Are you a rebel? Perhaps a better question to begin with is: Do you think being a rebel is a good thing? Most of us know from history that the USA became an independent nation by rebelling against England. That has led many Americans to champion the concept of being a rebel to the point that many would claim they don’t have to follow ANY rules by anyone else.
But what about God? Does He believe that America or any nation is the ultimate authority of what’s right and wrong? Uh oh! When we actually read God’s word we discover that His view on rebellion is much different than our worldly standards.
Let’s begin with God’s lecture on this subject to Israel’s first king, Saul. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23)
As you will recall, Saul had replaced God’s commands on what to do with his own opinion. Regardless of what he (or his people as he would claim) may have wanted to do, God demanded obedience to God’s commands as the standard of right.
In case you are curious, rebellion is the exact translation of the Hebrew term used by Samuel About the only other words used by any English translation is refusing to obey. This concept of rebellion is used repeatedly as a term of hostility toward God and His will. Obviously NOT a good thing for God’s people!
Okay, let’s remember that but check out a different question: Does God expect me to obey human laws, even (or especially) those that I don’t like or agree with?
Many Christians at this point would simply claim that we’ve gone from “preaching” to “meddling” as they imagine they can do whatever they think is right. After all, don’t my rights as an American (or any other nationality) matter, don’t they impress God? The simple fact is that we as Christians can NEVER do what we think is right when it contradicts what God says. And no human law can authorize what God has forbidden us to do.
Let’s begin with Romans 13:1-7. Paul here discusses God’s requirement that we as Christians obey the government that we live under. I recently read a commentator on this verse that claimed that means only if we personally approve of the government and the laws. I will leave it to you to read the passage and see if Paul actually says that (hint: he does NOT).
There is, of course, one very notable exception to this rule. Peter expresses it when he and the other Apostles are ordered by their Jewish government leaders to stop preaching about Jesus: But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Clearly, we cannot obey any government’s laws that tell us to disobey God and His laws. At the same time, God also makes it clear that we must obey all other laws.
Consider some very practical, modern day dilemmas that many Christians discuss: Do I HAVE to obey the speed limit, pay our taxes, wear a mask, practice social distancing or obey other rules of governing authorities? Since none of these things involves breaking a command of God we have no choice but to obey God’s law and obey these human laws.
There is one final point to consider: As Christians we face challenges by our governing authorities to obey laws that are increasingly against God’s revealed will. Now what do we do? Do we stop preaching what God says about who is lost and who is saved? Do we now approve of sins that God has repeatedly, specifically called out as sins?
You see the problem? While there are many things we may not like or would not choose to do that our government directs us to do, there are very likely to be some things in coming days that our government orders us to do that we must not do. Even at the cost of imprisonment or even our earthly lives.
Choose wisely whose laws to follow and whose to disobey. Our eternal home depends on it!
— Lester P. Bagley