, he was under the government of Rome during the reign of Nero,
perhaps the most evil of all the Roman emperors. Paul still recognized the Roman
government’s rule over him. How can we do any less?

The next question is
“Is there a time when we should intentionally disobey the laws of the land?” The
answer to that question may be found in Acts 5:27-29, “Having brought the apostles, they made
them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave
you strict orders not to teach in this Name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled
Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s
blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than
men!’“ From this, it is clear that as long as the law of the land does not
contradict the law of God, we are bound to obey the law of the land. As soon as
the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the
land and obey God’s law. However, even in that instance, we are to accept the
government’s authority over us. This is demonstrated by the fact that Peter and
John did not protest being flogged, but instead rejoiced that they suffered for
obeying God (Acts 5:40-42).

Recommended Resource:
Hard Sayings of the Bible by Kaiser, Davids, & Brauch.

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