Religion and Civil Government
Introduction: The matter of religion and civil government has been an often-dividing issue for many. Some believe that if the Bible is mentioned or found in a government building, there is a violation of the separation of "church and State." Others believe "church and State" should be practically combined (the church over the State).
I. God created government.
A. The Law of Moses was a theocratic system in nature. The Ten Commandment Code was to be implemented civilly and spiritually (Ex. 20 ff.).
B. Hence, instructions were given for the carrying out of capital punishment (Ex. 21: 12-17).
C. The New Testament was not designed to be a theocracy. We read of the "higher powers" as being separate (Rom. 13: 1, more later). In the same verse Paul taught, " For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
II. The Bible teaches submission to civil government.
A. "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the King, as supreme; or unto governors ," Peter taught (I Pet. 2: 13, 14).
B.Those who resist and disobey civil government are resisting God (Rom. 13: 2).
a. The exception would be when government and God's word conflict (Acts 5: 29).
C. Not only is obedience to government taught, but also honor is due.
D. Observe Peter's teaching, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King" (I Pet. 2: 17).
a. Keep in mind, the contemporary government was Rome and the King was the infamous Nero.
III. As we noted, the New Testament clearly distinguishes between "church and State" (Rom. 13: 1-7).
A. The church has no business in politics and the government has no business telling the church what to believe and practice.
B. It is not as clear as to how involved in government the individual Christian may become (Lk. 3: 14).
Conclusion: America was founded for religious purposes and is based on religious principles, laws, and codes. However, the church is spiritual in nature and work and must be distinguished from civil government (I Tim. 3: 15; Rom. 13: 1 ff.). This is not to say, though, that reverence for God should not be found every where, including government.