Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. - Romans 13:1
Every ruler is ordained by God. This is a very difficult truth for many people to handle. The implications of such a statement are so sweeping and so shocking that if this were more fully understood, people might abandon the God of Christianity all together. This would mean that the current President, and all the members of Congress, and all the members of the Supreme Court are ordained by God as agents of His common grace to humanity.
But what about the bad rulers? Certainly God only appoints the good rulers, right? Rulers who are villainous in their motives could never be rightly called “ordained by God,” could they? Well, Paul penned these words in the godless culture of Rome under the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero’s most notorious act as Emperor was perhaps the merciless slaughter of countless Christians.
If Paul could understand that the Emperor Nero was one who was “ordained by God,” how could we ever view our President or Congress as any less? So, how do you relate to those God has placed in authority in your country? According to Scripture, “whoever resists the authority” of the government is in effect resisting and disobeying God. The only time that a Christian should resist is in matters like Acts 4, where the disciples were told to stop preaching the gospel, but respectfully disobeyed knowing that God had commanded them to evangelize.
In Titus 3, while explaining how a church should look and act, Paul admonished Titus to remind the church members in Crete to be subject to the governmental authorities. This is very similar to what Paul wrote in Romans 13 to be subject unto the higher powers, but in Titus 3, Paul goes on to verse 2 and challenges Titus to command the people of Crete to guard their words when it comes to the authorities that God has put in place. Titus was to remind every person who called themselves “Christian” that true Christians “speak evil of no man.”
Sadly, today we see “Christians” openly attacking the authority that God has ordained. It is sickening to see open disrespect, slander and maligning of God-ordained authorities. Failing to be gentle or meek in their words, they teach their children and their friends to disrespect God-ordained authority. They pursue open disobedience in direct opposition to God. With foolish rage, they speak (or post on Facebook) inflammatory language against those whom God calls his “ordained.”
May we as Christians learn to use our words for gospel-advancing purposes. May the desire to use the freedom of speech not end in our sinning against God and his ordained authority with our words. Christ never once maligned Ceasar or Pilate during His time one earth. Do we venture to be more wise than Him when we venture to malign our President or our leaders? May God help us speak in ways that teach those around us that we value God’s sovereignty in placing leaders over us in authority. May we teach our families that authority is God-ordained and refrain from partaking in foolish diatribes against God’s ministers of common grace. May we learn to speak like Christians in ways that are gentle and meek, constantly using wisdom and discernment and not promoting strife or contention.
Reflect: How does Paul tell Titus that ever Christian should act towards governmental authority?