When God and Government Disagree

Written by Sam Naumann / October 2016


Did you ever write that paper in high school about whether or not you would have rebelled against the British government when those early American colonies did? Well I’m not here to tell you whether your loyalty should have laid with the local or British government. Instead I want to tell you about something much simpler. What do we do when God and government disagree?

To begin, let’s take a look at some passages about governments.

Titus 3:1 “Remind them (Believers in Titus’s church) to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,”
Believers are to obey their governments and help their governments.

1 Peter 2:13-14 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
Put yourself under the government’s authority for the Lord’s sake. So that He looks good through you.

John 19:11 “Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.’”
Governmental authority is given by God.

Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
All people are to obey their governments because God placed the governments there.

God tells us to obey the government because:
1. He Himself has placed them in power over us
2. So that we represent God in the best possible way
3. So that we help the government succeed in providing stability.

If you want to learn more about the God given role of government, please take a look at the next several verses in Romans 13.

Now let’s take a look at some passages relating us to God.

1 Samuel 12:24 “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
We fear and serve God because He has created, redeemed, and sanctified us.

Ecc 12:13 “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
Believers and unbelievers owe a fearful attitude to God along with obedience to His commandments.

Jos 24:14 “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.”
Fear and Serve God with honest hearts

Psalm 100 “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”
Serve the Lord because He has made us His sheep, His believers, His people through the Gospel message containing His mercy.

Our relationship with God is one of service to Him. He has made us , saved us, and brought us to faith, and so we serve Him not because we have to, even though He does indeed deserve all honor, praise, and service from all creatures, but because our new man wants to serve Him.

Finally, let’s take a look at when God and government disagree.

Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
Our fear and service to God are more important than our obedience to the Government.

In Acts 5 the Apostles were thrown in prison by the high priest and council and told to quit teaching about Christ. After an angel led them out of the prison, the apostles again began to preach about Christ, so the high priest said “‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” The high priest and the council were the Jewish government, they were under the Romans, but they were still the government. And here we see Peter clearly saying that when God and government disagree, we obey God over any government. There is no room for debate.

So while it’s true that there are some outwardly serious sins that our government allows, such as abortion and same sex marriage, we are still very blessed to live in a country where our government upholds religious freedom. Thank the Lord for this religious freedom that we enjoy and even more that the Son of God put aside His authority for us, during His state of humiliation, in order to make us heirs of eternal grace.