Article 104-3 – Civil Government

Biblical Principles for Living

104-3.1 God, the King of Kings, has established civil government to be under His authority, over people for the public good, and to carry out His sovereign will.1 He has revealed in His Word how this government should function in order to provide for a peaceful, orderly society in which the Gospel might spread;2 protect the law-abiding people from the law-breakers by punishing the evildoers;3 and bring justice and help to the defenseless, poor, and needy of society.4

104-3.2 God requires all people to submit to the civil government. People must pay required taxes for the support of government functions;5 they must give respect and honor to government officials;6 and they must be obedient and helpful citizens of society.7 God also requires governments to be accountable to Him for violation of His law and lawless governments come under His judgment.8

104-3.3 Christians may serve in the various positions of civil government including the police and military.9 Christians have special responsibilities toward the civil government, including praying for those in authority over them,10 exposing corruption and wickedness in government,11 and bringing a godly influence to bear upon the government.12 This means setting a godly example as a citizen, raising a biblical voice on issues, accepting positions of leadership when appropriate, and, under a democratic government, voting wisely. The exercise of these responsibilities should demonstrate a Christian’s sensitive consideration of the views of others in love without violence and without forsaking biblical principles or the priority of glorifying God.

104-3.4 A Christian’s ultimate allegiance must be to God, for the government’s authority over the believer is limited by God’s prescribed boundaries.13 Therefore, a believer may find it necessary at times to disobey human authority in order to heed God’s higher laws, bearing the cost or sacrifice involved.14

104-3.5 All Christians have dual citizenship; they are citizens of an earthly nation, and of the kingdom of God.15 Both of these citizenships have their privileges and responsibilities, and it is possible to cooperate with civil government without compromising biblical principles.16 Yet, when the believer is forced to choose between the two, he must submit to Jesus as Lord. One day, every knee will bow to Him, and even today, He rules sovereignly over the affairs of civil government.17

1 Psa.24:1; Pro.21:1; Dan.4:31-37; Mat.28:18; John 19:11; Acts 17:24; Rom.13:1-4; 1Pet.2:13, 14
2 1 Tim.2:1-4
3 Gen.9:6; Rom.13:3-5; 1 Pet.2:14; Pro.24:23-25
4 Pro.29:14; 31:8-9
5 Rom.13:6, 7; Mat.22:15-22
6 Rom.13:7; 1 Pet.2:17
7 Gen.41:46-57; Jer.29:7; Tit.3:1, 2
8 Psa. 2:1-5; 9:17; 75:6-7; Dan. 2:21; Luke 1:52
9 Pro. 8:15, 16; Luke 3:14; Acts 10:1, 2; Titus 3:1
10 1 Tim.2:1, 2
11 Pro.25:5; Dan.4:27; Luke 3:19
12 Pro.11:11; Dan.2:40-49; Mat.5:13-16; Luke 3:12-14
13 Exo.20:1-7; Deu.6:4-5; Luke 20:25; Rom.13:1, 2
14 Dan.3:8-18; Acts 5:29
15 Jer.29:7; Phil.3:20
16 Dan.1-6
17 Pro.21:1; Isa.43:13; Phil.2:9-11; 1 Pet.3:22

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