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Obedience: Obeying the Law of the Land

Romans 13:3

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? Do good, and you shall have their praise

As Christians, we are advised to live a life of obedience, not just to the laws of God, but also to the laws of the land in which we reside. This principle is clearly stated in the Bible, particularly in the book of Romans. The apostle Paul writes:

Romans 13:1-2

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.


This passage is unequivocal in its directive. As followers of Christ, we are to respect and obey the governing authorities, for they have been established by God. This does not mean that every law or every leader is perfect or righteous, far from it. But it does mean that the institution of government itself, the rule of law, is part of God's divine plan for human society.


We must remember that the purpose of laws and regulations is to maintain order, justice, and peace in society. The police officers and courts are meant to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, prevent the abuse of power, and promote the common good. As Christians, these are values that we should wholeheartedly support and uphold.


However, what if the law of the land contradicts the law of God? What should we do then? This is a complex issue that has confronted Christians throughout history. The Bible provides us with guidance in this regard as well. In the book of Acts, when the apostles were ordered by the Jewish authorities to stop preaching about Jesus, they responded, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29).


This statement underscores a vital principle: while we are generally called to obey the law of the land, our ultimate allegiance is to God and His laws. If there is a clear and direct conflict between the two, we must choose to obey God, even if this means being an outcast, persecuted, fined, jailed as a prisoner, or even facing the death penalty.

However, such situations are rare and extreme. In most cases, there is no contradiction between being a good citizen and being a good Christian. In the West, the values that underpin our legal systems – justice, equality, respect for human dignity – are generally the same values that are central to our faith.


In conclusion, as Christians, we are called to be law-abiding citizens, to respect the governing authorities, and to contribute positively to our society. At the same time, we must always remember that our ultimate loyalty is to God and His commandments. Let us pray for wisdom and discernment as we navigate these complex issues. Let us pray for our leaders, that they may govern with justice and integrity. And let us strive to be lights in the world, reflecting the love, grace, and righteousness of Christ in all that we do.