I realize this is a hotly-debated issue. All of my life I have heard it said that a person should not mix religion and politics. However, is this a Biblical view? It is my opinion that the church is suffering today because of this wrong view of a believer's involvement in the earthly affairs of his country's government.
Many Christians say they believe that God is sovereign over all spiritual matters. But at the same time, they feel He has surrendered all civil matters to the state. From their point of view, government is being totally directed by carnal men and ultimately Satan. Consequently, they believe that it is not God's will for believers to be involved in public government. This may be a religious view or tradition, but it is not in agreement with the Word of God.
God is not opposed to human government. In fact, He ordained and established it as an extension of His authority upon the nations of the earth. The Bible says God has all authority and He alone should be worshipped. In the first of the 10 commandments God declared: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) William Penn, the founder of the Providence of Pennsylvania, once wrote: "Men must be governed by God or else they will be ruled by tyrants." History demonstrates that when people use government to oppose God they will eventually be ruled by an evil dictator and become slaves of the state. Consequently, it is imperative that we think Biblically when we engage our attitudes, prayers, and actions concerning civil government.
Government is God's business and the overall testimony of Scripture gives witness to His sovereignty over all creation. Jesus declared, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18) God rules over all His creation and is the "King of nations." (Jeremiah 10:7) He is "the Judge of all the earth." (Genesis 18:25) As the lawgiver, His moral laws flow out of His unchanging holy character and they are for all people of all generations. When Jesus returns to this earth He will be King and Judge over every nation, "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3)
While we anticipate the coming of this earthly Kingdom of our Lord, we should never lose sight of the fact that He is now ruling over all His creation from His throne in heaven. The Scriptures teach that both God and Satan are ruling over their servant angels in very highly organized governmental structures. (Psalm 103:19-21; Ephesians 6:12) The governments of this world are being targeted by this spiritual battle between God and Satan. As we will examine in this article, the Lord is directing human agents in civil government to carry out His agenda. Satan is attempting to oppose God by tempting these same human governmental leaders to join his rebellion against the Lord. (Psalm 2:1-3; Isaiah 14:12-13; Revelation 16:12-16) If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, it is your responsibility to stand with the Lord in your home, church and government. We are to glorify the Lord and rescue the souls of men from the wages of sin in this life and eternal damnation.
An examination of the prophetic Scriptures, and especially the book of Revelation, causes our hearts to rejoice. As we read them, we know the Lord will defeat the satanic forces when the end comes. All the dead of the nations who historically joined Satan's rebellion are now in hell. Psalm 9:17 declares: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." When the end comes, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Revelation 20:10) Immediately after this, all those who are in hell will be resurrected to be judged by Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment. (Revelation 20:11-14) Finally, death, hell and all those who rebelled against the Lord will be cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)
As part of the new heaven, the redeemed of all the ages will dwell with our Lord in the New Jerusalem on the new earth. (Revelation 21:1-3) We are told that "the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it [the Temple in heaven]: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it." (Revelation 21:24)
What a glorious ending!
However, it is imperative that the church awaken from its slumber and realize that we are the prime target in the ongoing war that is taking place in the spirit world. The church must realize that Satan is attempting to destroy our homes, churches, and nation. At times, it seems that we are very aware of the spiritual warfare within our homes and the church, but at the same time, neglect the battle Satan is waging against our nation.
First, let us rejoice in the reality that our Lord is directing the affairs of this world to His end. In His universal kingdom, the Lord is the "God ... of all the kingdoms of the earth." (2 Kings 19:15) He is infinitely more powerful than all the nations and their governments. "All nations before him are as nothing ... the princes [are] nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity." (Isaiah 40:17, 23 - Read verses 12-24) Despite the efforts of demonic powers that are influencing human governments, the Lord's decrees or plans will come to pass! (Isaiah 14:24-27; Psalm 33:10-12) Long ago Job said: "He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and [governs them]." (Job 12:23)
In order to fully understand God's design for human government, we must go back to the book of beginnings – Genesis. The nations were created after the global flood (Genesis 10) and more clearly defined and divided by the divine judgment at Babel with the creation of languages. (Genesis 11:1-9) Prior to the creation of the nations, the Lord instituted human government with these words: "Whoso shedeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." (Genesis 9:6) Most Bible students refer to the time before the flood as "the Age of Conscience." This simply means that God restrained man's evil through the work of the Holy Spirit within the consciences of men. (Genesis 6:3) The indictment of mankind that demanded God's divine judgment in the days of Noah indicates that this period of time ended in moral corruption and violence. (Genesis 6:1-13) Consequently, after the flood, God instituted human government. God gave human agents the authority to execute governmental punishment as an external form of control. Government would restrain man's lawless impulses and institute capital punishment as the highest form of penalty.
While commenting on Genesis 9:6, Alva J. McClain, in his classical book on the Kingdom of God, states: "What we call civil or organized government, whether simple or highly complex, exists for one reason – the protection, conservation, fostering, and improvement of human life. Genesis 9:6, therefore, becomes one of the most important landmarks in all of human history; for it is here God not only decrees the beginning of human government in the sinful world but also lays down the moral and social foundations of all such government. As Luther has well said of the text, 'This was the first command having reference to the temporal sword. By these words temporal government was established, and the sword placed in its hand by God.'
"What we have here, then, is something wholly new upon earth; an institution by which God will now mediate His government over the nations through human rulers, who whether they acknowledge Him or not, are nevertheless 'ordained of God' as 'ministers' of His; and therefore will be held responsible before God for the manner in which they discharge their duties 'for good' to mankind in general and to 'execute wrath' upon those who do evil. (Romans 13:1-6)." (Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, p. 47)
God has ordained that government must protect its citizens by the use of force (notice the use of "sword" in Romans 13:4). Notice that when government leaders use force to promote good and restrain evil, they are called "the minister of God." (Romans 13:4) They are exercising the ordinance of God on earth as His divinely appointed servants. (Romans 13:2)
The Bible does not endorse any particular political system. However, any political system that reflects God's purposes for human government must take into account the Biblical view of human nature. Sinners are not capable of governing themselves. Anarchy exists in a nation with no government. Government exists because all human beings are sinful (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18, 23), even though they have been created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6) God created human government to restrain evil and protect human beings from each other. (Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:3-4)
In light of this, it is imperative that governments properly look upon all human beings as having worth because they have all been created equally in the image of God. From conception to death, all human beings must be treated with dignity and respect. This lies at the very heart of God's design for human government. (Genesis 9:6)
God intended that government be rooted in morality. The government is to promote and protect good actions and restrain and punish evil deeds. (Romans 13:3-4) Therefore, when human government is functioning as it has been designed; it will promote the moral law of God. Law is foundational to the function of any government. Until recent years, it was recognized throughout the Western world that common law was founded upon God's law – His moral absolutes. It was an understood and accepted fact that law promoted by government, because it is the exercise of God's authority on earth in the nation, must be rooted in His moral law. This divine moral code is grounded in the perfect and unchangeable character of God. Both good and evil are moral evaluations that are anchored in the holiness of God. Therefore, the law promoted by civil government should not be conditioned by the opinions, philosophies or sinful desires of man. It is not a law of the majority or militant minority. It is the law of God.
Our present cultural and political climate in the U.S. is in the process of abandoning our constitution and Bill of Rights. These founding documents are grounded in the Biblical law of God. However, our society and its liberal political leaders are adopting a path of moral relativism and/or utilitarianism. Relativism simply operates upon the false assumption that there are no moral absolutes. Right or wrong is defined by the wishes or new standard of the individual or community. Utilitarianism simply means that the end justifies the means. If it appears to work, regardless of the Biblical moral standards, it becomes the adopted path to follow. All of this makes sinful, finite man the final authority, rather than the infinite, omniscient, holy Creator – Jesus Christ. Relativism and utilitarianism ignore the Biblical warning: "There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
This was understood by our founding fathers. In principle, God's moral code was promoted during the first 170 years in America. The framers of our founding documents warned us that if America ever departed from its Biblical heritage and the very laws which flow out of it, the nation would collapse. We are perilously close to seeing that happen at this very hour!
It should be noted that human governments also exist to honor the Lord and serve Him. The Lord Jesus Christ has authority over all. Human authority in a home, church or nation cannot exist outside of Him. Nations and governments exist for the advancement of the Lord's divine purposes, both now and in eternity. All powers and authorities in heaven and earth were created by Jesus Christ and are under His control. He uses them as instruments of His divine will, for blessings or judgment, both temporally and eternally. (Daniel 4:34-35; Colossians 1:16)
The leaders of the world's governments may not know it, but they – even if they are atheists or worship other idols or gods – are an instrument in the hand of God to promote His divine plan in these last days. Proverbs 21:1 proclaims: "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it [wherever] he wills." Daniel 2:20-21 reveals that God raises up good and evil leaders and uses them to orchestrate the events that bring them to power. Furthermore, God directs their policies and actions to fulfill His divine will whether they are good or evil. Yes, God permits their evil strategies to carry out His eternal plan. For example, during the Tribulation Period the Lord will direct the kings of the earth to join with Satan's antichrist in a rebellion against Him. As a result of these evil acts, God will collectively judge them at Armageddon. (Joel 3:2; Zechariah 14:2) Revelation 17:17 states: "For God hath put it in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the [antichrist], until the words of God shall be fulfilled."
While God is sovereign and rules over men, this does not mean that we are mere robots. We have been created in the image of God as willful, moral agents that make choices and decisions for which we are accountable to our Creator and Judge, Jesus Christ. This is true on both the individual and national levels. Leaders in the home, church and community/nation are held accountable to the Lord for their leadership over those who have been entrusted to them. (Romans 14:11-12)
Because government is a divinely ordained institution, believers should not avoid exercising political influence or involvement. Christians are better suited to lead government since it was created to promote Biblical truth through God's moral laws and place high values on human beings. If human governments exist for the glory of God and the advancement of His divine plan, who better to be involved in that government than the saints of God? We are called to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world." (Matthew 5:13-14) We are to pray for a lifestyle of peace, godliness, and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:2) Therefore, shouldn't we expect the Lord to answer our prayers by calling and equipping a child of God to be involved in government? In our age, God has ordained three spheres of influence to promote His authority and His moral law: the home, the church, and civil government. If we are serving God, we should have the right attitude toward serving Him in all three spheres of influence. Obviously, God has called and gifted certain believers to function in two or all three of these areas. All believers are commanded to serve God in the home and through the church in some capacity. However, it makes Biblical sense that if God has ordained human government, He would call and equip some of His godly servants to be directly involved in it (from the local to the national level).
God has ordained that the home, the church, and government are to function independently, but collectively function together for the glory of God and the good of man. The interference of government into the affairs of the home or church is legitimate only when there is an act of evil threatening the greater community. Such incidents also fall under the responsibility of the government - life, liberty and property.
At the heart of all of this is the recognition that children belong to God and they are given to their parents as a gift from Him. (Psalm 127:3) Children are not wards of the state or the property of some religious cult leader. The future of any society can be seen in how it views children and how they are educated. According to the Bible, the education of children is the responsibility of the home, not the church or state. (Ephesians 6:4) The church and state can assist the home, but the education of children is the parent's responsibility. Once again, our founding fathers recognized this and promoted the education of children in the home, assisted by the church.
This foundational truth is found in the heart of our holy God. He loves sinners, but hates their sin. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten [means unique – one of a kind] Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) The Lord is exercising great patience with mankind today as He waits for them to respond to His servants in the home, church and civil government. The ultimate goal for mankind in this overall structure is expressed in 2 Peter 3:9: "[The Lord] is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." It is His perfect will for parents, members of the church (Christ's body on earth) and governmental leaders to promote His law to bring repentance for His glory and the salvation of man. What happens in the home, church and government is God's business because we are created in the image of God and destined to stand before Him on our judgment day.
By Mike Wingfield- www.ptnews.org