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What is acceptable obedience to, and conduct toward, government during times like these?
Answer by Bill Cavender

God's word, the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit-directed apostle Paul, plainly tell us: "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. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment..."(Romans 13:1-2ff-ESV). Our Master and Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, told Pontius Pilate, the ignorant and cowardly Roman Procurator of Judea, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11). (Pilate had just said to Jesus, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" (vs. 10)).

Daniel, (in 4:17), God's Holy Spirit-directed prophet to Nebuchanezzar, the great and powerful king of Babylon (605-562 BC), told the king that "...to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men." God judged and humbled the king for his arrogance and pride, removing him from his throne for seven years. "All this came upon King Nebuchadnezar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, 'Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence, and for the glory of my majesty?' While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.' Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws" (Daniel 4:24-27, 28-33, ESV). After his humiliation and "learning experience" administered to him by the God of heaven, King Nebuchadnezzar wisely observed that "his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'" (Daniel 4:34-37, ESV).

Paul told the Athenian philosophers that "God that made the world and all things therein...And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed ('their appointed seasons' - ASV), and the bounds of their habitation;...(Acts 17:24-31, KJV) All nations of men, regardless of colour of skin, language, culture, nationality, etc., are descended from the original pair, Adam and Eve (Genesis, chapters 2-3). God determines the rise and fall of nations, when they shall rise to power and when they shall decline. He determines the extent of their rule, power and influence. He rules the nations. The world is His and the fulness thereof (Psalms 50:10-12; 24:1; Job 41:11; I Corinthians 10:26, 28).

We who are Christians are God's children (Ephesians 1:4-5; Galatians 3:26-29, etc.). We believe and affirm that He rules in the affairs of the nations of the world, that He allows men to rule in the nations, subject to His over-ruling power and providence; and that He will ultimately and finally, according to His own plans and purposes, bring the world to a close, and call all men and women - all who have lived on earth and who ever will live on earth - to account for his/her life and deeds. Peter, the apostle, said,"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:10-13). Paul, the apostle, said, "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands; They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they shall all wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail" (Hebrews 1:10-12). Jesus, the Master and Lord, while on earth, said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be...Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matthew 24:36-39, 42-51; Mark 13:32-37). "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath, whether it be good or bad...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.." (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27).

The God of heaven and earth, our Heavenly Father, has taught us all who are His children by faith in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, to:

(1) "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 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 - as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (I Peter 2:13-17). (See also Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1). We obey the laws of men, as God has taught us to do, the only exception(s) being that if a law of man violates a law of God, is in contradiction to God's law, then "we ought to obey God rather than men" Acts 5:29). Christians are law-abiding, law-respecting people and citizens. We DO NOT take the law into our own hands!

(2) "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Romans 13:1-7)). We should earnestly, sincerely, every day, pray for our country and for our rulers, and for all nations and rulers that God's will be done and that we may learn to live in peace.

(3) "For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed" (Romans 13:6-7). Jesus taught us all to pay our taxes (Matthew 22:17-22; 17:24-27; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:19-26). No Christian will cheat on his/her taxes. We may legitimately take whatever deductions from taxes we are allowed. We will gladly and freely pay our taxes and be thankful that we have been prospered enough to have taxes to pay!

(4) "For it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people" (Acts 23:5). "Thou shalt not revile God, nor curse the ruler of thy people" (Exodus 22:28). We must not revile and diminish those who rule over us - in the family, in the church, in the state and nation, in the schools, in the workplace, etc. When we curse and revile our leadership, we break down and diminish respect for authority and for the rule of law.

We should remember that when our Lord came into the world from heaven to live among men for awhile and to die for our sins, He lived under the most cruel, vicious, despotic and evil of men - the Herods and the Caesars, yet He taught us to be submissive and obey our rulers. The apostles of our Lord lived, preached the gospel, and went forth amongst the most evil generation(s) of rulers possibly the world has ever known, yet they obeyed the rulers and taught us to do so. In our short lifetimes in this world, the very few years any one of us will live, this should not too great a lesson to learn nor too much to practice.

However, with all of the above being said, understood, and daily practiced, our present ruler (year 2009) in our beloved country, and his administration, frighten me almost beyond words. I pray for them every day. I wish them no harm whatever. I would raise my hand to protect any one of them from harm. But in my years of remembering presidents, from Herbert Hoover until now, I think they are the least prepared and most ill-equipped people to govern this great nation that have ever appeared in our national history. We are daily changing into a socialistic, communistic-style, government-controlled state, with an all-powerful monarchy-type presidential official who is being handed all manner of power and programs by a Congress of inept, unthinking, and unprepared people, who are far more interested in "padding their pockets" and extending their political power than they are in keeping this nation to be strong economically and militarily.

Next Question - Question #8: What is 'the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.'?

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