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Biblical Civil Government

Barry Sheets

Involvement in the political realm is important, because outside of individual choices of sinful self-will, no other force has the potential for as much negative impact on the family as ungodly governmental edicts.

Abortion, no-fault divorce, celebration of perversions, oppressive taxation, unjust wars, limitations on God-given freedoms, and cultural decay are all points where governmental actions have direct and lasting impacts on the individual and on the structure and stability of the family.

God established the family and gave it responsibilities prior to establishing civil governments. In Genesis 2, God established the family and gave them work to do and also gave them direct rules to live by. In Genesis 3, sin entered the world through Adam.

By the time of Genesis 9, human civil government was established (this was through Noah after the wicked of the earth had been destroyed by the Flood)(Gen. 9:6), but by Genesis 11, that civil government was rejecting God and building the Tower of Babel to worship itself. This pattern repeated itself throughout the Scriptures and is repeated today.

Along with this rejection of God comes harm to the family, sexual perversions, the sacrifice of our children (now evident through the “it takes a {governmental} village to raise a child” mentality,) and being ruled by the ungodly who are placed over us as a consequence of our rejection of God’s authority and sovereignty over all of our lives.
Many people, Christians among them, believe that the Bible does not speak extensively to the area of government, or give a “complete” view of governmental authority. This is a patently false and destructive notion, a function of the creeping humanism that infects much thinking today.

Just because the Bible is not structured like Roberts Rules of Order does not mean it cannot speak to all actions of government. Our modern “democracy” is predicated on the belief that ultimate truth and absolute moral values cannot be allowed to be the established foundation or basis for our political order.This belief grows like a raging cancer, weakening our families and our culture.

Political activity is inherently cultural activity. Cultural movements (homosexual rights, radical feminism, and the like) do not run in isolation to political ones. Politics tend to express a “balance of power” among society’s cultural elements. Our families and our freedoms tend to be what comes under this “power” so it is necessary to address politics and seek to establish the public acknowledgement of the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

We are created in the image of God and are responsible to carry out His commands. We are created by a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33), who directs that “as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (life); because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.”(1 Peter 1: 15-16)

God’s Word clearly speaks to us of what this all-encompassing holiness is to be. God does not operate in a vacuum; the functions of all the spheres of authority given by God to men are to work for God’s glory and man’s good: the family, the church and the government. Just as the Bible speaks to the proper ordering of family life, it speaks to the proper ordering of civil government. God’s commandments (including but not limited to the stone tablets), call us to be engaged in bringing salt and light to all areas of our lives; including our families and our government.

A Christian view of government, just like a Christian view of the family, is very different from what is commonly accepted in our culture. A Biblical view of human nature (that all of our own thoughts are sinful, and that our power is only that delegated through God) requires a governmental system that acknowledges personal human responsibility before God for every action.
A Christian view of government also recognizes the need to limit the influence of sin in society, especially the influence exerted by our authorities. That is why our system of government has been established with checks and balances on the unrestrained exercise of raw power. We as individuals are given a responsibility to exercise discernment and to call to a righteous standard those whom are given authority over us.

In this view, additionally, law is based upon God’s revealed commands, not upon man’s sinful human reasoning, opinion, or upon the “needs of the culture”. Every law legislates someone’s morality: God’s or man’s. The only consistent, stable foundation for law that gives justice, rewards good and punishes evil, is that of God’s revealed Word.
Let us consider the words of Amos the prophet in Amos 5: 14-15, who prophesied of the great and terrible destruction the Lord promised for those lands who turned away from His law and commandments, lands who went seeking their own way in the folly of their human wisdom.

The Lord gave Amos the vision of the just punishments He was to bring on the nations for their apostasy and seeking after power and position while subjugating and punishing the righteous.

What are the boundaries that the Lord has established? These boundaries are the guidance of God’s commandments. In this passage, the Lord gives direction and application so that we, as believers, as communities, as states and as nations, “may live, and so the Lord, the God of Hosts, shall be with you.” That charge is for Christians to “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gates.”

This is a task easier said than done. There are many indications in our culture that the prevailing belief is a secular, humanistic postmodernism that rejects the God of the Scriptures and His Christ in exchange for the false gods of self-centeredness, materialism, immorality, political corruption, sexual libertinism, and the like. However, it is not just the world that tends to such belief.

Even those who profess belief in Christianity often do not hold beliefs that coincide with the teachings of God’s Word found in the Bible. Pollster George Barna found that, when asking questions relating to 14 different theological perspectives, that a majority of the representative sample of our society firmly held the Scriptural position only in 2 out of 14 categories.

Only 3 of the over 1000 individuals surveyed held firm and Biblically-consistent beliefs for all 14 categories, which included the inerrancy of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the belief in a God-created universe, and the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Barna stated that “the fact that most adults, born again or not, believe the Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves shows postmodern thinking is gaining ground, even in our churches.”

So, the call from Amos 5: 15 to hate evil and love good takes on a new challenge: How do we determine good and evil? We must look to the Bible. Amos calls magistrates and citizens to hate that which is contrary to God’s moral law, for all such evil is abhorrent to God and destructive to individuals and society.

The good is clearly identified through God’s commandments as spelled out in his Word. That which is morally upright and in accord with God’s will is good. To love the good is to love God and his revealed truth.

But this verse commands one thing further: establishing judgment in the gate. In America we are given that opportunity through being able to speak with our vote and put in place over us leaders who fear and honor God and seek His will in the civil government.

It is our duty to pray for God to establish righteous leaders, and to have wisdom and discernment found through God’s word to know the difference between true righteousness in our public officials, and the situation where, as 2 Timothy 4: 2-4 states “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”

Daniel Webster once quoted that “God intends you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God. If citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupt.”

However, the postmodern viewpoint that politics is and should be separated from morality has led even Christian believers to fall into a belief that a certain political party is more righteous than another, and vote for many men who are revealed later as being unprincipled. Our current government and its expansion into and involvement with nearly every area of our lives and families is a result.

It seems more and more that every election cycle shows the trend to be increasing. I have heard it said that the definition of insanity is when we do the same thing over and over, but always expect a different result. It is time for us to stop the insanity. The book of Isaiah states that “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.”

Believers must begin our engagement with evil by refusing to grant the premises and presuppositions of our secular opposition. Christians must overcome the notion that we may win the culture wars by anything less than the armor and weapons of God’s absolute truth. We must strive to establish a fully Biblical worldview, and apply it in every area of our lives: our homes, our marriages, our families, our educational choices, our businesses, and especially in our laws and our governments.

Justice Robert Bork, waking up to this fact, has stated: “in an era of moral decline, a reversal of the modern cultural evil probably depends on a revival of Biblical religion. I have not been religious for most of my life, and I come to this conclusion not out of piety, but through observation…The role of religion, traditional, Biblical religion, is crucial to cultural health.”

The battles we fight are fought on the battleground of conflicting worldviews: Biblical Christianity versus secular, atheistic Humanism; one worldview which relies upon the word of man battling to the death the one that relies upon the Word of God. Christians win the cultural war through the gradual extension of God’s kingdom through first ourselves individually, then through the institutions of the family, the church, and the wider society, finally and consequently altering the state and politics.

We can take heart that we are equipped for this task, for “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10: 4-5). We should then purpose to adopt and live and breathe a fully Biblical life system, so as to meet the charge to “hate the evil, love the good, and establish judgment in the gate.”

We as Christians must stand for God’s truth in all areas of our lives, and seek to disciple the nations and proclaim the Lord’s sovereignty in both our private and public affairs. This is our duty to God, and our responsibility to our families.


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