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April 22, 2020  

The Misinterpretation that has Led Many Churches to Obey Government Instead of the Scriptures!

April 22, 2020

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“They have set up kings, but not by Me (the Lord): they have made princes, and I knew it not” (Hosea 8:4a NASB).

The idea that all government officials are always in authority because God put them there is contrary to what the Lord spoke to the prophet Hosea. Some leaders were put in power by people outside the will and plan of God, and not by His direction or authority. The prophet Hosea recorded what God said about it, something that literally goes against traditional interpretations of Romans 13.

Most commentators believe Romans 13 teaches that all government leaders and institutions are ordained of God, or else they would not be in authority because all authority is from God. I disagree with most commentators on this subject, but I did not reach my conclusions out of thin air. One must ignore many other Scriptures that oppose the idea that God authorizes all leaders. The truth is that God anoints some to lead, but that does not include ALL. The biggest mistake has been to isolate Romans 13 without looking at numerous other Scriptures that can lead to right interpretation on governmental authority.

Most Christian circles have accepted Paul’s teaching as a blanket statement about all government and officials. Paul carefully outlines the subject by including some necessary limitations.

Let’s read Paul’s statement objectively:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by Godʼs appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1, 2 NET)

Notice the following statements in these verses, and let’s unravel it some:

1. Authority… by God’s appointment.
2. Authorities… instituted by God.
3. Resists such authority. (That is, those appointed and instituted by God.)
4. Resists the ordinance of God. (When God appoints and institutes an authority, to resist that kind of authority is to resist the ordinance of God!)

Paul was teaching about government officials that God puts into places of authority by His appointment. Read that the previous statement slowly and purposely to get it. I did not come up with that on my own. I believe that Lord gave me this truth from the phrases I excerpted from the verses, and the explanations given in parenthesis. I believe these clearly highlight the fact that Paul was referring to those leaders in government that were a force for good.

Paul was not referring to government alone as a separate entity from the ruler. He was not referring to evil individuals that sit in government offices that want to bend the rules and slant them for evil purposes. If a government official is a force for good, then God had something to do with their ordination or appointment. We should respect them and obey them. We should submit to that kind of authority. Paul is correcting and rebuking those that rebel against good authorities ordained and appointed by God.

Look at the verses that follow. Paul qualifies whom he was referring to.

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil (Romans 13:3, 4 NASB).

What kind of rulers were these? What was the criteria?

• Rulers that cause fear for those practicing evil behavior.
• Rulers that are ministers (servants) of God for doing what is good.
• Rulers that are ministers (servants) of God to bring wrathful vengeance by the sword on those that practice evil.

How could we have missed the qualifications Paul gives for government officials?

Paul’s lead-in to this entire subject of government officials ordained to praise the good and destroy evil was Romans 12:21, the last verse of the previous chapter. The chapter division between chapters twelve and thirteen was arbitrarily injected into Paul’s consecutive train of thought. This last verse (12:21) qualifies our subject matter in chapter thirteen.

Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21 NASB).

Paul was speaking about government officials that take a stand for good and overcome evil with it. Paul was not telling us to submit to evil rulers that want to impose their ungodly way of life on the people under their rule. He was telling us to obey and respect those God ordained into a position of government authority because they are doing what they are doing to reward the good and punish the evildoer.

That means that if some ruler, like Obama and his administration did (and state government officials), told us to make same-sex marriage themed cakes to honor the homosexual lifestyle, that we should do that? Absolutely not! Why? That governmental leader and his administration were in opposition to the Word of God. We do not obey that contrary to Scripture and carry out Satan’s wishes!

I’ll bring it home in a minute, because the church has disobeyed God and His Word in order to obey government. 

To maintain order in the land, certain speed limits are placed to control the speed of vehicles on different roads. Should we obey that? Yes, because they do not violate the Scripture but are put in place to protect the populace.

What about paying taxes? Who loves to pay taxes? Probably none of us. Should we do it? Yes, it does not violate Scripture, and we are told to do it by Jesus and Paul. (Matthew 22:17-21; Romans 13:7)

I am pointing out that there are many parts of law and order we must comply with, BUT there are some parts we should never obey because they violate the Word of God. (Acts 4:19, 5:21) We should be law-abiding citizens and honor leaders in government, but we must NEVER compromise the Scripture. (See 1 Peter 2:13-17.) Get that straight once and for all!

If the government forbids the preaching of the gospel, and orders us to shut our doors, should we obey? Absolutely not! If they commanded us to stop making altar calls, casting out demons, and praying for the sick, should we obey? What about if they tell us it is forbidden to have church services? Again, we must not obey IF we are believers and followers of Jesus! We have the great commission and the example of the Church in the book of Acts. That is our authority. Religious or governmental leaders do not have greater authority than the Scripture. We will do the Word regardless of their rules and regulations to the contrary. (See Matthew 16:15-19; Matthew 28:16-20; Acts chapters 2 through 5.)

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! (Acts 5:27-29 NIV)

(Dan’s NOTE: This article was originally written and published in 2012 but has gone through a few corrections of grammar or sentence structure. It can still use work but here it is. The message has remained unchanged. It was published under the title, “Does God ordain all Human Government.” Was this prophetic? You judge it. How many churches disobeyed the Word by shutting their doors when ordered by local government to do so during the Coronavirus pandemic?)

Having the qualifications as presented by Paul

How many of our government officials in America can qualify based on Paul’s criteria above? There are not many. How many American government officials sit in opposition to God’s moral commandments and what He calls as good? How many have rejected God’s standards for marriage, sex, human life, child rearing, money, education, and business? How many oppose prayer, Bible teaching, and Christianity? How many are pushing to remove all mention of God and Jesus from the government, schools, monuments, and everywhere they can spread their evil influence?

What about people in government that are not a force for good but are evil rulers or governors? What about government officials placed by popular vote that support laws and agendas that favor evil in society? We desperately need them voted out and replaced by good government and godly people.

WOE TO those [judges] who issue unrighteous decrees, and to the magistrates who keep causing unjust and oppressive decisions to be recorded (Isaiah 10:1 Amplified Bible).

The prophet Isaiah pronounced a woe on judges because they opposed God and His commandments. Were they placed in a position of authority with God’s approval and blessing? Hosea teaches that this is not always the case. There are some kings and princes (including judges, governors, mayors, etc.) that God did not appoint or approve. They are usurpers of authority that God neither knew nor anointed for office.

Just because someone wins the presidency or becomes prime minister by popular vote does not mean that God set them into a place of authority. Just because someone wins a Senate seat or governorship (or some local government official) does not mean that God set him or her there. The same can be said for all government appointees everywhere. Again, my foundation for stating this is Hosea 8:4, but there is much more evidence in the Scripture.

A divided kingdom cannot stand

What happens when a kingdom is divided by enforcing some righteous laws, but it then establishes and promotes evil laws that clearly violate God's commandments? Do you know? What did Jesus say about this?

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom will not be able to stand (Mark 3:24 NET).

What happens to a divided kingdom? It cannot stand and will eventually be judged. It will be given over to two opposing governments. Do you need an example?

As for peres- your kingdom is divided and given over to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:28 NET).

A divided kingdom that doesn't get its act together will eventually get split apart. There must be some form of agreement between the parties, because a divided kingdom will fall or be destroyed, and at times, it can be split into separate countries. World history gives us numerous examples.

Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3 KJV)

I know that this is an appalling thought for our great nation of America. Right now, America is, basically, split down the middle between those that love God or His moral principles, and those that hate anything related to God. I trust that America comes to repentance and this nation turns back to God and the Lord Jesus.

Let me show you by another prophetic example what we are seeing, and what we could witness in the future in America unless there is drastic spiritual change and renewal.

I am not being pessimistic, and I am far from being a doomsday proponent. America can turn around, and I believe 2016 started bringing some godly changes into leadership and our government, though it is certainly not perfect. It never will be perfect until Jesus comes to rule and reign!

What if we fail to vote in leaders that care about Christianity and God’s idea of morality? What if things continue with bad leaders and evil judges? What could happen if America does not repent and come back to God? Here is the terrible truth:

In that you were seeing feet and toes a partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever… (Daniel 2:41-44 NET)

I am using this for prophetic instruction. I understand the implications of this text for Babylon, Assyria, Medes-Persians, and ancient Rome with its historic division into the Eastern and Western Roman empires. I believe we can gain prophetic insight into how God sees things because He is always the same. He never changes.

Right now, our country is divided. It is partly strong because of righteousness, and partly fragile because of sin. Everybody can see it today. It is not something mysterious “revelation.” You don’t need prophetic insight to get it. America today is like iron and wet clay that can never mix. The people of God are in a mixed society of righteousness and sinfulness, and one cannot agree with the other (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-17). They are opposed to each other along strict lines of division, and if it continues that way, the nation cannot stand or endure in its present state.

I am praying (as many thousands of others are) that the country continues to lean towards righteousness and away from immorality, if not, our country will be in BIG trouble.

In the case of Daniel's vision, he begins to see the kingdom of God that cannot be destroyed because it is eternal. It is the only eternal kingdom. All others are temporary and will fail eventually. Babylon, Assyria, Medes-Persians, Greece, and Rome were all destroyed. God's kingdom breaks in pieces the other (ungodly) kingdoms and brings about their demise. That is why we must have a spiritual awakening in America.

Read this closely because I am approaching this prophetically.

God's people are praying and trusting God for revival, repentance, and godly change in the land. It’s happening slowly but surely from sea to shining sea. God's kingdom is a force in our nation that will bring about judgment. America gets with the program, coming to repentance, and serving the Lord, or it could be broken into pieces. It's unavoidable prophetically and scripturally.

I vote for America getting with the program, coming to repentance, serving the Lord. How about you? That is what I am praying for, and I trust that you are too!

Once again, let me remind you that God said:

“They have set up kings, but not by Me (the Lord): they have made princes, and I knew it not” (Hosea 8:4a NASB).

Without a question, we have seen that God only appoints good leaders. Men have elected corrupt leaders, and God had nothing to do with it. My statements are correct but too sweeping because it gets much more complicated than that on certain occasions. Sometimes God will do very unusual things to get a task done. He may use very unlikely people. You will see what I mean.

There have been many demon-inspired and evil rulers throughout history.

Take for example Caligula, Genghis Kahn, Henry VIII, Ivan IV (the Terrible), Maximilien Robespierre, Joseph Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot (of Khmer Rouge infamy), etc. Did God ordain them to stand in their positions of authority? Did they have divine, God-given authority, or was their authority coming from demonic power?

To all these evil rulers we have to add the terrorist organizations that have taken over cities and countries, such as, Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), Boko Haram (Islamic State’s West Africa Province), Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and many others. Did God put those evil organizations in power and ordain them to kill, steal, and destroy (see John 10:10)? Of course not! Many, because they take Paul’s words in Romans 13:1-7 as a blanket statement, would not know how to answer my question.

Spiritual battles in the unseen realm

The book of Daniel chapter ten shows us a spiritual battle in the unseen realm. There were spiritual forces (the prince and kings of Persia) aligned against God’s angelic messenger that came to bring the answer to Daniel’s prayer. These demonic forces opposed the heavenly messenger for twenty-one days. Michael the archangel came to help the angelic messenger fight and open the way so he could reach Daniel. After the divine messenger had finished delivering his message, he was going to return to combat the spirit princes and kings of Persia, and then another demonic “prince” was coming, the wicked spirit, and prince of Greece.

There are authorities, powers, and wicked spirits in high places arrayed against God’s people and His plans on earth (Ephesians 6:12). These demon forces work to set up Satan’s kingdom on the earth. They stand behind the evil governments, rulers, and people on our planet.

Believers have authority in the Name of Jesus over the wiles of the devil as they submit to God (Mark 16:17, James 4:7). As the Lord leads, and by His power, we can exercise influence against these wicked spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:10-18). We do not have authority over every situation on the planet, or over other people, but as the Holy Spirit leads us in prayer, we can have a powerful impact over demonic activity. There are many things to say here about this, and I address it later in this article.

In the end, at the coming of the Lord Jesus to rule and reign upon the earth, the people of God win it all. NOBODY will resist His rule and reign for a thousand years! He will rule with a rod of iron, and He will be King of kings. It will not be a democracy, but all will serve and obey Him willingly for a thousand years. For the interim, there are demonic influences in the earth that stand behind certain people, governments, and rulers. Believe it because it is true whether we like it or not!

The ultimate “government official” that will have demonic power behind him will be what many have called the antichrist! Paul called him the man of lawlessness whose coming will be “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10).

Deception, wickedness, false signs and wonders, with full Satanic backing, will earmark the government of the man of sin. It will be evil government to the maximum degree! We have the first fruits of this antichrist spirit already operating in many of the politicians governing the world today, and some are right here in America! As far as the world is concerned, the worst is yet to come for them!

Here is another point on this subject of rulers that complicates matters further.

Some rulers began with an anointing and ordination of God.

They started good and right but messed up their rule through rebellion and the practice of sin.

Some examples in Scripture are Kings Saul and Solomon.

Saul lost his anointing and rule over Israel when he disobeyed and rebelled against the Lord. He went so far as to persecute God’s next choice for king, the sheepherder David. Saul ended up following soothsayers, committed suicide, and did not repent.

Solomon was anointed to be king after his father David died. He was, possibly, the richest and wisest king to ever live. In old age, Solomon allowed foreign wives to turn away his heart from the Lord and to idolatry. He came to a sad end and evidently died in sin because there is no record of his repentance.

These leaders started right before the Lord, with a special anointing on their lives but ended up wrongly. (See Ezekiel 18:24, 26.) It’s not how you start your race that counts at the end of your life. How you finish at the end of your life is what counts before the Lord! (See Ezekiel 18:19-31.)

Why is “how you finish at the end of your life is what counts before the Lord” so hard for many to believe? Not only was this taught in Ezekiel 18:19-31, but Jesus taught this same truth in the Gospels. I am aware of how tragic that can be, especially if there was a family member or friend that left this life unrepentant. I have lost some former friends that departed this life after refusing repentance and some even denying Jesus. I’ve known some preachers like that. It is an extremely harsh and painful truth, but a very real one. It is inescapable. Read it from the lips of Jesus.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? ’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).

Do we know anybody in the ministry of Jesus that started out right with an anointing to heal the sick and cast out demons, and later abandoned the Lord and even was a traitor against Him? Yes, and his name was Judas Iscariot! Judas began with the commission given to the twelve disciples (later called apostles) to go in the authority and power of Jesus to do miraculous works. (Matthew 10:1-4)

Initially, Judas sat at the feet of Jesus and followed Him. Judas became a part of the “inner circle” of disciples and was a recipient of a glorious ministry. Judas was among the disciples that received a powerful anointing to go and represent Jesus. He went with supernatural power to heal every sickness and disease and cast out demons just as the other 11 did. Judas Iscariot was one of them, but he betrayed the Master, committed suicide, and died in his sin.

Judas Iscariot was a classic example of starting out in righteousness, but ending in lawlessness or unrighteousness, as we see in the words of the prophet Ezekiel (18:19-31) and the Lord Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23). Judas will be among those that use the excuse of past supernatural exploits they did for the Lord, but the Lord will reject them because when they died they were rejecting Him. They will be dismissed from His presence because they were practicing lawlessness up until the moment they died. That is the wrong way to be caught dead!

Another type of leader is the one called upon by people to lead them back to bondage.

That happens in the political realm as well as in the religious realm. We could give you many modern examples, but I am sure you can come up with some on your own.

They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion, they appointed a leader to return to their bondage (Nehemiah 9:17 NKJV).

Government officials that God calls and ordains to serve in office:

Kings like David, Josiah, Hezekiah, and others were examples of anointed leaders in Israel. They were by no means perfect, but they were humble and would repent of their sin (as did David in the Bathsheba incident), and these (and some others) did their best to follow the Lord.

Oddballs in Bible history

Nebuchadnezzar found out that God would ordain people for leadership in government, sometimes to everybody’s surprise (Daniel 4:17). Sometimes, they were the most unlikely candidates. Judgment came to Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to do what God ordained. For seven years, he ran around like a wild goat, completely out of his mind. After he had repented for his pride and refusal to obey, he was restored to a sound mind and recognized the God of heaven and His rule over the realm of mankind.

There are certain occasions when the hammer of divine judgment falls because God has given His Word. His must fulfill His promises to His people, via one way or another. Sometimes, when God’s Word is on the line, severe punishments, great miracles, or adverse judgments happen when people refuse to comply. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar found out through a very harsh judgment!

Pharaoh found out in the book of Exodus that terror comes upon those who want to restrain God’s promised outcome! When God gives His Word, He will have His way, and nothing will be able to stop Him.

Cyrus received a special anointing from the Lord to help the people of Israel, and he did not even know God (Isaiah 45:1-5). Cyrus was an oddball! That goes against all conventional understanding of the anointing, but God can do as He pleases, if He does not violate His principles and laws.

God’s sovereignty

That last phrase is very controversial for those that believe God can do as He always pleases, and no matter what because He is sovereign, and nothing can withstand His will. I strongly disagree in the sense that God cannot violate His own Word!

God’s real power as a “sovereign” or ruler is not the usual definition of “sovereignty”! Let us settle this issue of sovereignty in our minds. To many the word sovereignty means that your will is immaterial because when it’s God will, it will be done no matter what. Let’s go to the Word to answer that VERY wrong assumption on God’s sovereignty.

God’s sovereign will is that not one human being perish and go to a devil’s hell (2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 25:41). How many have died and gone to hell because they refused to line up with God’s will? How many have perished because they refused God’s gift in His Son? (See John 3:16.) God wants to save all men (1 Timothy 2:4), but those that refuse to repent will perish! (Luke 13:3, 5)

Daily, people disobey God’s plan and will upon the earth. Many are disobedient and do not cooperate with the Lord. That means that God is not “sovereign” as people think. God is not controlling everything. If He was, then He would make everybody receive salvation right now and we would enter the millennial reign before nightfall.

Yet, some things are non-negotiable. God will have His “sovereign” way in some matters. Some things, like the coming of the Lord to rule and reign upon the earth will happen. Nothing will stop it. The book of Revelation declares many end-time events that will be unstoppable. That is “sovereignty,” but we must qualify this further.

God is not sovereign like the mythical gods of Rome or Greece that could do anything they wanted to do, even if it was immoral or evil. The heathen gods could commit adultery, fornication, murder, treachery, and lie, steal, covet, etc. Regardless of what these “gods” said, they could twist their words at will because they were sovereign and in control of all human actions and activities. People were like puppets on a string or chess pieces on a playing board.

Our God is not like that! Never believe that He is!

Firstly, our God gave us the right to choose between life and death, blessing and cursing (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20). We get to choose whom we will serve and obey (Joshua 24:14, 15). We get to choose between two masters. Either we will choose to serve, love, and be devoted to the Lord Jesus, or we will serve, love, and be devoted to mammon (Matthew 6:24). To believe or disobey the gospel means that we have a choice (Romans 10:9-16).

Secondly, Jehovah God cannot violate the Word that has come out of His mouth. He will never violate His moral commandments, judgments, or ordinances. If He did renege on His Word and did as He pleased in violation of it, then it would make Him a liar like men. The truth is this:

• God is not a man that He should tell a lie (Numbers 23:19).
• It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
• Nothing can nullify the faithfulness of God (Romans 3:3).
• His Word of promise will never return to Him without accomplishing His desired result (Isaiah 55:10).
• Not one of His promises have ever failed (Joshua 23:14, 1Kings 8:56). That is why we can always trust Him!

God’s sovereignty cannot include the unscriptural idea that He can violate His Word or promises. He will not fulfill His plan by violating His principles. Get that straight!

Recap

Here is a summary of the five scenarios concerning rulers in Scripture.

1. Ungodly rulers put in place by people without God’s approval. (Hosea 8:4, Neh. 9:17)
2. Rulers that through murder, war, conquest, or by some other way usurped a seat of authority. Examples are Absalom, Tibni, Athaliah, man of lawlessness-sin-antichrist.
3. Godly rulers operating with God’s authority called and anointed to carry out His will and plan. Examples are David, Josiah, Hezekiah, and others.
4. Rulers that received the anointing to rule but messed it up through rebellion, sin, idolatry, etc. as did Saul, Solomon, and other kings of Judah and Israel.
5. People anointed to rule for a special task ordained by God even though they are not technically followers of God and did not even know Him. Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Hiram (2 Chron. 2:3).

All these facts prove that Romans 13:1-7 has been grossly misinterpreted for centuries. We need to see rulers in government according to all the Scriptures on the subject and not attempt an isolated interpretation. 

I pray this teaching sets you free from the lies of the enemy! Not all government is good, and not all government agrees with the Scripture. We MUST obey God and take a stand against government WHEN (and only when) they want to impose something contrary to Scripture on us. At all other times, we should obey rulers. That is the bottom line to all this, but now you are armed Scripturally to take a stand.

Church it is time to repent! Let the Repentance Revolution Begin! Be blessed with the following podcast- Repentance Part 6!