God Appoints Those in Authority
In times like today, we sit and wonder about our leaders. Parents, teachers, officers, governors and even presidents hold authority over us. America was founded on the spirit of rebellion, for the settlers came in rebellion against the country where they had once lived to experience freedom. Because of this, I feel as if that spirit still lingers heavily in this nation. Teenagers rebel against their parents and teachers, society resisting the police forces, and more are expressing the proof of the constant presence of rebellion against authority. We are left looking at those who are now standing to be elected as president for America and we wonder how in the world did they rise to the top? Whenever we believers are in peril, we can always look to the Bible for answers, but it does not always mean we find the answers we like.
Romans 13:1-2 says, “Let every soul be subject unto higher powers. For there is no power but of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (All Scripture is taken from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.) In this passage, Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, giving the church instruction and doctrine. In the preceding chapter, the Apostle taught that Christians must not throw into disorder the institution of the Church, and here he teaches that they mustn’t violate the temporal government for these are God’s instructions. (credit to Martin Luther) When we break down this particular writing, Paul expresses that no one is exempt from authority and we are to be loyally subject to it. He separates the church from the state because they are different: for one promotes moral living while the other promotes spiritual living. (credit to Charles A. Ratz) However, that does not mean that Christians should not submit to civil authorities. The Pharisees in Matthew 22 asked Jesus whether or not it was lawful for them to pay their taxes to Caesar, hoping to entrap the Messiah. Yet when Jesus held up a coin, he asked whose image it was on the coin. Jesus explained seeing that the image was Caesar’s the taxes were his, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
All power comes from God, and He only gives permission and sanction for those to use it, but only by His will. Jesus also said in John 19 that “thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it was given thee from above,” indicating that God grants power, and no one can give it to themselves. If someone sets themselves against a higher power that God has appointed, then they are standing against what God has specifically arranged. By resisting God’s plans they bring judgment upon themselves and receive the penalty that is due through condemnation. Judgment or condemnation is from God through human instrumentality. (credit to Charles A. Ratz) In Daniel 2 it says that “he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings,” expressing that God is full of wisdom and might; because of this He appointed those in leadership for He is in control.
We cannot forget that sometimes leaders who have been put in a position of power abuse it and use their resources to do that which is considered evil. There are many leaders that we can certainly name that make us wonder why God would appoint them. Some people believe that God would do so to judge a people or nation or to perhaps bring about an even greater good. But does God really assign power to evil leaders just so they can dole out his punishments? (credit to 500 Questions) No country, nation, or people are free from sin which would make a case as to why God would want to punish anyone, but I don’t believe that would be the sole reason. Governments, at times, can be usurped and managed in ways not ordained by God, but this is not always the case. God is a loving and just God, though it is important to remember that He never changes, not even his mind. Some leaders that are set up have the ability to choose what they will do with the power they have received because God created us with a free will. Just as each person has been given the power to choose between serving God or abandoning Him, those who are appointed have the option whether to follow Biblical principles or to go their own way. Wherever powers exist and flourish, they exist and flourish because God has ordained them.( credit to Martin Luther)
Now it is important for us to realize that when we resist the “higher powers,” we resist God. In Romans 13:2 it states, “Whosoever therefore resisteth power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” The second and third “resist” is Strong’s #436 and it means to stand against. When you resist authority you resist what God has instrumentally set in place. As Christ-followers, we submit to Christ and follow him. Submission requires sacrifice and sometimes it requires us to do things we are uncomfortable with or have a preference not to. However we are still required to submit to our God, and that means submitting to those He has set in place for authority. 1 Peter 2:13 says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.” If the Bible repeats something, it generally insinuates that it is important! However, one aspect of needing to be inclined towards authority is when it contradicts Biblical principles. The Word of God holds a higher authority than that of our leaders and it is important to remain loyal to God while also bending to the will of your leaders. Though if the will of whoever is above you is to contradict who you are as a Christian, then you are to remain in line with God’s strict authority and hold to Him.
As I’ve walked through the first two verses of Romans 13, I believe that the interpretation I have given should bring some clarity to those who may be wondering. America may be in quite a tight spot but it is comforting to know that even when things seem cloudy, God is still in control. When things are not quite going the way we believe it should, we can be stable in knowing that God has His hand in all things. Even if someone were to be rather ludicrous enough to indulge themselves into the mysteries that conspiracy theorists express, saying that our leaders are elected by the occult, members of secret societies, or the Illuminati, God still appoints our leaders. No matter what goes on in places we do not see, we can have full trust in our mighty and omniscient and powerful God. If you haven’t read the Bible in its fullest, you will be comforted to know that in the end, we win. Our God is the one true God and He has done so much because of His love for us. We can trust Him, God has our back.
Ratz, Charles A. Outlined Studies in Romans. Ontario: Eastern Pentecostal Bible College, 1948. Print.
Reign…, By Me Kings. "38. Does God Appoint Evil Leaders?" 500 Questions about God Christianity. N.p., 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 Oct. 2016. .
Luther, Martin. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1976. Print.